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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

“You know, at least I’m nice to people.”

Sound familiar? I think most of us have either said that or heard someone else saying it.

It usually occurs straight after one has been annoyed in some way.

So what does the Annoyed One do? Well, he/she decides to dispraise the other person by praising himself/herself.

Not good.

Allah says:

“Those who avoid great sins and Al-Fawahish (illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) except the small faults, verily, your Lord is of vast forgiveness. He knows you well when He created you from the earth (Adam), and when you were fetuses in your mothers’ wombs. So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allah and keep his duty to Him [i.e. those who are Al-Muttaqun (pious)].” [Surah An-Najm (53) : 32]

So what does ascribing piety to ourselves mean exactly?

Here’s an article that gathers the explanation from numerous commentaries of the Quran:



“So Do not Praise Yourselves”

The saying of Allah the Mighty and Majestic:

{So ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves. He knows best who has Taqwa.} [An Najm: 32]

At Tabaree comments:

His statement {So, ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves} Allaah the Mighty says; do not bear witness for yourselves that you are righteous, pure and free of sin and disobedience; as was narrated to us by Ibnu Hameed who said:

‘Mahraan narrated to us that Sufyaan said; I heard Zayd ibn Aslam saying concerning the verse:

{So, ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves}; ‘Do not free yourselves [of fault/sin].’

His statement {He knows best who has Taqwa.} Allaah the Mighty is saying: Your Lord, O Muhammad, knows those who fear His punishment and therefore avoid sin from amongst His servants.

Taken from Tafseer at Tabaree[1].

Al Hafidh al Baghawi comments:

{So, ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves}

Ibn ‘Abbaas stated: “Do not praise/recommend yourselves.”

Al Hasan stated: “Allah has knowledge of everyone, what they are doing and where they will end up, so do not praise/recommend yourselves, do not free yourself of sins, do not praise yourselves due to your righteous deeds.”

Al Kalbee and Muqaatil stated: “People used perform righteous actions and say: ‘Our prayers, our fasting, our pilgrimage…’ So Allaah revealed the verse: {He knows best who has Taqwa.} Meaning those who are righteous, obedient and sincere to Allah the Mighty and Majestic.

Taken from Tafseer Al Baghawee[2].

Al Haafidh ibn Katheer comments:

Allah’s statement: {So ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves} Meaning that you praise yourselves, are grateful to yourselves and mention your good deeds [whether public or to yourself, believing that you are deserving] {He knows best who has Taqwa}.

As He said elsewhere: {Have you not seen those who praise/ascribe purity to themselves? Nay, Allah sanctifies whom He wills, and they will not be dealt with injustice even equal to the extent of a date stone.} [An Nisaa: 49]

Al Imaam Muslims stated in his Saheeh: ‘Amru an Naaqid narrated to us…that Muhammad ibn ‘Amru ibn ‘Ataa said:

‘I named my daughter Burrah (meaning beneficent to others), so Zaynab bint Abee Salamah told me that the Messenger of Allah- صلى الله عليه و سلم – prohibited this name – Burrah. He – صلى الله عليه و سلم – said:“Do not praise yourselves, Indeed Allah knows whom the beneficient amongst you are.”

So they asked: ‘What shall we call her?’

He said: “Call her Zaynab.”

It has also been affirmed in a Hadeeth narrated by al Imaam Ahmad who said: ‘Afaan narrated to us that Wuhayb said… on the authority of Abu Bakrah:

“A man praised another man in the presence of the Prophet – صلى الله عليه و سل; he said:

“Woe to you! You have cut off your companion’s neck – he repeated this a number of times – If it is necessary for one of you to praise his companion, then say: ‘I believe him to be as such, and Allah is a reckoner over him, and I do not praise anyone over Allah – I believe him to be like such and such.’ If one knows such about that person to be true.”

This Hadeeth was also collected by al Bukhaaree, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah through Khaalid al Hadhaa.

Al Imaam Ahmad stated: ‘Waqee’ narrated to us…on the authority of Hammaam ibn al Haarith who said:

“A man approached ‘Uthmaan and praised him in his presence.” He [the narrator] said: “Al Miqdaad ibn al Aswad started pouring sand on the praising person’s face saying:

“We were ordered by the Messenger of Allaah – صلى الله عليه وسلم – to pour sand over the praising people’s faces when we came across them.”

It was collected by Muslim and Abu Dawood from the Hadeeth of ath Thawree on the authority of Mansoor.

Taken from Tafseer ibn Katheer[3].

Al ‘Allaamah Muhammad al Ameen ash Shinqeetee comments:

What this noble verse consists of regarding the condemnation of recommending oneself with untruths has also been clarified elsewhere in the Quran, such as the statement of Allaah the Elevated:

{He knows you well when He created you from the earth (Adam), and when you were fetuses in your mothers’ wombs. So, ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best who has Taqwa.} [An-Najm: 32]
And the verses of this meaning are plentiful and well known.

Taken from Adwaa al-Bayaan[4].

Al ‘Allaamah as Sa’deecomments:

{So, ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves} Meaning do not inform people of your purity in a praiseworthy manner. {He knows best who has Taqwa} For indeed Taqwa is in the heart, and it is Allaah alone who knows of it and what it contains from righteousness and Taqwaa. As for the people, they will not help you from Allah in anything.

Taken from Tafseer As Sa’dee[5].

Al ‘Allaamah ibn ‘Uthaymeen comments:

{So, ascribe not purity/praise to yourselves} Meaning do not praise yourself saying I did such and such; I prayed, I paid Zakat, I fasted, I strived, I performed the pilgrimage…do not say this; showing your deeds over your Lord. This is not permissible.

So if someone were to say; doesn’t Allah say: {Indeed whosoever purifies himself shall achieve success}?

The Answer: Yes of course, but the meaning of ‘purify’ here is; one who performs righteous deeds to purify him/herself with. It does not mean to praise oneself saying he did this and that. Rather the meaning is that he acted righteous deeds to purify himself, so there is no contradiction between the two verses, this is why we say;

Whoever praises/purifies himself by mentioning his righteous deeds, indeed he has not praised/purified himself. Whoever praises/purifies himself by commending himself, indeed he has not praised/purified himself, and there is a difference between the two.

The praise/purification that is praiseworthy is to act upon righteous to praise/purify himself with.

The praise/purification that is condemned is for one to allude to his actions over his Lord and praise himself, as if he is letting Allah know he is deserving saying; I prayed, I gave in charity, I fasted, a made pilgrimage, I strived, I was beneficient to may parents and so on. It is not permissible for a person to praise himself, and this is a refutation upon the Sufiyyah who claim that they are Imaams -praising themselves. This is why we say; the people who praise themselves are the furthest of people from purification, because they are pleased and beguiled by their deeds and are alluding to them over Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and have given themselves a status that Allah has not given them {So, ascribe not praise/purity to yourselves. He knows best who has Taqwa.} It is as if He is saying: Why do you praise yourselves? Is it that you want to make Allah aware of what you are upon?

The answer: No, this is why He said: {He knows best who has Taqwa} Meaing if you have Taqwa of Allah, then indeed Allah has more knowledge of you, and there is no need for you to say; ‘I did such and such…’

Taken from Tafseer ibn ‘Uthaymeen

[1] Tafseer at Tabaree: 22/140

[2]Tafseer al Baghawee : 7/143

[3] Tafseer ibn Katheer: 7/462

[4] Adwaa al Bayaan: 52/37

[5]Tafseer as Sa’dee: 1/821

[6] Tafseer ibn ‘Uthaymeen: 11/25