HUBB-E-JAAH (LOVE FOR FAME)
The desire in one that others honour, respect and be submissive to oneself is termed ‘hubb-e-jaah’. Love and aspiration for becoming famous and being praised and respected by others (Hubb-e-jaah) is contemptible under Islamic law.
The Holy Qur'an has made the bounties of the Hereafter dependent on desisting from the love for being praised by others:
“As for that Ultimate Abode (the Hereafter) We assign it to those who intend neither being high on earth nor to do mischief” – (28:83).
By declaring the love for being praised as unlawful and contemptible, the Holy Qur'an and hadith actually meant the love for mundane (worldly) position of importance and worldly profit as Haram.
Imam Tirmidhi and Nasa'i have related on the authority of Sayyidina Ka'b ibn Malik R.A. that Holy Prophet SAWS once said that 'If two hungry wolves are let loose in a herd of goats, they would not do so much damage to the herd as two traits damage the faith of a man. One is the love for wealth and the other is the aspiration for being praised and respected'. (Tabrani from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, and Bazzar from Abu Hurairah).
Dailami has reproduced a narration on the authority of Sayyidna Ibn 'Abbas R.A. with a weak chain of narrators that the love for praise and worldly status makes a man blind and deaf.
All these ahadith refer to the love that has mundane considerations, or for which one has to indulge in sin or negligence in the matter of faith. When this is not the case, aspiration for praise and high position is not contemptible.
It is reported in a hadith that Holy Prophet SAWS himself had made the following supplication:
"Ya Allah, make me insignificant in my own sight, but make me great in the eyes of people". [Kanzul Ummal]
Here also the purpose of making great in the eyes of people is that people emulate him in his righteous deeds.
That is why Imam Malik has said that the one who is in fact virtuous and pious is required only to avoid making deliberate efforts to present himself as pious in the eyes of people, otherwise, if he loves to be praised by people, it is not contemptible.
Ibn 'Arabi has said that it is evident from the verse 26:84 that the desire for a righteous deed which results in people's praise is allowed.
Love for being praised is permissible under three conditions:
Imam Ghazzali has ruled that the love for being praised and the position of respect is permissible under three conditions.
One, when the object is not to proclaim oneself as superior to others and to degrade them, but for the benefit of the hereafter, so that others may be influenced to follow the example and try to emulate him.
Second, when the object is not to earn false praise against a trait one does not possess, and desire that people should eulogize him for something he does not have.
Third, when one does not have to indulge in a sin or negligence in the matter of faith in order to achieve it.
Diagnosing this disease:
It is difficult to diagnose the malady of love for fame. It is only unmasked and exposed when an incident occurs in which one is not honoured.
Nature of this disease:
Hubb-e-jaah is a quality which lies in one's imagination, hence its nature is transitory. It is extremely flimsy in that it is dependent on thoughts of others, for Jaah entails honour of one by others. The thoughts of others thus form the basis of Jaah (fame/reputation). If others divert their thoughts, one's Jaah is eliminated.
Hence, he who desires to be considered famous and honourable has to rely on the thoughts of others- thoughts which are not within the control of the one who desires the Jaah. But, Inspite of Hubb-e-Jaah being so flimsy in nature and temporary, man hankers after it.
Only such Jaah (fame) is detestable which has been acquired by one's desire and pursuit. Such Jaah is a calamity which destroys one's worldly life as well as one's life of the Hereafter. When man sees that the world acclaims him, he is overtaken by pride and vanity. These diseases finally destroy him. His Deen is thus destroyed. Many people have fallen into this trap and were utterly annihilated.
A famous person has many envious enemies who engage in conspiracies to harm and eliminate him. This then is the harm to one's worldly life. Thus, both Deen and Dunya suffer in the wake of Jaah.
On the other hand, Jaah which Allah Ta'ala bestows upon man without him requesting it, is a Ni’mat (bounty). Like man stands in need of wealth to a certain degree, so does he stand in need of Jaah to a certain degree. Such limited Jaah enables him to remain in safety and be protected against injustice and oppression. Such safety enables him to engage in the Ibaadat of Allah Ta'ala without fear and in peace. This amount of Jaah is therefore not harmful.
Meditate on the futility of hubb-e-jaah. Neither the one who honours nor the one who is honoured will remain. All will perish. It is therefore childish to be delighted over such a transitory and illusionary attribute. Contemplating in this way will eliminate this malady.
(Extracted from Mariful Quran and Sheikh Thanwi's writings)