Al-Riyaa’ is often translated as showing off. In the lexicon Mustalihaat Fiqhiyya, it is said the word Riyaa’ is derived from al-Ru’iyah (الرؤية – which means vision, looking or eyesight), and it is the performing of an action so that others may see him, so that the act may be performed for their sake (مشتق من الرؤية ، وهو الإتيان بالعمل ليراه الآخرون ، فيكون عمله لأجلهم).
A simple example of this is prolonging sujood or qunoot in prayers, for the sake of other people looking at his worship and being impressed.
In a powerful and authentic hadith, the Messenger of Allah (sawa) explains that although these actions may be a protection in the hell-fire, the reward of these actions cannot be claimed from any other than the one it was performed for the sake of. May Allah (swt) help us in making our hearts sincere in worshipping only Him (swt), for He is the only one who can truly reward for our deeds on the Day of Reckoning.
أبي ( ره ) قال حدثني محمد بن يحيى العطار عن العمركي الخراساني عن علي بن جعفر عن أخيه موسى بن جعفر عن أبيه عن آبائه عليهم السلام قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله يؤمر برجال إلى النار فيقول الله عز وجل لمالك قل للنار لا تحرقي لهم اقداما فقد كانوا يمشون بها إلى المساجد ولا تحرقي لهم وجوها فقد كانوا يسبغون الوضوء ولا تحرقي لهم أيديا فقد كانوا يرفعونها بالدعاء ولا تحرقي لهم ألسنة فقد كانوا يكثرون تلاوة القرآن ، قال فيقول لهم خازن النار يا أشقياء ما كان حالكم ، قالوا كنا نعمل لغير الله عز وجل فقيل لنا خذوا ثوابكم ممن عملتم لهم
The Messenger of Allah (sawa) said: “A group of people (lit. men) will be ordered to enter the hell-fire, whereupon Allah (awj) will say to Malik (the custodian angel of hell): “Say to the hell-fire do not burn their feet, for they used to walk with them to the mosques; and do not burn their faces, for they used to perform ablution; and do not burn their hands, for they used to raise them in supplication; and do not burn their tongues, for they used to recite the Qur’an a lot.”
The custodian of the hell-fire will then say to them: “Oh wretched people, what was your condition?”
They replied: “We used to perform deeds for other than Allah (awj), so it was said to us: ‘Take your reward from those you performed your deeds for.'””
Sanad: al-Saduq, from his father, from Mohammed bin Yahya al-Attaar, from al-Amriki al-Khorasaani, from Ali bin Ja`far, from his brother Musa bin Ja`far, from his father, from his forefathers (peace be upon them all) who narrated the above hadith
Reference: Thawab al-A`maal (`Aqaab al-A`maal), Chapter on deeds performed for other than Allah, Hadith #1 (See Image below); `ilal al-Shara’i`, Volume 2, Page 465-466, Hadith #18; Wasa’il al-Shia, Volume 1, Page 70, Hadith #154; Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 69, Page 296, Hadith #21
- Sheikh Ahmed al-Mahoozi, `Aqaab al-A`maal, Chapter on deeds performed for other than Allah, Page 62: From the most Authentic of chains (أصح الأسانيد) (See Image below)
- Mohammed Taqi al-Majlisi (The First), Rawdhat al-Mutaqeen, Volume 2, Page 44: Authentic (صحيح)
- al-Sayed Muhsin al-Hakeem, Mustadrak al-`Urwa, Volume 2, Page 474: Authentic (صحيح)
- al-Sayed Sa`eed al-Hakeem, Misbaah al-Minhaaj, Page 389: Authentic (صحيح)
- al-Sayed Mustafa al-Khomeini, Wajibaat al-Salah, Page 91: Reliable (معتبر)
- al-Sayed Sadiq al-Rohani, Fiqh al-Sadiq, Volume 4 (27 Volume Edition), Page 348: Authentic (صحيح)
- Sheikh Asif al-Mohsini, Mashra`at Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 2, Page 362: Reliable (معتبر)
- According to the standards of Sayed al-Kho’i in his Mu`jim Rijal al-Hadith, all narrators are reliable (ثقة).