Pretension is a human weakness and at times has such a subtle garb that one gets afflicted with it without realizing. However, even its blatant forms seldom stop people from indulging in it.
More often than not our conversation and mannerisms reflect pomposity. Our gait and appearance too depict this trait. Affluence, fame, high status and physical attributes often lead us to bragging and boasting. We like to mention our contacts with rich and influential people; we like to boast about the posh locality we may be living in; we like to brag about our foreign tours and children studying abroad; at times, every room of our house will display our photographs with dignitaries and high-ups; we often publicly mention our staggering asset and property list; using expensive brands to show off has become quite normal; manipulating a conversation between friends so that an opportune moment is provided to boast what we have is a graver form of this human weakness; false modesty too is no less a compounded form of it; putting up a show of religiosity may strike us as unusual but it does not take much effort to see how this abounds in our societies. Amounts spent in charity, 'umrahs done, nafals offered, tasbih beads read become a shameful source of showing off.
What must then be done to check this tendency and proclivity human nature is so prone to? A number of things come to mind but perhaps none more effective than the following two:
1. A primary motive to show-off is to impress others and get noticed. This is also a human instinct. The best way to curb is to modify its direction. Instead of impressing others and trying to catch their attention, we should make an effort to impress God and to catch His attention by trying to do deeds that please Him. And the more these deeds are brought to His notice alone the better the objective achieved.
2. Talents, abilities and blessings – some of the things which induce us to show off – should be regarded as a bestowal from God. Without His will and intention we could never have gained them. We are thus the custodians of these blessings and we should think that we have been blessed with them to share them with others and not to brag about them. Sharing them with others in fact is the proper way to express gratitude to God on His graciousness.
(Dr Shehzad Saleem)