There are some people whom Allah Ta'ala grants such qualities that they become worthy of praise, and thereafter people praise them. This is a bounty from the side of Allah Ta'ala. That quality or speciality on the basis of which one is being praised is a bounty that Allah Ta'ala has bestowed upon him, not his personal achievement. The achievements of Deen and Dunya are both from Allah Ta'ala, thus when a person praises another he is actually praising Allah Ta'ala.
Let us understand that it is not permissible to praise everyone, and not praising anyone is also not permissible. There are severe warning mentioned in the Ahadith for praising a person that is not worthy of praise. Then you get a person that deserves praise but his Imaan is not of that level that he takes it to be the praises of Allah Ta'ala, rather he feels that because of his achievements he deserves the praise.
If someone praises us, we should think that it is just their goodness and kindness due to which they are praising us. If we feel that we are worthy of their praise, then think to ourselves, that all the great signs of being Ilah are only found in Allah Ta'ala, I am a servant of Allah Ta'ala and I haven’t come into existence on my own. When I haven’t come into the world on my own, how can any achievement be considered as my personal achievement, similarly leaving the world is also not on my own, rather on the command of Allah I will leave the world. Now when this is our condition, whatever good quality another person notices in us indicates that he possesses good eyes.
Hadrat Maulana Abrar-Ul-Haq Saheb R.A. used to say, “When any person praises you, then take this to be the praises of Allah Ta'ala and not your praises, or consider it to be a Dua from the person.” Also, when people praise us then we should think that they are actually passing over a message to us that we should be like that. In the time of Imaam Abu Hanifa R.A, people were discussing that he performs Tahajjud throughout the night, yet he wasn’t in the habit of doing so at that stage. When he heard of this talk amongst the people he said, “If people are thinking of me in this manner then I should make Ibaadat throughout the night.” Another way of interpreting this, a person is wearing tinted green glasses so he sees everything green in colour, another is wearing glasses tinted in blue so he sees everything in blue, in a like manner, the person that is praising me is seeing good in me but in actual fact he is a good person, otherwise I know my condition and qualities.
If we are punctual with Salaah, then too what is the quality of our Salaah? A person thinks that he has Sabr, good character, but think of your relationship with the wife. Will she be prepared to give you a non-objection certificate, in other words will she verify that your character is good. Find out from your mother-in-law, what is her opinion in regards to your character? We think that we are doing very well in a particular field, but there are so many things that we are neglecting in that field.
When praised, always think that the qualities that this man is talking about are actually in him, but it is certainly not in me. In the Hadith Sharif we are taught a Dua,
اَللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِى فِى عَيْنِى صَغِيْرًا وَفِى اَعْيُنِ النَّاسِ كَبِيْرًا
O Allah! Make me small in my eyes and big in the eyes of people
It shouldn’t be that you consider yourself as big, but people must consider you as big for the benefit of Deen. If the student doesn’t consider the Ustaad as big and therefore does not respect the Ustaad, there will be total disorder, with the consequence being that the student will not benefit from him. Similarly, one is required to consider his parents as big even though they are not people of great character. In homes where respect has been lost, the children frown on their parents, give their parents dirty looks and sometimes they openly say bad things to them, such children do not attain spiritual benefit from the parents.
The fourth point of the six points of Jamaat was initially Ikraam-e-Ulema (honouring the Ulema) and is now changed to Ikraam-e-Muslim (honouring other Muslims). The reason for this is that there was a time when people didn’t respect the Ulema. Maulana Nadeem Saheb R.A. used to say, “When the enemies of Islam intended to distance the masses from Islam, they never told them that Islam is bad, the Quraan is wrong, the Hadith is wrong, etc. as the Muslims will never accept it. They told them that the Ulema are bad. Every Alim is a human being with weaknesses, when these weaknesses are discussed then one cuts himself from that Alim and the Ulema. Our only link with Deen is via the Ulema. If we think that our link of Deen is through the Quraan Sharif, who is it that will teach us the Quraan Sharif. By studying the Quraan Shareef on our own, we will end up with the incorrect meanings.
One person was travelling by plane and seated next to him was a professor in the Arabic language. When the food was served, the professor partook of the meals. This person commenced a discussion and then came to the stage where he explained that we cannot eat anything on the plane that is not Halaal. This person in turn replied, “Eat from that which the name of Allah Ta'ala has been taken upon” referring to the verse of the Quraan Sharif. This means that recite Bismillah when consuming of the food and it will become Halaal, whereas this is certainly not the meaning. If this is the case then even pork will become Halaal. This is the result of learning Deen without the Ulema, even though one may be a professor in Arabic, or he may even be of Arab origin.
The Ulema are those that learnt the practical Deen from their seniors, who in turn acquired knowledge from their seniors, and this link continues up until it reaches Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam. Once we were in Jamaat in Gujrat with Hadrat Maulana Ahmed Laat Saheb D.B. There were 40 Arabs throughout Gujrat spending time in the path of Allah. I became close to one Arab that was not an Alim but the Ameer of his town. One day he told me that the Purda that you people, the Indian Ulema teach, is not the injunction of the Quraan Sharif. When all the men and women are seated separately in a function, there isn’t any enjoyment in such a gathering. The fun and pleasure is found in mixed gatherings. He presented a verse of the Quraan to prove his point.
ليس عليكم جناح ان تاكلوا جميعا او اشتاتا
There is no harm whether you eat collectively or individually
This caused me to be totally baffled. You will not know the correct meaning of a verse unless you are aware of the Shaan-e-Nuzool (the incident due to which the verse was revealed). Also, it is not possible for a person to know everything. The next day we went to a Darul Uloom, so I proceeded to the library and checked the Tafseer Kitaab, Jalaalain Sharif for the correct explanation. The verse meant that all the Sahaaba, Ambiya, etc. were extremely hospitable. They would always partake of meals with a guest. There was a particular Sahaabi that wouldn’t partake of meals without a guest. Once there weren’t any guest so he wasn’t eating, hence this verse was revealed indicating that it is not Fardh to have a guest. This is clear proof that merely having knowledge of Arabic is not sufficient.