In this day and age praising and idolising those who are involved in idol pursuits, vanity and batil has become second nature even to Muslims in general- let them be sport personalities, actors, celebrities, singers, and so forth.
Instead in Islam, even those people who are involved in noble or good causes should not be praised publically or in front of that person. It is a fact that this issue on praising people has been largely ignored by the Muslim mass - its injunctions, limits and the consequences of ignoring these rules.
This short treatise intends to clarify these points briefly InshaAllah using several narrations adapted from Imam Bukhari's "Adab-al-Mufrad" (Manners in Islam).
Saiyidina Abu Bakr RA reported that a man was mentioned in the presence of the Prophet SAW and someone praised him. The Prophet SAW said:
"Woe to you! You have cut off the head of your companion!"
- and he repeated that several times. He (SAW) went on and said:
"If one of you must praise someone, he should say, 'I consider that so-and-so is such-and-such.' Allah is the One who will take account of him if he thinks that he is indeed like that, No one can appropriate Allah's right to attest to someone's character."
Abu Musa RA reported that the Prophet SAW heard a man praise another man and he was using exaggeration in his praise of him. The Prophet SAW said:"You have destroyed or broken the man's back."Ibrahim at-Taymi RA reported that his father said:"We were sitting with Umar (RA) and one man praised another man to his face."Umar said: "You have wounded the man. May Allah wound you."
Abu Ma'mar RA said: "A man began to praise one of the amirs. Al-Miqdad began to throw dirt in his face and said, 'The Messenger of Allah SAW commanded us to throw dust into the faces of those who praise people.'"
Ata' ibn Abi Rabah RA reported that a man was praising another man in the presence of Ibn Umar RA. Ibn Umar RA began to throw dust towards his mouth. He said:"The Messenger of Allah SAW said, 'When you see those who praise people, throw dust in their faces.'"
Raja' RA said: "One day Mihjan and I went to the mosque of the people of Basra. Burayda al-Aslami was sitting there by one of the mosque doors. Inside the mosque there was a man called Sabka who used to make the prayers long. We came to the mosque door which had a fringed woollen cloth over it. Now Burayda was someone who made jokes. He said, 'Mihjan, don't you pray as Sabka prays?' Mihjan did not answer and went back. Mihjan said, 'The Messenger of Allah SAW, once took me by the hand and we went together to the top of Uhud. He looked down on Madina and said, "Woe to a town whose people will abandon it when it becomes very prosperous. Then the Dajjal will come to it and find two angels at each of its gates, so he will not enter it." Then he went down until we reached the mosque and the Messenger of Allah SAW, saw a man praying, prostrating and bowing. The Messenger of Allah SAW asked me, "Who is this?" and I began to praise him, saying, "Messenger of Allah, this is so-and-so and so-and-so." "Stop!" he said, "Do not let him hear or you will destroy him."'" Raja' continued, "He began to walk until he reached his rooms and then he began to shake the dust off his hands and said, 'The best part of your deen is the easiest of it.' and he repeated that three times."
Al-Aswad ibn Suray' RA said, "I came to the Prophet SAW and said: 'Messenger of Allah, I have praised Allah and you in poems of praise and eulogies.' He (SAW) said, 'As far as your Lord is concerned, He must be praised,' and so I began to recite them. Then a tall bald man asked for permission to enter. The Prophet SAW, told me, 'Be silent.' The man came in and spoke for a time and then left. Then I recited again. Then the other man came back and he (SAW) made me silent again. Then the man left again. That happened two or three times. I asked, 'Who is this man for whom I must be silent?' He replied, 'This is a man who does not like vain things.'" [It is said that it was 'Umar ibn al-Khattab]