Question: Al-Fudayl ibn `Iyyaad (may Allaah be merciful to him) said, “Refraining from doing a deed because of people is Riyaa’ (showing-off) and doing a deed because of them is Shirk (associating others with Allaah in His Divinity or worship).” Many of my Muslim brothers and I sometimes feel obliged to refrain from some supererogatory acts of `Ibaadah (worship), fearing Fitnah (trials) to ourselves, being beaten, or being insulted; or that our Muslim brothers in general will be subjected to Fitnah by the government tightening its grip around them. By Allaah! I ask you, have we, as a consequence, fallen into Riyaa’ and if this is the case, what is the way out?
Answer: The second part of the statement of Al-Fudayl, namely, that doing a deed because of people is Shirk, is absolutely true, as the evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah shows the obligation of sincerity in `Ibaadah that should be for Allaah Alone and the prohibition of Riyaa’, called Al-Shirk Al-Asghar (minor form of associating others in worship with Allaah) by the Prophet (peace be upon him). He declared it as being the thing he fears most for his Ummah… read more here.