Undesirability of Praising a Person in his Presence
1788. Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (PBUH) heard a person lauding another person or praising him too much. Thereupon he said, "You killed the man,'' or he said, "You ruined the man.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
1789. Abu Bakrah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Mention of a man was made to the Prophet (PBUH) and someone praised him whereupon he (PBUH) said, "Woe be to you! You have broken the neck of your friend!'' He repeated this several times and added, "If one of you has to praise his friend at all, he should say: `I reckon him to be such and such and Allah knows him well', if you think him to be so-and-so, you will be accountable to Allah because no one can testify the purity of others against Allah.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith prohibits us from praising anyone in his face. If at all one has to praise someone, he should say that "In my opinion he is such and such,'' provided he really thinks as he says. The reason for this is that it is Allah Alone Who knows him thoroughly and none can claim to be innocent before Him.
1790. Hammam bin Al- Harith (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A person began to praise `Uthman (May Allah be pleased with him), and Al-Miqdad (May Allah be pleased with him) sat upon his knees and began to throw pebbles upon the flatterer's face. `Uthman (May Allah be pleased with him) said: "What is the matter with you?'' He said: "Verily, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, `When you see those who shower undue praises upon others throw dust upon their faces.'''
Commentary: The purpose of this Hadith seems to be that one should neither pay serious attention to one who praises nor reward him for it. If one can throw grit in his face, that should also be done. One should at least avoid such persons who are in the habit of praising people unnecessarily.
Imam An-Nawawi has stated that these Ahadith are in prohibition of praise while there are many in favour of it. `Ulama' are of the opinion that the two points of view can be reconciled. If the one who is praised has perfect Faith and confidence and is endowed with the gift of knowledge by Allah and has control over his self and thereby he is not likely to go astray by praise, then praising him is neither unlawful nor disgusting. But if he is vulnerable to praise then praising him in his presence is abhorred. Ahadith in prohibition of praise support this point of view. While one of the Ahadith, which are in favour of praise, relates to the occasion when the Prophet (May Allah be pleased with him) said to Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with him): "I hope that you will also be among them,'' that is "You will be one of hose who will be called from every gate of Jannah.'' (See, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab Fada'il As-Sahabah). Another Hadith on the issue relates to the event when the Prophet (PBUH) said to Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him): "You are not one of them.'' What it signified was that "You are not one of those who keep their trousers below their ankles out of sheer pride.'' (See, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Manaqib Abu Bakr). He said to `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him): "When Satan sees you going on some way, he leaves it and proceeds to some other direction.'' (Al-Bukhari, Manaqib `Umar)