Shaikh Abdul-Muhsin al-‘Abbad hafidhuhallah said:

“The intent by that is praise which is unjust or brings about harm to the one praised in terms of it influencing him. So he becomes arrogant, prideful, and elevated. As for praise in truth in order that a person is followed and that the people can conform to what he is upon of good and what he is upon of righteous deeds, then there is no harm in this with the condition that there is no harm upon the person. So the person is mentioned with good in order that he is taken as a role model and in order to encourage and motivate the people to be like him and follow him. Like this, when the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam called for charity, a man came with a purse with silver. The Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam said:

من سن في الإسلام سنة حسنة فله أجرها وأجر من عمل بها

He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it

And this praise is for this person who preceded in good and so that the people take him as a good example to follow. So if the praise does not create harm and the intent is only benefit and for the others to take him as a role model, then he is mentioned and praised in order to be followed. Then this is an affair that is desired and there is no harm in it. In that is motivation so that the addresses can be like the one praised. As for if it is an affair of the worldly life or following the worldly fortunes or it is unjust, then this is not praiseworthy, rather it is blameworthy. It is reported by Abu Dawood rahimahullah from the Hadith of Ibn al-Aswad radiallahu anhu that:

أن رجلاً مدح عثمان رضي الله تعالى عنه وكان المقداد حاضراً، فأخذ تراباً وحثاه عليه، وقال: إن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: إذا رأيتم المداحين فاحثوا في وجوههم التراب

A man came and praised ‘Uthman in his face. Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad took dust and threw it on his face, saying “The Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) said ‘When you see those who are given to praising people, throw dust in their faces’ “

Miqdad radiallahu anhu understood the Hadith upon its apparent meaning and from the People of Knowledge is the one who said, ‘The intent of that is the one praised due to the worldly life or worldly fortunes and it will not cause except disappointment. And nothing will be given if he is praised due to the worldly life because he is not deserving…the intent of that is not to throw dust in his face such that it enters his eyes. It is only to throw dust in his direction”

[Sharh Sunan Abi Dawood no. 546]

Translated by

Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan
Abu Sulaymaan