What is the status of this hadith?
رِضَا النَّاسِ غَايَةٌ لَا تُدْرَكُ، فَعَلَيْكَ بِمَا يَصْلُحُكَ فَالْزَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ لَا سَبِيْلَ إِلَى رِضَاهُمْ
“The pleasure of people is an unachievable aim. Thus, you should dedicate yourself in doing good for yourself. The reason is, you can never please everyone (people).”
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Seeking recognition or pleasing others is among the honourable attributes of humans. The reason is, we are commanded to seek the pleasure of Allah SWT and being pleasant to others around us. This is in accordance with a hadith which states:
مَنِ التَمَسَ رِضَاءَ اللَّهِ بِسَخَطِ النَّاسِ كَفَاهُ اللَّهُ مُؤْنَةَ النَّاسِ، وَمَنِ التَمَسَ رِضَاءَ النَّاسِ بِسَخَطِ اللَّهِ وَكَلَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَى النَّاسِ
“Whoever seeks Allah's pleasure by the people's wrath, Allah will suffice him from the people. And who ever seeks the people's pleasure by Allah's wrath, Allah will entrust him to the people.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (2414) [this hadith is authenticated by Imam Ibn Hibban but with a different wording and he includes it in his Sahih]
Syeikh al-Mubarakfuri commented on the above hadith saying, the meaning that Allah entrusting him to the people is Allah leaving him to be hurt by people (who he tries to please). (See: Tuhfah al-Ahwazi, 82/7)
Furthermore, the meaning of seeking the pleasure of people can also be divided into two as stated by Syeikh al-Raghib which are; a slave is pleased with Allah and Allah is pleased with the slave. The meaning that a slave is pleased with Allah means he isn’t unsatisfied with whatever that Allah has set for him. As for Allah is pleased with a slave is Allah protecting the salve and ensuring that the slave obeys His commandments and leave His prohibitions. (See: I’Rab al-Quran al-Karim wa Bayanuhu, 547/10)
According to the above question, the statement is not a hadith from the Prophet PBUH, but are words of Imam al-Syafie to Rabi’ as narrated by Imam Abu Nu’aim in his book, (See: Hilyah al-Awliya’, 123/9) and Imam Ibn al-Jauzi in his book. (See: Sifat al-Safwah, 436/1). However, the meaning of the statement is authentic, which is, it is impossible to get the pleasure of people. Hence, it is obligatory for each individual to seek the pleasure of Allah SWT and not people even if it will make him disliked by people.
To conclude, seeking pleasure is a good attribute in humans. Furthermore, being content and pleased with one’s situation is the attribute of the people of taqwa. However, seeking the pleasure of Allah SWT is of utmost priority compared to pleasing people. We will end this article with the words of advice from al-Fudhail bin ‘Iyadh to Bisyr al-Hafi:
الرِّضَا أَفْضَلُ مِنَ الزُّهْدِ فِي الدُّنْيَا. لِأَنَّ الرَّاضِيَ لَا يَتَمَنَّى فَوْقَ مَنْزِلَتِهِ
“Contentment is more important than zuhud (asceticism) in this world, for a content person will not ask for anything more than what he has.” (See: Madarij al-Salikin, 175/2)
Lastly, may Allah SWT make us be among those who are always content with His blessings.