Allah Most High says:
As for that abode of the Hereafter, We reserve it for those who do not desire greatness on earth nor [do they desire] corruption. And ultimate triumph is for the pious (Qur’an 28:83).
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
Two hungry wolves let loose in a flock of sheep do not cause as much harm as harm to a man’s religion wrought but his desire for wealth and fame. (Tirmidhi).
The Nature of the Love of Fame
The desire that others honor, respect, and be submissive to one is termed love of fame (hubb al-jah). It is difficult to diagnose this malady. It is only in the event of an incident in which one is not honored that this disease becomes detectable. Love of fame is a quality that lies in one’s imagination; hence its nature is transistory. It is extremely flimsy in that it is dependant on the thoughts of others, for fame entails honor of one by others. The thoughts of others thus form the basis of fame. If others divert their thoughts, one’s fame is eliminated. Hence, he who desires to be considered famous and honorable has to rely on the thoughts of others – thoughts that are not within his control. But in spite of love of fame being so flimsy in nature and emphemeral, man hankers after it.
Only such fame is detestable that has been acquired by one’s desire and pursuit. Such fame is a calamity that destroys one’s worldly life as well as one’s life of the Hereafter. When man sees that the world praises him, he is overtaken by pride and vanity. These diseases finally destroy him. His religion is thus destroyed. Many people have fallen into this trap and been utterly wiped out.
A famous person has many envious enemies who engage in consiparacies to harm and eliminate him. This then is the harm to one’s worldly life. Thus, both religion and worldly life suffer in the wake of fame.
On the other hand, fame that Allah Most High bestows upon man without him requesting it is a bounty (ni`ma). As a man needs wealth to a certain degree, so does a he stand in need of fame to a certain degree. Such limited fame enables him to remain in safety and be protected against unjustice and oppression. Such safety enables a him to engage in the worship of Allah Most High without fear and in peace. This amount of fame is therefore not harmful.
Meditate upon the futility of the love of fame. Neither the one who honors nor the one who is honored will remain. All will perish. It is therefore childish to be delighted over such transitory and illusionary attribute. This manner of contemplation will eliminate this malady.
(The Path to Perfection, Shaykh Maseehullah Khan)