PRIDE AND ARROGANCE
"Should I prostrate to one You created from clay?" Sura Al-Isra 17:61
Being proud and arrogant are one of the greatest bad qualities that a person can possess and a sin – yet we see people behaving proudly all the time. The Prophet (PBUH) warned us about being proud – even a mustard seed’s weight of pride in our hearts will prevent us from going to Jannah:
It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed: He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise. Reference: Sahih Muslim 91c
It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah, the Exalted, said: ‘Might is His garment and pride is His cloak; whoever seeks to compete with Me concerning them, I will punish him.’” Narrated by Muslim, 2620.
In another narration, the Prophet (PBUH) clarified what it meant to be proud and arrogant:
At-Tirmidhi (1999), Abu Dawood (4091) and Ibn Maajah (59) narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “No one will enter Paradise in whose heart is an atom’s weight of arrogance and no one will enter Hell in whose heart is an atom’s weight of faith.” A man said: What if I like my clothes to look nice and my shoes to look nice? He said: “Verily Allah loves beauty; rather arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.
According to Ibn Juzay the definition of Arrogance (kibr) is, “A person thinking highly of themselves and looking down upon others.” Imam al-Ghazzali in his Forty Foundations defines pride as, “The reality of arrogance (kibr) is that one deems himself superior to others in regards to qualities of completion which leads to snobbish and overjoyed”.
Allah created us and everything. It if befitting that pride belongs to Him, and Him alone. On youmul Qiyamah Allah will say – where are the proud?
What causes arrogance? Arrogance can be caused by having knowledge, worship, lineage, courage, strength, beauty, wealth, or prestige. Some of the effects of arrogance is that a person would want a high position in gatherings, being the first while walking, looking down on others, being hateful towards others if they don’t begin with salam, or that when he looks at the masses it’s like he is looking at donkeys.
The Prophet (PBUH) said, Pride and conceitedness is among the owners of the camels and tranquillity and sobriety is found amongst the owners of sheep. Reference : Sahih Muslim 52k
No one likes an arrogant person. No one likes anyone who looks down upon others. This disease of the heart creeps into people mostly after they have done some good deed and then attribute the good to their own doing.
WHO WAS ARROGANT?
While asked to bow down to Adam, Satan’s response was very thought-provoking and clearly pointed to his arrogance:
And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He said, “Should I prostrate to one You created from clay?” Sura Al-Isra 17:61
And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except Iblees; he refused. Sura Taha 20:116
[Allāh] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay [i.e., earth].” Sura Al A’raf 7:12
And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers. Sura Al Baqarah 2:34
[Satan] said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them [i.e., mankind] on Your straight path. Sura Al-A’raf 7:16
From here we see some interesting facts:
- Satan thought he was better due to him being created from fire and Adam (AS) from clay
- his refusal was due to his arrogance which turned him into a disbeliever
- he was the only one who disobeyed the command of Allah
- he had freedom of choice
SIGNS OF ARROGANCE
No one admits to being arrogant, but there are signs from which we can recognize a person as being arrogant.
From the above we see the signs of arrogance as follows:
- looking down on people “I am better”. Belittling people. They are better than others.
- thinking better of their own worship, knowledge, education, lineage, strength, beauty, wealth or position in society
- putting blame on others. Satan blamed Allah (SWT) by saying “because you put me in error” whereas Adam (AS) responded by saying “I have made a mistake”
- never admitting one’s mistake
- dragging one’s clothes on the floor
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah said: “The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: ‘Whoever drags his garment out of pride, Allah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.'” Grade: Sahih (Darussalam) Reference : Sunan an-Nasa’i 5327
PUNISHMENT FOR ARROGANCE
Allah doesn’t like people who are proud.
And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allāh does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. Sura Luqman 31:18
People don’t like proud people either and stay away from them.
As mentioned in the hadith previously, if a man has even a mustard seed’s weight of pride in his heart he will not be able to enter Jannah.
Allah’s signs will not be seen by them
I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right; and if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. And if they see the way of consciousness, they will not adopt it as a way; but if they see the way of error, they will adopt it as a way. That is because they have denied Our signs and they were heedless of them. Sura Al-A’raf 7:146
Subhanallah! What could be worse punishment than not being able to see the signs of Allah (SWT)!
Ibn Zukri said, “As long as a person is arrogant his heart will not submit to truth, accept it, nor benefit from it.”
Allah caused the earth to swallow for a man who was arrogant
The punishment for showing off may come to pass in this world, not in the Hereafter. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whilst a man was walking arrogantly admiring himself and his clothes, Allah caused the earth to swallow him and he is suffering in it until the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 2088).
Driven to Jahannam
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Paradise and Hell (Fire) quarreled in the presence of their Lord. Paradise said, ‘O Lord! What is wrong with me that only the poor and humble people enter me ?’ Hell (Fire) said, I have been favored with the arrogant people.’ So Allah said to Paradise, ‘You are My Mercy,’ and said to Hell, ‘You are My Punishment which I inflict upon whom I wish, and I shall fill both of you.'” The Prophet added, “As for Paradise, (it will be filled with good people) because Allah does not wrong any of His created things, and He creates for Hell (Fire) whomever He will, and they will be thrown into it, and it will say thrice, ‘Is there any more, till Allah (will put) His Foot over it and it will become full and its sides will come close to each other and it will say, ‘Qat! Qat! Qat! (Enough! Enough! Enough!) .Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 7449
[To them] it will be said, “Enter the gates of Hell to abide eternally therein, and wretched is the residence of the arrogant.” Sura Az-Zumar 39:72
LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET (PBUH)
The Prophet (PBUH) is our role model in all aspects of our lives. After 23 years of prophethood being the most successful human in the history of mankind, the message to him from Allah (SWT) was –
Then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of Repentance. Sura An Nasr 110:3
Every act of sitting, eating, walking, talking showed that there was never any arrogance in him and this is a lesson for us. He used to spend hours and hours in prayers at night and when asked by our mother Ayesha (RA) why he did that since all his sins had been forgiven his answer was – should I not be a grateful servant?
When people saw a gathering from a distance it was difficult to differentiate who was the Prophet because he used to sit just like everyone else.
When eating he would sit up straight. He (PBUH) used to settle down on the floor in order to eat His meals. The noble Prophet (PBUH) never learned during eating the meal.
LESSONS FROM THE LIVES OF SAHABA
This supplication was not taught to us by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but it is one that his best friend, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would make after being praised (some narrations state that it was a duaa of Ali raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).
It is reported that he would say, O Allah, make me better than what they think of me, and forgive me for what they do not know about me, and do not take me to account for what they say about me.
LESSONS FROM OUR PIOUS PREDECESSORS
Shaykh Albani when he was praised he would respond by saying, “O Allah I seek refuge in you in what they say about me, and make me better than what they think about me.”
The response from Abdullah bin Baz when he was praised
- being conscious all the time not to be arrogant and seeking help from Allah (SWT). Dua. If there is any goodness in us it is by the mercy of Allah (SWT) and Him alone.
- looking up to others who have contributed so much more and have attained so much goodness in terms of seeking the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Many are very simple people but their greatness lies in the fact that they do this only for the sake of Allah (SWT)
- think of yourself as being just like other people born from a clot of dirty water, helpless and from the same passage from where urine flows – only difference is in TAQWA
- everyone will be gathered in front of Allah (SWT) one day, and there will be no difference among one another except by the weight of good deeds
- all of our wealth, beauty, strength, knowledge will be lost one day the moment we leave this earth
We ask Allah (SWT) to grant us the ability to rid ourselves from all sorts of arrogance and grant us entry into Jannah. Ameen.
And Allah knows best.