At-Tahzeeb: Arrogance and Prideالعجب والغرور
“Whoever has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his/her heart will not enter paradise.”
– Prophet Muhammad
(Sahih Muslim no. 91)
Arrogance is one of the most dangerous inner diseases of the heart. Those inner diseases reside in the hearts but their destructive effects are reflected in the behavior and conduct of the affected person. Arrogance is capable of preventing his owner from entering paradise.
The heart can be filled with arrogance or can have only up to a small atom’s weight of arrogance.
Arrogance and people of arrogance were condemned in several pages of the Qur’an as well as in the sunnah of the prophet. It is also a type of shirk (associating partner with Allah) because the arrogant has attributed his skills, abilities and achievements to himself and disbelief in the original source of success from Allah. It is Haram (forbidden).
A condemned character
Allah will deal with anyone or people who demonstrate arrogance no matter their status. The sahabah were of the highest quality and status among the believers. When some group among them demonstrated some arrogance, Allah left them with their situation. This was and still remains a clear warning and lesson to any believer that Allah does not tolerate arrogance in the least bit.
لَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ فِي مَوَاطِنَ كَثِيرَةٍ وَيَوْمَ حُنَيْنٍ إِذْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ كَثْرَتُكُمْ فَلَمْ تُغْنِ عَنْكُمْ شَيْئًا وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الأرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ ثُمَّ وَلَّيْتُمْ مُدْبِرِينَ (٢٥)
Allah has already given you victory in many regions and [even] on the day of Hunayn, when your great number pleased you, but it did not avail you at all, and the earth was confining for you with its vastness; then you turned back, fleeing.
(Surat At-Tawbah: 25)
Either a believer or a disbeliever, any person or group who demonstrates arrogance will suffer defeat and failure. The following verse was about the Jews of Medina.
هُوَ الَّذِي أَخْرَجَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ لأوَّلِ الْحَشْرِ مَا ظَنَنْتُمْ أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ مَانِعَتُهُمْ حُصُونُهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ فَأَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَمْ يَحْتَسِبُوا وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ يُخْرِبُونَ بُيُوتَهُمْ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَيْدِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَاعْتَبِرُوا يَا أُولِي الأبْصَارِ (٢)
It is He who expelled the ones who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture from their homes at the first gathering. You did not think they would leave, and they thought that their fortresses would protect them from Allah ; but [the decree of] Allah came upon them from where they had not expected, and He cast terror into their hearts [so] they destroyed their houses by their [own] hands and the hands of the believers. So take warning, O people of vision.
Some manifestations of arrogance
- Self-glorification: This is when man looks into his/her glorious achievements in life then takes pride in them. This is condemnable since all abilities materialize only by the Will of Allah.
- To look down on other people (العجب المذموم): This is an extension of self-glorification to include looking down on others and attributing every success to one’s skills and abilities. This is worst type of arrogance.
- Not accepting other people’s opinion: This is arrogant because it involves the person relying on the superiority of his intellect and considering his opinion infallible by rejecting other people’s contributions. Believers should be aware of this when attending a meeting.
- Boastfulness on the nobility of family lineage: No matter the nobility of one’s family, it will be arrogant to take pride in it. Each person will be responsible for his personality.
أَفَمَنْ زُيِّنَ لَهُ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ فَرَآهُ حَسَنًا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يُضِلُّ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ فَلا تَذْهَبْ نَفْسُكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسَرَاتٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُون
Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good [like one rightly guided]? For indeed, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. So do not let yourself perish over them in regret. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what they do.
Surat Al-Faatir 8
- Believe Allah as the ultimate source of all success.
- Look and reflect on giant creatures in nature to appreciate how insignificant humans are if not honoured by Allah.
It is to rejoice in one’s righteousness and underestimate the destruction contained in disobedience or to accept the deception of shaytan that the righteous obligations one has fulfilled will be enough to erase any disobedience.
A misplaced order
Some people have accepted the deception of shaytan and tried to justify their pride with the following verse:
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ذَلِكَ ذِكْرَى لِلذَّاكِرِينَ
And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.
Surat Hud 114
The flaw in this misinterpretation is a clear misplaced order. Righteousness or good deeds that will erase misdeeds will come after the misdeed. Any good deeds that were planned ahead to neutralize any misdeeds after it will be of no benefit. Furthermore, only minor misdeeds can be erased with good deeds.
الَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الإثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ إِلا اللَّمَمَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ وَاسِعُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِكُمْ إِذْ أَنْشَأَكُمْ مِنَ الأرْضِ وَإِذْ أَنْتُمْ أَجِنَّةٌ فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ فَلا تُزَكُّوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَى.
Those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, only [committing]slight ones. Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.
(Surah An-Najm: 32)
Victims of pride
The following groups should be aware that they were the first targets for shaytan’s arrow of pride.
- Devoted worshippers
- People with abundant wealth
Shaytan’s delusions of Scholars
Scholars of the religion should be wary of the pitfall of shaytan and seek Allah’s assistance from falling into any of the following categories:
- Those who rejoice in their high level and standard of knowledge and the disposal of that knowledge to their satisfaction. They consider themselves in an esteemed position as the people placed them. They do not bother to implement the knowledge upon themselves.
- Those who took pride in their large audience.
- Those who consider their knowledge as being capable of placing them on an extra-ordinary level, therefore take the injunctions of Allah with laxity. They satisfy themselves with the reward in their teachings of guidance to others. They will not observe the obligations of Allah as due.
Shaytan’s delusions of Worshippers
- Those who forsake the obligatory and occupy themselves with nawafil (superogatory acts of worship)
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَالَ:مَنْ عَادَى لِي وَلِيًّا فَقَدْ آذَنْتُهُ بِالحَرْبِ، وَمَا تَقَرَّبَ إِلَيَّ عَبْدِي بِشَيْءٍ أَحَبَّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا افْتَرَضْتُ عَلَيْهِ، وَمَا يَزَالُ عَبْدِي يَتَقَرَّبُ إِلَيَّ بِالنَّوَافِلِ حَتَّى أُحِبَّهُ، فَإِذَا أَحْبَبْتُهُ: كُنْتُ سَمْعَهُ الَّذِي يَسْمَعُ بِهِ، وَبَصَرَهُ الَّذِي يُبْصِرُ بِهِ، وَيَدَهُ الَّتِي يَبْطِشُ بِهَا، وَرِجْلَهُ الَّتِي يَمْشِي بِهَا، وَإِنْ سَأَلَنِي لَأُعْطِيَنَّهُ، وَلَئِنِ اسْتَعَاذَنِي لَأُعِيذَنَّهُ، وَمَا تَرَدَّدْتُ عَنْ شَيْءٍ أَنَا فَاعِلُهُ تَرَدُّدِي عَنْ نَفْسِ المُؤْمِنِ، يَكْرَهُ المَوْتَ وَأَنَا أَكْرَهُ مَسَاءَتَهُ “
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Allah said, ‘I will declare war against whoever shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have made obligatory upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (voluntary acts of worship besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (Refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him.””
Shaytan’s delusion of the Ascetics
Those whom shaytan has deluded to rejoice in denying themselves the good things of this world with the belief that they were superior to every other people who haven’t done same.
Shaytan’s delusion on the wealthy ones
Those who fall prey of this delusion will take pride in the added advantage they have from spending in the cause of Allah and choose to worship in less of the poor, considering the rewards from their spending to cover up the rest.
Ibn Mas’ud was reported to have said: two things will destroy anyone who possesses them: pessimism and pride.