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Arrogance and Pride

Publishing Date : 26 March, 2019

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


There is something that we all dislike, that is a person who thinks he is superior, is haughty, rude, a proud show off or even one who treats us in an arrogant manner? Nor do we like the person who has a big ego, belittles us and treats us as below him. Frankly we all dislike arrogance…. in others.



There are many sicknesses of the heart, but the ones that take the lead are arrogance and a superiority complex. Because we all have human frailties anyone of us at one time or the other is prone to behave in the manner described above. The first sign of arrogance is when a person thinks that he is superior to other people this goes hand in hand with pride and are usually a by-product of our arrogance; that makes us so wrapped up in our own self-importance that we strut about like proud peacocks simply because we believe that we are better than others.


For some of us our worldly material possessions and things that pumps up our ego. Things like money, wealth, possessions, wearing only ‘branded’ clothing, driving fancy cars, owning the latest and fanciest mobile phone, or live in a posh house in an equally posh  neighbourhood. For many of us, these things go to our head and it leads us to think that we are superior and therefore better than others.


In today’s world many of us who think we have reached a certain ‘social standing’, our arrogance flows out of us and we become inclined to calling people with offensive names or nicknames, making fun of and belittling others. We make fun of others because we think that they are of ‘low standing and beneath us’, so somehow we relegate them to insignificant status.  


Just a simple example of some people’s arrogance, there has been a spate of complaints of ‘cheap’ Chinese clothes flooding the market. Many complain simply because they would never wear this ‘cheap clothing’. But has it ever occurred to them that today even the very poor amongst us who cannot afford to buy our type branded clothing are now able to dress up and look good in those clothes that we consider below our dignity because they are cheap?


The Almighty warns us: ‘Swell not thy cheek with pride at men nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not the arrogant boaster’ (Qur’an 31:18). And ‘Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious’. (Quran 4:36). Yet despite these warnings we still carry on with our exaggerated self-importance. Little do we realise that whatever we have in this world is a ‘gift from Allah’; we are but temporary custodians and these worldly blessings are a mere test for us and that He can take them back at any time.


Regrettably for some our wealth tends to inflate our egos and make us feel a cut above the rest and we tend to lose our moral and religious upbringing. But remember the Bible also warns in Mark 10: 25: ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’.   


Another type is arrogance displayed in a person is one that shows contempt and scorn for others and this can be based in terms of lineage, race, colour and even religious identity. Hard as it is to believe but there are some religious people who display a ‘holier than thou’ attitude and consider themselves as better than others because of their religious knowledge and even tag themselves with labels such as prophet, the anointed or chosen ones.


In Islam the first arrogance is the account of Satan in the Quran and it offers an interesting insight on the danger of pride. When God commanded all creation to prostrate to Adam (to symbolizes the high potential of the human who is the reflection of Divine attributes), all angels bowed down, but Satan refused. "Lord said: O Satan! what prevented you from bowing down to him whom I created with My hands? Are you proud or are you of the exalted ones? Satan said: I am better than he; Thou hast created me of fire, and him Thou didst create of dust." - Quran 38:75- 76


Even in Christianity arrogance and haughtiness are frowned upon because in this instance where Jesus (PBUH) says: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, so that you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach………”


"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their religious garb wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'…….The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:1-12).


The Qur’an has a long verse that broadly tells and warns us of this: ‘O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.


O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and races, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Quran 49: 11-13)


For a Muslim that is the golden median that we should use to live our lives and how we should view, treat and interact with our fellow humans. What the world needs today is to bring humbleness and humility back into our lives, once we can do this, we will find our arrogance taking a back seat. But unfortunately today we tend to view humility and humbleness in others as a sign of their weakness.   


We have to once again learn to become and also to teach our children those eternal values of humility and humbleness. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "Allah revealed to me that we should be humble amongst ourselves and none should show pride upon the others, and it is not befitting for one to do so."


So are we ready to get off our high horses and live a life humility and humbleness because in the grand scheme of God’s creations we are but an minute particle in creation, and without doubt, rich or poor, haughty or humble, we all have to die one day, there is no escaping death. In Islam our equality goes further, rich or poor, the ruler or the ruled, the high and mighty or the lowest among us; we all leave this world to be buried wrapped in a simple cotton shroud – no fancy coffins. What more proof do you want that we are equal and no better than the others?

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