What is the danger of arrogance? During the prophet’s time, there were skeptics who asked why God would reveal himself and his word to an illiterate orphaned man, rather than a high-ranking influential man. A Hadith (Muslim) relates: He who has an atom’s weight of pride shall not enter Paradise. This warning should strike fear into our hearts, for who does not feel superior at one time or another? A man or a woman can be pious, observing prayers on time, giving charity, and dress modestly, and negate all of these fulfilled duties by falling to pride and arrogance in one’s own ways. Who are we to judge what is in the other hearts of our fellow brothers and sisters? We must always remember that the role and privilege of judgment is Allah’s only, and Allah is all-knowing. Levels of arrogance vary, from feeling it in one’s heart to being blinded to ones own faults. Imagine becoming so concerned with pointing out others’ flaws that you forget your own! What good could such arrogance get you?
It would get you nowhere further that it got Iblis. Shaytaan, the worst of creation, was guilty of thinking himself better than the rest. Fire is not superior to earth, nor is light skin superior to dark.
“I shall turn away from my revelations those who are unjustly proud in the Earth. Even if they see every sign, they will not believe in it. And if they see the right path to salvation they will not take it. If they see the wrong path to error and sin they will take it. This is because they reject Our messages and are heedless of them.” -Sûrah Al-A’raf 146
What constitutes justified pride? I think we can feel pride in accepting Islam, in being Muslims. We must still, however, be careful not to forget that we are all but servants to Allah Almighty. Allah’s messenger compared his actions to those of the colloquial servant when he said he sits and eats like a servant. There is no difference between you or I, except for what rests in our hearts. Pride in the face of arrogance, or in times of fighting is deemed acceptable, and these are the only exceptions.
Exaggerating humility is as bad as arrogance, and claiming it is an arrogant act in itself. It is important to represent ourselves as what we are, and not who we would like to be. Deceiving others only leads to deceiving ourselves, leading to a state near the aforementioned blindness. When engaging in humbling acts such as prayer or charity, take advantage of the full blessing by remember that Allah advises us to ‘do no favor seeking gain’ or ‘give not a thing in order to have more (or consider not your deeds of Allah’s obedience as a favour to Allah), Surah Al-Muddaththir 6. Another similar caution I came across is that ‘to give someone a small gift with the hope of receiving a greater good is like begging.’ Work in this life in a way which comes naturally and not out of obligation yourself, but to those less fortunate than you.
So how are we to react when we see fellow Muslims engaging in not-so-halal behaviour, or those who make no public expression of their faith? It is tempting to feel pride, but it is important to instead feel humble and gratefulness to Allah that we feel rightly guided. Make dua for others’ mistakes, and for yourself that you may never forget that we men are all in the same boat, and are ultimately susceptible to the same sins. We must remind ourselves that we are all servants to Allah’s power. If for some reason you feel superior to someone, try to befriend them, and share your knowledge. Give thanks to Allah for all that you have, and realize that others have not been as blessed. One of the most humbling aspects of our relationships with one another is our differences. When you see a blind man trying to cross the street, a homeless man begging for food at night, or a handicapped woman, don’t just feel pity. Thank Allah for all that you have been given, and realize that their deen may be stronger than yours, even after dealing with such obstacles. This realization is most humbling in the face of arrogance only if we try. Convince yourself of your own flaws, before you ridicule theirs. Work as hard as you can everyday and engage in seemingly menial chores. Remember that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said ‘whoever humbles himself for the sake of Allah, Allah will exalt him and enhance his honor and dignity.’
Two relevant supplications:
Allaahumma innee a`aoodhu bika min ash-shiqaqi wa an-nifaaqi wasoo’ al-akhlaaq.
(O Allah I seek refuge and protection in You from discord, hypocrisy and all base morals and character).
Allaahumma laa tu’aakhithnee bimaa yaqooloon, waghfir lee limaa laa ya’lamoon, waj’alnee khayram-mimmaa yadhunnoon.
(O Allah, do not call me to account for what they say and forgive me for what they have no knowledge of and make me better than they imagine).
There are some corrections to this, will post them when I find them!