Arrogance is a blameworthy characteristic which is the feature of Iblees and his cohorts in this world, those on whose hearts Allah has placed a seal.
The first one who showed arrogance towards Allah SWT and His creation was the accursed Iblees, when Allah SWT commanded him to prostrate to Adam and he refused and was arrogant, and said, “I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.”
The imam mentioned Sura Al-Araaf, ayats 11 and 12:
“And surely, We created you (your father Adam) and then gave you shape (the noble shape of a human being); then We told the angels, ‘Prostrate yourselves to Adam’, and they prostrated themselves, except Iblees (Satan), he refused to be of those who prostrated themselves.
(Allah) said: ‘What prevented you (O Iblees) that you did not prostrate yourself, when I commanded you?’ Iblees said: ‘I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay’”
Dear brothers and sisters, arrogance is one of the characteristics of Iblees, so whoever wants to be arrogant should realize that he is acquiring a characteristic of the devils, and that he is not acquiring a characteristic of the noble angels who obeyed their Lord and fell down prostrate.
The imam mentioned the following hadith in relation to this which is translated to say:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No one who has an atom’s-weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, what if a man likes his clothes and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.”
There are different types of arrogance. Firstly, there is the type of when a person does not accept the truth and produces false arguments against it. Secondly, when a person admires himself for his beauty or handsomeness, or the fineness of his food or clothing, so he feels proud and arrogant and feels superior to people.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be mindful that we do not fall into these traps as it will be a cause of great loss to us as is conveyed by Allah SWT and his Messenger SAWS.
If we study our faith, we see that due to the danger of this illness, how the Companions of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him tried to avoid this trait. There is one example of a companion seen crying – as he heard about the previous Hadith of those who do not enter Paradise with an ounce of arrogance in their heart.
And another would carry his own bags etc even though he had workers, and would say that he could use his workers but wanted to kill any arrogance in him and would state the Hadith also.
Dear brothers and sisters, one of the remedies for arrogance is to think of yourself as being just like other people and realize that they are like you, they were born from a mother and a father just as you were, and that taqwa which is piety, consciousness and fear of Allah SWT is the true measure of superiority.
The arrogant Muslim should realize that no matter what he achieves, he is still too weak to attain a stature like the mountains in height nor penetrate the earth. This reference coming directly from Allah SWT in Sura Al-Isra ayat 37. We seen this even more now with technology showing us the planet in photos and videos from outer space, allowing us to truly reflect on how small and insignificant we are in the grand design of the creation of Allah SWT.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to understand that arrogance begins in the heart and that arrogance is a symptom of the heart that is in need of repair.
Just like any other illness, the doctor will tell you not to treat the symptoms but to cure the disease. We ought to do the same when it comes to arrogance and so this reminder concludes with steps we ought to be taking in order to cure the heart.
- Reflect on the book of Allah SWT. Our first medicine to killing the ego and raising our level of taqwa or God-consciousness needs to come from connecting with the book of Allah. Recitation is a start but alongside we ought to read translations, study the interpretation of scholars and ponder over the ayats within.
- To remember, and to remind oneself often that everything the slave has comes from Allah SWT. It is not of his actions or brilliance, but with the permission and blessing of Allah SWT.
- To remind ourselves, no matter how much we achieve in this dunya, whatever empire we build for ourselves, our final destination is the same. We are all in this life for a short time and our final abode is under the ground. There we will be placed, with a few plain sheets and nothing else but our deeds that we performed in this world. Our belongings, our wealth and our status, distributed or transferred before the soil has time to settle. This is the fact of the matter and this is what we need to remind ourselves so that we continue to bank for the next life and remove the arrogance from within.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be of the first group of people who was referred to by the Prophet SAWS when he said:
“Shall I inform you about the people of Paradise? They comprise every obscure unimportant humble person, and if he takes Allah’s Oath that he will do that thing, Allah will fulfill his oath (by doing that). Shall I inform you about the people of the Fire? They comprise every cruel, violent, proud and conceited person.”
We can only achieve this by understanding that arrogance originates from the heart and it’s cure is the remembrance of Allah SWT, either through the contemplation of His Book, the blessings He has given us in our personal lives and beyond , or through the realization that this life is temporary and the arrogance needs to be replaced by humility and gratitude for His mercy.