By Sadia Dehlvi
Sep 14, 2017
Sufi masters say that boastfulness, arrogance and pride are chronic diseases of the heart. According to the Islamic tradition, it was arrogance that caused Satan to be cast in hell. When God commanded him to bow to Adam, he refused saying: “I am better than he, for thou has created me from fire and him of clay.”
In the Quran, God reveals his dislike of bragging, “God does not love the arrogant and the boasting ones.” The Sufis teach that if you are aware of your humility, then you are among the arrogant ones.
In the pre-Islamic society of Arabia, lineage mattered a great deal and defines one’s social status and privileges. Islam changed that as the Quran affirms that the only rank that mattered was one’s relationship with God, “Indeed the most honourable of you in the sight of God is the most God fearing of you, surely God is all knowing and all aware.” One is required to be humble before God, for then one can recognise the vast mercy bestowed upon us by him. Effective ways of keeping tendencies of arrogance in check is to remember that we come from God and will ultimately return to him.
There are various kinds of arrogance: the first type is when a person thinks himself superior to others. The second kind is when a person shows contempt for others. The third form is when one believes that he is born of superior lineage. Other forms of arrogance can be due to one’s beauty, wealth, strength, power or knowledge.
Pride is one of Allah’s exclusive attributes as symbolised in his name “Al Mutakabbir”, the proud one. The spirit of Islam is entering into a state of humility before Allah. As his slaves, there is no room for pride for we have to submit completely to him. Prophet Muhammad said, “No one with an atom’s weight of arrogance in his heart will enter paradise.”
Imam Junayd of Baghdad, the 10th century Sufi taught: “Before attempting to know God, one must empty the heart of arrogance”. God turns the arrogant ones from an understanding of his book. The Quran clearly says, “I will divert my signs from those who show arrogance.”
The 13th century Sufi master Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani of Baghdad said, “All the doors of God are crowded except one, the door of humility and humbleness.” Moses once asked Allah, “Oh my Lord! Who is the most deserving of your wrath and displeasure?” He said, “It is one whose heart is filled with arrogance, tongue abusive, eyes lustful, hands miserly and whose character is doubtful.”