UNIT FOURTEEN – PRIDE AND HUMILITY

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Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be well pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will enter Paradise.” A man said, “And if the man likes his clothes to be good and his sandals to be good?” Allah’s Messenger said: “Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means to renounce the truth and abase people.” (Sahih Muslim, Iman, 147. See also: Sunan Abu Dawud, Libas, 26; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Birr, 61).

 

NARRATOR

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud

1. One of the leading Companions, Abdullah ibn Mas’ud is among the first of those to believe. 2. He is the first Companion to openly recite the Qur’an in Mecca. 3. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud is the Companion who killed Abu Jahl. 4. He was a gifted reciter of the Qur’an. 5. Ibn Mas’ud is one of the founders of Islamic jurisprudence, being of the Companions well versed in the religion. He is, in particular, the linchpin of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. 6. He returned to Medina towards the end of Uthman’s caliphate. Falling ill at age sixty, he passed away in the thirty-second year after the Emigration.

 

EXPLANATION

1. Pride refers to haughty self-conceit and refusal to submit to Allah. The Almighty has cautioned human beings in this regard throughout the Qur’an: “…Allah does not love those who are conceited and boastful” (an-Nisa 4:36).

Do not strut about the earth in haughty self-conceit; for you can never split the earth (no matter how hard you stamp your foot), nor can you stretch to the mountains in height (no matter how strenuously you seek to impress). (al-Isra 17:37)

While these verses exhort human beings to be mindful of pride and arrogance, another again describes the human attribute of pride as being in actual fact a Satanic attribute and explains that unnecessary pride constitutes an obstacle to submission to the Divine command. For even Satan was banished from Paradise due to his pride:

(Allah) said: “O Iblis! What prevents you from prostrating before the being whom I have created with My two Hands? Are you too proud (to bow down before any created being in defiance of My command), or are you (of those who think themselves) so high in honor (that they cannot be ordered to prostrate before anyone)?” (Saad 38:75)

2. While Allah warns human beings in relation to pride and self-conceit, He has employed verses of encouragement concerning its exact opposite, modesty and humility, even characterizing such people as “the (true) servants of the All-Merciful”:

The (true) servants of the All-Merciful are they who move on the earth gently and humbly, and when the ignorant, foolish ones address them (with insolence or vulgarity as befits their ignorance and foolishness), they response with (words of) peace, (without engaging in hostility with them). (al-Furqan 25:63)

From this standpoint, those who are proud and obstinate enough in their pride not to prostrate before Allah assume the characteristic not of being the servants of the All-Merciful, but on the contrary, being servants of Satan.

3. The hadith under consideration indicates that a person with even the most minuscule amount of pride in their heart will not enter Paradise. A conceited person will either face punishment until they are completely cleansed of this affliction and then enter Paradise as a result of their belief, or Allah, Who has full power over everything, will forgive that servant and place them in His Paradise with a heart that is purified. We learn also that the desire to dress well is not connected with pride. What can be the wisdom behind a seemingly wicked characteristic being placed in the nature of a human being? This quality has been given to the human being with a view to their protecting the position of Islam, the honor of the Qur’an, religion, their spiritual values, their integrity, and similar cherished things. If a person is to have pride, they ought to have it in protecting these. Unfortunately in our day, however, people have for some reason become rather lax and lazy in protecting these; but they have become quite industrious and even oversensitive when it comes to their personal pride. The Pharaohs, Nimrods, and the Abu Lahabs have lost because of their pride.

4. After all, does Allah not charge His Messenger with humility, through the language of the Qur’an: “Spread your wings (to provide care and shelter) over the believers who follow you (in practicing Allah’s commandments in their lives)” (ash-Shu’ara 26:215). There are many such verses in the Qur’an. Moreover, Allah’s Messenger sought the same thing, wanting to be “a Prophet slave” when Allah had asked him. This is why we say, “Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger,” in the Declaration of Faith.

5. Acknowledging all the bounties that Allah has bestowed is a form of thankfulness. This, in turn, leads to an increase in such bounties. Turning a blind eye to Him, however, is ingratitude; ingratitude necessitates punishment and causes the discontinuance of the bounty. A person must always see everything as coming from Allah and must proclaim, “Everything is from You, and You are the All-Wealthy. To You have I turned my face.” However, a person must not conceal the Divinely bestowed bounties in fear of being arrogant. That is, a person must also know how to announce and testify to Allah’s favors when necessary. So, how is this balance to be maintained? As a case in point, a man gives a coat to someone as a gift. If another man says to the bearer of the gift, who is wearing the coat, “How fine you are,” and he responds by saying, “The beauty is in the coat,” then he would have combined humility with verbal expression and announcement of the bounty.

 

WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED

1. If pride has reached the point of disrespect towards Allah, the proud person forfeits the chance of entry into Paradise.

2. People who see themselves as superior to others and are thus haughty and conceited commit a major sin.

3. A person can dress finely, provided that they are not overtaken by arrogance and self-conceit.

4. A person must see their own shortcomings if they wish to free themselves of pride and arrogance. A person who does not see their own faults cannot achieve self-correction.

 

EVALUATION

1. “Allah is ……… and loves ………. . Pride means to renounce the truth and abase people.”

2. Who is the Companion who was the first to publicly recite the Qur’an in Mecca and who killed Abu Jahl?

3. “The (true) servants of the All-Merciful are they who move on the earth ……… and ………, and when the ignorant, foolish ones address them, they response with (words of) ……… .”

4. What is the wisdom behind an outwardly evil character trait such as pride being placed in human nature?

5. What does it mean to announce and testify to Allah’s Blessings and how is this realized? 6. How does Satan deceive a person by means of pride?