Oct 13, 2011

A Mustard Seed

by Jean D. Cooksey

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, who narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “No one who has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said: “Indeed, a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.” So the Prophet said: “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.”[Sahih Muslim, Book of Faith, #147, graded “authentic”]

Other Ahadeeth state that anyone with arrogance in his heart the weight of a mustard seed will not enter heaven.

Surely as Muslims our greatest goal should be to please Allah subhaanawata'aala. Often in this life we are faced with many distractions and tests that take us away from this goal. Kibr also known as pride, arrogance, or ego is a serious offense as indicated by the above hadith as it can lead to hellfire. Clearly that which can lead us to hellfire displeases Allah subhaanawata'aala.

So what is kibr? As the Hadith illustrates pride is when one rejects truth and looks down on others. All good comes from Allah. We are given a complete guidance in the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet salAllahualayhiwasallam. Unfortunately most of us may be guilty of being arrogant at one time or another. One of the benefits of Allah’s guidance is that we are given the best ways to interact with our fellow humans. Often these interactions are some of the biggest tests and forms of fitna for a Muslim. In fact, the greater jihad in this life is against one’s self.

Have you ever spent a significant amount of time and effort to make a great meal for your husband only to find he didn’t like it? Resulting in having your feelings hurt? Have you ever had someone try and “correct” your behavior with Islamic advice but instead found your feathers got a little ruffled instead? Have you seen a sister praying in the mosque during Ramadan that isn’t covered sufficiently or wearing strong perfume and you think negatively of her? And thus elevating yourself in your own mind?

These are just a few of many examples of how ego can seep out of us unnoticed. Not so ironically, when one acts on behalf of Allah much of our daily stresses dissolve. If our actions and intentions are truly for the sake of Allah then the results should not bother us. We are responsible for our actions and intentions, but we must leave the results to Allah subhaanawata'aala. When you intend to make a magnificent meal for your husband only to find he didn’t like it, you must look at the bigger picture. Our intentions are what count. In remembering that our efforts are for Allah we can find solace in knowing that we have done our part. If our husband does not like the food, take note to adjust this and move on.

Often we are corrected by others. If the advice is warranted, we should acknowledge it regardless of the one giving the advice. Often advice is rejected because of the person giving it or the manner in which it is given. We must look past our feelings and look with honesty into the validity and merit of the advice. It may be Allah is giving us an opportunity to improve ourselves. Much of how we react to people in various situations can serve to satisfyour ego or to please Allah.

Evidence of how the latter is superior is found in the following Hadith.

"I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.'' [Sunan Abu Dawud]

Here we are shown the superiority of sacrificing ego for the pleasure of Allah. The making of peace with others while swallowing our pride is a noble attribute. If we were to focus on our attitudes on a daily basis in even the smallest of interactions we are giving ourselves opportunities for improvement and insight. Only the individual can take responsibility for detecting instances where one is thinking and acting in ways that serves oneself instead of Allah.

If we find ourselves looking at others in a way that inflates our ego but does nothing for our deenthen we are in loss. True judgment is for Allah subhaanawata'aalafor only He knows the unseen. One of the best pieces of advice I have received is to look toward others less fortunate than yourself to gain gratitude toward Allah. Likewise we should look to those who practice their deen better for humility and inspiration. So find regular company with those who will help your deen.

A second and more powerful piece of advice for me came in a time of great testing in my life. Simply put, we must focus on fulfilling our responsibilities, and ask of our rights from Allah. This statement is quite profound if you think about the expectations we have for people every day. Unfortunately people usually fall short of our expectations. We are full of flaws and don’t always deliver. Allah is perfect and most just. He will not disappoint. Even if we cannot see or understand the big picture we should be sure of this when things do not go as we want.

If ego can lead to hellfire then humility can lead to Jannah. Only we can gauge our own level of arrogance and how it manifests. We should be uncomfortable with praise as Allah subhaanawata'aala is the provider and engineer of all. We are merely the recipients of His grace. We might find value in speaking less and listening more. Pay acute attention to our thoughts because they become our attitudes and actions. Find true meaning in what saying “alhamduilllah” encompasses. This is especially true when things are not as we would have liked. We can cleanse our hearts and keep them soft with sincere remembrance of and gratitude toward Allah.

Ultimately we are responsible for our own actions and no one else’s. On Judgment Day we will not care for anyone’s destiny but our own. On this day of unimaginable intensity we will be engrossed in our own fate. When you think of this life as a passing of time where we determine how we spend our real life in the hereafter, it makes sense that we as Muslims should internalize the bigger picture. Others are not here to serve our needs; we are here to serve Allah subhaanawata'aala. If that means yielding in an argument, smiling when someone is rude, or making peace with someone who has wronged you, then it is a relatively small price to pay.

May Allah subhaanawata'aala make us among the successful in this life and in the next.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please comment in the section below! :)


SubhanaAllah jazakAllah Khayer for the wonderful post and reminder

Alhamdulillah a wonderful reminder, I pray Allah swt makes us of those who remember Him and who have humility and no arrogance. Ameen

MashaAllah very touching

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