Oct 20, 2014

That Menacing Atom of Pride

by Anum Ali

Being proud is not entirely negative, but in general it is a negative reference and unfortunately it is found like a pandemic in the global Muslim community over several matters. The sense of pride of being Muslims and of being the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad salAllahu alaihi wasallam (peace and blessings upon him), is worth harboring in our hearts only to remember that it does not pollute the hearts with a sense of boastful superiority over others. Other types of pride in the chaos of the social jungle, compelling people to compete for the unnecessary, are born from that menacing atom of pride that takes them far, far away from smelling even the fragrance of Paradise.

An Emotionally Intelligent Muslim Is Proud With Humility
I believe that every phenomenon, unless classified as a solid, proven vice such as Shirk, has a good and a bad side. Likewise, pride has two aspects. Since it is an emotion, a Muslim is required to be emotionally intelligent and channel the sense of superiority into positive expression and productive upbringing of the Muslim community. If he or she chooses to act foolish, the same pride can give birth to social intolerance, derogatory treatment of others, and would eventually tarnish the image of the Muslim nation at large. I find extremists, who claim to be Muslim, to be proud beings who possess such an inflated sense of pride that they despise anybody else who is any different than them. Contrary to such fools, a proud, yet humble, Muslim is tolerant of others. 

Model of an atom - The basic particle of all creation

So what is the size of an atom, again? A scientific figure with too many decimal points, but in simple comparative language, there are millions of atoms in each grain of sand. Do you get the picture of how mega-tiny microscopic I'm talking about? That's the size, of exactly one atom, of pride that pushes you far away from even smelling the scent of Paradise. That's not me talking. In the words of Prophet Mohammad, Messenger of Allah, RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wasallam, "No one who has an atom's weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise," (Muslim, 91).

Let's put pride under our own Islamic electron microscope today and study it in light of Qur’an and Hadith.

Pride - The Devil's Trait
The first incidence of the display of pride and arrogance is known to all. It was Iblis, the leader of angels, who stood arrogantly before Allah and refused to bow before Prophet Adam ‘alaihissalaam. Iblis boasted,

 "I am better than him. You created me from fire, and him, You created from clay." (Qur’an 7:12). 

So think again whose footsteps are you following, what status he has been demoted to, and what would be the fate of his followers.

Another proud being was the Pharaoh (Fir'awn) the ruler of Egypt in the days of Prophet Moses ‘alaihissalaam. He was boastful of his stature, riches, and lands so much that he rejected the truth i.e. the Oneness of Allah. He rejected Prophet Moses ‘alaihissalaam as Allah's prophet and put him to tests and trials in combat with magicians. We all know what happened to him.

Types of Pride

1. Pride of being more knowledgeable or better off
There is a lot of this kind of pride going around these days simply because people are gaining more religious, academic, and professional knowledge. Degrees, diplomas, and certifications at times do more than just pinning a badge of qualification on a person. They also pin a badge of pride. A doctor, having passed through a tenure of several years of hard studies to get to where he or she is, may talk down everyone else who has a medical opinion. A company's chief executive officer may think everyone else is an underachiever. A person who has completed a religious course may look down upon everyone else as a sinner or somebody less in stature than them.

2. Pride of one's ancestors
Another common pride is that which one feels for his or her ancestral heritage. Some may be proud about belonging to an influential tribe and others may have royal or noble roots. Some may be from a generation of aristocrats and others may have ancestors from a popular township.

3. Pride of being more beautiful and/or rich

Being rich and beautiful is a blessing that requires utmost offering of gratitude to Allah and service and politeness to His Creation.

Influences of media have created a major social dysfunction of praising "plastic beauty" and disgracing the rest. Men and women are not comfortable in their own skins because others who have inherited "artificial, make-believe skins" are proud to put themselves up for display. The rich and famous parade the streets with pompous displays of wealth reflecting from their clothes, the vehicles they drive, and even the food they eat.

Prophet Mohammad salAllahu alaihi wassallam said,

 "Whilst a man was walking, dragging his garment with pride, with his hair nicely combed, Allah caused the earth to swallow him and he will go on sinking until the Day of Resurrection." (Al-Bukhari, 3297)

This does not imply that one should not dress and look beautiful. Prophet Mohammad salAllahu alaihi wassallam said, 

"Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people." (Muslim, 91)

Modesty is a trait that is required of a Muslim as essentially as his or her devotion to Allah.

The Right Kind of Pride
Being a Muslim is a matter of pride because you are following the best theological philosophy of One Creator. This pride is the right kind of pride and qualifies as a self-esteem booster, however, if expressed in a wrong way it would again be disqualified as a forbidden aspect of personality. Prophet Mohammad salAllahu alaihi wassallam prescribed various ways to express this pride in one's Creator. He asked the people to exalt Allah and proclaim that there is no God but Him. The chants of Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great) and Laa ilaaha illAllah (There is no God but Allah) are expressions of Islamic pride and of rising in honor. Unfortunately, they have been misused so much by hostile elements that they have become restricted in meaning only as war cries. That is not true.

Don't Nuke Your Destiny 
Paradise is our destiny and one atom of pride is enough to become that atom bomb which can nuke our destiny. In simple words, do not blow it up out of sheer arrogance.

I'd love to hear your view on this topic. Please leave comments in the section below!


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