By Monique Hassan
Arrogance is essentially a prideful attitude of superiority. The opposite of humility. Arrogance in Muslims is not only a negative personality trait, it is a dangerous path. Original sin stems from pride when we look at the story of Iblis (satan) refusing to bow to Adam (peace be upon him).
People are not born arrogant, this develops overtime. Success is wonderful, but it does elevate one’s risk for arrogance. In those moments of success and achievement, we must remember to give praise and thanks to Allah (most glorified, most high). This simple act of gratitude and worship keeps us grounded.
Some people act arrogant as a defense mechanism; look a little deeper and that person is actually insecure and they fear rejection. It takes a level of self-esteem and trust in order to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. An insecure person is putting up a metaphorical shield when they act arrogant.
Narcissistic personality disorder describes someone with an over-inflated sense of self-worth and importance. Their sense of entitlement is evident and they do not mind stepping on others to get what they want. Again, we may be seeing a highly arrogant individual on the surface, but underneath that hides levels of insecurity. This person NEEDS validation and praise so they demand it.
Fatima feels she is above other sisters because she wears niqab. Yusuf has the longest beard; he strokes it while looking down at the clean-shaven brothers. These two believers chose to embrace a beautiful act of sunnah, yet they forget to remember what that actually means . Islamic character is more crucial than Islamic garments. A sister in niqab must be mindful that our behavior is part of our cover, rude and arrogant sisters are displaying immodest attitudes. A long beard becomes an adornment of superiority when a brother forgets he is following the guidance of our prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him).
Dangers of Arrogance
We must be mindful of the dangers of arrogance. It is more than just a negative personality trait. We are warned about arrogance from Allah (most glorified, most high).
وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولًا
And do not walk upon the earth arrogantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height. Quran 17:37
We are displaying a lack of Islamic character when we display arrogance and superiority complexes. This dark seed blossoms into a dangerous characteristic that can ruin marriages, disrupt families, tarnish career reputations and most dangerously; pull someone away from faith.
Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) said None shall enter the Fire (of Hell) who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of Iman and none shall enter Paradise who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride. Sahih, Muslim 91 hadith 172
Move away from Arrogance, take steps Forward
Humility in Muslims, the opposite of arrogance in Muslims, is attainable by even the most hardened narcissists. It is possible for someone to release themselves from the cage of arrogance with a degree of self-awareness and a willingness to move forward. This is not a fully inclusive list, but just a few examples of ways to improve.
- Be more mindful of the people around you and respect their boundaries
Mindfulness is a popular phrase right now for good reason. Actively listen, listen to understand not to respond. Attempt to validate other’s opinions and offer real substance to interactions. Respect their boundaries physically and emotionally. Remember it is okay to disagree, but do it in a respectful manner. These actions will cause others to react more positively and promote healthier interactions. This can be practiced online in social platforms where one can feel less vulnerable.
- Be charitable with your time
Giving money or material items for charity is a great deed, but one can benefit greatly from donating something we often consider invaluable, time. Don’t just donate money to the new Islamic school, show up and offer to help build or clean. Spend some time at a homeless shelter serving food or pick up litter from a kid’s park. We are encouraged to look at those in situations more difficult and less desirable than our own, instead of looking to those above us. This aids in creating a sense of humility and gratefulness.
Take a deep breath and center yourself before the initial Allahu Akbar of prayer. This is our time to worship, reconnect and ground ourselves in our faith. Scientific research supports the mental benefits of daily meditation. We do not need to spend extensive amounts of time in prayer, rather we need to make the most of that time. Quality over quantity. Focus on the words you are reciting and feel them. Focus only on your worship and ignore what is around you. Make sincere duaa and dhikr.
Self-Transformations are Possible
A degree of self-awareness, time and consistency can help us to achieve greater humility and back away from arrogance. Self-transformations are not an overnight process, stay consistent and moving forward. Please feel free to share your own personal insights into arrogance and humility.
May Allah (most glorified, most high) remove arrogance from our hearts and grant us greater patience and gratefulness. ameen.