Arrogance in Muslims

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.

  • Slow down in worship

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.

Coping Skills: Know Them, Use Them, Enjoy Them.

By Monique Hassan

What do drugs, exercise, deep breathing, overeating, journaling and chocolate cake all have in common?

These are all examples of coping skills, albeit they are not all healthy coping skills (I do not condone some of those), but none the less they are all utilized by people as coping skills. What are coping skills you may be thinking, I am glad you asked!

A coworker at a behavioral health hospital once told me the difference between us (the staff) and the patients was one critical element, our coping skills.

 

A coping skill is essentially a method an individual employs to affectively minimize, control and handle stressful situations (or triggers, see more information on those here). You utilize coping skills without even realizing it, but to truly hone in on our coping skills enables us to have strategies to control our behavioral and psychological reactions to events. As my Mother likes to say, “it is not what happens to you that matters, it is how you react to it”.

 

We have all seen the clique movie scene where the heartbroken person listens to sad, depressing music and eats a pint of ice cream. This my friends is not a healthy coping skill, however, there are much worse that people utilize. Many drug addicts began abusing drugs to numb their pain instead of handling it. A young girl cuts herself in an effort to try and make her chaotic emotions manifest physically and signal to the world “I need help”. A man becomes aggressive at the stranger who accidentally bumped into him and wants to fight him, all because he had a bad day at work. A woman drinks herself into a drunken stupor to cope with the fight she just had with her husband. These are all examples of people using very negative and destructive coping strategies.

Maladaptive coping skills are not only dangerous to the individual, they can be dangerous to those around them, add stress to relationships, deepen emotional pain alongside guilt and create worse situations which lead to more negative coping skills.

An affective coping skill for me may not be as beneficial for you. We must identify our unique coping skills that suit our needs. During a stressful situation or trigger, the first step is to recognize and validate your emotions. It is okay to feel sad or angry, what is not okay is to lash out at others or yourself. Remove yourself from the situation if possible, take deep breaths and feel your emotions instead of running from them.

Look at what is upsetting you and try to see the bigger picture. Sure, it is upsetting for your car to be totaled in a car accident, but if you are alive then you have something to be thankful for. It is difficult to deal with a divorce, but this may open the door to a better marriage in the future and saved you from more heartbreak. If an exam comes back with a bad grade, look at the weakest subject areas and determine a better studying plan for next time.

Do you see the pattern here, look for the positives and focus on optimistic thinking. Become a master of positive self-talk and combat those irrational, negative thoughts with positive self-affirmations (hitting on cognitive behavioral therapy here).

 

After the immediate need to stabilize emotions and essentially self soothe, a variety of coping skills can come into play. This is a list of many positive coping skills, try to find a few in this list that can be beneficial for you or come up with 2 more of your own.

  • Painting
  • Read a book
  • Walking in a park
  • Exercise
  • Journaling/poetry
  • Listening to Quranic Recitation or Biblical quotes
  • Working with one’s hands on a DIY project
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing and/or meditation
  • Prayer
  • Looking at pictures of favorite memories
  • Drawing flowers
  • Go for a drive somewhere scenic
  • Hug a friend
  • Aromatherapy
  • Perform a random act of kindness for someone else

Let me know in the comments below what coping skills work best for you.