How Do You Solve a Problem Like Takabbur (Arrogance)?

I need to begin this post with some disclaimers. I cannot claim to have purified my own heart of arrogance. I am struggling with it, but I want to help others who are struggling with it. Beware the person who claims to be humble because that very act is an act of pride.

First, why should anyone be concerned with arrogance? Isn’t a little pride a good thing?

Allah, Subhana wa Ta’ala, (Glorified and Most High) says in The Holy Quran, “And do not turn your cheek away from people, and do not walk on the earth haughtily. Surely, Allah does not like anyone who is arrogant, proud;” (31:18).

If you want to turn Allah against you, be arrogant. Now what did Rasululah (S) say about arrogance?

” ’Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (R) said that the Prophet (S) said,

“No one will enter Paradise who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart.” A man said, “What if a man likes his clothes to look good and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means denying the truth and looking down on people.”

Related by Muslim (no. 131)

So if you want to go to Hell, put pride in your heart and look down on people. Note the distinction between loving goodness and having pride. Allah does not ask us to roll around in the mud and stop combing our hair.

What does pride do? Pride makes us think we are great and others are small. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf presents evidence that Allah will punish the arrogant by turning them into atoms and then letting everyone else trample them. This reverses their perception that they were big and others were small. The Shaykh goes on to remind his audience, “We are all little people.”

Pride is at the heart of bigotry. The person who thinks he is superior and another is inferior has arrogance within. Thinking your race, your language, your family is better than others is arrogance.

What are the remedies for takabbur (arrogance)?

One is dhikr, remembrance of Allah. Say Astaghfirullah (Forgive me, Allah), Alhamdulillah (All praise to Allah), Subhanallah (Glory to Allah), Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest), La ilaha il Allah (There is no god but Allah), or some other dhikr. Reminding our hearts that Allah is the source of all goodness will purge them of pride.

Another is durood, invoking blessings upon Rasululah. Reciting the ending of the prayer, “Allahuma salla allahu Muhammad . . .” is one way to do this. As we praise the Prophet (S), we should seek to make ourselves more like him.

Next, we should seek out people who are truly humble. We should spend time in their company. We should strive to emulate them.

Finally, we should turn away from people and actions that are full of pride. We know people and places that are only about showing off. We will receive reward for avoiding these people and places.

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