Fruits for the Week

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Rejecting the truth and despising people

Pride lives in the heart and soul but produces discernible signs and attitude that announce it. The hadith points to these products of arrogance to help in its identification and treatment. Furthermore, by understanding what the signs of arrogance are, we can distinguish between arrogance and other permissible feelings and acts.

The first and most dangerous product of arrogance is rejecting the truth that comes from Allah and feeling superior to it. Yet this outward rejection conceals an internal recognition of the truth. Allah said: “And they rejected them (Allah’s signs)-though their own selves were certain of them- out of transgression and haughtiness.” (Al-Naml: 14)

The rejection of the truth could be major or complete, leading to kufr (disbelief), or it could be minor or partial, leading to disobedience of Allah that falls short of kufr. In the second case, the presence of arrogance in the heart is a major sin. Unless forgiven by Allah or countered with good deeds, this sin can send us to Hell. Only when we are purified from it would be able to join the rest of the believers in Heaven.

It is important that we always check our hearts and monitor them for arrogance so that we do not reject the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is easy to drift into the sea of pride and start refusing individual rulings and statements simply because they don’t agree with our intellect and emotions. Allah the Most Wise says: “Indeed, those who dispute the ayat of Allah without having any authority (from Allah) with them, there is only pride in their chests, which will fail to reach its goals. So seek refuge in Allah, for He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Ghafir: 56)

The next time we hesitate to accept the truth from the Qur’an and Sunnah, we should ask ourselves if this may be due to our own personal pride standing in the way of our submission to Allah.

The second product of arrogance is to look down at people because, we believe, we are better than them. This happens when we compare ourselves to them and conclude that we have what they don’t. Our haughtiness may be fueled by superior knowledge, degree, skills, wealth, worship, or lineage.

It could also be based on our imagination, where we make up faults for other or exaggerate them and inflate our own virtues or fabricate some. The one guilty of this crime must remember the hadith of this chapter and that because of this disease, he may be the worst of people and not their best. And what benefit are all of these things we feel so proud of when they put us in Hellfire and we see the people we despised above us in Heaven.

Read with an open heart this hadith from the Messenger (saw) about those who are proud of their lineage: “Either the people who are boasting about their deceased forefathers, who are but the charcoal of Hellfire, are going to stop or they will be more insignificant with Allah than the dung beetle that rolls dung with its nose. Allah has removed from you the arrogance of Jahiliyyah and its boasting of its forefathers. One is either a pious believer or a miserable rebellious sinner. Humans are all the children of Adam and Adam came from sand.” (Tarmidhi)

Boasting is likened to small beetles rolling dung with their noses. The work may seem very significant to the beetle, but it is very repulsive and lowly to those who observe it. Similarly, the one who boasts about worldly matters to put others down demeans himself with Allah.

Arrogance can emanate from the religious when they admire their own knowledge and worship and despise others for their ignorance and disobedience. Anyone who desires to be close to must remember that arrogance will kill their sincerity and ruin their deeds. If we are infected with arrogance, we belong to the same category of sinners and ignorant that we often scorn, and must throw ourselves under the mercy of Allah to save us from this disease.

There is also reverse arrogance from the non-religious when they look at some devout practices and accuse the devout of hypocrisy, irrelevance, or superficiality. This is also very serious and will likely be as detrimental as arrogance from the religious, if not more so. Our guilt and shame of not practicing the truth must not turn us into haters of it. We put a great distance between us and Allah when we hate someone or something that He loves. As far as we are concerned, we should always believe that it is us who need to improve and that Allah may love the ones we despise more than He loves us.

When we find out religious knowledge failing to cleanse us from kibr, we must question what we are learning and how. It is either that we are preoccupied with knowledge that is not treating our heart, and so we should switch to one that does, or that we are pursuing it for corrupt and worldly goals and thus failing to learn from it.

The example of the first is one who dives into minute and complex detail of fiqh, aqidah, or the study of hadith and neglect the treatment of his heart by failing to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah. The example of the second is one who studies the Qur’an and Sunnah to know more, and may be so it be said that he/she is knowledgeable or to argue better, but is not concerned with the fruit and the application of this knowledge.

(To be continued)

by Dr. Ali Al-Burghouthi