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‘Abdullāh ibn Mas’ūd (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Anyone who has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his heart will not enter Paradise.” A man said:” What if one likes his clothes and shoes to look good?” He said: “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance is to reject the truth and look down on people.” Sahih Muslim

We all might have come across this hadith at some point in our lives. Either our elders warned us, we listened to the Imam in the Jummah sermon, read it somewhere or heard it in a talk.

It is a powerful warning, one that all of us need to take seriously and work on.

As one gets older, they get better and better at the skill of covering up their vices, especially the feeling of supremacy and arrogance. People tell themselves and to others that they aren’t proud of the things they own or hold, but arrogance is a sly evil. One doesn’t even realise when he or she is being arrogant.

Shaitan was the first to show arrogance. When he was asked to bow down to Adam AS, Shaitan considered himself to be superior and went against Allah’s command.

That was the birth of pride followed by denial. Now Shaitan uses the same pattern on humans. In one way or the other Shaitan makes an individual feel better than the others.

I am more educated
I am more rich
I am more smart
I am more informed and travelled around
I am from a better place / city / family / culture
I wear better
I am in a better position
I hold a title
I am a mother
I am married

Even the humblest of a person, the most pious person or the most learned, everybody falls under this trap.

The realisation that makes us fall down in prostration to Allah swt is – He knows the condition of our hearts even better than we do. He can see what we try to conceal under layers of self-talk. We tell ourselves that, ‘No, I am not at all proud of these things because it is Allah swt who has blessed me with them’. But Allah knows our innermost intentions, be it pure or corrupt. And many times, Allah gives us also the insight to realise the corrupt niyyah we carry, but we do not want to acknowledge.

It is easy to stay humble and calm when nobody is challenging one’s authority. In situations when people question one’s authority over a subject matter, that is when Shaitan traps oneself into defence mode and forces one to feel superior and more capable of the other. The sense of pride is usually an unconscious and fleeting thought. We all need to go back to the above hadith to keep a check on ourselves and purify ourselves from time to time.

A person who has mastered the state of humbleness will not go on the defensive mode every time someone tries to correct him or remind him of what pleases or displeases Allah swt. The one who sincerely fears Allah will not put down the opposite person by flaunting one’s own qualifications or status. The wise will spend some time contemplating the correction and will respond in an acceptable manner to prove a point, because his teachings have taught him that khair can come from anybody and at any moment.

May Allah swt help us all to remain modest and fearful of Him. Also may Allah swt bless us with all the goodness and help us conduct ourselves for the love we have for Him.