Be Cautious Of Vanity, Arrogance And Pride

ByMohd Azad Jasmi

From the Islamic perspective, being cautious of vanity, arrogance, and pride is of utmost importance. These negative traits go against the teachings of Islam and can have detrimental effects on an individual’s spirituality, relationships, and overall character.

Vanity, or “takabbur” in Arabic, refers to an inflated sense of self-importance and considering oneself superior to others. It is a form of arrogance that blinds a person from recognizing their own shortcomings and weaknesses. Islam emphasizes the importance of humility and recognizing that all blessings and successes come from Allah. It teaches that true honor lies in righteous actions and devotion to Allah, not in worldly achievements or material possessions.

Arrogance, or “ujub,” is another trait that Muslims are advised to avoid. It involves feeling prideful and amazed by one’s own qualities, abilities, or accomplishments. Islam teaches that all blessings and talents are gifts from Allah, and individuals should not boast or think themselves better than others based on these gifts. Instead, Muslims are encouraged to be grateful and use their blessings to serve others and seek the pleasure of Allah.

Pride, or “riak” in Arabic, refers to the act of showing off or seeking attention and praise from others. Islam promotes sincerity and doing good deeds solely for the sake of pleasing Allah, not for seeking validation or recognition from people. Muslims are encouraged to perform acts of worship and acts of kindness with humility, sincerity, and the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure alone.

I would like to share the “hurtful” elements that exist within us, but often we are unaware and neglectful of these traits. ALLAH SWT states: “And do not turn your cheek in contempt towards people, nor walk in arrogance on the earth. Surely, ALLAH does not like the arrogant and boastful.” (Surah Luqman 31:18) According to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), there are three diseases that can destroy a person’s deeds, and one of them is vanity or arrogance. Imam al-Ghazali in his book Ihya Ulumuddin mentioned that the attribute of pride becomes the barrier between a person and a noble character. A proud person will always deny the truth, look down upon others, and elevate themselves. We see many intelligent individuals among us and influential leaders who exhibit and display vanity and arrogance. They become vain and arrogant because they possess advantages over others, whether it is power as a public servant or holding a specific position, knowledge about the world or knowledge about the hereafter, wealth, physical attractiveness, or noble lineage. Instead of expressing gratitude and humility for the blessings bestowed upon them by God, they become vain and arrogant.

Takbur (Arrogance) – It refers to having a sense of superiority and considering oneself to be more noble, smarter, and more intelligent than others. Arrogance, on the other hand, is defined as having a high opinion of oneself, being haughty, and arrogant. Takbur and arrogance have the same meaning and understanding.

Ujub (Self-admiration) means being proud of oneself and feeling amazed by one’s own excellence or something that one possesses. The self-referred to here can relate to one’s personal attributes, the people around them, wealth, beauty, intelligence, family members, or anything close and familiar to them.

Riak (Showing off) is the act of insincerely performing worship or doing something with the expectation of receiving proportional rewards. For example, a man or a woman prays while hoping that someone will notice and praise their diligence. All three of these diseases of the heart are harmful to the Muslim ummah, and some scholars consider them as minor forms of shirk (associating partners with Allah).

If these characteristics exist within a person, they will cause the rewards of their deeds to be instantly rejected. There is also a narration from some of the early Muslim scholars that advises reciting the following prayer: Meaning: “O Allah, You know my condition better than I know myself, and I know my condition better than others do. O Allah, do not punish me for the praise they express, forgive me for my shortcomings that they are unaware of, and make me better than their judgment of me.” In another narration, there is an additional phrase: Meaning: “Make me better than what they expect of me.” (Narrated by al-Baihaqi in Syu’ab al-Iman, 4524 and 4534) (Source of the prayer recitation, when praised, is from the Federal Territories Mufti’s Office)

From an Islamic perspective, these negative traits are seen as spiritual diseases of the heart that distance a person from the path of righteousness. They can lead to arrogance, enmity, and the neglect of the rights of others. Islam promotes self-reflection, self-accountability, and constant vigilance against these vices. Muslims are encouraged to cultivate humility, gratitude, and selflessness, as these traits bring them closer to Allah and contribute to a harmonious and compassionate society.

Ultimately, Islam teaches that true success and honor lie in purifying the heart, maintaining humility, and recognizing that all goodness comes from Allah. By being cautious of vanity, arrogance, and pride, Muslims strive to embody the teachings of Islam and develop a strong and righteous character.

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