by Fatima Ariadne
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, messaged : “Verily, God has revealed to me that I should tell you to be humble – such that no person consider himself superior than another” (Ibn Majah)
Pride : this is a trial when we gained a share of innate gift that makes us stands out from the crowd, be it a small crowd or bigger. Suddenly people are seeking you for a counsel, or relying something on you as their best guy or gal. Then at one point of a time we feel like the whole world revolves around us as the center.
And boy, did I have one too. I used to have this self-image problem, and to compensate it (as well as escaping from classmates with hedonistic mindsets), I became a hardcore bookworm. I’ve read subjects like metaphysics, astronomy, classical poetries, and Carl Jung in age 13. Hence, comparing myself to my classmates who – at least according to my mind – “only knew nothing but soccer and MTV”, I was suffered from this pride.
A Barrier to Paradise
Devil : arrogance made him resort to disobedience, and him being banished from Heaven. Why follow his footsteps?
Pride is like a cholesterol to your soul. We knew the infamous hadith saying that a pride in weight as mustard seed can be barrier to Paradise. Let’s take a look again.
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, stated :
“He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride (arrogance) shall not enter Paradise.” A person (amongst his audience) said: Verily a person loves that his dress (appearance) should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. He (the Messenger of Allah, pbuh) remarked: “Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves beauty. Pride is rejecting the truth (out of self-conceit) and belittling people” (Muslim)
“Don’t turn your face away from men with pride. Nor walk into insolence through the earth. Verily Allah dislikes arrogant boaster” (Suraa Luqman : 18)
The Mindset Shifts to Kill Arrogance
1. Arrogance = Scarcity Mindset
Unless the person is extremely go-getter (think someone like Donald Trump, lol), arrogance provides a false blanket of security in ourselves that we are “on the top” and “higher enough than other people”. In effect, we have a false sense that “we are enough here”.
In the university of life, when it comes to improving yourself, there’s no such thing “we are enough here”. There are further road to travel, and in this whole wide world there are much much more people who are more capable than us. No matter how big you are in the presence of your current crowd – it’s still nothing. You may only be big in your own small world. But considering the universe is bigger than you, your arrogance is nothing but illussion.
Adopting the abundance mindset, is to keep yourself humble while being mindful that you’re “still nothing at this point” — hence makes you want to be an “eternal student”. That compared to people from the whole wide world, you’re just…..a tiny leaf in a giant meadow. There’s still so much to learn from life that prevents you from feeling “I’m high enough at this point”.
2. Find other people who’s better than you and socialize with them
Mostly, arrogance is caused by a frame of mind saying “I am the best”, added with the fact that no other “competitor” or equals around you who has the same gift or abilities as yourself. To break this belief, change your mind preference. Seek the proof that you’re “not that best, as other people do it better than me”.
The surefire way is to meet people in the same expertise as you, and who do the ability better than yourself. With this, your belief that “I am the best of all” will melt away, realizing that there are skies above the sky. Who knows, that you can make them mentor and learn from them. But as your knowledge levels up, just don’t make it an excuse to become more arrogant.
3. “A tiny dust in YOUR path”
A small prayer or supplication for a self affirmation and seeking protection to Allah from arrogance.
“O Allah, You are the Mastermind of all things. Please increase my virtue, knowledge [or ask anything specific] and open my heart to receive the lessons it gives. But as You increases me in virtues, please may I ask You, to protect my heart from pride and arrogance.
“Made me realize that I’m just a tiny dust in Your path. Made me mindful that I’m just a tiny leaf in a giant meadow – that many people surpasses me in knowledge and comprehension. Keep me down to earth no matter where I stand and do not let this virtue delude me into forgetting You, blinding myself with a sense of superiority. And soften my eyes of heart to see the goodness in other people”.
Or if you like it better, a supplication from Rasulullah (pbuh) :
“Oh Allah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge which doesn’t bring benefit, from a heart which is not humble, from a self which is not content, and from a supplication which is not answered.” (Sahih Muslim)
4. Reacting with compliments, criticism, and inputs wisely
It is Ibn’ Qayyim who said “when someone praises you, he actually admires the beauty of Allah in concealing your sins and lackings”.
When someone compliments you, you can say this affirmation secretly when you remember it “if only you knew my sins and lacking, you would think twice before saying this. But Allah knows my state better”.
This picture explains it better (credits to islampeace1.wordpress.com)
5. Your gift never belongs to you
Somewhere online, someone confessed his problem struggling with narcissistic personality : “sometimes I have this evil intention that I want to become Islamic scholar, just so I can put other people down without them being able to fight back and so they will testify to my knowledge. And so I’d be rich and popular too. That’s why I seek refuge from Allah from becoming authority”.
Many people think when they have a particular gift or skills, be it intelligence, wealth, fluency of speech, etc — they think they OWN them like properties.
Fact is, they don’t and never belongs to you. Your innate gift and skills is only something Allah gives you to borrow. It doesn’t matter if you work to obtain it, or if you naturally have it. You will be questioned about them in the Day of Judgment – no exception.
Do you squander it? Do you use it for a greater good? And what’s your INTENTION behind it? Is it for Allah, or for fame and compliments?
“The feet of a servant will not touch the ground (of Judgment Day) except that he will be asked about his life and how he spent it; his knowledge and how he acted upon it; his wealth and how he acquired it and spent it; and his body and how it was used…” (Tirmidhi)
Your skills and innate gift are nothing but a small TOY. They are your tool, your servant, your medium for a higher purpose. And this is the higher purpose : to become the servant of God, and to serve humanity for a greater good.
Think of yourself as merely a FAUCET, not the Source.
When you project your ability to the world, to other people, you’re just a faucet to make it happen. Allah is the Creative and Intelligent Source of your gift. If you can still do what you do today, it’s only because of His mercy.
Why? Because He can take your gift anytime He wishes from you.
What’s so difficult for Him? He’s the Source, the true owner, not you. You can keep spinning the water faucet – but when its supply tank is empty, what will flow through the faucet?
Or worse, He can turn your gift into your worse nightmare. Medium to a greater sin or destruction is example. How many people you know that abused their gift and fallen into the dark?
Qur’an documented this example as the infamous Karun.
“Verily, Karun was of people of Prophet Moses, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We granted him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people told him “do no exult, verily Allah dislikes those who exult…….”
“He replied, “this has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess!”. Did he not know that Allah had destroyed generations before him, people who were stronger than him in power and greater in the amount of wealth they had collected (i.e. because of their great sins, transgressing, defiance, etc)? But the transgressing sinners will not be questioned of their sins (i.e. Allah knows them well)”
(Suraa Al Qasaas 76 and 78)