WHAT is SO wrong about feeling self-important?
The Qur'an clearly mentions that being arrogant will surely lead one to Hellfire.
Allah says: "Enter the gates of Hell to abide eternally therein, and wretched is the residence of the arrogant." (Qur'an 40:76)
"I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right; and if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. And if they see the way of consciousness, they will not adopt it as a way; but if they see the way of error, they will adopt it as a way. That is because they have denied Our signs and they were heedless of them." (Qur'an 7:146)
Allah reminds the believers that they should remain humble because arrogance leads to ETERNAL destruction!
Who is Arrogant?
The word 'arrogant' is defined as: 'Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities.' (Oxford English Dictionary).
Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines it as:
'Exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner.'
'Showing an offensive attitude of superiority; proceeding from or characterized by arrogance.'
These definitions show that being arrogant is simply a negative personality trait. We are all creations of Allah and whatever good we possess is from Him alone. If one possesses something superior -- whether it is health, wealth, or education – he/she should remain humble and NEVER disgrace someone who doesn't enjoy his/her qualities. Instead, they should thank Almighty Allah for His blessings.
The "arrogant one"
Allah created the heavens and the earth, the angels and the Jinns, and then created Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). He created the angels from light, the Jinns from smoke/fire and Adam from clay. He asked the angels to prostrate to him and they obeyed Allah's command and prostrated. He then asked Iblis (Satan) to prostrate and he refused because he considered himself superior to Adam.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
"What prevented you (O Iblis) that you did not prostrate, when I commanded you?" Iblis said: "I am better than him (Adam); You created me from fire, and him You created from clay." (Qur'an 7:12)
Allah dislikes those who consider themselves superior over others, as He says in the Qur'an:
"(O Iblis) get down from this (Paradise), it is not for you to be arrogant here. Get out, for you are of those humiliated and disgraced." (Qur'an 7:13)
Allah said to Iblis:
"Get out from this (Paradise) disgraced and expelled. Whoever of them (mankind) will follow you, then surely I will fill Hell with you all." (Qur'an 7:18)
We can easily understand from the above verses that an arrogant person is amongst the cohorts of Satan.
Narrated 'Abd-Allaah ibn Mas'ood (may Allah be pleased with him):
Allah's Apostle, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "No one who has an atom's-weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise." A man said, "O Messenger of Allaah, what if a man likes his clothes and his shoes to look good?" He said: "Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people." (Sahih Muslim: 91)
The term "superiority complex" was coined by an Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist, Alfred Adler, who was also the founding father of the school of individual psychology. He described the concept as a 'psychological defense mechanism' in which a person's feelings of superiority counter or conceal his or her feelings of inferiority.
Some people often make arrogant comments that are very hurtful and sinful as well. Such comments and attitudes are unacceptable by Allah, as He says in the Qur'an:
"And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height." (Qur'an 17:37)
Merriam-Webster's online dictionary states the definition of braggart as: 'A loud arrogant boaster.'
Let us look at some examples:
Case 1: A person has only two pairs of shoes for formal wear. He/she has been wearing them for a few years and one day he/she sees his/her friend buy a new pair of shoes. A feeling of inferiority arises within him/her and he immediately comments in a pompous tone, "I have seen better shoes than these, they are cheap quality ...where/why did you get them? I only buy Italian leather shoes!" Not only did he/she hurt the feelings of the other person but by doing so, projected an image of preeminence, i.e., he/she possess more knowledge/experience about shopping for shoes.
A beautiful reminder of Allah's words from the Qur'an:
"And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster. And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the braying of the asses" (Qur'an 31: 18-19)
Case 2: A friend of mine has recently been promoted to a top managerial position at a multinational firm. Coming from a background of modest means, she would often see her friends buy expensive clothing, footwear, furniture or jewellery etc. in the past and feel inferior to them. To make herself feel better, she would make statements such as: "I would never buy such a piece of furniture, it's hideous!" or "That dress is so common and worn by every other woman, I'd never buy that". By making such arrogant comments, she was somehow able to comfort herself and assuage her feelings of inferiority.
Narrated 'Abd-Allaah ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him):
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Whoever lets his garment drag along the ground out of pride, Allah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection." Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Sometimes my garment slips down on one side, unless I pay attention to it." The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "You are not doing that out of pride." (Sahih Bukhaari, 3465)
What is humility?
Having a sense of humility simply means NOT to think/act/speak arrogantly with others. One should never consider themselves as better or superior to others due to their citizenship, education, health, wealth, social status etc.
A beautiful verse from the holy Qur'an states:
"Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds and humbled themselves to their Lord - those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide eternally therein." (Qur'an 11:23)
Subhaan Allah! It is very clear from the above verse, that Allah rewards his "humble" believers with Jannah (Paradise). What better abode for a believer?
Allah even ordered Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to remain humble. Allah says in Qur'an:
"And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred.And lower your wing (i.e., be humble and show kindness) to those who follow you of the believers." (Qur'an 26:214-215)
Haritha b. Wahb al-KhuzaIi (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: "Should I not inform you about the inmates of Paradise?" And (informing about them) said: "Every meek person who is considered to be humble and if they were to adjure in the name of Allah, Allah would certainly fulfil it. Should I not inform you about the inmates of Hellfire? They are all proud, mean and haughty." (Sahih Muslim: Book 40, Number 6835)
Disregarding someone's efforts and not appreciating others, endlessly arguing to have the final word, neglecting the truth/facts and not accepting one's own fault and apologizing are all signs of arrogance.
Some people even misunderstand humility to be a sign of weakness, which it is NOT!
Advantages of being humble vs. disadvantages of being arrogant
In the long run, people will always remember, admire and respect a person who is modest and humble. People tend to listen to someone who doesn't overshadow or dominate them. (Trust me! No one, I repeat, NO ONE likes an arrogant person.) People who redirect their focus to others instead of having all the focus and attention to themselves at all times, are usually well liked. Being humble also provides incentives for one to improve and reflect upon their mind, character and attitude. When one thinks and behaves with humility, he/she will be capable of managing their personal and professional lives with a positive attitude.
Allah says in Qur'an:
"That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire exaltedness upon the earth or corruption. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous."(Qur'an 28:83)