By A. Zeynep Donmez – Ozlem Ata Translated from Turkish by Yilmaz Kaso
A chapter from the book ‘Friday of the Youth” Sydney, AUSTRALIA
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ ٱسْجُدُواْ لِ آدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ وَٱسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلْكَافِرِينَ
“When We said to the angels: “Prostrate to Adam!”, they thereupon prostrated, except for Iblees. He disdained (to comply with the command), acted arrogantly, and became of the deniers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:34)
النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ” لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ ” . قَالَ رَجُلٌ إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُهُ حَسَنًا وَنَعْلُهُ حَسَنَةً . قَالَ ” إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الْجَمَالَ الْكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الْحَقِّ وَغَمْطُ النَّاسِ ” .
“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘Whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of pride (arrogance) in his heart, shall not be admitted into Paradise.’ A person (amongst his hearers) said: ‘Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine and his shoes should be fine.’ Prophet Muhammad remarked: ‘Verily, God is Graceful, and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.’ ” (Muslim, Faith, 147 (91))
You know, our ancestor is Adam (PBUH). Well, have you ever wondered about Adam’s creation story? Let us briefly cite this story from the Quran:
“And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate to Adam’; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated. (God) said, ‘What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?’ (Satan) said, ‘I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.’ (God) said, ‘Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased.’” (Al-A’raf 7:11-13)
We see that before God expelled Iblees from heaven, He asked him why he did not obey the order. Had Iblees not become arrogant, admitted his mistake, and asked for forgiveness, perhaps he might not have been expelled from heaven; because, as we all know, Adam had also disobeyed God’s command and eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree. However, he accepted his mistake and asked God for forgiveness. The most significant difference between Iblees and Adam was that Iblees saw himself as better than Adam and became arrogant. For this reason, Iblees became Satan. Then he asked God for time to live until the Day of Judgment. God granted his wish. So he swore that he would strive to lead people astray until the Day of Judgment.
Adam, on the other hand, became the ancestor of mankind because he returned from his mistake and did not argue against God.
Then, what is this feeling, the feeling of arrogance that started the struggle between man and Satan?
The word we translate as “arrogance” is of the Arabic word root “kibr” which means “grossness, greatness, to patronize”. It can also be expressed as thinking of oneself as superior to others, seeing oneself as valuable and others as worthless. As you can imagine, arrogance is an emotion that humans can easily conceive. Think about it, have you ever acted out of arrogance? There may be some event or situation that comes to mind, but don’t be pessimistic right away. Feeling this emotion momentarily or acting on it once is different from making arrogance a trait of your personality. Everyone can make mistakes now and then, but if you remember the situations in which you acted arrogantly, take lessons from them, and do not repeat such actions; you can attain the forgiveness and grace of God, just like Adam (PBUH) did.
In the hadith we read at the beginning of our sermon, the Messenger of God said “Whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of pride (arrogance) in his heart, shall not be admitted into Paradise.” This applies to those who turn arrogance into a personality. So what is not considered arrogance? This is explained in the continuation of the hadith. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) responded to the man, who said that people enjoy wearing fine dresses and shoes: “Verily, God is Graceful, and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.”
So, it is normal for a person to enjoy being handsome/beautiful, dressing well, and feeling good due to these. However, it is arrogance to assume superiority in oneself and see other people as inferior because of them. Of course, when advising not to be arrogant, we do not mean showing excessive humility, thus allowing others to trample on our dignity. Being arrogant is different from preserving one’s dignity, or standing up to injustice. Muslims always and everywhere have to preserve their honor and dignity. Because Almighty God has said:
“O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), God will bring a people He will love and who will love Him; a people humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of God, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers.” (Al-Maidah 5:54)
In life, if we live according to the truth revealed by God, that is, the Qur’an, and do not compromise our values when faced with difficulties, we protect our honor and dignity as required. By doing so, we hope that we will be among the saved ones.