Pride and its Remedy
It is We who created you and gave you shape. Then We bade the angels, "Bow down to Adam," and they bowed down. Not so Iblis. He refused to be of those who bowed down. And God said, "What prevented thee from bowing down when I commanded thee?' He said, "I am better than he. Thou didst create me of fire and him from clay."
And God said, "Get thee down from here. It is not for thee to be arrogant here. Get out, for thou art the meanest of creatures."' (7:11-13)
The word or the name for pride in Arabic is 'kibr'. This is the inner quality of pride. The name of the outward quality is 'takabbur' which means arrogance. It is the worst attribute of a human being, and owing to this sin, Shaytan, Iblis as he was known, was expelled from Paradise.
There is a hadith or saying of the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, with regard to pride. Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, said, 'No one who has got faith in his heart to the weight of a mustard-seed shall enter the Fire and nobody who has got pride in his heart to the weight of a mustard-seed shall enter Paradise.'
There are essentially two kinds of pride.
The first is pride before Allah. The second is pride with other people. Pride with other people also could be divided into two - that is, pride against the superiority of the Prophets of God and pride in relation to other people.
The ugliest form of pride is pride before Allah, before God, as we see in the example of Shaytan. This is why prayer, and particularly sujud, which means prostration, putting one's head on the ground or bowing, separates the obedient from the disobedient. To be too proud to bow before Allah or to bow to His will is the greatest height of arrogance and ingratitude. People who do not bow when God commands them are in a way denying the very existence of Allah and the inevitable Day of Judgement. They deny the clear and obvious signs of God's majesty and power and they refuse to follow the straight path of the righteous.
We will read two verses from Surat Al-A'raf (7:146-147)
Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right, them will I turn away from My signs. Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them. And if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way. But if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected Our signs and failed to take warning from them.
Those who reject Our signs and the meeting in the Hereafter, vain are their deeds. Can they expect to be rewarded except as they have worked?
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, said that the Almighty, Allah, had revealed, 'Pride is My cloth and Greatness is My robe. So whoso vies with Me regarding either of these two, I shall admit him into the Fire.'
The second kind of pride is to refuse to follow and obey God's Messengers or to deny their superiority and the superiority of any of the Prophets of God, peace be upon them. This is the second worse kind as the Prophets were the chosen ones of Allah Almighty, sent for the guidance of mankind. Are they not better than those who are not chosen? No one should think that the Prophets were short of intelligence or wisdom and they cannot be compared with modern scientists or politicians. They were chosen and sent with the truth and the criterion of right and wrong. Whoever rejects the truth of the revelation which they brought becomes a rebel in the sight of Allah and becomes full of pride.
Another verse from the same chapter, verses 35-40, O ye Children of Adam! Whenever there came to you apostles from amongst you rehearsing My signs unto you, those who are righteous and mend their lives, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.
But those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, they are the Companions of the Fire, to dwell therein forever.
Who is more unjust than the one who invents a lie against God or rejects His signs? For such, their portion appointed must reach them from the Book of Decrees until when Our messengers of death arrive to take their souls, they said, "Where are the things that ye used to invoke besides Allah?" They will reply, "They have left us in the lurch," and they will bear witness against themselves that they had rejected God.
He will say, "Enter ye among the peoples who passed away before you, men and jinns, into the Fire." Every time a new people enters, it curses its sister people that went before until they follow each other, all into the Fire. Sayeth the last about the first, "Our Lord, it is these that misled us, so give them double penalty in the Fire." He will say, "Doubled for all, but this you do not understand."
Then the first will say to the last, 'See then! No advantage hast thou over us, so taste ye of the penalty for all that ye did."
'To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven nor will they enter the Garden until the camel can pass through the eye of a needle. Such is Our reward for those in sin.
Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, said, 'Whoso has got pride in his heart to the weight of an atom shall not enter Paradise.' Then a man asked the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, about dressing well. He said that he liked to be well-dressed and his dress should be fine and his shoes shall be fine, and he said, 'Allah is beautiful and likes beauty. Pride is denying truth and despising people.'
So the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallim, indicated that there is nothing wrong with looking nice, neat, clean and tidy, but he said that pride is in fact denouncing or denying the truth and despising or looking down at people.
The other aspect of pride with people is to believe oneself to be better than others whereas the only basis upon which some are more honoured than others is in piety or righteousness.