Cure For Arrogance
In continuation of the earlier topic “Hues of Arrogance” here are Islamic remedies for this disease of the heart with the steps one can take to develop humility towards Allah and His creation to stem the disease of arrogance and to increase humility:
What has knowing Allah got to do with arrogance? Everything. The one who truly recognizes his Creator, and learns about His exalted names and attributes, embraces reality. He knows with conviction how great his Lord is, and how absolutely insignificant his own self is.
He knows that Allah created him, fashioned him, brought him into this world, gave him sustenance and bestowed upon him strength after the frailty of infancy and childhood. Allah has revealed about Himself in the Qur’an and once someone truly knows Allah, he cannot harbor arrogance in his heart for long.
The most powerful people who ever lived – with extraordinary physical or mental strength – all become weak with the passage of time. Great scholars or professors can one day suffer from amnesia or Alzheimer’s. Even the man who played the fictional “Superman” – the idol of many young boys – suffered a crippling fall, withered and died before their very eyes.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Allah looks neither at your figures, nor at your outward appearance, but He looks at your hearts and your deeds.” (Sahih Muslim)
This should remind us that each and every little blessing we have – from our looks, to our wealth, to our abilities and talents – is solely from Allah. Our achievements are not the product of our own selves, they are a result of whatever talent Allah blessed us with combined with the effort He guided us to undertake. Not only that, He can take them away whenever He wants, even in a split second.
A beauty queen can lose her perfect body and beauty to a disease (just a passing reference to the recent death of a 20-year-old Brazilian model, who died within two months of contracting a mysterious disease).
A strong wrestler might suffer an accident that could render him invalid. Taking lessons from these will In Sha Allah bring humility in us.
“Did they then feel secure against the Plan of Allah. None feels secure from the Plan of Allah except the people who are the losers.” (Qur’an, 7:99)
Wear ordinary clothes
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever gives up wearing elegant and expensive garments out of humbleness, when he can do so, Allah will call him on the Day of Resurrection and before all the creations, He will give him the choice to wear whichever garment of ‘Iman‘ he would like to wear.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Everything is temporary
Remember: whatever you have – or whoever you are – will cease to exist one day. The life of this world is fleeting; everything in it, whether it is a source of happiness or misery, will be gone one day.
Only memories and stories will remain, remembered as ‘history’. So if you have something that makes you swell with pride, just remind yourself that it will be dead and gone one day. Just like you.
“Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honor will abide forever.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Admit your mistakes
It might take a huge effort at first, but try to develop humility by hearing the other person out, even if you are right or better in opinion. Develop the ability to look at things from their point of view, which will make you a gentler and more empathetic person; more approachable and likeable.
Also, if you are among the older generation (say, above 50) and for the most part of your life, you have been telling the younger lot what to do and how to do it, accede to the fact that now they are adults; maybe acknowledging your own shortcomings before them, and occasionally acquiescing to their wishes won’t really belittle you before them. On the contrary, it might just make you more honorable.
Be quick to apologize
It takes a lot of strength to not just admit your mistake, but to go one step ahead and apologize to those you’ve wronged, whether it happened intentionally or not. Asking another person to forgive you is a sign of humility, one that very few strong individuals can muster up the guts to acquire.
Befriend poor people
A humble person always compares himself to those lower than him in worldly status. For this reason, he is constantly concerned about their well-being and prosperity. Think: “If we can not afford a rented apartment, what about those who are homeless?”
You will find humble people sharing their meals with the poor, giving away clothes to them, paying their medical bills, or often asking about their well-being.
In short, instead of always spending time with the elite at lavish soirees featuring arrays of expensive food, couture and decor, eat at times vegetables on bran whilst sitting on the floor with servants.
Greet people first
“So-and-so’s daughter is such a Miss high-and-mighty! What does she think of herself? Whenever she sees me, she averts her eyes. She doesn’t greet me, even though I am old enough to be her mother.”
Maybe you can teach her what she’s missing by practicing what you preach? What’s stopping you from greeting her with a warm, motherly smile?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do not disdain any good deed, even your meeting with your brother (Muslim) with a cheerful face.” (Sahih Muslim)
Remember your origin
“Was he not a Nutfah (mixed male and female discharge of semen) poured forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned (him) in due proportion.” (Qur’an, 75:37-38)
“Another remedy (for arrogance) is to remember that he and urine came out of the same place; that he began as a despised drop of sperm and he will end up as a rotten corpse, and that in between he is a vessel for feces. So what does he have to feel so proud and arrogant about?!”
Every day, when you retire for the night, mentally recount how many wrong things you did during the day. After that, proceed to sincerely ask Allah for forgiveness. This daily activity will ensure that you stay focused on your own errors and weaknesses, paving the way for consistent humility and a gentler attitude towards the mistakes of others.
Humility: Path to Paradise
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Shall I not inform you about those who are entitled to Paradise? It is every person who is modest and humble (before Allah), a person who is accounted weak and is looked down upon, but if he swears (hoping for Allah’s Bounty), Allah will certainly give him what he desires. Now shall I not inform you about the inmates of Hell? It is every violent, impertinent and proud man.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Allah says: “Whosoever desires honor, power and glory then to Allah belong all honor, power and glory (and one can get honor, power and glory only by worshipping Allah Alone).” (Qur’an, 35:10)