Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever has an atom’s worth of kibr (pride and arrogance) in his heart will not enter Paradise.” So a man said: What about a person who loves (i.e. takes pride in) wearing beautiful clothes and beautiful shoes? So he replied: “Indeed Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Kibr is to reject the truth and to despise the people.” (Sahih Muslim, 1/65)

So Allah informs us that the Hellfire is the abode of those who have kibr (pride and arrogance). And we learn from the (above) hadith that: “Whoever has one atom’s worth of kibr in his heart will not enter Paradise.” So this is proof that kibr necessitates entry into the Hellfire and prevents entry into Paradise. And this comprehensive explanation that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned has clarified the meaning of kibr in the dearest possible manner. So he divided kibr into two types:

1. Kibr against the truth
This is to reject the truth and not accept it. So anyone who rejects the truth is proud and arrogant – in accordance with what he rejects. So it is obligatory upon everyone to humble themselves to the truth that Allah sent His Messenger with, and (the truth) He sent down in His Book.

Those who, out of pride and arrogance, do not comply with the Messengers (i.e. do not believe in them and their message) are disbelievers and they will eternally dwell in the Hellfire. This is because they rejected the truth that the Messengers brought to them with clear signs and proof. They are prevented from accepting it because of the kibr they harbor in their hearts. Allah said:

Verily, those who dispute about the Signs of Allah, without any authority having come to them, there is nothing else in their breasts except pride.” (Qur’an, 40:56)

Those who, out of kibr, do not comply with parts of the truth, because it opposes their personal opinions or desires, are not disbelievers. But their action necessitates punishment in accordance with what they have of kibr. This is why scholars have agreed that whenever a sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) has been explained to someone, it is not lawful for him to turn away from it giving preference to the saying of someone else – whoever the someone else may be.

Therefore, it is obligatory for students of knowledge to give complete and absolute precedence to the saying of Allah and the saying of His Messenger (peace be upon him) over and above the saying of anyone else. He should make that the basis to which he returns, and the foundation upon which he builds. He must try his best to follow the guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) inwardly and outwardly and strive hard to understand what is intended from it.

When a person conforms to this great principle, then he has indeed reached goodness and excellence. All his errors will be forgiven because his overall objective was to follow what was prescribed to him. So his errors are excused because he tried his best to recognize and comply with the truth. This is humbling oneself to the truth.

2. Kibr towards people
This type is to despise people and look down upon them. This attitude develops when a person is amazed at his own self and considers himself greater and better than others. This leads him to kibr towards creation. Such a person will despise, mock, and degrade others through both speech and action.

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “It is enough evil for a person to despise his brother Muslim.(Sahih Muslim, no. 2564)

This is why the man asked: “What about a person who loves (i.e. takes pride in) wearing beautiful clothes and shoes?” Because he feared this was kibr and hence punishable. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained to him otherwise. The questioner was one who complied with the truth and was humble towards people, and this is from the beauty that Allah loves. For indeed Allah is beautiful in His Dhaat (Self), Sifaat (Attributes) and Af’aal (Actions). He loves both outer and inner beauty.

Outer beauty includes cleanliness of the body, clothes, and place; inner beauty is beautifying the character. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) would make the du’a:

O Allah! Guide me to having beautiful manners and characteristics; no one can guide me to beautifying them except You. And turn me away from all evil actions and characteristics; no one can turn them away from me except You.(An-Nasa’i, no. 861, authenticated by Al-Albani) – Bahjatul-Quloobul-Abraar, pp. 156-158

– By Sheikh Abdur Rahman Bin Nasir As-Sa’dee