Living The Quran


From Issue: 489 [Read full issue]

Ghafir (The Forgiver)
Chapter 40: Verse 56 (Partial)

Puffing Up
"And they have pride in their hearts and will fail to reach it"

When a man feels superiority over others and with this a sort of inward elation, this is called pride. It differs from vanity in as much as vanity means consciousness of one's elation while pride requires a subject, an object and a feeling of elation. Suppose a man is born solitary in the world, he may be vain but not proud, because in pride man considers himself superior to others for certain qualities of his self. He allots one position to his self and another to others, and then thinks that his position is higher, and is therefore elated. This "puffed up" feeling which imparts a sense of "touch me not" is called pride.

lbn Abbas says that the above sentence in the Quran means that the thought of inward greatness will be denied to them. This thought is the source of inward and outward actions, which are so to speak the fruits of it.

A proud man will not tolerate any other to be on equal terms with himself. In private and in public he expects that all should assume a respectful attitude towards him and, acknowledging his superiority, treat him as a higher being. They should greet him first, make way for him wherever he walks; when he speaks everyone should listen to him and-never try to oppose him. He is a genius and people are like asses. They should be grateful to him, seeing that he is so condescending. Such proud men are found especially among the 'Ulama'. Sages are ruined by their pride.

Virtues are the doors of Paradise, but pride and self- esteem lock them all. So long as man feels elated he will not like for others what he likes for himself. His self-esteem will deprive him of humility, which is the essence of righteousness. He will neither be able to discard enmity and envy, resentment and wrath, slander and scorn, nor will he be able to cultivate truth and sincerity, and calmly listen to any advice. In short, there is no evil which a proud man will not inevitably do in order to preserve his elation and self-esteem. Vices are like a chain of rings linked together which entangle his heart. Therefore, an atom of pride is Satan's spark, which secretly consumes the nature of the sons of Adam.

"Ihya Ulum-ud Deen" (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) - Abu Hamid Al-Ghazzali