|On Arrogance, Humbleness, and Inferiority Complex
By Khalid Baig
It has been called ummul-amradh, or the root of all
sicknesses of the heart. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, warned
that a person having even an iota of it in his heart
will never enter paradise.
This deadliest of all sins is kibr, or arrogance.
No one likes arrogance --- in others. We never like a person who is haughty, too
proud, or condescending. We detest a person who belittles us and has a huge ego.
Similarly we love people who are humble, polite, and easy to talk to. We love
people who give us respect and honor. Thus if we follow the principle of
treating others the way we like to be treated, most of these problems might be
cured. In reality, the treatment of ummul-amradh requires a deeper look.
For that we need to appreciate the difference between adab or manners, on the
one hand and akhlaq or morals on the other. While adab deal with one�s external
disposition, akhlaq as defined by Islam deal with our inner thoughts, feeling,
and attitudes. In a healthy personality, the manners and morals are in harmony.
But it is also possible to have the former without having the latter. The first
concerns itself with how a person deals with others. The second is concerned
with what a person thinks of himself. Two persons showing humbleness in their
dealings with others, may have exactly opposite ideas in their minds. One may do
it out of his or her "generosity"; the other may do it because he genuinely
thinks that he is not better than the other person. The first person only has a
shell of humbleness, which will crumble when tested. It is the second person who
is really free of arrogance.
Real greatness belongs only to Allah, our Lord, Creator, and Master. Human
beings are just a creation of Allah --- and a very small creation in comparison
to the unimaginably vast universe. Anyone who understands this will realize that
our proper status is only that of servants of Allah. In fact for a Muslim the
real human model is none other than Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
sallam, who is the greatest of all human beings.
His greatness lies in being the humblest of all servants of
is impossible for any person who has this consciousness to entertain any notions
of his own greatness.
This leads us to the definition of kibr, given in a famous hadith: "Kibr is to
knowingly reject Truth and to belittle other people." This hadith exposes two
strains of this deadly disease, both dealing with our exaggerated ideas of
self-importance. The first suggests that I am more important than the Truth. The
second suggests that I am more important than other people.
We know about the Quraish and Jews of Arabia who had come in contact with
Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and who knew in the heart of
their hearts that he indeed was the Messenger of Allah. Their arrogance, though,
kept them from accepting it. History has recorded statements from some of them
who said we know he is the Promised Prophet but we will keep on opposing him to
maintain our leadership.
While that was the most blatant form of arrogance, we can witness the same
attitude on a smaller scale in our discussions and arguments. A person realizes
that he was wrong, but then his pride keeps him from admitting it. No matter how
polite or "humble" that person may appear to be ordinarily, this test shows the
presence of arrogance in his heart. It is arrogance that keeps a person from
saying "I am sorry."
The second strain involves our feeling of superiority with respect to other
people. Islam�s teaching is that one should never consider oneself greater than
other people, because that Judgment will come from Allah, and Allah alone, on
the Day of Judgment. None of us knows what our end will be, whether we will end
up being a winner or loser over there. The person who appears to be nobody here
may end up with eternal bliss because of his goodness that only Allah knew. The
person who is a big shot here may end up among the sinners who will be punished
there, because of his evil that only Allah knew. How foolish, it is then to
congratulate ourselves over our fleeting "superiority".
What if a person does have edge over another person in measurable worldly terms?
How then can he not consider himself superior than the other person in that
respect? The point is sometimes made in half jest: it is difficult to be humble
when you are so great. Islam does not ask us to reject reality and imagine we
don�t have what we really do. Rather it asks us to take a deeper look at the
reality and not be misled by a superficial perception of it. And the simple
reality that escapes many is that our health, wealth, talents, and power are not
of our own creation. God gave those to us as a test and He can take them back
whenever He wills. Those who are conscious of this reality, their blessings will
produce gratitude in them; those who are blind to it will develop pride and
Some forms of kibr are subtle. If a person is embarrassed to bow to Allah in the
presence of non-believers, that is a case of "kibr in the face of Allah," says
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi.
While throughout history humanity had agreed on the evil of arrogance and the
virtue of humbleness (despite its failures in practice), this century has seen
new dogmas that aim at changing the definitions of good and evil. Humbleness is
no longer desirable. Rather, one has to avoid "Inferiority Complex." Alfred
Adler (1870-1937) gave us that term. According to him, life is a continuous
struggle to move from a position of inferiority to a position of significance.
Those who fail to make the progress, develop inferiority complex, which can be
treated by increasing self-esteem. Unfortunately today such pseudo-science is
accepted as gospel truth.
The truth is that problems arise when we turn away from reality. A humble person
is a happy, content, grateful person who thanks God for his blessings and has no
notions of his own superiority. False notions of superiority or of one�s
entitlements in life, on the other hand, lead to frustrations and complexes.
Article taken (with Thanks) from