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Arrogance and Pride

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

There is something that we all dislike, that is a person who thinks he is superior, is haughty, rude, a proud show off or even one who treats us in an arrogant manner? Nor do we like the person who has a big ego, belittles us and treats us as below him. Frankly we all dislike arrogance…. in others.

There are many sicknesses of the heart, but the ones that take the lead are arrogance and a superiority complex. Because we all have human frailties anyone of us at one time or the other is prone to behave in the manner described above. The first sign of arrogance is when a person thinks that he is superior to other people this goes hand in hand with pride and are usually a by-product of our arrogance; that makes us so wrapped up in our own self-importance that we strut about like proud peacocks simply because we believe that we are better than others.

For some of us our worldly material possessions and things that pumps up our ego. Things like money, wealth, possessions, wearing only ‘branded’ clothing, driving fancy cars, owning the latest and fanciest mobile phone, or live in a posh house in an equally posh  neighbourhood. For many of us, these things go to our head and it leads us to think that we are superior and therefore better than others.

In today’s world many of us who think we have reached a certain ‘social standing’, our arrogance flows out of us and we become inclined to calling people with offensive names or nicknames, making fun of and belittling others. We make fun of others because we think that they are of ‘low standing and beneath us’, so somehow we relegate them to insignificant status.  

Just a simple example of some people’s arrogance, there has been a spate of complaints of ‘cheap’ Chinese clothes flooding the market. Many complain simply because they would never wear this ‘cheap clothing’. But has it ever occurred to them that today even the very poor amongst us who cannot afford to buy our type branded clothing are now able to dress up and look good in those clothes that we consider below our dignity because they are cheap?

The Almighty warns us: ‘Swell not thy cheek with pride at men nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not the arrogant boaster’ (Qur’an 31:18). And ‘Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious’. (Quran 4:36). Yet despite these warnings we still carry on with our exaggerated self-importance. Little do we realise that whatever we have in this world is a ‘gift from Allah’; we are but temporary custodians and these worldly blessings are a mere test for us and that He can take them back at any time.

Regrettably for some our wealth tends to inflate our egos and make us feel a cut above the rest and we tend to lose our moral and religious upbringing. But remember the Bible also warns in Mark 10: 25: ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’.   

Another type is arrogance displayed in a person is one that shows contempt and scorn for others and this can be based in terms of lineage, race, colour and even religious identity. Hard as it is to believe but there are some religious people who display a ‘holier than thou’ attitude and consider themselves as better than others because of their religious knowledge and even tag themselves with labels such as prophet, the anointed or chosen ones.

In Islam the first arrogance is the account of Satan in the Quran and it offers an interesting insight on the danger of pride. When God commanded all creation to prostrate to Adam (to symbolizes the high potential of the human who is the reflection of Divine attributes), all angels bowed down, but Satan refused. "Lord said: O Satan! what prevented you from bowing down to him whom I created with My hands? Are you proud or are you of the exalted ones? Satan said: I am better than he; Thou hast created me of fire, and him Thou didst create of dust." – Quran 38:75- 76

Even in Christianity arrogance and haughtiness are frowned upon because in this instance where Jesus (PBUH) says: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, so that you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach………”

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their religious garb wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'…….The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:1-12).

The Qur’an has a long verse that broadly tells and warns us of this: ‘O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.

O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and races, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Quran 49: 11-13)

For a Muslim that is the golden median that we should use to live our lives and how we should view, treat and interact with our fellow humans. What the world needs today is to bring humbleness and humility back into our lives, once we can do this, we will find our arrogance taking a back seat. But unfortunately today we tend to view humility and humbleness in others as a sign of their weakness.   

We have to once again learn to become and also to teach our children those eternal values of humility and humbleness. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "Allah revealed to me that we should be humble amongst ourselves and none should show pride upon the others, and it is not befitting for one to do so."

So are we ready to get off our high horses and live a life humility and humbleness because in the grand scheme of God’s creations we are but an minute particle in creation, and without doubt, rich or poor, haughty or humble, we all have to die one day, there is no escaping death. In Islam our equality goes further, rich or poor, the ruler or the ruled, the high and mighty or the lowest among us; we all leave this world to be buried wrapped in a simple cotton shroud – no fancy coffins. What more proof do you want that we are equal and no better than the others?

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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