بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Nafsiya Reflections: The Fake Garment of Pride
Assalamu alaikum and welcome to today’s episode - ‘The fake garment of pride.’
You may be familiar with statements such as:
“I’m proud of myself for having graduated from college and for my accomplishments in life.”
“I pride myself on being punctual and for having strong moral values.”
“I’m proud of my beautiful home and garden.”
There are various things that might swell us with pride. But what exactly is pride? Does it serve us or does it trap us?
Various dictionaries offer different definitions of pride. One is, ‘the consciousness of one’s own dignity’, for instance when we say: ‘he swallowed his pride and asked for help’ - meaning, he overcame his ego and asked for help.
Another one is, ‘to be deeply satisfied with a particular quality or skill’, for example: ‘the mother was very proud of her daughter’s honesty’.
In both these examples, pride has a very healthy and positive meaning.
However, there is another definition of this word which is, ‘the quality of having an excessively high opinion of one’s self or one’s importance’, like as in: ‘her pride prevented her from admitting that she was wrong’.
Whether it’s a skill, quality, or self-dignity - pride is felt wherever we as human beings attach ‘value’ or ‘worth’ to something.
So the question now arises - what is the measure of worth and value?
To be specific - what is the measure of self-worth? Or how must one view themselves? Should our self-esteem solely be tied to our personal qualities and achievements, or is there more to this discussion?
In today’s capitalist societies, the mass media constantly pushes role models that promote individualistic lifestyles, continually marveling in their self-admiration. At the same time, the constant slogans from the capitalist market like ‘Because You’re worth it’ encourage fake standards of self-worth and pride.
The capitalist media outlets have systematically normalised the image of the perfect career, appearance, lifestyle, intelligence level and so on.
The average Ayesha, Ali, Emma or James aspire to these false standards, and tailor their life’s decisions according to a vision set out by a massive industry that thrives on imagery and consumerism.
Is it any wonder then, that failing to achieve these standards, pushes individuals to pretend, or boast, or behave fake? It can be stated then, that deeply hidden insecurities drive an individual to preserve their dignity in an exaggerated or false manner. Hence, wrapping themselves in the fake garment of pride.
So going back to the question of what should be the measure of ‘worth’ and ‘value’?
You see, all issues to do with assigning merit or significance to something, have to stem from a particular viewpoint about life. What it means to be successful, or what is true failure - these are all questions that are inherently linked with life; the purpose of it and who it was essentially granted by.
In a capitalist society, these questions are dealt with by detaching them from the Afterlife, or anything to do with the Creator, for that matter; and individuals are left to define for themselves, the measure of success and value. It comes as no surprise then, that the standards of success and value become the shallow evaluations of monetary gain or worldly benefit.
So we see individuals who boast about their own materialistic success, and others who think low of others due to it. All of this, originates from the inherent flaw in the secular ideas of capitalism to do with life and the erroneous values that emanate from it’s ideology.
Islam denounces pride and arrogance. The story of the very first human being, the Prophet Adam (a.s.) presents a lesson in this regard, when every angel prostrated to Adam, but Iblees held back, out of an inflated sense of self-worth; thereby defying the orders of Allah (s.w.t)
Our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said regarding pride that it is ‘rejecting the truth and looking down on people’.
Hence, Islam denounces pride in the same vein as rejecting the truth or disobeying the commands of Allah (s.w.t).
As for values, Islam urges an individual to think deeply about the objectives that lie at the core of an action, and emphasizes that deeds be carried out solely with Allah’s pleasure in mind. According to a hadith of Rasul Allah (s.a.w), one of the people that Allah will not look at on the Day of Judgement will be the poor proud person.
Hence, we realise that in Islam there is no room for false appearances, or pride.
And regarding arrogance, Allah (s.w.t) states clearly in Surah Luqman, verse 18,
Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim:
وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
“And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.”
As Muslims, we need to thoroughly search for the reasons and aims that lie behind our actions. Pride comes in many forms. It could be the difficulty in admitting our faults, the resistance in giving that much-needed apology, it could be the the boastful remark made amongst friends to save face, or it could simply be the resentment that builds in the heart after being corrected by someone who is younger in age, or less in knowledge etc.
We need to evaluate ourselves with the good standards that Allah places in the Quran, and not those placed by society. Since the former, leads to piety and eternal success, whereas the latter leads to nothing but self-loathing, low self-esteem, pretense and pride.
Let’s humble ourselves before Allah (s.w.t) by holding ourselves to account for all our shortcomings and striving to be genuine and sincere towards others as well as ourselves. And let’s not forget, that there is never any true dignity in wearing a fake garment of pride.
Jazakallahu khairan for joining us. Till next time,
Wasalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.