Actions and Consequences

قال الله عز وجل: { أَفَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا لَا يَسْتَوُونَ * أَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْمَأْوَى نُزُلًا بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ * وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا فَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ النَّارِ الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ * وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَى دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ  } سورة السجدة 18-21.

Allah the Exalted says: {Then is one who was a believer like one who was defiantly disobedient? They are not equal. As for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them are Gardens of Abode as an accommodation for what they used to do. But as for those who defiantly disobeyed, their abode will be Hell-Fire. Every time they wish to emerge from it, they will be returned to it, and it will be said to them: “Taste the torment of the Fire which you used to deny.” And verily, We will make them taste of the near (worldly) lighter torment prior to the greater torment, in order that they may return} (Surah 32, verses 18-21).

وعن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « إنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ قَدْ يَئِسَ أَنْ تُعْبَدُ الأَصْنَامُ فِي أَرْضِ العَرَبِ، ولكِنَّهُ سَيَرْضَى مِنْكُمْ بِدُونِ ذلِكَ، بِالمُحَقَّرَاتِ، وهِيَ المُوبِقَاتُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ» الحديث.  رواه أبو يعلى والطبراني والبيهقي.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Satan despaired of idols being worshipped in the Arabian Peninsula, but he will pleased with less than that from you: with the belittled sins (muhaqirat), and they are the destructive sins (mubiqat) on the Day of Judgment. ”  Related by Al-Tabarani, Abu-Ya’la and Al-Bayhaqi.

When we consider peace and order in worldly communities and societies, we find that order cannot be achieved except through laws and regulations.  Thus, a minor offense is prevented by imposing monetary fines on such a transgression, while more serious offenses receive greater sentences as a preventive measure. Those who commit these crimes are then handed prison sentences as a punishment for the offender and as a deterrent for others. Most often these offenses and transgressions entail harming oneself and/or others. These laws and regulations are implemented to protect the individual and the community as a whole. Those who try to harm themselves or other individuals in the community are punished. Those who disrupt the harmony of the community and try to bring disorder and violence to the community by breaking these rules and regulations are disciplined.  Thus, every member of the community has responsibilities and rights that must be observed, and when any member of the community violates these rights, there are consequences. Those who keep the law and order are lauded as good community members who are eligible to take leading roles, while those who violate these rules are considered disruptive members who must face the consequence of their actions so that they may then reform and act righteously.

The same analogy applies to religion.  Allah (God) in His Most Wise and Divine Knowledge and Authority prescribed certain rules and regulations to be followed. Most of these regulations are in the form of sacred texts revealed to prophets and messengers; many of these center on worshipping Allah alone and obeying His commands. Just like laws and regulations are important to keep the community safe, religious rules and regulations are essential to keep humanity harmonious.

Among the rules that Allah revealed to all prophets are the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments were revealed in the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an.

Narrated Ka’b Al-Ahbar: “The first thing that was revealed of the Torah are ten verses, and they are same ten verses mentioned in Surah Al-An’am (Qur’an): {Say (O Muhammad): “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you:

  • Do not join anything in worship with Him;
  • Be good and dutiful to your parents;
  • Do not kill your children out of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them;
  • Do not come near to shameful deeds (adultery), whether committed openly or secretly;
  • Do not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden (to be killed), except for a just cause: thus does He command you, that you may use wisdom.
  • And do not come near the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attains the age of full maturity;
  • Give full measure and full weight with justice – We do not burden any person but that which he can bear;
  • Whenever you speak (testify), speak justly even if a near relative is concerned;
  • And fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus does He command you that you may remember} (Surah 6, verses 151-153).”

The Ten Commandments ensure justice and peace on earth, but when they are violated injustice and mischief spread through the land. And like the violation of worldly laws results in consequences, violation of the rules of Allah also results in consequences. Allah the Exalted says:

{And verily, We will make them taste of the near (worldly) lighter torment prior to the greater torment, in order that they may return} (Surah 32, verse 21).

Ubayy Ibn Ka’b said: “The near worldly torment are problems and troubles in the worldly life.”  Therefore, when the commandments of Allah are violated, and His rules and regulations are broken, torment in this life is sent in the form of troubles and problems that strike the son of Adam and leave him in pain and agony.  And if the son of Adam continues as before and insists on violating the rules of Allah, then there is punishment after death in the grave and in Hell–we seek refuge in Allah from that.

Nowadays, there is a general trend of dissociating the consequences from their actions. Some Muslims may violate more than one rule of Allah, and may be given a reprieve and a chance to repent at first. But when they insist on committing the sin, they may be punished for it and afflicted with a calamity. Instead of reflecting on their previous actions, they wonder why they were affected in particular and why that problem afflicted them. But the true believer understands that problems and troubles are a test and an expiation. Problems remind the Muslim of the need to return to Allah and to repent of all sins. Troubles urge the Muslim to seek the help of Allah and get closer to Him, and they remind the Muslim of the life to come and the need to prepare for that eternal life.

Thus, Allah is the Most Merciful and Most Kind and always gives His slaves a chance after chance before punishment.  Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, screens the sinning slave at first and gives him a chance to repent and return to religion. Allah the Exalted with his vast mercy forgives and continues to forgive, but when the son of Adam insists on turning away and committing sins then the slave is punished. And even then, Allah’s mercy surrounds the slave and He in His Most Glory awaits the slave’s repentance patiently and expectantly.  Allah the Exalted says:

{And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30).

The scholar Ibn Kathir said: “The verse means: ‘Whatever disasters happen to you, O mankind, are because of sins that you have committed in the past.’ (And He pardons much) means: ‘He does not punish you for all of your sins, rather He forgives much.’

Narrated Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘If a person commits many sins and has nothing that will expiate for them, Allah will test him with some grief that will expiate for them.’ Related by Imam Ahmad.”

As the first verse states, the obedient believer and the sinful are never equal, just like the law abiding person is not equal to the criminal. The Mu’min is characterized by having fear of Allah that makes him loathe sins and stay away from them. And in case he slips, he soon repents.  Allah the Exalted says:

 {And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins. And none can forgive sins but Allah, and they do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know}

(Surah 3, verse 135).

Al-Baghawi said: ‘They remember the punishment of Allah and that He will ask them about their actions (so they stop themselves).”  Thus, the Mu’min is the person who doesn’t insist on a sin. It is true that humans are weak and prone to slips and falls, but the Muslim remembers the consequences of disobeying Allah both in this life and the Hereafter, and thus repents of the sin as soon as possible. The Muslim shows regret and remorse and promises Allah never to commit that sin again. And in case he commits another sin (whether the same or different), then he repents a second time, and a third time, until he repents of all sins. When the Muslim reaches this state, then Allah with His Great Mercy and Infinite Forgiveness will erase the sin from his record and grants him purity and sweetness of faith.

The Prophet ﷺ instructs us in the hadith above never to belittle sins, no matter how minor they are. SubhanaAllah, in our age some have started to belittle even the major sins! Some started considering major sins as minor sins and do not think much of committing them. We need to consider the severe consequences that may follow such behavior.

Narrated Ubada Ibn As-Samit, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, a group of my nation will spend the night in merriment, wantonness, play, and forbidden entertainment, and so they will get up in the morning transformed into monkeys and pigs for considering lawful (and violating) the things Allah has forbidden, for taking on female singers, for drinking wine, eating usury, and wearing silk (for men).” Related by Ahmad and Al-Tabarani.

We see the direct cause-effect relationship between actions and their consequences in this hadith. The righteous people among the first Muslim generation (Sahaba) showed great concern over even minor sins and took great pains to avoid them. But now we show even less concern for major sins, and do not consider the enormity of disobeying the Mighty One.  The remedy of this affliction lies in frequent pondering and reflection.  Every day the Muslim should think of the sins he committed during the day and night, and should then make istighfar (ask Allah’s forgiveness) for them.  Only then will the Muslim realize his negligence and shortcomings.  Once he realizes that, then the Muslim should strive to please Allah by obeying His commands and staying away from things He has forbidden.  The Muslim should always keep in mind the good consequences of following Allah’s commands (both in this life and the Hereafter), and the dire consequences of disobeying Allah’s commands (both in this life and the Hereafter).  We pray Allah to guide us to the Right Path and grant us Paradise, and Allah knows best.

Advertisements

The Highest Level: Ihsan

قال الله عز وجل: { هَلْ جَزَاء الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ} سورة الرحمن 60.

Allah the Exalted says: {Is the reward for good (Ihsan) anything other than good?} (Surah 55, verse 60).

Narrated Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him: “Once while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, a man appeared before us, dressed in pure white clothes, with dark black hair, without any sign of travel. None of us recognized him. He sat with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, resting his knees against the knees of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and placed his palms on the thighs of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and said: ‘O Muhammad, inform me about Islam.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Islam is to testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad ﷺ is the messenger of Allah, and to establish prayer, to pay Zakah (the obligatory charity), to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to Makkah if you are capable of it.’ The man said: ‘You have said the truth.’  Umar said: We wondered at him, first asking and then confirming it as the truth!

Then the man said: ‘Inform me about faith (Iman).’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘It is to truly believe in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His messengers, in the Hereafter, and in the Divine Decree, the good of it and the bad of it.’

The man said: ‘You have said the truth. [Now] inform me about Ihsan.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

‘It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you do not see Him, He, verily, sees you.’

The man said: ‘Inform me about the Hour (of the Day of Judgment).’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the inquirer.’ The man said: ‘Tell me some of its indications and signs.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master, and that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herders vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.’  Umar said: Then the man went on his way and I stayed with the Messenger of Allah for a long while.

The Messenger of Allah then said to me: ‘O Umar, do you know who the inquirer was?’ I replied: Allah and His Messenger know best.’  He said: ‘That was Angel Gabriel who came to you in order to instruct you in matters of your religion.’ ”

(Related by Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Ahmad).

———–

In this beautiful and eloquent hadith, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ summarizes the main tenets of Islam and its major foundation.  The scholars said this incident occurred towards the end of the Prophet’s life, to clarify and summarize the important pillars of this deen.  Angel Gabriel and the Prophet ﷺ divided the tenets of Islam into three levels: Islam, Iman (faith), and Ihsan.  If we think of them as levels, then the basic level is Islam, the middle higher level is Iman, and the highest level is Ihsan.  Like any other structure, the highest level can be reached only after perfecting the levels before it.

The three concepts of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan are not limited to the spiritual heart; rather, they are firm beliefs of the heart but also actions by the limbs.  In other words, the belief in the heart must translate into good deeds and acts.  For example, one of the pillars of Islam is the Prayer. So the Muslim must believe in the importance and obligation of the Five Daily Prayers, but his Islam would not be perfect until he physically perfects his prayer.  Likewise, one of the pillars of Iman is the belief in Qadr (Divine Decree or pre-destiny), but Iman would not be perfect until the Muslim learns not to complain in the face of adversaries and calamities but instead to bear them patiently and seek Allah’s help. Finally, the Muslim has firm belief in the concept of Ihsan, and that Allah the Exalted is always watching him and his actions, but the Muslim’s Ihsan would not be complete until he translates that belief into action and starts fulfilling Allah’s commands by performing obligations (wajibat) and avoiding actions Allah has forbidden (sins).

 

One of the ninety-nine Honorable Names of Allah is: الرقيب (the Ever-Watchful). Allah is also: البصير (the All-Seeing), السميع (the All-Hearing), العليم (the All-Knower), and الخبير (the All-Aware).  That is, every creature is under the constant watch and continuous surveillance of Allah, the Exalted.  This watch never ceases and is never interrupted, as Allah is the Perfect God and neither sleep nor slumber affects Him.  Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has assigned two angels for every human, who write his good and bad deeds in a special record that will be presented to the slave on the Day of Judgment.  Thus, nothing of the slave’s actions is ever missed by Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.  Allah the Exalted says in Qur’an:

{Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heavens} (Surah 3, verse 5).

This sense of being under the constant watch of Allah the Most High, and the resulting attention to one’s actions, is called Ihsan.  Ihsan has two parts: First is the belief that we are being watched by Allah the Exalted all the time. And second is the sense of shyness and the effort to follow Allah’s commands and avoid sins that results from realizing Allah is watching at all times.

 

Once the Muslim realizes he or she is under the constant watch of Allah, the Muslim tries his best to show respect and reverence to the One Who is watching. The Muslim feels shy of disobeying the Mighty One who is watching. Moreover, the Muslim tries her best to be in the best form and shape before the Only Lord and true God. So the Muslim tries to do as many good deeds as possible and do them only to please Allah Who is watching him during the day and night, during the morning and evening, in public and in private and on all occasions. This then develops into him a deep and heightened sense of Divine awareness that brings with it a higher level of piety (taqwa), righteousness (salah), and Iman (faith) such that he feels close to Allah all the time and spends most of his time trying to please his Lord by doing good deeds and avoiding sins. This condition then is called Ihsan, and it is as mentioned above the highest level of the religion.

This elevated level of Ihsan requires struggle and fending off the desires of the Evil tempting Self and the temptations of Satan and the devils.  Ihsan requires perfecting the stages of Islam and Iman (faith) first, then gradually building one’s Ihsan. Ihsan requires constant reminder of this continued watch by making Dhikr and glorifying Allah all the time, as well as daily repentance and frequent istighfar (seeking forgiveness from Allah) and asking Allah for the favor of this special state.

It is not an easy task, but Allah’s rewards are not cheap, either. In return for this struggle, Allah provides blessings both in this world, represented by a peaceful contented life, and in the Hereafter through the highest levels in Jannah or Paradise.  We pray Allah to guide us to the Right Path and grant us from His Favor.  And Allah knows best.

Reward and Punishment

قال الله عز وجل: { وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَنْ كَثِيرٍ} سورة الشورى 30.

Allah the Exalted says: { And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned, but Allah pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30).

وعن بريدة الأسلمي رضي الله عنه قال: سمعتُ رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يقولُ: « ما أصابَ رجلًا من المسلمين نكبةٌ فما فوقها- حتى ذكر الشوكة- إلا لإحدى خصلتين: إلا ليغفرَ الله من الذنوبِ ذنبًا لم يكن ليغفرَ الله له إلا بمثل ذلك، أو يبلغَ به من الكرامة كرامةً لم يكن يبلغها إلا بمثل ذلك».  رواه ابن أبي الدنيا والبيهقي.

Narrated Burayda Al-Aslami, may Allah be pleased with him: “I heard the Prophet ﷺ say: ‘Whatsoever small misfortune or greater than it–he even mentioned a thorn–befalls a Muslim for two reasons: Either so that Allah forgives a sin that He would have not forgiven except for that, or to make him attain honor that he would not have attained except for that.’ ”  Related by Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya and Al-Bayhaqi.

———–

In the Qur’an, Allah the Exalted states that He created this life as a test for belief and disbelief, for obedience and disobedience, for righteousness and evil. Part of the test is that this worldly (dunya) life is never perfect: beside its happiness there is sadness; beside its richness there is poverty; beside its fortunes there are misfortunes, and beside its pleasures there is adversity. Then the human is tested in how he acts in every situation–the levels of her faith, piety, patience, and devotion to God are measured and recorded.  Based on the actions of the human and the Perfect Judgment of God, humanity is then either rewarded with Paradise or punished with Hell on the Day of Judgment.

This worldly life is not a lawless place where man can rule free; rather, in every era, Allah the Exalted sent messengers with Divine instructions to lead mankind to guidance and to the path of eternal bliss in the Hereafter.  The Qur’an mentions many prophets and their Divine messages.  We read about the story of Adam, whom Allah created with His Own Exalted Hand from mud and blew the soul into him to bring life to him. We read about the first instruction to humans in the form of staying away from the forbidden tree.

Due to human nature being prone to slips and falls, Prophet Adam was tempted by Satan and ate from the tree, and was then moved from Paradise to the earth. But just as human nature is prone to slips and falls, it is also inclined to righteousness and repentance. Indeed, just as there is a dark side to the soul, there is a countering good side as well. Thus, Prophet Adam spent forty days on earth in prostration, crying in repentance to God. Allah the Most Merciful bestowed His mercy and forgiveness upon Adam and Eve and instructed them to act righteously on earth. Ever since, every nation and generation has received a Messenger and an accompanying Divine book with the instructions and commandments of God. There were many prophets who came as warners to their people, including Prophet Noah, Prophet Moses, Prophet Isa (Jesus), Prophet Abraham, Prophet David, Prophet Solomon, and many others. The last Prophet and Messenger of Allah is Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the seal of prophets who has been sent to humankind at large until the end of time.

If we read about previous nations, we see that some nations followed the guidance their prophets brought them from God and gained eternal bliss, while others refused to obey and were punished both in this life and the Hereafter. In the Qur’an we read some of the stories of the people who were punished, like the story of people of Noah who were destroyed with the Great Flood, the story of the people of Thamud who were annihilated with the Piercing Cry, the story of the people of Aad who were destroyed with the Violent Wind, the story of Pharaoh who was drowned, and many others.

Allah the Exalted mentioned the stories of the nations before us in Qur’an so that we take heed and act righteously. These true stories are great lessons for us, and forewarn us of the consequences of our actions. Indeed, we see the effects of our actions in this life before the Hereafter.  In the above verse, Allah the Exalted states that a lot of corruption and evil we see on earth is a direct consequence of disobedience to God.  These consequences can appear in the form of misfortunes and adversity (though we should realize that misfortunes can also be a test for the righteous).  Therefore, we are instructed to repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness frequently during the day and night, but more so during times of difficulty and adversity.  Allah the Exalted says:

}وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى أُمَمٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ * فَلَوْلَا إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا وَلَكِنْ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ{

{Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Prophet Muhammad). And We seized them with poverty and hardship so that they may believe with humility.

Then why, when Our Torment reached them, did they not believe with humility? Instead, their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing} (Surah 6, verse 42-43).

Thus, Allah the Exalted instructs us to turn back to Him during time of difficulty and adversity, and to seek His forgiveness and mercy with greater degree of humility and pleading.  But that must be accompanied by repentance, true repentance that dictates leaving the sin or sins that may have led to these consequences. When struck with a calamity or difficulty, the Muslim is instructed to seek forgiveness and mercy from Allah, to repent of sins, and then to seek His help and aid.

The time of difficulty is a time of reflection, a time of looking back at our actions, a time of carefully considering which rules of Allah we aren’t following.

As the verse above states, sometimes adversity and difficulty are just a reminder for the Muslim to abandon sins and repent to Allah. But when the human continues to act as before and tries to ignore the consequences of bad actions and finds no link between the two, then the situation may worsen–we seek refuge with Allah.  On the other hand, when the Muslim takes heed and starts by purifying his own self and then seeks Allah’s help, Allah will find him a way out of every difficulty and provides him from whence he doesn’t expect, a promise by Allah:

{And whoever fears Allah (by following His Commands and staying away from sins), He will make for him a way out (of difficulty).  And He will provide for him from where he does not expect} (Surah 65, verses 2-3).

In conclusion, we see a common habit of dissociating actions from their consequences. The Prophet ﷺ  mentioned in the hadith above that adversity and difficulty could be a direct result of some sin the Muslim is committing or it could be an elevating test for the pious person. And the above verses make it abundantly clear that happiness and calamity in both worlds have a direct link to human action. Therefore, in all difficulties, the Muslim is instructed to reflect upon his actions, repent of his sins, seek the forgiveness and mercy of Allah, and then seek help and aid from Allah, the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving.  And Allah knows best.

Feeling Superiority

قال الله عز وجل: { إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَنْ كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا} النساء 36.

Allah the Exalted says: { Verily, Allah does not like those who are proud and boastful} (Surah 4, verse 36).

وعن جندب بن عبد الله رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « قالَ رَجُلٌ: واللَّهِ لا يَغْفِرُ اللَّه لفُلانٍ، فَقَالَ اللَّه عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: مَنْ ذا الَّذِي يَتَأَلَّى عليَّ أنْ لا أغفِرَ لفُلانٍ إنِّي قَد غَفَرْتُ لَهُ، وَأَحْبَطْتُ عمَلَكَ» .  رواه مسلم.

قال الْإِمَامُ مَالِكٌ: إذَا قَالَ ذَلِكَ مُعْجَبًا بِنَفْسِهِ مُزْدَرِيًا بِغَيْرِهِ فَهُوَ أَشَدُّ هَلَاكًا مِنْهُمْ،‏ لِأَنَّهُ لَا يَدْرِي سَرَائِرَ اللَّهِ فِي خَلْقِهِ‏.‏

Narrated Jundub Ibn Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “A man swore: ‘By God, Allah will not forgive such and such person.’  Thereupon, Allah the Almighty said: ‘Who is he who swears about Me that I will not forgive so and so; indeed I have forgiven him and abolished your deeds.’ ” Related by Imam Muslim.

Imam Malik said: “If he said so out of self-conceit and contempt of others, then he is the one who is ruined because he has no knowledge of people’s inner side and future intention.”

عن عبدِ اللَّهِ بن مسعُودٍ رضيَ اللَّهُ عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لا يَدْخُلُ الجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ»، فقال رَجُلٌ: إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُه حَسَناً ونَعْلُهُ حَسَناً، قال: « إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الجَمَالَ، الكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الحَقِّ وغَمْطُ النَّاسِ» . رواه مسلم والترمذي.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whosoever has a grain of mustard worth of pride in his heart shall not enter Paradise.’  A man asked: “Indeed, a person loves that his dress should be fine and his shoes should be fine.”  The Prophet ﷺ replied: “Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and having contempt for people.”  Related by Muslim and Al-Tirmidhi.

As the above hadith specifies, feeling superior to people is part of kibr (pride), which is a major sin. Indeed, pride is the greatest sin because through it Satan was banished from the Heavens and cursed.  When Allah the Exalted created Adam, He asked the angels to prostrate to him. The angels obeyed while Satan (who used to worship among the angels, and was even known for his great worship to Allah) stood aside and did not prostrate. When asked why he did not prostrate to Adam, Satan replied: ‘I am better than him; I was created from fire while he was created from clay.’  So Allah banished and cursed Satan for his disobedience.

The same concept applies when someone feels superior to other people because of his wealth, social status, intelligence, or any other trait.  We must understand that any blessing is granted by Allah alone, and He bestows it to whomever He wishes. Thus, there is no justification for feeling superior when the distinction is a blessing granted by Allah, and can instantly be taken away if Allah so wishes. Rather the Muslim is instructed to show humbleness and humility, and express his gratitude and thanks to Allah for His special favors. In Surat Al-Kahf, we read the story of a rich man who owned two orchards full with fruits and with a running river. He was once in his green and lush orchard, and looked around with pride and said I don’t think all of this will ever end, and when I die I will get better than this. His companion admonished him not to feel pride and superiority, but to instead thank Allah for His Blessings; but he persisted in his arrogance. That night, lightning struck his orchards and he lost everything because of his pride.

The same is true for religious status. When someone appears more adherent to the rules of Allah and thinks highly of himself or looks down upon others, then he might end up worse than them because he harbors the greatest sin of pride. Indeed, it is only Allah who granted him this gift, but when he attributes his worship to his own effort and looks down on others, then he has fallen in the same trap as Satan. We should abhor and prohibit the sin, but should have goodwill and compassion for the human.  When the Muslim sees a sin being committed, he should advise the wrong doer but should never look down upon the sinner or belittle him, but instead should maintain a positive opinion of him while wishing him guidance and goodness.

Indeed, the Muslim does not reach the full level of Faith (Iman) until he purifies his heart from vices like jealousy, worldly rivalry, hatred, pride, feeling superior to others, belittling others, and the like. In the following hadith, the Prophet  describes the best of people:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr, maybe Allah be pleased with them: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked: ‘Who among the people is best?’  He replied: ‘Every person with a makhmum heart and  a truthful tongue.’  The companions asked: ‘We know the truthful person, but who is the one with a makhmum heart?’  The Prophet ﷺ  replied:

‘He is the one who is pious and pure, (in whose heart) there is neither sin, nor transgression, nor malice, nor envy.’ ”

(Related by Ibn Majah and Al-Bayhaqi with a good narration).

Pride led to Satan’s downfall, and it is this same pride that leads to problems in this world and destruction in the next. Arrogance and pride are among the most difficult of traits to remove, but our lives must be permanent, persisting efforts to do just that. By realizing our fragile position and by glimpsing at Allah’s majestic grandeur, we can achieve a level of humility that allows us to fix our relationships with the people and with Allah. We ask Allah for tawfiq.