617 Prohibition of Pride and Its Explanation

٦١٧ – عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ﷺ قَالَ: (( لَا يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ )) . قَالَ رَجُلٌ: إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُهُ حَسَنًا، وَنَعْلُهُ حَسَنَةً. قَالَ: (( إِنَّ اللهَ جَمِيْلٌ يُحِبُّ الْجَمَالَ. الْكِبْرُ: بَطَرُ الْحَقِّ وَغَمْطُ النَّاسِ )) . رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ

617 – On the authority of ʿAbd Allāh b. Masʿūd, from the Prophet ﷺ who said, “Whoever has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise.” A man said, “What if a man likes his clothes to be good and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Indeed Allāh is Beautiful and He loves beauty. Pride is to reject the truth and look down on people.”” Reported by Muslim (91).

Imām al-Nawawī places the ḥadīth in two places in his famous work Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn. The first occurrence is no. 617 in chapter 72 entitled “Chapter: Prohibition of Pride and Self-Amazement (Bāb Taḥrīm al-Kibr wa al-Iʿjāb). The second occurrence is in no. 1583 in chapter 273 entitled “Chapter: Prohibition of Holding Muslims in Contempt” (Bāb Taḥrīm Iḥtiqār al-Muslimīn).

The ḥadīth is recorded by Imām Muslim in his Ṣaḥīḥ under the title “Chapter: Prohibition of Pride and Its Explanation” (Bāb Taḥrīm al-Kibr wa Bayānuh).

What is Kibr?

Sh. ʿUthaymīn defines kibr as being al-taraffuʿ (raising oneself up) and the person’s belief regarding himself that he is great, that he is above people and that he has superiority over them. Iʿjāb (self-amazement) on the other hand is when a person looks at what he has done and is amazed by it and he considers it to be great and a lot. Thus, self-amazement is regarding deeds whilst kibr is regarding the self. Both characteristics are blameworthy. [Sharḥ Riyāḍ, 3:535-6].

Are There Different Types of Kibr?

Yes, Sh. ʿUthaymīn explains that kibr is of two types: [1] pride against the truth (kibr ʿalá al-ḥaqq) and [2] pride against people (kibr ʿalá al-khalq). The Prophet ﷺ explained them both when he said, “Pride is to disregard the truth (baṭar al-ḥaqq) and to look down on people (ghamṭ al-nās).” Baṭar al-ḥaqq means to reject it, turn away from it and not to accept it. Ghamṭ al-nās is to hold people in contempt, disdain them, to see them as nothing and to see yourself above them.

Looking Down on People

A man was asked, “How do you view the people?” He replied, “I do not view them except as gnats!” It was said to him, “Indeed they do not see you except like that as well.”

Another man was asked, “How do you view the people?” He replied, “I see them to be greater than me, they have standing and status.” It was said to him, “Indeed they see you greater than themselves and that you have standing and a position (maḥall).”

Thus, the way you see people is how they see you. If you see them as being honourable and of status and you put each in their respective places, they will come to know that of you and will see you as being honourable and place you in your respective position. The opposite is also the case.

Rejecting the Truth

Sh. ʿUthaymīn explains that ((baṭar al-ḥaqq)) it is to reject the truth and for a person not to accept it but to refute it and reject it out of confidence in himself (iʿtidādan bi-nafsih) and his opinion. So, he sees himself, and we seek refuge in Allāh, to be bigger than the truth. The sign of that is when evidence is brought to him from the Book and the Sunnah and it is said, “This is the Book of Allāh” and “This is the Sunnah of His Messenger”; he does not accept it and persists upon his view. This is rejection of the truth and refuge in Allāh is sought from this.

Many people seek triumph for themselves so when they state a view, they do not depart from it even if they see the truth to be contrary to his view. This is contrary to the intellect and the Law (Sharīʿah).

The obligation on each person is to return to the truth wherever he may find it even if it contradicts his own view. This is more honourable in the sight of Allāh and amongst people and safer for him.

Do not think that if you return to the truth by abandoning your view, that your status amongst people will be lowered; rather this raises your status and the people will come to know that you are a person who does not follow anything but the truth. As for the one who becomes obstinate and continues to remain on his view and rejects the truth; this person is arrogant and Allāh’s refuge is sought.

Sadly, this occurs from some people, even from students of knowledge when, for instance, the truth of a matter he has been debating becomes clear to him, and it opposes his stance, he continues with this stance. The devil whispers to him that if he returns to the truth the people will lose respect for him and say that this person holds a different view every day. In reality returning to the truth, even at the expense of one’s own view, does not harm one the least. Let your view today contradict the view you held yesterday for the leading Imāms themselves have multiple views on one issue.

Take for example, Imām Aḥmad, the Imām of Ahl al-Sunnah, the loftiest of the Imām in terms of following the evidence and vastness of knowledge. We find, at times, on one issue he has more than four views, but why? When the evidence would become clear to him, he would return to it. This is the way of every just person; it is binding upon him to follow the evidence wherever it may be.

What is the Ruling on One Who Has Kibr?

Sh. ʿUthaymīn explains that the one who has kibr in his heart either has the type which is the rejection of the truth and hatred of it, in which case he is a disbeliever who will reside in the Fire forever and never enter Paradise due to Allāh’s statement, {That is because they hated what Allāh revealed so He nullified their deeds} [Muḥammad: 9]. Nothing but disbelief (kufr) wipes out one’s deeds as Allāh states, {And whoever apostatises amongst you from his religion, then dies whilst a disbeliever, those are the ones whose deeds are nullified in this worldly life and the next. Those are the inhabitants of the Fire; they reside therein forever} [al-Baqarah: 217].

If, however, the kibr is the type which is against people and considering oneself to be better than people, but he does not consider himself to be too proud to worship Allāh [i.e. he is humble in worshipping Allāh], this person will not enter Paradise in the complete and absolute sense because he will be punished first. He must be punished for his arrogance and pride against people so when he is purified, he will enter Paradise.

Trying to Look Your Best Is Not Necessarily Kibr

When the Prophet ﷺ narrated this ḥadīth, a man asked about one who loves that his clothing and shoes be nice i.e. is this kibr? The Prophet ﷺ reassured him and said, “Indeed Allāh is Beautiful and loves beauty.” Allāh is Beautiful in His essence, His actions and in His attributes. Everything which emanates (yaṣduru) from Allāh is beautiful and is not ugly and this is something the sound intellects also find good and which the souls find pleasant.

((Allāh loves beauty)) means that He loves beautification (al-tajammul) which is when a person adorns himself with respect to his clothes, shoes, body and all of his affairs. This is because al-tajammul draws the hearts to people and causes him to be loved by people in contrast to ugliness (tashawwuh) in which the person is unpleasant with regards to his hair, or his clothing. This is why the Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed Allāh is Beautiful and He loves beauty” i.e. He loves that a person beautifies himself.

The Shaykh mentions that as for natural physical beauty which Allāh bestows upon a person, this belongs to Allāh the Exalted alone and the person can take no credit for it as he had no hand in it. In this ḥadīth, the Prophet ﷺ is referring to the type of beauty which a person has a hand in which is beautification through wearing good clothes, shoes, looking after one’s hair and skin, perfuming and being beautiful in one’s character.

Lessons:

  1. Kibr is to reject the truth and to look down on people
  2. The punishment for kibr is exclusion from Paradise – may Allāh save us from kibr
  3. Thus, it is obligatory to eliminate kibr from one’s heart
  4. Do not reject the truth when it comes to you, accept it wholeheartedly even if it goes against you
  5. Do not think you are better than people. Think of them as being better than you.
  6. Trying to look your best in terms of your character, physical appearance, clothing and smell is not necessarily kibr. So, try and look your best for the sake of Allāh because Allāh is Beautiful and loves beauty.
  7. If Allāh blessed you with natural beauty, do not become arrogant as you had no hand in it. You do however have a hand in how you conduct yourself, so strive to beautify your character for the sake of Allāh because that is the real test of beauty as everyone is on an even playing field when it comes to their deeds. This is what Allāh will judge us on; our deeds, not our natural beauty which we did not earn.

References

Sharḥ Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn of Sh. ʿUthaymīn, 3:535, no. 612 and 3:541.