Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi
“O Abu Dharr! The maximum number of people who will go to the Hell will be from those who are victims of pride!”
Someone asked, “Ya Imam! What is the way of protecting oneself from becoming proud?” The Prophet (S) replied, “A person who wears coarse cloth, rides on the long eared mules, milks his own goats and shares his food with the poor and prefers to carry his own burden is free from the trait of pride!” This means that humility protects one from becoming proud.
“O Abu Dharr! One who makes his robe trail behind him in pride, Allah will not cast the look of Blessing towards him on the Day of Reckoning!” One who draws the ends of his robe in his hands and walsk on the street, and doesn’t walk like the proud, conceited Arabs, who repairs his own footwear and bows his Head to Allah on the sands is free from the trait of false pride!
Very soon the Prophet (S) said, “My Ummat will have people who will be born in affluence. They will be pampered with delicious foods and victuals. Flattering poets will sing paens in their praise. These will be the bad ones among my Ummat!”
The Satan was the first to commit this sin when he refused to prostrate to Adam expressing his pride that he was made of the superior fire and Adam (as) was made with the lowly soil.
Amir’ul-Mu’mineen (as) has said in his Sermon (Qutba al-Qasa-aa) after a thosand praises to Allah Who Has given great importance to His Traits of Respect and Greatness. He has kept these traits only for Himself. And made haram (taboo) for others creatures of His. Whosoever from His creatures assumes these traits, he will be the accursed!
In the first instance Allah tested the angels. He said, “I am creating a human with the lowly soil. When I put spirit in the creature, you must all prostrate to him in respect!”
All the angels prostrated before Adam (as) as commanded by Allah, barring the proud Satan. He said, “Adam (as) is made of soil and you have made me with the superior fire!. Therefore, I am superior to him!” By the Creator of all beings! Satan became the leader of all the pride and conceited beings in the universe! He became the accursed of Allah forever by this attitude! If Allah wished, he could create Adam (as) with such a light that even the angels would be put in a shade before him! For Allah doing such a thing was very easy, but He wished to put the angels to test! If the angels were awed by Adam (as)’s noor (light) and prostrated, then it would be the prostration under the influence of the light and, perhaps, not in obedience to Allah’s Commandment.
Allah wanted to test the angels, and test them in such a way that the obedient and the disobedient were clearly distinguished from each other. Therefore, Iblees, who spent six thousand years in supplication to Allah, was turned into Satan for his disobedience and turned away from the Heaven. He was the first proud creature who misled Qabeel to act against Allah’s Commandment and kill his Mu’min brother Habeel only out of jealousy and pride.
Therefore, one must abstain from pride. People should take a lesson from those who are buried under heavy loads of soil. They were those who were very proud and never considered anyone equal to them. If pride was considered by Allah a desirable trait in humans,, He would not have kept his Prophets (as) devoid of it. The Great Allah likes his Abd al-Zaleel (the lowly creature) to prostrate their foreheads on the dust as a test of their Obedience.
Wealth and pelf are great evils and penury and piety the supreme tests. Allah tests the proud people through these weak and insignificant creatures.
Prophet Musa (as) and Prophet Haroon (as) reached the court of the Pharoh wearing coarse wollen raiment and carrying a staff. They told Pharoh that if he wished to have permanent respectability and desired to rule for long, then he should embrace Islam. Hearing this Pharoh laughed and told to his courtiers that the two mendicants who neither had good dress nor pompous appearance, hold a beggar’s staff in th hand, offer him eternal life and respectability! If they have so much power, then why they are not rulers and kings? They even don’t wear bracelets of gold!
It became evident from the talk of the Pharo that in his consideration wealth, pelf and bracelets etc were signs of respectability and power. If Allah has attached any importance to these things, he certainly would have provided all these to His Prophets (as) But the Intention of Allah was to test the proud, conceited rulers of the world through His Prophets (as) who were the paragons of simplicity and humility. If the prophets were rich and powerful, people would have respected them for their outward pomp. But Allah wished to see who were his sincere creatures. Similarly Allah built His House with ordinary stones and sand. It was possible for Him to Order it to be made with gold, silver and precious stones. That would perhaps have put the pride of the world to a shade! But the Creator wanted people of all shades of power and pride to bow down to His Humble Abode!
The philosophy of Salah too is the same. Proud and conceited persons prostrate their foreheads on the dust in acknowledgement of the Greatness of Allah. Wealthy persons fast in the Holy month of Ramadhan to earn the Goodwill of Allah!
They take out and distribute the Zakat thinking that Allah has gifted them with wealth and it must be shared with the needy. Although the House of Allah is in an isolated and desolate place, but since it is related with the great Creator, people have to respect the Black Stone (Hajr al-Aswad) in obedience to His Commands!
The Types of Pride
The proud consider themselves big and powerful. There are several categories of these men of pride
The pride that touches the borders of infidelity when the proud person belittles the prophets, the men of piety, the scholars and the abstemious. Such proud persons build grand mansions for themselves, wear expensive raiment and ride on pedigree steeds to make a show of their wealth to the people. They will have a fleet of slaves and servants hovereing around them. All these things are the concomitants of the pride of the person.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) has said that the man of false pride is one who has no knowledge of the truth and belittles and looks down upon the men of truth.
One person asked the Imam (as), “Ya Imam! I live in a decent house, eat good food, I use a horse for my traveling and a slave accompanies me on my visits out. Are all these the signs of pride?”
The Imam (as) asked him, “Are you doing all this to show-off to the people?” “Definitely not!” The man replied. The Imam (as) rejoined, “Then it is not pride! Pride is that which makes one forget the truth and makes him belittle the truthful ones. If a person has this pride to the extent of the size of a sesame seed, he will not be able to enter the precincts of the Heaven!”
The Prophet of Allah (S) once passed through a place where lots of people were gathered. He enquired why such a large assemblage of people had gathered there. He was told that a mad person lived in the neighborhood and people have come out of curiosity to see him. The Prophet (S) said: He is neither mad nor deranged. The person is sick. In fact, mad are those people who think that others are abnormal and make a curiosity out of them. Making a jest of such sick persons, they are ridiculing God’s will!
In another tradition the Prophet of Allah (S) says, “When my Ummat walks in misplaced pride, and walks with a proud gait with the slaves from Persia and Rome in attendance, then there will appear war and fighting amongst them.”
Then the Prophet (S) added, “The fragrance of the Heaven will travel to a distance equal to the length traveled in one thousand years, but those who are disobedient to their parents, who deny others’ rights, who are adulterers, who have their coat tails trailing behind them in pride, who harm others with cunning, who brag about small mercies shown to others and who are victims of avarice will not be able to smell.”
In another tradition the Prophet of Allah (S) says, “One who has constructed grand mansions more than necessary for his use, just to make the show of his riches to others, Allah will convert these mansions as a fiery ring and tie to the neck of the proud person. Then the person will be consigned to the Hell with the fiery ring around his neck.”
The prophet then said, “A person who shows off wearing expensive raiment, Allah will keep him in the lower echelons of the Hell in the company of Qaroon. Qaroon was the first person who expressed pride over his wealth and was interred into the land!”
A person who beats a beggar or considers him inferior, Allah will raise him on the Day of Judgement in the size of an ant and consign him to the Hellfire!
The Cure for Pride
The cure for the ailment of pride is that one always keeps in view his beginning, the inevitable end, his weaknesses, his failings, failures, illnesses and hardships faced during the lifetime.
Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (as) has said that he wondered at the person born out of insignificant seed, destined to die and putrify in the end, behaves during the lifetime with a huge degree of pride!
Amir’ul-Mu’mineen (as) has wondered over the person who started in the form of a drop and ends up with the final funeral bath! His body throughout his life serves as a container for urine and feces. Even then the person behaves with a high degree of pride. One who wishes to banish the trait of pride from himself, he should eat his meals with his servant, milk his goats with his own hands, sit in the company of beggars and abstain from the company of the affluent!