In the Qur’an, God tells the story of the creation of Adam. When the angels and jinn were commanded to bow before Adam, Iblis (Satan) refused, “you want me to bow to one who was created from clay, when I was created from a smokeless fire?” At that moment, Iblis was given respite until the Day of Judgement.
At that moment, despite being in the Presence of God, arrogance left him ruined and impoverished. Arrogance, is a fatal blow that destroys hearts, relationships and most importantly erodes our relationship with God. Iblis behaved as if he knew better than God in that moment by not submitting to what was asked of him. As humans, we too do this on many occasions. If we take our prayer as an example, it is prescribed in a certain way and at certain times. Yet, many times we find ourselves delaying it, missing it or finding excuses why we can’t do it. As if our wisdom is greater than the Divine Wisdom that laid the prayer out in a way that is best for us. Our actions in these moments say, “I know better than God” OR “God doesn’t know what I know” and while this may not be what we intend, it is something we need to realize that we are doing when we deliberately leave aside what God has prescribed for us.
What it tells us is how careful we must be to guard against pride/arrogance.
Another way that we feed the sense of pride and arrogance in our own souls occurs when we spend time talking about other people, saying things about them behind their backs, their faults and flaws. Even when we preface it with, “I would say this to their face” or “this is the truth”, if we know someone would not like it to be said about it, then we should NOT be saying it. Would you want someone to be doing that to you? The only reason people engage in such behaviour is to feed their ego and make them feel like their better than others.
We do this as well when we begin creating labels and boxes for others in our community. Words like salafi, sufi, tablighi, ikhwani are thrown around today. Some people use their positions of power/influence to paint entire segments of the community with broad strokes simply to feed their own power agendas. We jockey for positions of influence and try to prove why our organization or group is far superior than others. Maybe if we stop and look at these other groups and people, we may find that there is much good that they are doing. In fact, sometimes I wonder if the reason why we do this is because of jealousy or recognition of the fact that they may be doing things better than we are. In times like this, it is important that we move away from believing we own “true guidance” and remember that others may have a much closer relationship with God than we do.
This Ramadan, let us climb down from the pedestals we have created for ourselves and walk in humility with our brothers and sisters in humanity. Let us be kind and respectful and treat others the way we want to be treated. This month, let us remember that the person/s we may look down on may be more esteemed in the sight of God so perhaps we should humble ourselves and learn from/with each other in a spirit of brother/sisterhood and with the intent to make our communities and societies fair, just, compassionate for all.