The Habits of Unhappy People:
We have already talked about the building blocks forming the habits of unhappy people – discontentment and envy. These habits, if left unchecked, then form a chain reaction that in turn leads to a multitude of several other destructive habits.
Once a person has cultivated envy and arrogance in his personality, the next in the sequence is arrogance. This arrogance is manifested by arrogance towards others, and ultimately, arrogance towards Allah.
When someone asked Rasulullah SAW what arrogance meant, he replied: “Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” [Sahih Muslim]
Arrogance can arise out of perceived superiority in ability, intellect, beauty, body, status or wealth; coupled with the lack of companionship with humble, knowledgeable and wise people. The arrogant love to be in the company of those who they feel are inferior, to feed on their flattery and praise even when it is not true. Having said that, people can also be arrogant without any justification, such as the poor and the unsuccessful, and these are the most despised of all!
When Adam AS was first created by Allah, his creation inspired an extraordinary amount of discontentment and envy in the heart of Iblis. Iblis became arrogant and considered himself superior to Adam AS, even though Allah had decreed that the nation of man was to outrank all other creation. Arrogance made Iblis forget himself, such that he became arrogant against Allah Himself. This arrogance made Iblis blind to any form of goodness, wisdom or salvation.
There are two kinds of people. The first is a genuine person with beautiful qualities. The more status he has, the more good manner, humility and generosity he demonstrates. For the other category, the one who is fake and shallow, the more status and money he accumulates, the more conceited he becomes.
People who have a high intelligence develop arrogance because they believe that their intelligence makes them superior to everyone else. They believe that no one else is equal to them, and forget that knowledge is so vast, and that there are people smarter than they are! They forget that they can know some, but they cannot know it all! It is similar with wealth, success or beauty. Unfortunately, arrogance knows no boundaries or self awareness, so once it becomes part of the personality, it penetrates into all aspects of the person. A person with a successful career will also be arrogant in the aspect of wealth, a person with beauty will also be arrogant in the aspect of knowledge and so on.
Arrogance is obvious in someone’s attitude. It is easily seen when one is interacting with peers or subordinates. It manifests in boastful talk and by showing off one’s assets and abilities. It surfaces from the dealings with those in the service industry, such as waiters and maids. It is seen from someone’s expressions, actions, choice of words and even tone of voice.
The arrogant are neither introspective nor admit their mistakes, and make no attempt to correct themselves or ask people for forgiveness, for they lack the humbleness and humility required for these actions. The arrogant one only thinks about everything from his own perspective. This mentality makes him selfish, and lacking in respect, compassion, love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness or the desire to give to others.
No arrogant person is truly happy, for such persons are usually lonely and insecure. Arrogance detracts qualities beloved to people from them and makes them failures as individuals. Good people will never want to get close or associate with arrogant people.
Arrogance generates foolishness because the arrogant person believes he knows everything and is always right, and therefore does not consult or seek knowledge, will reject advice and will always blame and complain about everyone except himself.
The arrogant is ignorant, and the ignorant is a fool. There is no attempt on his part for self development or self improvement, and therefore he will never spend time with people superior to them to acquire knowledge and wisdom. Instead he prefers the company of fools in order to feel superior.
The arrogant is filled with self-admiration, and believes that he is above others, even if he is wrong. How many arrogant people for example, just read a few pages on topic and then talk as if they are professors on the subject, even when they jumble up all the facts and have no clear grasp of the matter at hand?
Even from a dunia point of view, the arrogant person will never advance. He will be too stubborn to learn anything new, accept any different viewpoint, or try any alternative methodology. He will always be stuck in his own beliefs, repeating the same mistakes while at the same time belittling others, be it in the private sphere or career. The continuation of his arrogance overrides his humility, hence his mistakes continue and even multiply.
Arrogant people are the most difficult to live and work with, and it is often that they will end up isolated and despised. At best they are tolerated, but mostly they are intensely disliked and eventually shunned.
Remember that even if we are clever, smart and successful, all these happened with the will of Allah. Therefore, we should not attribute our accomplishments to ourselves, nor be arrogant over what we have achieved. Greatness belongs to Allah alone, and any greatness, talent or ability that we have were granted to us by Allah.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Allah the Almighty said, ‘Pride is My cloak and greatness is My robe, and he who competes with Me in respect of either of them, I shall cast into the Hell Fire.'” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
Do not confuse arrogance with self-confidence. Knowing that you are blessed with certain abilities or assets is quite distinct from looking down on people who you think do not possess as much as you.
The arrogant ones usually lack the self awareness. Therefore, the challenge is to assess yourself honestly, and if you are sincere in knowing whether you have this characteristic, ask those around you who can be trusted to be honest in their opinions.
All of us should practice humility and not take credit for our capabilities. Do not flaunt our abilities or our possessions, for this encourages and breeds more arrogance (this includes what you post on the social media). We should be appreciative to the people around us – for example, thanking the waiters, accept new ideas that others have to offer, not putting anyone down, and discarding the mentality that we are always right while everyone else is wrong and useless.
Don’t simply dismiss the feelings, opinions and rights of others. Don’t look down on others, and never think that we are superior – whether in the matters of worldly achievements or even religious accomplishments. Otherwise, regardless of our salat and other good deeds Paradise will be denied to us. The hadith below gives a stern warning:
It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “No one who has an atom’s-weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” [Sahih Muslim]
With a more humble attitude, you will notice a difference in how people treat you, and there will be a lot more happiness in your life.
Arrogance, by the way, is always associated with two other qualities – stinginess and bad manner, which we will come to later.