THE DANGER OF SELF-ADMIRATION (عُجب)
In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
الإمامُ الباقرُ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ) : سُدَّ سَبيلَ العُجبِ بِمَعرِفةِ النَّفسِ
Imam al-Baqir (ع) said, ‘Block the path of self-admiration through self-knowledge.’[Tuhaf al-’Uqul, no. 285]
Self-admiration is one of the greatest diseases of our time
Self-admiration is one of the greatest diseases of our time that has really affected man and man’s behaviour. Self-admiration is a dark trait that has affected all people. It doesn’t matter what religion you follow. All followers of all religions have become infected with this common disease that has penetrated into the hearts which have been influenced by the fame culture that exists in the material and individualistic world.
Islam distances itself from Self-admiration (العُجب). Islam is a religion that dispels all forms of arrogance and Islam is a religion that always encourages man to be as humble as possible.
Self-admiration will block the roads to Ma’rifah (gnosis). A believer cannot reach a high spiritual level if the believer has an atom of Self-admiration and arrogance in his heart. This, of course, is a strong reminder to myself and all other active Muslims who can sometimes feel proud because of their Islamic activity and these emotions and thoughts of pride and self-admiration must be stopped immediately with a reminder and remembrance of God, so that one immediately becomes humble and feels petty in front of the Creator who loves humility and the humble servant.
This also applies to our actions. Some Muslims look down on other Muslims and fellow humans just because they overvalue their good deeds. We as Muslims know that the repentant sinner is better than the arrogant believer who looks down on other Muslims and fellow human beings. We as Muslims know that the worst sin is the one that is taken lightly, even if it is a small sin. Dear people! Be humble and May God open the road to the highest spiritual level that is filled with humility and Ma’rifatun Nafs (Self-Knowledge). The Holy Prophet (ص) said: ‘Whoever knows himself, he knows his Lord.’
As a Muslim, your goal is to get to know God. The more you get to know God; you get to know yourself. The more you get to know yourself; you get to know God. If your Fitrah is covered with rust, you will not get to know God to a hundred percent. Your inner essence is longing to submit to the will of God. Man’s interior is striving to know God. Remind yourself that you can become a unique existence. We live in a time of self-admiration and arrogance. Just imagine how many people live in a state of self-admiration. Imagine being a unique human being by being a humble servant of the source of perfection. God is the source of perfection and you can be His humble servant. You will be unique if you choose the humble path.
If I subdue the son of Adam in three things…
Imam As‑Sadiq (a) said, “The Devil says, `If I subdue the son of Adam in three things, I do not care whatever he may do (from then on), as his good deeds will not be accepted: (1) When he overestimates his good deeds, (2) When he is forgetful about his sins, and (3) When ‘ujb permeates him.‘” [Al‑Saduq al‑Khisal, vol. 1, p. 112, hadith # 86]
One big problem we Muslims can do, is that we overestimate our good deeds. We as Muslims should do good and put it in the sea and continue to perform good deeds every day as if we haven’t done a single good deed. This is how we as Muslims will get the driving force of doing even more good. You should never see yourself as a sufficient Muslim and you should always strive to do as much good as possible in terms of quality. You must also have the intentions of sincerity so that you don’t perform non-qualitative qualities deeds. Never forget that God wants quality.
Another dangerous problem is that there are also some Muslims who commit a lot of sins and yet see themselves as one of the friends of God. This is a stage that some Muslims have reached where they believe their actions are good while they are evil. At the same time, they forget their sins and at the same time they have a heart of self-admiration. This combination is dangerous for the soul and for humanity. This can lead to more serious acts of evil where you begin to believe that you worship God by murdering innocent people and believing that you are the best Muslim in the world. This is a level that IS has reached, and the Muslim scholars around the world have reached a conclusion : that these types of thought and actions are far away from Islam and that the members of IS are neither Muslims nor do they represent Islam. This is one of the dangerous consequences of self-admiration that is a product of self-love and of course arrogance:
أَفَمَنْ زُيِّنَ لَهُ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ فَرَآهُ حَسَنًا
Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good [like one rightly guided]? … (35:8)
قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِالْأَخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالًا. الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا. أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا
Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers in their works? Those whose striving goes astray in the life of the world, while they think that they are doing something good. Those are they who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord and in the encounter with Him. Therefore their works have failed, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall not assign to them any weight. (18:103-5)
Verily God Almighty knows that sin is better for a mu’min (a true believer) than Self-admiration
عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إِنَّ اللهَ عَلِمَ أَنَّ الذَّنْبَ خَيْرٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنَ العُجْبِ، وَلَوْلا ذَلِكَ لَمَا ابْتُلِيَ مُؤْمِنٌ بِذَنْبٍ أَبَداً
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (A) said: Verily God Almighty knows that sin is better for a mu’min (a true believer) than self-admiration. If it was not thus, He would not have afflicted any mu’min with sin.
(Al-Kafi, vol. II, p. 313.)
God knows that sin is better for a believer than the cultivation of self-admiration and self-love in his heart. Of course, God does not want us to neither sin nor cultivate the destructive seeds of self-admiration in our heart. But self-admiration is a root that can lead you to serious sins. We as Muslims should also look at the causes of each and every sin and its consequences, so that we see it from a perspective of the cause and the effect. We as Muslims need to know why shirk is the greatest sin, why arrogance is haram, why self-admiration is haram, why riya ‘is haram and why all these spiritual sins are haram to cultivate in our soul. These evil spiritual diseases will lead to major sins.
Dear reader, study the causes and effects with an awareness that will open up your heart to these various spiritual diseases and strengthen your spirituality in order to abstain from these spiritual diseases. Always try to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and always be ready to crush every thought of arrogance and ego that pops into your psyche.
The pleasure and joy of performing goods deeds is not Self-Admiration
The great compiler of hadith, al-Allamah al-Majlisi (R), may his grave be filled with fragrance, quotes the great scholar and thinker al-Shaykh Baha’ al-Din al-Amili (R) as having said,
There is no doubt that when anyone performs good deeds, like fasting, night vigils, etc., he feels some kind of joy and pleasure within him. This pleasure and joy, if it is on account of the feeling that God Almighty has conferred on him favor and grace, which caused him to perform such acts of piety, while he is afraid of their loss and is anxious about their disappearance, and asks God Almighty for their continuity and abundance-this kind of exultation and gladness is not self-admiration.
But if the exultation and pride is felt on account of the belief that he is the doer of such deeds and that it is he who possesses all such good qualities, and if he glorifies his own deeds with confidence in his goodness, considering himself to be free from all faults and vices, it reaches such a point that one believes that he is conferring some favor upon God in performing these deeds. This feeling of exultation and pride is self-admiration.
Reflect on this spiritual illness and examine if your soul has been infected by this dangerous disease that has detrimental consequences for both you and your environment. It is never good to be narcissistic as a Muslim. A Muslim should always seek a state of humility within himself. Islam is a religion that teaches man to seek the spiritual qualities of righteousness. At the same time, Islam is a religion that teaches man to avoid what hurts the body and the soul.
I Hope this publication made you reflect on self-admiration and its harms. May we all become better Muslims and believers. May we avoid what damages the body and the soul. Always remember to strive for the best of the best of the goals God wants us to strive for. Always remember that your final destination is not in this world. Your destination should be the destination of light and goodness. As Muslims, we have our role models and we should always strive to be like them and we should always strive to become role models for other people. May God make us amongst the rightheous and the true Muslim role models!
Peace and Blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his Holy Progeny (as)
| Amir Zabidi
| THE DANGER OF SELF-ADMIRATION (عجب)