Arrogance is one of the consequences of vanity and self-conceit. When an individual thinks too highly of himself, it is self-conceit; and when he tends, moreover, to consider others as inferior to-himself, that is arrogance. In contrast to these states, when one thinks of himself as small and insignificant, that is called modesty; and when, in addition to this, he considers others as superior to himself, that is called humility. In any case, arrogance is one of the most fatal of moral vices. This is so because arrogance is a thick veil which hides one's shortcomings from his own view, and thus prevents him from removing them and attaining perfection. The Holy Quran says:
... Thus does Allah seal every proud, arrogant heart. (40:35)
I shall turn away from My Revelations those who magnify themselves ... (7:146)
And the Prophet (S) has said:
One who has even a particle of pride in his heart, shall not enter paradise.
Jesus (A) has said: "Just as a plant grows in soft ground, not where it is rocky and hard, so also wisdom sprouts and grows in a heart which is humble and soft, not in the hard hearts of the arrogant. Don't you see that the man who keeps his head high bashes it against the roof, while one who holds his head low has the roof as his friend and shelter?"
The cure of arrogance is the same as that prescribed for the vice of self-conceit. Another remedy is to study the various Quranic verses and traditions which deal with this vice and condemn it. One must also persevere in the practice of humility towards God and men, associate with the poor and the weak, abstain from ostentatious dressing, put on simple dress, be on equal good terms with the poor and the rich alike, greet everyone regardless of his age, and abstain from seeking a seat at a high place of honour at gatherings. In short, he must resist all those selfish desires which contribute to make him arrogant.
The opposite of arrogance is humility, and is one of the most praiseworthy of moral virtues. The Holy Quran makes this statement about the virtue of humility:
The (faithful) servants of the All-Merciful are they who walk upon the. earth with humility, and when the ignorant address them, answer: Peace. (2.5:63)
And lower thy wing (in kindness) unto those believers who follow thee. (26:215)
It should be noted that humility is the middle ground between arrogance and abjectness, and just as the former is a vice, so is the latter. The difference between abjectness and humility is also clear. Thus while it is praiseworthy for man to be humble, it is a vice to abase oneself.
Adapted from: "Jami' al-Sa'adat" by: "Muhammad Mahdi al-Naraqi"
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