Short answer: A prideful heart and inflated ego convince a Muslim that their good fortune is merely a result of their hard work, not the divine providence of God. This creates a disease in the heart of believing oneself to be self-sufficient, not dependent on Allah.
Salam Dear Brother,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Pride is double-edged sword. On one hand, it promotes a healthy self-image, builds confidence, bravery.
On the other hand, when taken to extremes, pride can lead a person to become blind to the truth, blind to their own shortcomings, and prevent them from becoming a better person:
“Your God is One God. As for those who do not believe in the Hereafter, their hearts are defiant and they are arrogant. (22) Invariably, God knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Surely, He does not love the arrogant.” [Quran 16:23]
“Pride Comes Before the Fall”
There is a famous saying among some people that captures our point well: “Pride cometh before the fall.”
In other words, when a person becomes too immersed in pride and lets his or her ego get the better of them, they set themselves up for failure, or a great fall to awaken them.
Take, for example, the story of Qarun, from among the people of Moses:
“Indeed Qarun was from the people of Musa, then he rebelled against them. And We had given to him such treasures as their keys would weigh too heavy for a strong group of people. (Remember) when his people said to him,
“Do not exult. Surely, God does not like the exultant. And seek the (betterment of) the Ultimate Abode with what God has given to you, and do not neglect your share from this world, and do good as God did good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land. Surely, God does not like the mischief-makers.
(Qarun) answered: “This [wealth] has been given to me only by virtue of the knowledge that is in me!”
Did he not know that God had destroyed [the arrogant of] many a generation that preceded him – people who were greater than he in power, and richer in what they had amassed? But such as are lost in sin may not be asked about, their sins.” [Quran 28:76-78]
It is, however, very common to see highly educated, decent, and skilled people fail in their efforts, yet uneducated, mean and ignorant people succeed in theirs.
If everything in life depended on our abilities, the human race would not have survived long against the elements or against the millions of other competing creatures on this earth all struggling to survive:
“Read in the name of your Lord who created (everything). He created man from a (clinging) clot of blood. Read, and your Lord is the Most Gracious. Who imparted knowledge by means of the pen. (He) who taught man what he did not know.” [Quran 96:1-5]
Humility is a Great Virtue for Muslims
As Muslims, we understand that humility is a great virtue.
We recognize that if we have achieved any greatness, it is only because God has blessed us with certain abilities or wisdom.
He has opened doors to success despite our own weakness or ignorance, not because we are more intelligent or skilled than others.
We also understand that if we fail, it is only because our actions are to blame, or because we have something more to learn.
One day, Prophet Muhammad observed:
He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.
One of his companions said:
Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine.
He (the Holy Prophet) remarked:
Verily, God is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people. (Sahih Muslim)
So not only does excessive pride lead to difficulties in this life, but it prevents us from achieving our ultimate goal: eternal happiness in the next life.
It is not our deeds and belief alone that grants us admission to God’s Paradise in the next life:
“Abu Huraira reported God’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There is none whose deeds alone would entitle him to get into paradise. It was said to him: And, God’s Messenger, not even you? Thereupon he said: Not even I, but that my Lord wraps me in mercy.” (Sahih Muslim)
I hope this has been beneficial to you.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)