How to not let our ego get too big or our intentions clouded

While the 21st century has come with attacks upon Islam like never before, the numbers of energetic and enthusiastic young people coming towards Islam has dramatically risen. Muslim youth in the darkness of the life of this world suddenly came to find the light of Islam, and those shielded from faith itself are accepting Islam today at a rate never seen before. For all this we say Alhamdulillah.

However, to rest on our laurels and pat on our back would be a grave error, and indeed more so because our arch enemy- Shaytan- is constantly plotting and planning. And among his biggest tricks to deceive the young daee or the young student of knowledge is to let his ego inflate and make him arrogant and to cloud his intentions. When people question these brothers and sisters about Islam, and they show a real “know-it-all” attitude, looking down upon the people and always trying to prove by hook or by crook their point. Arrogance slowly leads to clouding of the intentions whereby the brother or sister is no longer learning and preaching for the sake of Allah but rather they are learning and preaching for the sake of winning arguments, for the sake of defeating their opponents and to prove the fact that they have “more knowledge”. Hence one will see many of them knowing lots about minor issues in Islam on which there is difference of opinion so that he can debate with others and put them down and yet many of the fundamentals of Islam he has no clue of them. One will see them also looking down upon and criticizing scholars other preachers and in no way shape or form accept criticism or correction. This, brothers and sisters is disaster!

Firstly, what was the sin of shaytan that got him kicked out of paradise? He was too ARROGANT to bow down to Adam alayhi salam, and hence while we have in theory become “pious”, by becoming arrogant we are practically following Shaytan more than the ones we may deem “ignorant peeps”. Arrogance in Islam is defined in the Prophetic hadith as two things- rejecting the truth and looking down upon the people (Saheeh Muslim Hd-147). In another hadith he mentioned, sallallahu alayhi wasallam that the one with an atom’s weight of pride will never enter paradise. (Saheeh Muslim Hd-164). Most often the brothers have little manners and when reminded they pay no heed at all to the wordings of Allah or His Prophet about having good manners, while the Prophet said “I have been sent ONLY to perfect good character.” (Bukhari in Adab al-Mufrad)

The second issue we will deal with is the clouded intentions, and it is to learn knowledge, to debate and discuss and to preach Islam to show off to the people, and this is also a dangerous sin and it is minor shirk, which wipes out all the good from our deeds. It is also very subtle and is as Rasul Allah described, a black ant on a black rock on a black (moonless) night (Musnad Ahmad). People sometimes do not pay much heed to this form of shirk and this is also a disaster as the scholars mention that riya is so subtle yet dangerous that “the one who feels safe from it is the one who falls first to it.”

How do we deal with these issues?

Brother Hamza Andreas Tzortzis recently in one of his status updates summed up beautifully about how to get rid of our arrogant ego and to humble ourselves. He said, may Allah preserve him,
“The ego destroys our family relationships, our friendships, our lives and our spiritual well being. It stops us from forgiving, loving and working together. The Islamic sources use various strategies to help us reduce our egos.

1. Reflect upon death. We will all face the grave.

2. Reflect upon your origins. You were once a despised fluid. You were a baby, fully dependent on others.

3. Reflect with…in yourself. You have the same weaknesses as others. We all sin. We all smile, cry and bleed in the same language.

4. God is the greatest. He deserves all praise.

5. Don’t seek to be right. Seek for things to work.

6. Don’t ask for your rights. Give people their rights.

7. Forgiveness is the highest virtue.

8. Looking over each others faults is a greater good.

9. We are nothing without God. We have no ultimate value. No ultimate meaning.

10. We don’t know our ends. We may end up worse.

11. Remember everything that you have, and everything that you are, is due to God’s blessings.

A list so short and yet which speaks volumes mashaAllah!! As for helping to keep our intentions in check, we can employ the following tactics

1. Making dua to Allah to make us sincere for our deen for “they were not commanded except that they worship Allah alone, SINCERE to him in religion” (Surah Bayyinah V-5)

2. Increasing in our acts of worship which are in secret and hidden from the gazing eyes of people

3. Making the hereafter our goal, for the one who makes the hereafter his goal will only want to please Allah and will have nothing to do with showing off to the people

4. Remembering the fact that none of our deeds are of any value on our scales on the Day of Judgement unless done with sincerity for the sake of Allah

As a cure for both illnesses, it is of utmost importance that we ponder over the 16th ayah of Surah hadeed where Allah says,

“Is it not time for the hearts of those who believe should tremble at the remembrance of Allah and what We have revealed of the truth? Or have they become like those who were given the book before them. A long time passed over them and their hearts became hard. And most of them were rebellious” [(Surah 57:16)]

When was it that tears flowed down our cheeks as we remembered Allah in private and seclusion? When we become arrogant and our hearts harden up do we not get moved by the words of Allah, and also when we are showing off do we not get moved  by the remembrance of Allah. The lesson to take brothers and sisters is to remember Allah, and to fear Him every time shaytan tempts us to act arrogantly or to cloud our intentions. For once a slave remembers how miniscule he is compared to Allah, there leaves no room for arrogance, and once a slave remembers that Allah has power over all things does he stop doing deeds to be seen by men.

For further reading

Pride a barrier to paradise-
Riyaa: Hidden Shirk-

Recommended viewing

Islam and Ego by Nouman Ali Khan –
Signs by Boona Mohammed-

Article submitted by Raiiq Ridwan