Islamic Character Islamic Studies Qur'an

Recognizing Arrogance

Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad

Surat Al-Fatiha Series: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V | Part VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV

If you want to know the importance of your heart, then look at the hadith (record of speech or action) of Umm Salamah. The people asked her, “What du`a’ [supplication] did the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him)] make the most?” She said, “He made the du`a’: ‘Allahuma, muqalib al quloob, thabit qalby `ala deenik. O Allah, the One who turns the hearts, make my heart firm on Your deen (way of life).’” This is the Prophet ﷺ. What about us? We walk across campus and can forget half a juz (part; 1/30) of Qur’an just because of the things we see. We go to class and in one minute our faith is shaken maybe because of something the professor said or maybe from something that fell into the heart. How many of us know this du`a’ and say it all the time? The sign of someone who is doing that is someone who realizes that they need Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).

Now last time we said that al-Fatiha addressed a lot of issues in the heart, but we’re going to talk about three. We begin by talking about al-kibr (arrogance). Allah (swt) said in an authentic hadith that al-kibr means to be arrogant. The word kabbara means to make something big. We say, “Allahu Akbar,” (Allah is Greatest). Of course Allah (swt) is not arrogant. The Prophet Muhammed ﷺ said in a hadith qudsi (a hadith including the words of Allah (swt)) that Allah (swt) said, “Pride is My cloak and strength is My honor and whoever tries to compete with Me in these two issues then let them go to the hellfire.” We explained that the definition of arrogance given to us by the Prophet ﷺ is that arrogance is to reject the truth and look down on people. For example if someone comes to us and says, “You know, the deen (religion) says we should do this.” And we reply, “Well you know, I don’t do that. I have my own ideas. I think we should pray twice a day. Why pray five times a day? It doesn’t make any sense. That’s not logical.” This is rejection of the truth. This is a sign of kibr.

The Companions of the Prophet ﷺ would submit to the orders of the Prophet ﷺ and Allah quickly. But they also struggled. Unfortunately sometimes the only examples that we’re given are examples in which we hear that Allah commanded something and they all submitted immediately. Then we as young people think, “I can never be like that, it’s too difficult. It’s too difficult.” We go to the Qur’an and we find examples of the Companions showing that they also struggled to obey Allah (swt) in many situations, but they always overcame it. Like Zaynab bint Jahsh radi allahu `anha (may Allah be pleased with her).

Zaynab bint Jahsh (ra) was the fifth wife of the Prophet ﷺ. She came from the most aristocratic family in Makkah, in fact her parents held the keys to the Ka`bah. So these people were known all over the Arabian peninsula. She had it going on ’til the break of dawn. Then she became Muslim. Why? Because her brothers and her sisters became Muslim. So those of you who are older brothers and sisters can pave the way, like her older brothers and sisters did. She followed them into Islam in Makkah and because of their high status she was able to keep her nice lifestyle. Her family was favored by everyone and everyone showed them respect.

Then she came to Madinah and everything changed. The Prophet ﷺ built a society not based on who’s who, but based on the fact that we are brothers [and sisters] in Islam. So when Zaynab bint Jahsh (ra) came to Madinah nobody was treating her like a high class celebrity. She needed to get married and came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “Marry me, ya rasool Allah (Oh Messenger of Allah).” He said, “I marry you to Zayd ibn Haritha.” Zayd ibn Haritha (ra) used to be a slave. He was from the low class and she was from the high class. You know what she said? “Uh uh, not me.” If you read the books of seerah (life of the Prophet ﷺ) her response was kind of hardcore. She said, “I am the best of the women!” She was getting upset. How was she going to marry this guy? Didn’t the Prophet ﷺ know who she was? This is that kibr. She went to her brothers and sisters and said, “You know the Prophet ﷺ is trying to marry me to this guy!” Her brothers came to the Prophet ﷺ  and said, “Ya rasool Allah, you can’t marry her to this guy. She is of pure blood.” We hear that now even amongst Muslims. It’s crazy. So the Prophet ﷺ said, “I marry her to Zayd ibn Haritha.”

Someone may ask why the Prophet ﷺ married her to Zayd ibn Haritha (ra). Two reasons. First, Zayd ibn Haritha was a scholar and the Prophet ﷺ wanted her to marry someone who could teach her. Secondly, as my sheikh taught me, Allah (swt) wanted to teach Zaynab bint Jahsh (ra) to be humble before she married the Prophet ﷺ . So all of this egotism and arrogance and concern with who she was was broken. Then after sometime Zayd (ra) divorced her and she married the Prophet . But she was struggling with it.

The Companions used to struggle to control their gaze. Go to the hadith of Fadl (ra) found in Sahih Bukhari (one of the compilations of hadith). In Sahih Bukhari, in the chapter on Hajj, there was a guy named Fadl (ra). Fadl was riding on the back of an animal in ihram (a state of cleanliness entered into before beginning pilgrimage) on Hajj with Rasool Allah. Can you imagine being on Hajj with the Prophet ﷺ? Not only on hajj with him, but subhan’Allah (glory be to God), riding on the same animal with him. Anas ibn Maalik (ra) said the Prophet’s ﷺ face used to be like the sun and his teeth were like stars in the night. So imagine that Fadl (ra) is with the Prophet ﷺ in ihram on Hajj. Subhan’Allah, just imagine how he was feeling. Suddenly, as Imam Al Bukhari narrates, a dazzling young damsel appears over the horizon, steadily approaching the Prophet ﷺ and Fadl (ra). She catches Fadl’s eye, and Fadl starts checking her out. Read the hadith. Fadl (ra) was dumbstruck. He was bedazzled by the wonderment of her austere beauty. Ibn Qayis has a poem about a woman in which he says, “I’m drowning in your beauty because your love killed me.” This is how Fadl (ra) felt. With the Prophet ﷺ on the Prophet’s animal on Hajj. And he was a sahabi (companion). So you can’t tell me that the sahabi were drones. They struggled like we struggle. She kept coming closer and closer, and Fadl (ra) became even more immersed in her beauty.  Also, this is a proof that not all of the sahabiyat (female companions) wore niqab (face veil) because if she was in niqab he would not have been checking her out. That’s why many ’ulema (scholars) use this hadith to prove that some sahabiyat used to show their faces. So Fadl (ra) was checking her out. The Prophet ﷺ turned around and Fadl is in dreamland. This is very important for those of you who work with youth. Youth do this all the time. Fadl (ra) was lost. The Prophet ﷺ turned around and turned Fadl’s face to the other side. The Prophet ﷺ didn’t degrade him, slander him or disrespect his honor. But he checked him.

This shows us that the Companions were very real people. People in Madinah during the time of the Prophet ﷺ committed zinnah (fornication). People in the time of the Prophet ﷺ drank. There was a woman raped in Madinah during the time of the Prophet ﷺ and this still didn’t cause the Prophet ﷺ to ban women from the masjid. Things happened, they were human beings. So for us, when we hear stories about purification we should realize that those people, like Zaynab bint Jahsh (ra), took some effort to get there. It wasn’t a one day switch. For some people like Umar ibn Al Khattab (ra) it was a one day switch. Abu Bakr al Siddiq (ra)—one day switch. That’s why they are the leaders of this nation. But for most of us, we need five or six days to change.

So we were talking about arrogance, and we said that arrogance is to turn away from the truth. If someone is struggling with the truth that’s different than turning away from it. Someone who tries and is working on it, and fighting for it, insha’Allah (God willing) this is good. This is someone who is on the right path. But someone who says, “I don’t care, so what?” This is the problem. You can compare this to Shaytan (Satan) and Adam, in the beginning of time when Shaytan was told to make sujood (prostrate) to Adam. Adam was told not to come close to the tree. Shaytan disobeyed Allah (swt) and Adam disobeyed Allah (swt). They both disobeyed Allah (swt). But what’s the difference? Adam repented. He went back to Allah (swt). He and his wife repented and admitted to their mistake (Qur’an 7:23). Shaytan refused to do so. There is a story that my teacher told me, I don’t know the authenticity of it, that in the time of Nuh `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him) (Noah), Iblees (Satan) came to Nuh (as) and said, “I am ready to repent.” Nuh (as) became very excited. Alhamdullilah (all praise is to God) now we can all go back to heaven. The war is over, right? Nuh (as) told Jibreel (Angel Gabriel). Jibreel went and told Allah (swt) (although of course he doesn’t have to tell Allah (swt) because Allah (swt) knows). Allah (swt) told Jibreel to tell Nuh (as) to tell Iblees that if he wants to repent, he should go to the grave of Adam and make sujood, as he was ordered when Adam was alive. Jibreel told Nuh and Nuh told Iblees. And Iblees responded, “Anything but that, I am better than him!” His arrogance is killing him.

We said there are a few ways that one can become arrogant. First is by knowledge, especially Islamic knowledge. Nowadays somebody reads Al Akhdari, a basic book on Maaliki fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). It’s about twelve pages. Someone reads this and is proud of themselves. Masha’Allah (what God wills), when my sheikh’s son was five he knew Al Akhdari. Someone might boast, “I know Al Ajroomiyah.” Masha’Allah my sheikh’s son knew it when he was nine.

They used to come to Umar (ra) and say, “Oh Leader of the Believers, pray for us!” He would say, “Who am I? I am nothing.” Because of their love of knowledge, some `ulema would learn but appear very simple amongst the people. If there was a problem and knowledge had to be brought up they would bring up their knowledge, but they wouldn’t go around flaunting their knowledge as if it’s for sale in the market.

The second cause of arrogance was position. Don’t call me Sheikh, please. And don’t say, “Oh he’s just saying, ‘don’t call me sheikh,’ because he’s so pious.” I’m not. I know who I am. I’m an ex-Blood. I used to sell bags of marijuana in a neighborhood called Musgrave in Oklahoma City and I used to get shot at on the weekends. Don’t call me sheikh. I struggle just to wake up and pray in the morning, like you do. Subhan’Allah I was reading one story about Haram. He was from the salaf, from the early `ulema. He was very famous and he was a good speaker. He had this taqwa (God consciousness) about him that caused people to gravitate to him. He used to build a fire in the desert and when people would come he would make the fire really big. They would be coming to him and saying, “As salaam alaykum ya Sheikh. Peace be upon you, oh sheikh,” and he would reply to them and say, “Wa alaykum as salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh, marhaban bikum ahlan wa sahlan. And may the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you. Welcome,” They would say, “We would feel welcome if there wasn’t this big fire between us and you.” And then he would say, “You want to throw me into a fire bigger than this by praising me. It is the fire of hell. So get away from me.” They used to fight this position.

Subhan Allah if you went to some of these conventions and met some big ’ulema, I remember sometimes you’d be sitting in a room chilling and you’d be asking someone, “Hey what’s up man? How’s it going? Everything’s cool?” Then someone would walk in and say, “This is the Sheikh [that you’re talking to]!” You see how they carry themselves, very simple and easy. And they deal with the people. They said that a small girl, about seven years old, could come to the Prophet ﷺ and take him by the hand and walk with him anywhere. And he would not leave her until she said, “Ok, I’m done with you. You can go now.” This is Rasool of Allah ﷺ being told he can go, the appointment is over. Why? Because he was very humble. Look at all of the leaders throughout Muslim history. Who are the leaders that we love the most as Muslims? Those leaders who were the most humble. And who are the leaders that most Muslims hate the most? Those who strove to be praised and be mighty. That’s why the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever made themselves humble for the sake of Allah, Allah will raise them.”

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.


  • subahan Allaah, much needed. I feel humbled and ask Allaah to give my heart the love (with genuine concern) for the masakeen.

    barak Allaah feek Suhaib Bhai.

    Does that mean, if we are not able to be grateful to Allaah in the nia’mah we were provided ( and now we lost it) that we will be treated as ‘kafara’ in the hereafter?


  • I believe the proper transliteration is:

    Allahuma, *muQalib* al quloob, thabit qalby `ala deenik

    Also, please post the Arabic text if possible for people to be able to memorize properly. That would be appreciated.

    JazakomAllahu khayaran, keep up the excellent work!

    • Providing the Arabic is an excellent idea, jazaakum Allahu khayran brother.

      اللَّهُمَّ مُنْقَلِبَ القُلوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلبِي على دِينِك
      Allahuma, munqalib al-quloobi, thabbit qalby ala deenik.

      Also, Imam Suhaib recites the dua during the lecture.


  • […] | Part VIIII | Part VIX| Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part […]

  • […] | Part VIII | Part VIX| Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part […]

  • […] | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part […]

  • […] VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII| Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part […]

  • Dear Editor,


    There is a typo in the second from last paragraph:

    It says “And may the peace and mercy and Allah be upon you”
    when it meant to say “And may the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you”.

    Not criticising, just pointing out – please correct !

  • Subahana Allaah. This was an amazing read, it has caused me to look within.

    If possible, could you elaborate on what was meant by this sentence: “there was a woman raped in Madinah during the time of the Prophet ﷺ and this still didn’t cause the Prophet ﷺ to ban women from the masjid. Things happened, they were human beings”.

    I don’t understand why would women be caused to be turned away from the mosque. Also, if possible, could you explain the ruling in Islam on rape, maybe even in a seperate article.

    JazaAllahu Kairan for this much needed article.

  • Salam Aleykum. I’m a bit confused of the thing that few Muslims being proud that they are Muslims, the chosen ones of God and boosting about this in social medias. I just don’t feel that this is right. Is it alright for a Muslim to be proud that he/she is a Muslim?

  • […] VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV| Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | […]

Leave a Comment