By Mudasir Al-Majdey
Al-Quran, the book of guidance, broadly defines character in two broad categories, virtue (khair, Hasanat) and vice (shar-Sayiaat). The seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (SAW), is the embodiment of virtues and is qualified by the Lord as the mercy for all existence and the worlds (Rahmat al Lil Aalamin).
Satan ‘Iblis’ is the embodiment of vices and is qualified as the enemy of man, the vicegerent of God on Earth. He is the picture of malice, exposed in pride, vanity and deception, lie and exploitation.
The Prophet(SAW) is presented as mercy, love, humility, wisdom, knowledge, generosity, bravery, forbearance, dignity, modesty, forgiveness, patience, contentment, piety and justice, thankfulness, fear of God, love of God, truthfulness, repentance, chastity, courage, single mindedness, benevolence, and the Satan is identified as the rebellion.
Satan’s characteristics are pride, malice, vanity, hypocrisy, willful deception, lie, deception, slandering, tyranny, self praise, love of wealth and position, miserliness, lavishness, meanness, shamelessness, extravagance, barbarity, disgracefulness, flattery, and wickedness.
Pride is the root of all evil and vices. It emerges from the false claim of greatness. As such it is the greatest lie and lie invites the wrath and curse of God. Greatness only belongs to God and not to creatures. Even their existence is not their own. It is the creation of God. The claim of greatness by any person, in any form is a lie and ingratitude to God. It is a challenge to the beneficence, munificence and greatness and lordship of God.
Ingratitude and ungratefulness arise from the meanness, which shows one’s rebellion and hate and displeasure towards the Giver.
The humanness or the worth, value and integrity and authenticity of man lies in his acceptance of the lordship of God, humility and humbleness, which reveal his acceptance of his sins, and his regret and repentance over his misdoings.
Pride is the denial and rejection of the unity of God, prophecy, life hereafter, human freedom and dignity and the meaningful and purposeful creation of the universe. It is a war against God, prophecy and man. The arrogant holds the creation as a meaningless and purposeless pity game and therefore destroys humanity and the world for the satisfaction of its lust, greed and claim.
Satan waged war against God and man through his boastful denial of prostration before man and left him in a shameful nudity in heaven through this mockery and deception and drowned his son Qabil in the hell of bloodshed by preparing him for the murder of his brother for the satisfaction of his lust. It was the first crime of bloodshed which opened the door of bloodshed till dooms day. The lust of sex joins hands with the lust of power and wealth.
In this way Satan the symbol of pride succeeded in operating his brutality or ‘fire’–
He emerges in the form of the fire of sex, fire of wealth and fire of power. Power can be explained in terms of political power, military power, religious power, the sources of economy, land and number of persons in the form of the tribe, followers and supporters and the slave servants and subordinates.
History is witness to it. The pharaoh, the Namrodh, the tribal lords of Mecca, Haman (the power of knowledge), Qarun (the economic power), the Brahmans, Monks, Mullas and the so called priests, represent the various faces of pride or Satan.
‘Istikbar’ emerges from the false claim of ‘greatness’. As such ‘Istikbar’ is the greatest lie and lie invites the ‘wrath’ and curse of God. Greatness only belongs to God not to the creatures.
The human(ness) or the worth, value, integrity and authenticity of man lies in his humility and humbleness, which reveals his acceptance of his ‘sins’ and his repentance through which he accepts the greatness of God and thankfulness for his munificence and thereby invites his beneficence, mercy and blessings.
Humility, humbleness and repentance cut the roots of devilish influence. Devil, is the ‘fire’ and embodiment of false claims, negation of servitude and obedience. Repentance, humility and humbleness are rooted in knowledge, the realization of self createdness and of God, as being the only reality and creator and lord.
Pride is rooted in and expression of one’s ignorance, rebellion and falsity and denial of God as the only reality, creator and Lord.
History is the war between knowledge and ignorance, truth and falsehood (and false claims and concealment of truth), humbleness, repentance, submission to God and humility and arrogance, haughtiness and false argumentation, disputation and between acceptance of Gods lordship and self lordship and denial of servitude,
Satan is the embodiment of ignorance and pride whereas man is the embodiment of knowledge and humility and repentance. So , the fight is actually between ‘the good’ and ‘evil’. History is the record of this fight from the day Satan refused to prostrate before man, the Caliph of God on earth, at the behest of his being superior to man as he was created form ‘fire’. Pride is not simply a vice and it cannot be simply explained as a sin either. It is a multidimensional concept, a superstructure of various actions and vices and root of satanic web and clusters and his process of dehumanization.
Al-Ghazali one of the greatest minds, and theorisers of the world has a unique position in world philosophy. He elucidated upom the entire Islamic system in its ethics and analyzed the ethical concepts in a very broad epistemological framework.
His analysis of pride as the prime vice is illuminating. I do not find such an indepth analysis of the ethical concepts in any philosopher of East or the West. He relates it to the concept of self-aggression (ghadab) and holds that it arises out of possession of the objects of desire and ‘feeling of superiority over others’. He classifies it in two types; objective and subjective. Subjective pride is a habit of the self and objective pride is the action resulting from this habit”. The pride generates two evil consequences (a) “the refusal to accept truth” and (b) “contempt of fellowship”.
The worst form of pride is to deny to seek knowledge and to ‘accept the truth’. He classifies the denial of pharaoh and Namrood to recognize the prophets in the same category such type of pride is caused by ‘ignorance and insurgence’.
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