Satanic origins of arrogance and the Quran’s antidote

Romaan Basit, Ahmadiyya Archive & Research Centre
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Arrogance plays a huge role in our lives. It destroys our good deeds, deteriorates our noble morals, and causes a decline in our spirituality. This all-too-common sin has been condemned in the strongest terms in the Holy Quran: “Allah does not love an arrogant boastful person”. For believers, what could be worse than failing to attain the love of Allah?

Hell is the abode of the arrogant as mentioned in Surah az-Zumar (Ch.39: V.73), and Prophet Muhammadsa stressed that even a seed’s worth of arrogance will stop one from entering Paradise. (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 173)

Allah takes us a step further, instructing believers to “walk not haughtily in the earth” and to adopt humility and meekness instead. (Surah Bani Isra’il, Ch.17: V.38) From this verse, we learn that even our physical actions have a direct impact on our hearts – the way we walk, talk and carry ourselves should be carefully analysed so that we steer clear of the original sin: Arrogance.

Arrogance originates from Satan

Arrogance finds its genesis in none other than Satan. “Arrogance has originated from Satan and it turns a human being into Satan”, wrote the Promised Messiahas. (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, pp. 275-276) Surah al-A’raf contains a pertinent conversation between Allah the Almighty and Satan. He defies Allah’s command to prostrate before Adam due to his pride and arrogance, and declares boastfully: “I am better than [Adam]. Thou hast created me of fire while hast Thou created of clay”. (Surah al-A’raf, Ch.38: V.77)

This is the worst example of arrogance, but how many of us see shades of this in our day-to-day lives? People looking down on others due to their cast, creed, religion, gender, wealth, and the status they hold in society? Worse still, we may be the culprits of such behaviour ourselves (if we introspect enough and hold ourselves accountable). The Holy Quran tells us that man has been created weak, and so all human beings are very susceptible to such vices taking over our good side. Really and truly, not a single person is safe from the attacks of Satan. Thus, any seed of arrogance we find in our hearts is a footprint of the accursed Satan.

Don’t follow in the footsteps of Satan

Therefore, it is safe to call arrogance a ‘footprint of Satan’. We are told so many times in the Quran not to follow in his footsteps, as his very mission is to misguide us. He said it to Allah himself after defying the command to prostrate: “Then will I surely come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right and from their left, and Thou wilt not find most of them to be grateful.” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch. 7: V.18) He strives to do so in a variety of ways, one of them being to plant the seeds of arrogance in a person’s heart.

But all is not doom and gloom! Allah also gives us a glad tiding in the Holy Quran: that Satan will have no power over the true righteous servants of Allah. (Surah al-Hijr, Ch.15: V.43) So, if we want to save ourselves from the disease of arrogance and free ourselves from the shackles of Satan, we must strive to become true people of God and humble ourselves.

Adopting humility is the antidote

Humility is the antidote which will drive out the arrogance from within us. “An arrogant individual essentially becomes a sibling of Satan”, writes the Promised Messiahas, “for it was arrogance that led to Satan’s humiliation and disgrace”. (Malfuzat [1988], Vol. 4, pp. 437-438) He goes on to emphasise that it is imperative for a believer “not to harbour arrogance but to embody humility, meekness, and deference”. (Ibid.) A key sign of true servants of Allah we find in Surah al-Furqan is that they walk with utmost humility on the earth, and when the ignorant address them, they say ‘salaamaa’, i.e., ‘peace’. (Surah al-Furqan, Ch.25: V.64) The golden principle to remember is that the more we humble ourselves, the higher Allah the Almighty raises us in status and rank.

A common misconception in our society is that without an ego, or inflated ego, should I say, attaining any sort of power or status in life is impossible. On the contrary, Prophet Muhammadsa told us that the person who humbles himself in the way of Allah, Allah will elevate him in status (in some narrations, Allah raises such a person to the Seventh Heaven). (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-birri was silah, Hadith 2588) The Holy Prophetsa was a man of his word and his character was a testament to this. He forgave his oppressors, remained calm when provoked or even attacked, dressed simply and modestly, put others before himself, accepted advice from those lower in rank, and helped around the house in domestic affairs – a famous tradition is “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best example in this regard”. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab an-nikah, Hadith 1977)

Teachings of the Promised Messiah on humility

As we move further away from the time of the Holy Prophetsa when Islam was in its most pristine form, we become more in need of reminders to keep us on the straight path and revive our faith. This was the reason for the advent of the Promised Messiah and reformer of our age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian – to revive the Muslim world and reignite the essence of Islam once again. He wrote and taught extensively about humility. He likened the disease of arrogance to being on par with murder which shows the extent of it. He said:

“Arrogance is an exceedingly perilous affliction; its emergence within a person signifies spiritual demise. I am thoroughly convinced that this malady surpasses even murder in its gravity. An arrogant individual essentially becomes a sibling of Satan, for it was arrogance that led to Satan’s humiliation and disgrace. Therefore, it is imperative for a believer not to harbour arrogance but to embody humility, meekness, and deference.” (Malfuzat [1988], Vol. 4, pp. 437-438)

As mentioned earlier in this article, Prophet Muhammadsa was the best and most complete embodiment of humility. The Promised Messiahas carried on to say:

“These virtues are particularly pronounced in those divinely commissioned; they exhibit a degree of humility and submission unparalleled, most exemplified in the Holy Prophetsa. When one of his servants was enquired about his experience of serving him, the servant responded: ‘The unvarnished truth is that He serves me more than I serve him.’” (Ibid.)

In another place, the Promised Messiahas explained that the best path to purify oneself is the shunning of arrogance: “Thus, in my view, the finest path to purification is to relinquish any form of arrogance or pride – be it intellectual, familial, or financial. No better method than this could possibly be found.” (Malfuzat [1988], Vol. 4, p. 213)

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa echoes these teachings today. Huzooraa, on numerous occasions, has imparted timeless and profound advice on this very topic. The following has been taken from an article published in Al Hakam in 2020, in which Huzooraa advised and guided an office-bearer regarding humility. Mentioning the following saying of the Promised Messiahas:

بد تر بنو ہر اىک سے اپنے خىال مىں

(‘Consider yourself lower than everyone else.’)

Commenting on this, Huzooraa said, “When you bear this in mind, submitting with humility will become easier.”

Similarly, on another occasion, Huzooraa said:

“You should read the following line from the poem of the Promised Messiahas with mein hoon [I am] instead of mein tha [I was]:

مىں تھا غرىب و بے کس و گمنام و بے ہنر

“[I was poor, helpless and without any skill].”

In another instance, Huzooraa said:

“God Almighty revealed to the Promised Messiahas:

تىرى عاجزانہ راہىں اس کو پسند آئىں

“[He is pleased with your humble ways].

“So remember, Allah is only pleased with those who tread the path of humility.” (“Where stars descend – Chapter 4 (Subduing the ego) – Part I”, Al Hakam, 31 July 2020, pp. 4-5,


The Holy Prophetsa himself said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” Following and practising the religion of Islam in the true sense of the word should make us better people. It should improve our morals and refine our character, gently washing away our vices and impurities. Arrogance should be first on the list.

So, what are we to do? We must deeply introspect, hold ourselves accountable, and do the exact opposite of what Satan would want us to do. Instead of walking proudly and haughtily, we must walk with humility as Allah commands us to. Any undesirable traits we may find in ourselves can be driven out by striving to do good deeds instead. Focusing on good deeds in turn slowly suffocates bad ones and drives them out, as mentioned in Surah Hud, verse 115.

Arrogance, pride, egotism – Satan wants us to adopt all such traits. If we want to truly be righteous servants of Allah the Almighty, we must run far, far away from these – and fast! Instead, we should focus on adopting humility and piety. Then, we will break free from the shackles of Satan and attain the pleasure and love of Allah the Almighty.

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