1. What Is Kibr

Kibr means pride - considering oneself better and superior than others. It is the source of many evils and is known to be the main cause of hatred and disunity in society. It is also a major sin. Following are the verses from the Holy Qur'an and narrations from Ma'soomeen (a.s.) in which the proud ones have been condemned.

From the Holy Qur'an

1 : "And on the day of resurrection you shall see those who lied against Allah; their faces shall be blackened. Is there not in hell an abode for the proud? (Az-Zumar/60)

2 : "It shall be said : Enter the gates of Hell to abide therein; so evil is the abode of the proud." (Az-Zumar/72)

3 : "Thus does Allah set a seal over the heart of every proud, haughty one." (Al-Momin/35) From the Narrations :

Imam Jaffer as Sadiq (a.s.) has said : "Indeed in Hell there is a valley for the proud known as SAQAR. It complained to Almighty Allah of the intense heat within it and sought permission from Him to breath out. (On being granted ) it breathed and therefore burnt Hell itself" (Al Kafi)

It is also reported from the same Imam (a.s.) : Indeed the proud (on the day of resurrection) will be turned into accounting (others)." (Al-Kaafi)

2) Pride is for Allah, the Almighty

It should be borne in mind that pride is one of the qualities of Almighty Allah, the Creator and Master of the Universe and He alone deserves the right to be proud. This is so because He, Almighty Allah, is the Highest and Greatest in all respects.

In the Holy Qur'an, Allah (s.w.t.) says : "And He has all pride in the Heavens and the earth." (Al-Jathiyah/37) In one of his sermons, Imam Ali (a.s.) has said : "Praise be to Allah who wore (the dress of) honor and pride and chose them both for Himself giving not to His creatures"

And then Imam continues : "And Allah (s.w.t.) has cursed those of His servants who attempt to quarrel with Him over this quality (honor and pride)"

Elsewhere in the same sermon, mentioning the punishment for the proud, Imam Ali (a.s.) says : "Nay! Almighty Allah cannot give entry into paradise to a man for the same reason (pride), (because of which) he threw out from it an angel."

Iblees, although a jinn was considered as an angel due to his years of worship. He was thrown out of paradise and subjected to an everlasting curse, when he refused to obey the command of Almighty Allah to prostrate before Adam (a.s.)

Imam Ali (a.s.) explains that after years of worship, if an angel could be thrown out of paradise due to arrogance and pride, how can Almighty Allah allow someone else who possess the same attributes to enter Heaven?

3) Incident of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.)

It has been reported that when Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) became the king of Egypt, his father, Prophet Ya'qoob (a.s.) decided to meet him. When he was still on his way to Egypt, Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) was informed about his father's journey. He therefore mounted his horse and immediately left to receive him.

However, when he reached the place where his father was, Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) did not dismount out of respect for his father but remained seated on his horse. This act although unintentional and of an infallible Prophet, was frowned upon by Allah.

Angel Jibra'el was sent to inform Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) about Allah's displeasure and that as a result of such a mistake, Allah (s.w.t.) would discontinue Prophethood in the offsprings of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.). Here, it is interesting to note that Almighty Allah does not only abhor pride in men, but also dislikes actions which resemble it. To Him whether the action is committed by an infallible Prophet or an ordinary man, it is not tolerable for surely Pride belongs to Him alone.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said : "Pride is the veil of Allah, and the proud quarrels with Allah for His veil"

In other words, pride is a quality of Almighty Allah alone. Whoever is proud other than Him does not deserve and is therefore at war with Allah (s.w.t.)

4) Reason for Kibr in Man

There are many reasons for pride in man, but as a whole, the root cause of it is the feeling of self-humiliation and an inferiority complex in man. Therefore, one can count pride as a reaction, a cover up for a sense of insecurity and inferiority. The argument which Iblees brought up when command to prostrate before Adam (a.s.) was based on this insecurity.

"How could one, who was created from fire, prostrate before someone created from clay ?", asked Iblees. Iblees, who thought himself a superior creation than Adam, refused to recognize the command of his Creator. His response arose as a reaction to his loss of self-esteem. This reaction of Iblees, made him lose the prestige he had been enjoying amongst the angels and he was thereafter banished with an everlasting curse from Allah (s.w.t.)

The following verse of the Holy Qur'an describes what made Iblees become proud. "He said: I am not one to prostrate in obeisance to man (for) You created him of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape." (Al-Hijr/33)

And was therefore commanded as thus : "Said He : Get down hence for it does not befit you to behave proudly therein. Get out; verily you are of the despised ones." (Al-A'raf/13)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has said : "There is no man who is proud or haughty except with (the feeling of) humiliation which he finds ins inner self."

5) Story of a King

The story of a king is an instructive one. He was in love with a particular perfume because of its strong and wonderful fragrance. It is said that whenever he held court or left his place, the king used to wear only this perfume. Once, as he was applying the perfume on his clothes, a drop fell on the ground. Unable to resist, the king involuntarily touched the fallen drop and wiped it on his clothes only to realize the presence of his minister who was watching him in amazement. Guilty and embarrassed, the king ordered his minister to construct a pool of the same perfume in his palace. The minister smiled and remarked : "Your majesty, what goes away with a drop cannot be replaced by constructing a pool."

The minister was implying that prestige and honor lost for a drop cannot be brought back by constructing a pool. The moral of the story is simple - the king ordered the minister to construct a pool of perfume so as to cover the sense of humiliation he left upon realizing that it does not benefit a king to act in a miserly fashion. His pride could not rake the humiliation. In conclusion, the victims of pride are those who normally suffer from the above mentioned complex. It is immaterial whether they seek recognition by attracting attention to themselves or even to cover up their faults. The problem is of a lack of self-esteem.

6) Types of Kibr

Basically, Kibr is of three types :

  1. Kibr on Allah (s.w.t.)
  2. Kibr on the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Imams (a.s.)
  3. Kibr on people.

Each of the above has been discussed in the following pages :

1. Kibr on Allah

There are various acts of man which can prove Kibr against Allah (s.w.t.). An ignorant person always considers himself to be powerful enough in managing things his way. He thinks that whatever he does is a result purely of his own efforts and does not stop to consider himself nothing more than a weak creature of Allah (s.w.t.). One would often hear such characters praising themselves and boasting that "I did so and so" or "I will do so and so." Referring to them in the Holy Qur'an, Almighty Allah says : "There is naught in their breasts but (a vain desire) to become great, which they shall attain not" (Al-Mo'min/56)

When Pride develops in man, a stage comes whereby he may also declare himself as God or even mightier than Him. The incidents of Firoun and Namrood are the best examples.

Firoun claimed to the children of Israel saying : "I am your Lord, the Greatest." (An-Nazi'aat/24)

And justified his lordship saying : "Is not the land of Egypt mine and these rivers flowing from my beneath?" (Zukhruf/51)

Firoun, out of sheer arrogance also said : "I have not known for you a Lord other than myself." (Al-Qasas/38)

As for Namrood he claimed to be a giver of life and death when he said : "I give life and cause death." (Al-Baqarah/258)

To prove himself right he ordered two men to be brought before him. He killed one and spared the life of the other.