Hubris or Takabbur (Arabic: تَکَبُّر) (arrogance, pride or conceit) is one of the moral vices which the Qur'an and Hadiths have regarded among very reprehensible attributes of human being. Different types of pride have been mentioned such as having pride against God, pride against prophets (a) and pride against other people. Insolence towards God, the origin of which is ignorance, has been considered the worst type of pride.
Showing pride against other people has also been reprimanded in religious texts; even a believer's pride against disbelievers and polytheists; because, dwelling of faith in the heart of a believer and dwelling of disbelief in the heart of a disbeliever are not certain and it is very possible that in a near or far future, their places are shifted.
Literally, "Takabbur" means thinking big of oneself. To address this meaning, some have used Kibr (conceit), Istikbar (arrogance), and Takabbur (pride) the same way, but some others have differentiated between Kibr, Takabbur, and Istikbar. They have considered Kibr, a quality of soul and a spiritual state and Takabbur as the outcomes of that spiritual state in the form of actions and speeches.
References of Ethics
Qur'an • Nahj al-balagha • Misbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqa • Makarim al-Akhlaq • Al-Mahajja al-bayda' fi tahdhib al-ahya' • Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir • Jami' al-sa'adat • Mi'raj al-sa'ada • Al-Muraqabat
In the Qur'an
In the Qur'an, pride is regarded among very reprehensible attributes of man. In some verses, it has been mentioned clearly; including the verses intruding hell as the abode of the proud. Also in some verses, it has been addressed in words such as Mustakbir (arrogant), Istikbar (arrogance) and "swaggering braggart" . In Qur'an 39:72, angels of punishment, among all human vices, stress on the pride of dwellers of hell. It can suggest that the origin of all sins is pride and insubordination to the Truth. On the opposite, according to the Qur'an 16:50, the sign of rejecting arrogance would be unquestioned observation of divine commands.
In many narrations, pride has been reprehended which has a broad range of forms and cases, including the narrations which refer to the Satan's pride, or those considering pride among the attributes of unbelievers and regard the obligation of prayer a way of overcoming pride by ignorant Arabs; narrations which discuss the fate of the proud on the Day of Judgment and narrations describing the conduct of the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) to reprove pride and praise humbleness. These narrations suggest the importance of avoiding pride in faith as alongside the Qur'an, they have mentioned pride against faith and an obstacle for surrendering to the Truth.
In ethics, pride has been considered among moral vices and a cause of divine wrath. Even some scholars have considered it an origin for other vices and at the same level with polytheism. Definition of pride in ethics is to consider oneself superior to others and seeing others inferior and belittling them. The first part of this definition is common with self-conceit ('Ujb) which suggest its similarity with Kibr; as it has been considered an outcome of self-conceit. The difference between the Kibr and self-conceit is that contrary to self-conceit, Kibr is not only to consider oneself superior and to have an exaggerated opinion of oneself but also to belittle others.
Levels and Types
Pride is a multi-form attribute: one is that it is in the heart and appears in speech and actions; another is that it does not appear in speech, but appears in actions which is a lower level of it and a third form of it is that it is in the heart and one is unable to remove it, but one tries not to show it in his actions and speeches. In the later form, the person's error is much less and such a struggle to remove pride may lead to its complete removal by the help of God.
There have been different types mentioned for pride as well; such as having pride against God, against the prophets (a) and against other people. Having pride against God has been considered the worst type of pride the origin of which is ignorance, similar to the one Nimrud and Pharaoh had and claimed to be god. Having pride against the prophets (s) is also an obstacle against believing in them, as disbelievers of Quraysh showed pride against the Prophet (s); some of them accepted him but they could not admit to it due to their conceit and some others failed to know his prophethood due to conceit.
Having Pride against People
Having pride against other people is also considered so reprehensible that even a believer's pride against disbelievers and polytheists is not acceptable; because, neither dwelling of faith in the heart of a believer, nor dwelling of disbelief in the heart of a disbeliever are certain and no one can trust one's current good state and badness of others' state and conclude about one's good destiny and others' bad destiny and so shows pride against others. Ugliness of this type of pride is somehow great, since it makes one refuse the truth one hears from others and this leads one to transgression and holds one back from seeking perfection. More importantly, magnificence is the attribute of God and anyone who has conceit and claims grandeur has actually stood against God in His Magnificence. In fact, what makes human's pride ugly is that human oversteps the limits of humanity and trespasses on God's attributes.
The cause of pride is one's ignorance about one's true level and attributing oneself with higher attributes. This attribution has roots in loving oneself and has means such as one's pride in one's knowledge, actions, worships, lineage, beauty, physical or financial power or multitude of followers. One of the worst aftermaths of such an arrogance is being held back from the perfection in things one has become proud of; such as one's pride in one's knowledge which holds one back from trying to acquire more knowledge. Attributes such as envy, hatred, self-conceit, and hypocrisy have been mentioned as the cause of the emergence of pride.
To cure pride, different methods have been mentioned both in theory and practice. In theory, the way of curing pride is to know greatness of God and being aware that this attribute is exculsive to God. One having such an awareness will understand one's distance from greatness as well. Depth of such a knowledge is grasped when the person reflects about means of pride and learns about their baselessness, since all of them are either outside the person or temporal.
In practice, it has been advised that one strictly observes one's speeches and actions so that what one says or does would be out of humbleness and away from self-conceit. There are many advices in different issues in jurisprudence regarding this. For example, one of the reasons for prohibiting usage of dishes made of gold and silver has been considered to be the demonstration of pride upon using such dishes. Similarly, some kinds of clothes have been considered makruh (reprehensible) for the prayer.
Another way of curing pride is that one always disregards what causes pride; i.e. one disregards one's advantages and privileges and instead always remembers one's weaknesses. Also, one should not compare oneself with people above one so that one does not consider one's merits grand.
- Qur'an 4:36
- It will be said, ‘Enter the gates of hell to remain in it [forever]. Evil is the [ultimate] abode of the arrogant.
- They fear their Lord above them, and do what they are commanded.
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from تکبر in Farsi WikiShia.