The world has watched incredulously as groups of people – minorities, new immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, women and gold star families – are verbally abused, insulted and denigrated by a candidate seeking to lead the most powerful nation in the world. The defining trait that we see on display is hubristic pride /arrogance (kibr).
Arrogance is the defining trait of demagogues – and the nationalistic, anti-immigrant, populist leaders of today – who are appealing to the baser instincts in people.
These archetypes of the Pharaohs mentioned in the religious texts are pulling down our societies to a lower level – to a level:
- where bigotry trumps tolerance;
- where hate trumps love;
- where rudeness trumps courtesy;
- where arrogance trumps humility.
All religions warn about the deadly sin of arrogance/hubristic pride.
The first arrogant one towards Allah and His creation was Iblis – “I am better than him (Adam) …..” (Qur’an, 7:12).
Arrogance - with the first progenitor being Iblis – is the source of many evils and is known to be the main cause of hatred and disunity in society.
Demagogues, whose primary trait is arrogance, give license/permission to people to make racist; Islamophobic, anti-immigrant statements.
This is how bigotry takes hold in societies – when powerful individuals/interests say outrageous things and normalize them.
We should also recognize that popular culture celebrates narcissism; promotes bad behavior and a ‘reality TV’ culture – which leads to hubris and plants the seed of arrogance.
“No one in whose heart there is a grain of arrogance will enter Paradise.” (Prophetic tradition).
“Verily, Allah does not like any arrogant boaster.” (Qur’an, 31:18).
The antidote to arrogance is humility – the foremost trait of the servants of the All-Merciful.
“Lo! those who believe and do good works and humble themselves before their Lord: such are rightful owners of the Garden; they will abide therein. (Qur’an, 11:23). Humility trumps arrogance.
And it will trump arrogance when all of us work to restore the civility, courtesy, respect, grateful living in our lives – walking humbly of the Earth.
“The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk upon the Earth humbly…” (Qur’an, 25:63).