Is It Permissible to Have Pride? Is There Such Thing as Good Pride?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

What can we have pride in? Is there a good pride? I heard that we can have pride in battle as that gives us more strength or the feeling of strength, but my question is, does this mean any battle?

If I was playing in a sports match could I have pride in myself? Also, is there a good type of pride?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Your question is another reflection of the difficulty and the downside of translation from Arabic to English. There are many words in the Arabic language that translate into words of similar meaning in English. One example of this is the words translated as pride.

The word Kibr (translated as pride or arrogance) has a very bad connotation, whereas, the word Fakhr (translated as pride, also) can have a good connotation. Let’s define each as they are understood in the Arabic language.

Kibr

Kibr (pride or arrogance) comes from the word Kabir, meaning to be great. Thus this word means the state of a person who deems themselves great in comparison to others. This is always a blameworthy characteristic for all created beings; this is because only Allah Most High is absolutely great: hence the saying Allahu Akbar. [Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]

To act out one’s pride (kibr), either inwardly or outwardly, is sinful.

Inward Manifestations of Pride

The inward manifestation of pride is explained in the following Prophetic narration:

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride (kibr) in their heart will enter Paradise.” A man (amongst the Companions) said, “Surely a person loves that his clothes look good and that his shoes look good.” The Messenger replied, “Indeed, Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride (kibr) is to refuse to accept the truth and to look down on people.” [Muslim]

Outward Manifestations of Pride

The outward manifestations of pride are many. Here are some of them:

  • Walking haughtily
  • Allowing their garments to drag on the floor, to show their status
  • Speaking harshly to people
  • Being upset when one is advised by others
  • Physical or emotional abuse of people
  • Backbiting [Ibid.]

All of the above are prohibited in the Sacred Law. The only exception to some of the above is in the context of standing up against arrogant/oppressive people. The Great Yahya bin Muadh (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Showing pride in the face of a prideful person is humility.” i.e. it is warranted in some situations if done with the right intention.

One of the situations that warrant this behavior is in battle. There are many examples of this in the various historical battles of Islam, in which the Believers are defending their lives, their freedom to worship Allah Most High alone, and the safety of the society. In such a situation, harshness is warranted.

Even though a soccer match or a sports game may be competitive, it is not befitting for a Believer to be harsh, haughty, or act unjustly toward their opponents. Rather, the Believer, while striving to win, should uphold the greatest of character and dignity.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.

١٥٧٥ – وعن ابن مسعودٍ – رضي الله عنه – عن النبيّ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قَالَ: «لا يَدْخُلُ الجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ!» فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: إنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُهُ حَسَنًا، وَنَعْلُهُ حَسَنةً، فَقَالَ: «إنَّ اللهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الجَمَالَ، الكِبْرُ: بَطَرُ الحَقِّ، وَغَمْطُ النَّاسِ». رواه مسلم. (١) ⦗٤٤٣⦘
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ص442 – كتاب رياض الصالحين ت الفحل – باب تحريم احتقار المسلمين – المكتبة الشاملة