Answered by Ustadha Shaista Maqbool
Question: Assalamu alaikum. What is the difference between having self respect and having arrogance.
Answer: Wa’alaikum assalaam warahmatu Allah,
Arrogance is a prohibited trait, described by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the following hadith:
“No one with an atom’s worth of arrogance will enter paradise.” A man asked, “But a person loves that his clothes are seemly and his sandals are seemly.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied,” Indeed Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is denying truth and holding people in contempt.” (Muslim)
As for self-respect (‘izz or ‘izzatu an-nafs), it is a praiseworthy quality when coupled with the appropriate attitude.
Muhammad al-Ghazali (Egyptian, d.1996) in his book, Character of the Muslim, mentions honor (‘izzah) as one of the character traits a Muslim should have.
“Islam forbade arrogance and degradation and made having honor obligatory…Islam forbade the Muslim to be lowly, humiliate himself, or be weak…The pride of a Muslim in himself, his religion, and his Lord is the “haughtiness” of his faith and haughtiness of faith is unlike haughtiness of highhandedness. It is the pride of the believer (because of which) he doesn’t belittle himself to any ruler, nor is he put down in any place, nor is he anyone’s tail…”
Al-Ghazali also quotes the hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Whosoever gives ignominy willingly from himself, not out of coercion, is not from us.” (Tabarani)
One of my teachers explained that having ‘izz is having pride for that which the self deems praiseworthy while arrogance is the latter along with the view of being better than others.
Therefore, having pride and self-respect for one’s being Muslim and being from the community of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is required.
The Muslim is proud of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and proud to be his follower in every way; he is proud for the blessing of prayer and fasting, and isn’t shy to perform these acts in front of others if he has to. He is proud of the Islamic lifestyle; proud to not drink, proud to not have inappropriate interactions with the opposite gender. The Muslim woman is likewise proud of her hijab and her clothing – not because they are designer-wear – but because in her clothing she is obeying the command of the Lord of the Worlds; she is proud to not wear makeup outside and is proud to conceal that which Allah ta’ala ordered her to conceal…In these and everything in which the Muslim obeys Allah, he has pride.
This pride is crucial in the character of the Muslim; it is a pride he has pride with everything that relates to his religion, acknowledging throughout, though, that every bit of it is due to the blessing of Allah upon him. Hence, he realizes his pride has nothing to do with himself, and with his own “exclusiveness”, but is due to the utter Grace of Allah ta’ala upon him.
May Allah ta’ala aid us to stay away from arrogance and grant us ‘izz through Himself, Who alone possess all ‘izz.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani