Question: Assalamu alaikum, Sometimes we feel insecure due to certain people and circumstances, and knowing that there is some good in us, makes us feel happy during those times. Is it allowed to think that it is good for us? Is self-esteem sinful?
Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
May Allah bless you for your question
Praiseworthy Pride (Fakhr)
It is not sinful to feel a sense of good about oneself or a sense of dignity with the condition that one does not ascribe those virtues to themselves independent of the blessing of Allah.
Allah Most High says, “And whatever of favor is (bestowed) on you, it is from Allah; then whenever any calamity afflicts upon you, unto Him you cry (for assistance)” [Qur’an, 16:53].
If one feels that they have good qualities and ascribes the credit of those qualities to Allah Most High, as is right to do, then they have fulfilled the primary conditions of gratitude.
And Allah Most High says, “Nay! But worship Allah alone and be among the grateful” [Qur’an, 39:66].
If one, on the other hand, ascribes the credit for any blessing or virtue to themselves, without perceiving it to be a blessing from Allah Most High, they have fallen into self-conceit (‘Ujb), which is one of the destructive sins.
This is the sin that Qarun fell into. Allah Most High mentions the story of Qarun in the Qur’an.
“Verily Qarun was of the people of Moses, but he oppressed them; and We had given him of the treasures so much that its keys would have been a burden to a company of men endowed with strength. Once his people said to him: ‘Do not exult, for Allah does not love the exultant’. * And seek by means of what Allah has given you, the abode of the Hereafter, and do not forget your portion in this world, and be good (to others) just as Allah has been good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, verily Allah does not love the mischief-makers. * Said he (Qarun): ‘I have been given this (wealth) only because of a knowledge that is in me.’ Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of the generations that were mightier in strength than he and greater in amassing (wealth)? And (then even) the guilty shall not be asked about their sins” [Qur’an, 28:76-9].
Thus Qarun did not ascribe the blessing he had (in this case wealth) to Allah rather to himself. This applies to all blessings from Allah, big and small.
Pride in Allah
As Believers, we should feel a sense of pride and honor in the fact that Allah has guided us and made us servants of His.
Allah Most High says, “Verily for Allah is all honor and for His messenger and for the Believers, rather the Hypocrites do not know.” [Qur’an, 63:8]
’Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah bless him) said, “We are such a people (who) Allah has honored with Islam. Thus if we were to seek honor by other than Islam, Allah would have abased us” [Tabarani, Tafsir al-Tabarani].
Hopes this helps
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.