Boastful Believers?

Pride is a sin in world religions, to varying degrees.

 

Continued from page 2

Islam

Islam teaches that pride is what caused the downfall of Iblis, the devil in Islam, when he refused to obey God's commandment to prostrate himself before Adam. This kind of pride, pride against Allah, is considered the worst type of pride, because it is essentially a rejection of faith. Islam also warns of the sin of pride against others, or arrogance.

Many verses from Islamic texts demonstrate these Muslim beliefs about pride. The Qur'an explains in several verses that Allah disapproves of arrogance. "And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster (Surah 31:18)," it states. The Qur'an later says that proper belief is only possible without pride. " Only those believe in Our Signs, who, when they are recited to them, fall down in adoration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride (Surah 32:15)." Pride in Islam is seen as thinking one can live independently of Allah, as the text says, "Nay, but verily man is rebellious For he thinks himself independent. Lo! unto thy Lord is the return (Surah 96:6-8)."

Several hadith, sayings of the Prophet, teach that pride is wrong. As Sahih Muslim reports, the Prophet said, "God has revealed to me that you must be humble, so that no one boasts over another, or oppresses another." Another hadith, in al-Tirmidhi, says, "He is a bad man who is proud and puts on airs and forgets the Most Great and Sublime One."

But the hadith also teach that prideful arrogance is different than having pride in one's appearance, as Allah loves beauty, but not causing injury to others. As Sahih Muslim reports, the Prophet said: "'No one will enter Paradise in whose heart there is a single grain of arrogance.' A man said: 'But one likes his clothing to be nice and his shoes to be nice.' He said: 'Verily Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance is disregard for the truth and contempt for people.'"

Judaism

One Jewish midrash, a collection stories or allegories of exegesis on the Torah, tells the tale of God choosing a mountain on which to reveal the Torah. (

Read the story

.) The midrash says God chose Mount Sinai because it was the most humble. Humility, especially before God, has since been an important virtue in Judaism.

As Rabbi Noah Weinberg

has written

, Judaism teaches that arrogance stunts spiritual growth, and that people should take pleasure, and not pride, in their accomplishments.

Judaism also warns against taking too much pride in one's knowledge or wisdom. The Talmud teaches, "Who is a wise person? The one who learns from all people (Avot 4:1)." The Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, explain this concept further: "Rabban Yochanan, the son of Zakkai, received (the tradition) from Hillel and Shammai. He used to say: If you have learned much Torah do not ascribe any merit to yourself, because this is the purpose for which you were formed." This has been interpreted to mean that learning Torah should humble a person, and only one who has properly learned Torah knows that Torah study should bring humility and not pride.

These are examples of spiritual pride, but pride can also be harmful physically. As Rabbi Joseph Telushkin has written, the rabbis warned about pride deterring people from asking for something when they are in need, such as money when one is in poverty. This kind of pride is also a sin because it can cause a person to harm oneself.

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