Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Vanity of Self-Righteousness

Another gem from Purification of the Heart, pages 70-71:
As for obedience, one must recognize that obedience is a blessing from God. If a religious person starts to believe that he is better than other people--even if these "other" people are in the state of disobedience--he invites haughtiness. This is the danger of obedience and, in fact, the danger of religion--self-righteousness. Imam Ibn `Ata'illah said, "How many a wrong action that leads to a sense of shame and impoverishment before God is better than obedience that leads to a sense of pride and arrogance?" (The New Testament relates the story of the pride of the righteous Pharisee and the contrition of the humble tax collector. Jesus remarks, "Those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.) Sidi Ahmad al-Zarruq said that the goodness in obedience is in its essence and the evil in obedience is what it can result in. Sidi Ahmad al-Zarruq does not mean to say that there is evil in obedience and goodness in disobedience. Rather, he points out the danger of obedience that creates vanity in one's heart, an aura of sanctimony and condescension. On the other hand, when one indulges in wrong-doing and is overcome with feelings of shame, this can inspire him to hasten to repentance. The Prophet (saws) said that he feared for his people the vanity of self-righteousness.

The Prophet (saws) once said that whoever has a mustard seed of arrogance in his heart will not enter Heaven, a sentiment shared with Christianity. What God demands from obedient people is simply acknowledging that their obedience is a gift from God. The Prophet (saws) said, "Do not find fault in others. If you find fault in them, God will take their faults away and give them to you."
Oh Allah, all Glory is for you, and all Praise, Blessed is your Name and Exalted is your Majesty, and there is none worthy of worship except you.

Oh Allah, send blessings on Muhammad, and peace on his family and companions.

Oh Allah, I ask for your forgiveness, because you are The Oft-Forgiving (Al-Ghaffaar)
Oh Allah, I ask for your pardon, because you are The Pardoner (Al-`Afuww)
Oh Allah, I ask for your mercy, because you are the Merciful, the More Merciful (Ar-Rahmaan, Ar-Raheem)
Oh Allah, I ask for remorse for my past actions, and I ask for the resolve to never sink into disobedience again.

Oh Allah, I ask for gratitude for the blessings you have bestowed on me, because you are The Grateful (Ash-Shakoor) and you are the Bestower (Al-Wahhab)
Oh Allah, I ask you for patience in tribulations because you are The Patient One (As-Saboor)


All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds

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