Conceit is excessive self-pride; a high opinion of your own qualities or abilities, especially one that is not justified. A conceited person belittles or despises whatever others say or do. Causes Lack Of Introspection: This fills one with self admiration and self love which when combined with lack of self examination, turns into haughtiness and arrogance. This manifests in belittling whatever others do compared with ones "achievements and deeds", thus becoming over conceited. This is why the Quran contains many ordinances related to self reckoning and self examination. Allaah says: "Oh you who believe!Fear Allaah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is All-Aware of what you do."(Q59[Hashr]: 18)
Religious Intolerance: Some muslims, in their observance of religious duties, sometimes tend to be extreme and when they see others adopting moderate ways in the religion they think that those muslims are being self indulgent and lax in their religious obligations. As a result they look down upon whatever they say or do as relatively inferior to their own views. Islaam calls for moderation and warns us against extremism in religious attitude and religious observances. The Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said to the people who expressed their intention to lead an austere life of seclusion and asceticism: "Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allaah, I am more submissive to Allaah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women, So he who does not follow my tradition in religion is not from me (not one of my followers)."(Bukhari)
Also, he said: "Beware against exaggerating in your religion, for those before you were destroyed because of their exaggeration in religion."(Ahmad, Nasai) Preoccupation with the mysteries of the religion:This gives a person a false air of superiority stemming from his perceived superior knowledge of the unseen. Such a person might be very lax with the observance of commonplace requirements of the deen, yet he sees himself occupying a special position with Allaah.This is why lslaam places more emphasis on the pursuit of only those aspects of knowledge which are beneficial and applicable. One of the prayers of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) reads: Oh Allaah, I seek refuge in You from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allaah), from the soul that does not feel contented and the supplication that is not responded."(Muslim)
False sense of security: All human beings are liable to commit mistakes. Whoever disregards this fact is prone to trust his good deeds and ignore the gravity of his evil deeds, thus becoming vain about his supposed righteousness while furthermore becoming contemptuous of others for their evil doings. Putting ones full trust in the world: Vanity results from blind confidence in the world. Some people may be aware of their vanity, yet, due to their self indulgence and apathy, they lack the will power to free themselves of it. With the passage of time vanity and self admiration turns into deep rooted conceit.
Allaah says: "Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, there of the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil doers) and (there is) Forgiveness from Allaah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good doers). whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment."(Q57[Hadid]:20). The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) also said: "Perish the slave of Dinar, Dirham, Qotifa (thick soft cloth), and Khamisa (a garment), for if he is given, he is pleased; otherwise he is dissatisfied. "(Bukhari)
Our righteous ancestors were aware of the disastrous consequences of making the world our exclusive concern, so they turned their backs on it, considering it of no value or benefit except as a necessary phase on the way to the Hereafter. It provides one with the opportunity to do good deeds. Such views were often expressed by them. Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) said, "The world is receding and disappearing from view while the Hereafter is approaching. Each of the two worlds, the temporal world and that of eternity has its own sons. So avert being the sons to the temporal world and be the sons of the Hereafter. For today you work without being judged and tomorrow there will be only judgment without the opportunity to work." Remedy: Both prevention and cure can be effected through abiding by the following precepts:
1: Realizing the possible effects of vanity, for this stirs the soul to strive in overcoming these feelings and attitudes before it is too late to redeem ones sins.
2: Reminding oneself and others of the need for moderation in all things, even in religious practices and rituals, so they do not become vain about their assumed superiority in observing suchrituals.
3: Reminding people that deeds,even though essential, are not the means of salvation: Salvation is the outcome of Allaah's Grace and Mercy as indicated by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).
4: Contemplating the Glorious verses of the Quran and Prophetic traditions as they narrate the lives of Prophets and righteous people and the way in which they feared to commit even the slightest sinseven though their lives teemed with righteous deeds. They have set us good examples of conduct.
5: Becoming acquainted with the biographies of our great ancestors who despite their great deeds always harboured fear of Allaahs punishment. Such examples provide us with excellent models.
6: Keeping away from conceited people and seeking the company of righteous people who do not brag about their good deeds or feel that they are sufficient. For they fear that they have done some evil deeds which might render these good deeds unacceptable.
7: Conducting self-evaluation and probing into the recesses of the self with the aim of uprooting evil or wickedness in ones soul.
8: Each Muslim must render his duty towards the conceited,. Giving them advice in the proper manner and then enforcing it in the proper manner and making them practice this good advice despite any difficulties.
9: Retreating from prominent position even for awhile, until one Is cured of this disease.
10: Those surrounding him should highlight some good deeds of others in front of the conceited person as a protection from the evils of conceit.
11: Urge ones companions to abide by the legal rules concerning the manner of giving tribute and praise, so as to wholly eradicate the roots of this evil.
12: People with exemplary behavior and conduct should give equal treatment to all their followers to protect them from the wicked insinuations of the evil one.
13: Placing ones trust in Allaah the Almighty who is the best Supporter and Sustainer of those who seek shelter in Him
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited