Quranic Reflection No. 312 Āyat 57:23 – Self-Conceit and Pride

وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
and Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster
Sūrat Hadeed, no.57, Āyat 23
This verse condemns two qualities of  a human being;
1) Mukhtal – Vanity and self-conceit. When a person is satisfied with his qualities and feels good about them. This is the disease of Ujb or self admiration. It is a deadly affliction that blocks progress and spirituality.Ayatullah Khumayni says:
Ujb is magnification of one’s virtues and good deeds, their overestimation, and satisfaction with them accompanied with a feeling of superiority on their account, while one exonerates and exculpates himself from all failings and faults. But to feel pleasure and delight on performing virtuous deeds accompanied with a sense of humility and modesty before God and gratitude to God for His favors, and to ask Him to increase them, is not ‘ujb, but is a praiseworthy (mamduh) trait.
(Third Hadith:Self Conceit, Forty Hadith An Exposition)2) Fakhur – Pride and arrogance. The first quality was self conceit which then leads to pride. Both qualities are internal but the difference between them is that self conceit is within the self only while pride is a comparison with others and an assumption of superiority over them.

The internal feeling of pride is manifested in snobbish and arrogant words and actions. These could include a disinclination for the company of those deemed inferior, waiting to be greeted by others, expectations of respect and special treatment, having a special seat of honour in gatherings . . .etc.

Ayatullah Khumayni says:
Kibr is the name of a psychic state in which a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. Its signs are discernible in his actions and its symptoms are clearly noticed by others by which they know that he is proud. Kibr is something different from ‘ujb, and, as mentioned earlier, this vice is the offspring and fruit of the tree of ‘ujb
(Fourth Hadith:Pride, Forty Hadith An Exposition)

Both these qualities are condemned as they reveal the lack of belief that God is the source and giver of all good. The foundation of self-conceit and pride is the false assumption that the good we have is self-derived and deserved.  Any blessing, talent, quality . . .  we might possess is actually a gift granted to us by Allah to test us in how we use it. Understanding this brings humility and a sense of responsibility. This is how a true servant of God thinks. Self conceit and pride are delusions that block the progress which could result from an enhancement and use of those qualities. This is a loss for the individual as well as for society. Allah has divided His grace among people and granted them different qualities. Success lies not in just possessing the qualities but in using them to achieve perfection in the way of God.

It is possible that an element of these equalities exist within us without being detected. Reflecting on the self, especially on the intentions behind actions is an important way of discovering these qualities. Treating them includes strengthening faith in God and gratitude to Him, recognizing the faults within us, knowing our inadequacies and mistakes, and focusing on the good qualities of others who are superior to us in knowledge and spirituality.

Recite this verse to remind yourself of the despicableness of self-conceit and pride. To be loved by Allah you must not allow a speck of these qualities to reside inside you.

Āyatullāh Mohammad Husain Tabatabai, Tafsir al-Mizan