| 2 Summary of Ethics


Overall Meaning: The Meaning of Vanity

`Ujb linguistically: is pompousness and arrogance. It is also said that it is the overflow of stupidity that its possessor directs as a form of self-amazement. [1042] Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (1/582); Taj al-`Arus, al-Zabidi (3/318).

`Ujb technically: is the belief that one is deserving of status he in fact isn’t worthy of. [1043] al-Ta`rifat, by al-Jurjani (p. 147). It is described as overindulgence in bounty whilst forgetting attributing it to the Bountiful. [1044] Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, al-Ghazali (3/371). The Difference between Vanity and its Synonyms: Arrogance (Kibr) and Conceit (Idlal) [1045] al-Ri`ayah li-Huquq Allah, al-Muhasibi (p. 343-344); Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, al-Ghazali (3/341); Taj al-`Arus, al-Zabidi (3/318).

Arrogance requires another to be arrogant with and against. Through that, arrogance differs from vanity. Vanity only requires one who is vain. Rather, it is conceivable that if it were the vain solely in the whole of creation, he would still be vain. One may only be arrogant with others in mind. The vain believes himself in what it deludes itself with, while the lost (ta’ih) believes it unequivocally.

Conceit is an exaggerated form of vanity. It is that one believes he is worthy of such a station with Allah which entitles him to great reward for his deeds. If he is hopeful for forgiveness along with fearfulness, this is not conceit. If there is no fear, then it is the essence of conceit.Dispraise of Vanity and its Prohibition in the Qur’an and Sunnah

❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Allah has helped you on many battlefields, even on the day of the Battle of Hunayn. You were well pleased with your large numbers, but they were of no use to you: the earth seemed to close in on you despite its spaciousness, and you turned tail and fled.” al-Tawbah: 25.
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Do not strut arrogantly about the earth: you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height. The evil of all this is hateful to your Lord” al-Isra’: 37, 38.
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet ﷺ said: "While a man was walking, clad in a two-piece garment and proud of himself with his hair well-combed, suddenly Allah made him sink into the earth. He will go on sinking into it till the Day of Resurrection.” [1046] Reported by al-Bukhari (5789) and Muslim (2088).
❖ Anas, Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Were you not to sin, I would have feared over you that which is worse: vanity.’” [1047] Reported by al-Bazzar as is in al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib by al-Mundhari (3/358) and al-Qadda`i in Musnad al-Shihab (1447). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Dispraising Vanity

❖ `A’ishah, Allah be pleased with her, said: “I wore some breast-plate armour on one occasion. I kept looking at it in admiration, being dazzled by it. Abu Bakr said: ‘Are you not aware that if self-beguilement finds its way in the heart of the slave through some worldly adornment, he becomes hated by his Lord until he rids himself of it?’ I then took it off and gave it in charity. Abu Bakr, Allah be pleased with him, said: ‘Perhaps this is sufficient expiation.’” [1048] Reported by Abu Na`im in Hilyat al-Awliya’ (1/37).
❖ `Umar, Allah be pleased with him, said: “That which I fear most over you that you are destroyed through it are three: obeyed avarice, followed whims, and conceitedness.”
❖ Abu Wahb al-Maruzi said: “I asked Ibn al-Mubarak: ‘What is arrogance?’ He said: ‘To belittle the people.’ I then asked him: ‘What is vanity?’ He said: ‘That you see yourself having that which others do not. I know not of a more evil trait among the worshippers than vanity.’” [1049] Reported by Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm wa Fadlih (1/568) (960). Impacts of Vanity
Calls to arrogance, as it is one of its causes. [1050] Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’, al-Dhahabi (8/408). It begets many evil morals and character traits, like perplexity and belittlement. It incites one to forget and overlook sins, such that one does not feel the need for penance. [1051] al-Ri`ayah fi Huquq Allah, al-Muhasibi (p. 337). Makes one magnify his deeds, seeing them as a favour he presents to Allah. Calls the slave to be self-deluded and being pretentiously opinionated. He feels safe from Allah’s cunning and his potential for punishment. He believes he has such a lofty position with Allah, no heeding to advice nor admonishment. It acts as a barrier from asking the knowledgeable. It wanes one’s resolve to seek out goodness since he believes he is at its pinnacle, and he is thus not needy for it. This is blatant destructiveness. [1052] al-Bahr al-Ra’iq fi al-Zuhd wa al-Raqa’iq, Ahmad Farid (p. 153), with adaptation. Forms of Vanity

Conceitedness through: Sound intellect and cleverness. [1053] al-Bahr al-Zakhkhar al-Jami` li-Madhahib `Ulama’ al-Amsar, Ibn al-Murtada (6/491). Knowledge and its expansiveness, excelling in it over others. Courage, might, and prowess. Physical beauty and handsome appearance. Status and roles of influence, putting oneself forward to positions of management. Wealth and riches. Worship and obedience. Offering goodness to others. Prestigious lineage, clanship, and kinship. Abundant progeny. Causes of Vanity [1054] Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 239); Madarij al-Salikin, Ibn al-Qayyim (1/192); Afat `ala al-Tariq, Sayyid Muhammad Nuh (1/118-121).
One’s ignorance of his true nature and being heedless of it. Being praised, exalted, and adulated to one’s face. Comparing oneself with those lower than one in virtue and accomplishment, sanctimoniously believing that people are lost in sin and disobedience, and that he is uniquely exemplary compared with them. One’s nurture and background. Being raised in an environment wherein vanity and arrogance are cultivated normalises it as a character trait and facilitates its acquisition. Being conceited by providence of bounties, finding comfort in them, and forgetting The Bestower, blessed and exalted. Undertaking positions of leadership - governance, judiciary, management, supervision, etc. Signs of Vanity
Putting oneself forward, praising it and elevating it. Not heeding others’ advice nor allowing for their directives. Glee upon hearing the faults of others, especially peers. Refusing truth, being too haughty to listen to its caller. Belittling people, turning away one’s face from them. Refusing to seek the counsel of the wise and virtuous. Prideful strutting and taking strides of conceit. Viewing obedience as too great, and thinking it a favour one does unto Allah. Boasting about one’s knowledge, using it for argumentation and dispute. Means to Desisting from Vanity

Imam Ibn Hazm, Allah have mercy upon him, speaks of the cure to vanity. He prescribes a general treatment which all those afflicted may undertake to rid themselves of this severe, fatal illness. The prescription is founded upon reflecting over one’s faults and laying bare its shortcomings and weaknesses. He says, Allah have mercy upon him: “Whoever is trialled by vanity ought to contemplate his defects. If one is beguiled by his virtue, let him look for the immorality within him. If one is unable to find any until he thinks himself faultless, he ought to know he is truly troubled - he is in fact the most faulty among men, with the greatest defects and the worst discernment, too… Let him retrace his steps to his shortcomings, and busy himself with them instead of others’, which will not harm him neither in this life nor the next… Say, then, to the vain: ‘Return to yourself. If you are able to highlight its defects, you have cured your vanity. Compare not yourself with those who have more faults than you such that vice becomes more palatable and you end up imitating evil men.’” [1055] Rasa’il Ibn Hazm (1/387). Vanity in the Words of Sages, Writers, and Poets

❖ Ibn al-Muqaffa` said: “Vanity is an intellectual ailment.” [1056] al-Adab al-Saghir wa al-Adab al-Kabir, Ibn al-Muqaffa` (p. 35).
❖ A philosopher said: “Vanity is when a virtue is observed in another that is attributed to oneself.” [1057] al-Basa’ir wa al-Dhakha’ir, Abu Hayyan (1/200).
❖ It is said: “Vanity is self-deceit; knowing one’s self is honest.” [1058] al-Tamthil wa al-Muhadarah, al-Tha`alabi (p. 444).
❖ A poet said:

“O you zealous in vanity and bedazzlement,
Whose prolonged indulgence deluded him;

Allah delayed you, so you faced off with Him,
Not fearing from your consequences, the grim.” [1059] al-Jami` li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, al-Qurtubi (19/246).

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