Allah’s Pride

Sam Shamoun

One of the names given to Allah in the Quran is "the Most Proud":

He is the One GOD; there is no other god beside Him. The King, the Most Sacred, the Peace, the Most Faithful, the Supreme, the Almighty, the Most Powerful, the Most Proud (al-mutakabbiru). GOD be glorified; far above having partners. S. 59:23

The name al-mutakabbir implies that Allah is haughty or arrogant, just as the late great Christian evangelist to the Muslims Samuel Zwemer noted:

10. El-Mutakabbir - The Proud. This word when used of a human being always implies haughtiness, and Zamakhshari defines it (Surah 59:23), "Supreme in pride and greatness or the One who is haughty above the wickedness of his slaves." (Zwemer, "The Ninety-Nine Names of Allah," The Moslem Doctrine of God, Chapter III, p. 37; source)

The following Islamic source defines al-mutakabbir as:

… Al-Mutakabbir is the One Who possesses all greatness, Who is above having any of the qualities of His creatures, Who is above being harmed by the oppressors among His creation, Whose greatness and pride are the super-most… the One Who Alone has all greatness and pride, so much so that none besides Him is justified to conceive himself as great, or as mighty, or as the sovereign… It is also said that this Great Name connotes the meanings of One Who has combined in Him, and Who rightly deserves, all the attributes of greatness, perfection, pride, glory, all at the same time.

Imam Ghazali defines "al-Mutakabbir" by saying that "He is the One Who sees everything and everyone as insignificant besides Himself, Who sees greatness and pride justified only for Him; so, He looks upon others as kings look at slaves. If this image is true, then one described as such is truly worthy of greatness, and nobody at all can be conceived as such except Allah. But if greatness and pride are artificial, and if pride and arrogance are out of place, unjustifiable, and are abhorred, then such a person is not to be conceived as great. Anyone who sees himself, and only himself, as being the only one who deserves to be held as great, his outlook is surely false, and his viewpoint is null, except in the case of Allah, the Almighty." Istikbar is to think of yourself as being great, instilling the attitude of prideSuch a quality is not fit except purely for Allah, since Allah, Glory and Exaltation are His, is the Only One Who deserves to be described as al-Mutakabbir, and nobody else has the right to think of himself as worthy of being so… Quoting the Lord of greatness, the Almighty God, the Messenger of Allah has said, "Pride is My cloak; Greatness is My shirt; whoever disputes with Me regarding either one of them, I shall surely hurl him into the fire." (The Great Names of Allah, by el-Sayed Rachad el-Moussaoui, Ph.D. [Distributed by the Muhammad Islamic Foundation, 207 East Ohio – # 343, Chicago, Il. 60611], Chapter 11. The Great Name al-Mutakabbir, Glory to Him, pp. 125-127; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This helps to put in perspective such Quranic statements:

And I (God) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone). S. 51:56 Hilali-Khan

Allah being the most proud helps us understand why jinns and humans were created to worship him, apparently in order to feed his ego. In fact, the ahadith literature expressly says that Allah loves nothing more than to be praised!

Narrated Abu Wail:
'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) said, "None has more sense of ghaira than Allah therefore - He prohibits shameful sins (illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly. And none loves to be praised MORE THAN ALLAH DOES, and for this reason HE PRAISES HIMSELF." I asked Abu Wali, "Did you hear it from Abdullah?" He said, "Yes," I said, "Did Abdullah ascribe it to Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Yes." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 158)

Narrated Abdullah bin Mas'ud:
Allah's Apostle said, "None has more sense of ghaira than Allah, and for this He has forbidden shameful sins whether committed openly or secretly, and none loves to be praised MORE THAN ALLAH DOES, AND THIS IS WHY HE PRAISES HIMSELF." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 161)

'Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: None is more self-respecting than Allah and it is because of this that He has prohibited abominable acts-both visible and invisible-and none loves His praise more than Allah Himself. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6646)

'Abdullah b. Mas'ud reported it directly from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) that he said: None is more self-respecting than Allah and it is because of this that He has prohibited abominable acts-both visible and invisible and nothing is loved by Allah MORE THAN THE PRAISE OF HIS OWNSELF and it is because of this that He has praised Himself. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6647)

Abdullah b. Mas'ud reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: None loves ONE’S OWN PRAISE MORE THAN ALLAH, the Exalted and Glorious, does. It is because of this that He has praised Himself, and none is more self-respecting than Allah and it is because of this that He has prohibited abominable acts and there is none who is more anxious to accept the apologies of the people than Allah Himself and it is because of this that He has revealed the Book and sent the Messengers. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6648)

Interestingly, this is the one quality which Allah hates and condemns people to hell for:

I shall turn from My signs those who wax proud (yatakabbaroona) in the earth unjustly; though they see every sign, they will not believe in it, and though they see the way of rectitude they will not take it for a way, and though they see the way of error, they will take it for a way. That, because they have cried lies to Our signs and heeded them not.' S. 7:146 Arberry

So enter the gates of Gehenna, there to dwell forever.' Evil is the lodging of those that wax proud (al-mutakabbireena). S. 16:29 Arberry

And upon the Day of Resurrection thou shalt see those who lied against God, their faces blackened; is there not in Gehenna a lodging for those that are proud (mutakabbireena)? S. 39:60

(Those who dispute concerning the signs of God, without any authority come to them, very hateful is that in the sight of God and the believers; 'so God sets a seal on every heart proud (mutakabbirin)', arrogant.) S. 40:35 Arberry

In other words, Allah is the most proud of them all, and yet condemns and hates this very quality when others have it despite the fact that he himself possesses it in all its fulness.

Allah’s pride and desire for praise stands in stark contrast with the characteristic of the true God Yahweh, whom the Holy Bible teaches is humble and meek and loves those who are poor in spirit:

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:16-17

"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’" Isaiah 57:15

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Moreover, Yahweh hates the proud:

"The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors." Psalm 5:5-6

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor." Proverbs 18:12

In fact, Satan was condemned because of this sin of pride or conceit:

"He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap." 1 Timothy 3:6-7

These profound differences between Yahweh and Allah provide additional evidence that they are not one and the same Deity.

Further Reading

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