Self-Conceit in a Flawed Opinion that Appears to be Correct

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This is a paragraph translated from the book Jami al-Sadaat by Ayatullah Muhammad Mahdi Naraqi. In the chapter of ‘Ujb (self-conceit), the author goes into detail, first defining the spiritual disease and then expanding on it. Then he goes on to explain the different types of self-conceit a person can do and their cures. He splits the different types of ‘Ujb into: self-conceit in Ilm, in Ibadat and Itaa’at, in one’s lineage and family, in beauty and good looks, in wealth, in strength and abilities, in position, leadership roles, or having a lot of friends & followers, in one’s aql and being smart and in a wrong opinion which appears to be good.

Below is a relatively quick and rough translation of the last type of ‘Ujb that the author discusses. If anyone can read and understand Arabic or Farsi, this book is highly recommended. We also recommend the readers to go over the series of posts we did on the topic of ‘Ujb. This book has not been completely translated into English, although a decent English summary of the book does exist, titled: Jami’ al-Sa’adat (The Collector of Felicities).  I had previously translated another chapter from the book, about Hitting, Swearing, Cursing and Taunting.

Self-Conceit in a Flawed Opinion that Appears to be Correct Due to Ignorance

This type of self-conceit (‘Ujb) is the ugliest of all of them. It is due to this type of ‘Ujb that people of innovation and error, false groups, and those with corrupt opinions, insist on their beliefs (to be correct). They pride themselves above others because of their ideologies, and this is how when the nation (ummah) split into many fractions, they got destroyed as each of them was conceited with their own opinions:

فَتَقَطَّعُوا أَمْرَهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ زُبُرًا ۖ كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ

[23:53] But they (mankind) have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in its tenets.

Therefore, anyone who considered his belief – to which he had been pulled towards by his desires and confusion – to be good, with the assumption that it is the truth, this type of conceit will then come into existence for him. The Prophet (pbuh) has already warned us about this, saying: This type of conceit will take over this nation near the end of times.

The cure for this type of conceit is more difficult than the other types. This is because the conceited person is heedless of his flaw and is ignorant of his mistakes. If he were to realize his flaw, he would let go of it. But if someone does not consider himself sick, he will not seek the cure for it. Therefore, a well-informed and learned person, whenever possible, should point out the ignorance of this person to him, so that he can let go of his ignorance and stops being conceited about his views. However, if the conceited person loves himself, he will accuse the learned person and will not listen to him and subsequently will not get cured by him. Thus, know that a calamity and a plague has taken over this person which will lead him to his destruction, though he will consider it a blessing. So how is it possible for someone to escape from this calamity if he considers it a source of bliss.

The cure for this disease generally speaking is that a person should consider his opinions to be worthy of criticism and that he should not be arrogant with them, unless he has rational conclusive evidence (daleel qat’ee) or a textual proof (hujjat naqli) for his views, in which no doubt or uncertainty can be found.

Being able to recognize the proofs that are religious and rational, and their conditions (to be considered correct), and knowing that the proofs are prone to oversight and mistakes, is directly linked to possessing an excellent and gifted wisdom. That too is accompanied with great struggle, application of the Qur’an and Hadith, companionship with people of knowledge (Ahl ul-Ilm), discussions and studies of the different subjects throughout one’s life, and even then some men are not protected from making mistakes.

Therefore, the correct course of action for all – except those whom Allah (swt) has blessed with sacred abilities with which they can immerse into the seas of knowledge – is that they do not fall for false doctrines, and should not pay attention to them, and when it comes to Usul and Furu’ they should only follow those who were given Divine revelation, and the family of the Messenger (pbuh).

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