Conceit is one’s holding or deeming one’s self to be superior to others. A person with this malady feels complacency in his heart when he thinks himself to be superior to others. ‘Ujb (self-love) also is a feeling of superiority. In this case one does not think of oneself as superior to a specific person or persons but in a generalized sense sees one’s self and deeds as superior. Conceit is a very disagreeable trait and is prohibited (harâm). It is a sign of forgetting one’s Creator, Rabb. Many religious men suffer from this malady. Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sal-lam’ states in a hadîth-i-sherîf: “A person who has an atom’s weight of conceit in his heart will not enter Paradise.”
The opposite of conceit is tawâdu’, which is a feeling of equality. A humble person holds himself equal with others. He does not hold himself to be either superior or inferior to others. Humility is a very valuable trait for a human being. Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sal-lam’ states in a hadîth-i-sherîf: “How lucky for humble people.” A humble person does not think of himself as inferior to others. He is neither a base nor a lazy person. He earns his living by permissible (halâl) means and gives much to charity or as a gift to others. He establishes acquaintances with scholars or scientists. He also feels compassion toward poor people.
In the following hadîths Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sal-lam’ states: “A humble person who earns his living by permissible (halâl) means, who has an agreeable nature, who is very mild towards others, and who does not harm anyone else is a very beautiful person,” and “A person who humbles himself for the sake of Allâhu ta’âlâ will be raised to superior ranks by Allâhu ta’âlâ.” Treating a conceited person with equal conceited behavior is permissible (jâiz). Allâhu ta’âlâ is proud (Mutakabbir) toward His creatures. Allâhu ta’âlâ has pride (Kibr). A person will earn rewards (thawâb) when he treats a conceited person with equally conceited behavior. Anyone who treats a conceited person humbly has done injustice to himself (by doing so). It is also permissible to be conceited towards those who have deviated from the right path and towards rich people. Responding with conceited behavior towards them is not for the purpose of showing one’s superiority but for waking them up to reality. Being proud and haughty against the enemy during a war is very rewarding. This type of haughtiness is called “huyalâ.”