Many pitfalls are associated with egotism and self-absorption. Ego, however, should not be confused with desirable traits such as dignity, self-respect, and firmness. In the context of this discussion, ego – as defined by the American author Ryan Holiday – implies an “unhealthy belief in our own importance”. Indeed, an egotistic person is disinclined to admit one’s mistake or apologize, and considers certain desirable actions and kind gestures as beneath oneself. Such a person seldom looks beyond his or her own preferences and ultimately struggles to maintain healthy relationships.
We sometimes assume that it is acceptable, especially for men, to have a large ego. In fact, in some households, boys are encouraged to adopt a sense of self-importance and supremacy. But did the Prophet (sa) establish an air of superiority about him? On the contrary, a study into the various aspects of his life reveals his humble, forbearing, and selfless nature. Let us explore certain traits of the Prophet (sa) and incidents from the Seerah that should motivate us to combat our ego and adopt humility.
Humility Towards Family
The Prophet (sa) never let ego come in the way of his marital life. When one of his wives would be angry, he would let her talk and listen attentively, thus refraining from escalating the situation. Once, the Prophet (sa) was with Aisha (rtaf) when Umm Salamah (rtaf) sent him some food in a bowl. Aisha (rtaf), angry at the intrusion, struck the hand of the servant carrying the bowl, which fell down and broke. Instead of rebuking Aisha (rtaf), the Prophet (sa) simply got down on the floor and picked up the broken pieces of the bowl and the food it had contained. (Bukhari)
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