By Safaa Alshiraida
To be humble is to submit to truth, follow it and accept it from any source.
Dignity of a Muslim can only be achieved through humbleness, never through arrogance and pride. A scholar once said to his son: “O my son! Seek honor through humbleness, dignity through Deen and forgiveness from Allah by forgiving others”. So a person could be described as humble when he derives dignity solely from his belief in Allah (SWT), and not out of riches, strength, expertise or social standing. A believer remembers that he could not have achieved anything if it had not been for the help of Allah. He also remembers that no matter how powerful he becomes, his power is nothing if compared to Allah’s.
“And He is the Irresistible, above His slaves” (6:18)
A Muslim also realizes that he could never escape from Allah or go out of His dominion:
“O Assembly of Jinns and mankind! If you have power to pass beyond the Zones of the heavens and the earth, then pass (them) but you will never be able to pass them except with authority (from Allah)” (55:33)
He also realizes his need to Allah (SWT) in everything
“And Allah is The Rich, and you are poor” (46:38)
With all that in cognizance, a believer is never arrogant or haughty, instead, he is as Allah (SWT) describes:
“And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Ar-Rahman) are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they say: `Peace (be on you)!'” (25:63)
“O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his Deen, Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they love Him,- humble towards the believers, stern toward the disbelievers” (5:54)
Ibn Mas’ud relates that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “He will not enter Jannah in whose heart is even a grain-weight of pride”
(Muslim). The Prophet (PBUH) also made the glad tidings to the humble and modest that they will be protected from Hell fire.
Outcome Of Humbleness:
A humble believer:
1. accepts everything that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been sent with and never refutes any command or belief for reason of his not understanding the wisdom behind it; he realizes that it is because of his imperfection that he did not understand,
2. accepts apology from his/her Muslim brothers/sisters, and
3. is willing to give up his opinion if it has been shown not to be right.
Defining pride, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Pride is rejecting the truth and belittling others”
Warning us against pride, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “He shall not enter Jannah in whose heart is even a grain-weight of Kibr (pride)”. Both Adam (PBUH) and Iblis disobeyed Allah (SWT); however, Allah forgave Adam and did not forgive Iblis but expelled him out of His Mercy. This clearly illustrates the difference between one who sins out of desire and weakness (Adam) then repents to Allah (SWT), and one who disobeys Allah (SWT) out of his arrogance and does not repent. The result of the former conduct is forgiveness, while the latter brings about wrath and curse from Allah (SWT).
Arrogance originates in one’s heart and is reflected in his behavior. An arrogant person cannot control himself in anger, does not accept advice, does not admit his faults, and keeps belittling others and saying gossip about them. An arrogant person may even know the truth but fails to follow it because of his pride. Allah (SWT) tells us in the Qur’an that Pharaoh and his people knew that Moses (PBUH) was the Messenger of Allah but they did not follow him out of their pride:
“And they denied them (Our Signs) wrongfully and arrogantly, though their souls were convinced thereof” (27:14)
“They said: `Shall we believe in two men like ourselves, and their people are serving us with humility” (23:47)
Such has always been the way of arrogant people; they deny the truth because they do not want to follow those whom, they believe, are inferior to them. The rich among the people of Nuh (PBUH) told him that he should push away his poor followers so that the rich might follow him. The leaders of Quraish also asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to repel his followers because they could not be in one group with such people of low social status as Bilal, Khabbab, Ammar, and Suhaib, may Allah be pleased with them all. In response to their request, Allah (SWT) revealed:
“And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and evening seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of this world, and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost” (18:28)
Humbleness could easily be seen in a person’s behavior; the following are some of the manifestations of humbleness: A humble person:
1. does not seek preeminence above his brothers who are equal to him,
2. respects knowledgeable people (scholars)
3. stands up to greet common people and receives them with a smile on his face,
4. treats those who are of a lower status than he is kindly and help them as much as he can,
5. keeps company with the poor and the handicapped, visit them and does not reject their invitation, and
6. does not spend much money on luxury (food, drinks, clothes, etc.).
Humbleness Of The Apostle (PBUH):
Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had used to do when he had been home, she said: “He used to help his house-folk in their domestic chores, and when the time came for Salah, he left to Salah”. (Bukhari)
When Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, passed by a group of children, he said Salaam to them and said: “The Prophet (PBUH) used to do this” (Bukhari).
One day a man stood before the Prophet (PBUH) and started trembling; the Prophet said: “Take it easy, I am not a king, I am but the son of a woman from Quraish who ate jerked meat” (Ibn Majah).
Abu Said Al-Khudri once advised a friend of his saying: “Do what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do. He used to feed the animals, tie the camel, mop the house, milk the goat, repair his shoes, patch his clothes, eat with his servant and help him grind the grains if the he was tired. He bought his own needs from the market and did not feel ashamed to carry what he had bought himself. He walked to his house, shaking hands with the rich and the poor, the old and the young, and start saying Salaam to every Muslim he runs into, whether young or old, black or red, free or slave”. Prophet Muhammad, as his companions describe him, was the most generous, merciful and receptive. He visited the ill, followed funerals, answers the invitation of the poorest slave, and rode a donkey.
Examples Of Humbleness:
Once Umar was seen carrying a bag of water on his shoulder in the market, Urwah said to him: “You should not be doing this!”. Umar said: “When the delegations came to me giving their pledge of allegiance, I felt a little pride crawling into my heart, so I decided to humiliate myself”.
Once vice-Khalifah during the reign of Marwan ibn Al-Hakam, Abu Hurairah was seen in the market carrying a bundle of firewood on his shoulder and saying to people: “Give way to you Ameer!”
When Umar ibn Abdel-Aziz was sitting with a guest, the lamp almost went off. The guest asked: “May I fix the lamp”. “No”, said Umar “It is not an act of good hospitality to let the guest serve his host”. The guest said: “Then may I wake up the servant”. Umar answered: “He just fell asleep so do not wake him up”. Then Umar stood up and fixed the lamp. The guest said: “O Amir-ul-Mu’mineen, you fixed it yourself!?”. Umar said: “I stood up as Umar and sat back down as Umar and lost nothing. The best man in the sight of Allah is the humble”.
Umar ibn Abdel-Aziz was once informed that his son had bought a ring for a thousand Dirhams. He wrote to him saying: “I have been informed that you bought a ring for a thousand Dirhams. Once you receive this letter, sell the ring and feed a thousand people with its price; buy a iron ring for two Dirhams and have written on it: `May Allah have mercy on him who knows his position'”.
The Outcome Of Pride:
The first punishment an arrogant person gets is that his heart is unable to receive and accept the truth:
“I shall turn away from My Signs those who behave arrogantly on the earth in a wrongful manner, and even if they see all the Signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of righteousness, they will not adopt it as the way but if they see the way of error, they adopt it as the way” (7:146)
“Thus does Allah seal up every arrogant, tyrant heart” (40:35)
Therefore, the arrogant people have always been the most reluctant to accept the messages of all the Prophets: About Thamud, Allah (SWT) says:
“The leaders of those who were arrogant among his people said to those who were weak, to such of them as believed,: `Do you know that Saleh is one sent from his Lord?’ They said: `We indeed believe in that with which he has been sent.’ Those who were arrogant said: `Verily we reject that which you believe in'” (7:75-6)
Second, Allah (SWT) has promised the arrogant that they shall enter Hell:
“Verily those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation” (49:60)
“Is there not in Hell an abode for the arrogant” (39:60)
Allah (SWT) has made His Jannah only for the righteous and humble:
“That Home of the Hereafter, We shall assign to those who rebel not against the Truth with pride in the earth nor do mischief by committing crimes.” (28:83)
What Produces Arrogance:
Pride results from one’s admiring himself; he may admire his wealth, nobility, social standing, position, etc. An arrogant person perceives the bounty but fails to remember the One who bestowed them on him.
Degrees Of Pride:
1. A person may feel that he is better than others, but at the same time tries to hide his feeling and behave modestly.
2. A person may behave arrogantly without explicitly saying that he sees himself above others, eg, a knowledgeable man walking in a proud gait.
3. The worst of all is when someone declares his pride by praising himself or his descent.
Signs Of Pride:
1. An arrogant person feels satisfied when others stand up for him and ask him to sit in their place. Anas said: The companions did not love anyone more than they loved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), yet when they saw him they did not stand up because they knew he did not like being stood up for”.
2. A proud person always likes it when someone is walking behind him.
3. He does not visit others.
4. He abhors anyone’s sitting next to him or walking beside him. Anas said: “It happened sometimes that a maid would take the Prophet’s hand and he would walk along with her wherever she wished.”
5. An arrogant man does not help his house-folk in domestic jobs.
6. He refuses to carry his own belongings after buying them from the market,
Ways To Treat Pride And Acquire Humbleness:
1. To know oneself and One’s Lord. It is Allah alone that deserves to be described as Al-Mutakabbir (The Supreme). Man has been created from a drop of fluid that came out the same way as urine comes out, then, with Allah’s leave, he developed in his mother’s womb, then born, and will eventually die and become food for worms.
2. To realize that all the qualities and gifts he has are from Allah, and if Allah (SWT) willed to deprive him of all those bounties, nothing would stop Him. The one who admires his knowledge should remember the Ayahs:
“But over all endued with knowledge is the One, The All-Knowing” (12:76)
He who admires his worship should realize that there is no guarantee that his worship has been accepted by Allah and remember the Ayahs:
“Therefore justify not yourselves; He knows best who is righteous” (53:32)
The Need Of Da’iah For Humbleness:
A caller to Allah (Da’iah) needs humbleness more than anyone else. For the sake of his Da’wah, he spends most of his time with people; talking with them and calling them to Allah. It is human nature that people reject whatever an arrogant person says, even if it is the truth. Haughtiness of a Da’iah may lead to rejection of the Truth; and once rejected, it may not be accepted again even from a humble person. A Da’iah should therefore fear Allah (SWT) and be careful not to say or do anything that might indicate any form of arrogance, such as talking about his effort and achievements in Da’wah. A Da’iah should mention Allah’s bounties and grace on him and his audience. Once people know that he is a humble person, they love him and start accepting his Da’wah and open their hearts to receive what he is preaching to them.
One very important form of modesty that is sometimes forgotten is the obedience of a Da’iah to whomever Allah (SWT) has commanded him to obey, such as his leaders and educator. He should not open a door to pride into his heart and try to avoid obeying and carrying out commands for such Satan-whispered reasons as incompetence of his leader, his superiority above his educator, etc. A Da’iah should remember that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) appointed Usamah ibn Zaid as a commander for an army in which great companions such as Umar ibn Al-Khattab served as soldiers.
A true Da’iah should increase in humbleness and humility to Allah (SWT) whenever he achieves a new victory. He should remember that when the Prophet (PBUH) entered Makkah in victory, he was so humble to Allah that he bowed his head in humility and thankfulness.
Dear brothers and sisters, now you have seen the two opposite kinds of conduct, pride and humbleness, which one would you choose as your way in life and Da’wah? Which of the two will bring about good in this life and in the Hereafter? Which makes us come closer to Allah and to the hearts of His servants?
There is no doubt that it is humbleness that we should choose and adopt. This is the way Allah (SWT) has commanded His Apostle to behave. Should we then reject one of the manners of the Prophet (PBUH)? Should we reject his Sunnah? Of course not! If we did, we would suffer great loss in this life and in the Hereafter. On the other hand, if we followed such conduct, Allah (SWT) will guide us in this life and grant us His Mercy in the Hereafter.
By humbleness, we can reach to the hearts of people so that they may listen to us and follow our Da’wah, and we will become leaders for the righteous.
We ask Allah (SWT) that He may grant us guidance and success to our Da’wah, Ameen.