Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Excellence of Humility and Humbleness

The Excellence Of Humility And Humbleness

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.

The Character of humility or humbleness is one of the greatest blessings that Allāh Subhānahu wa ta‘ala could bestow upon His servant. Islam highly commends humbleness and simplicity and reckons that as one of the traits of a true believer, the people of truth.

Allāh Almighty Says: “He whom Allāh guides, he alone has found the right way; whereas for him whom He lets go astray thou canst never find any protector who would point out the right way.” [Al-Kahf, 18:17]

Abu-Hurayrah (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “…. no one is humble (for the sake of Allāh) unless Allāh raises him [in rank].” [Narrated by Muslim]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) says: “Piety and Righteousness is being of good character.” [Recorded by Muslim]; In another narration: “The believer with the most complete Imān (faith) is the one with the best behavior.”[Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud]

Meaning Of Humbleness

The first meaning of humbleness is to accept the truth from any person conveying it. Humility is when one who disregard self importance and avoid gaining notoriety or to become too great among people.  Being humble is best defined in general as being unassuming of one’s own greatness, precedence, or importance among others.  “Humbleness” is indeed a basic attribute of those journeying to Allāh Almigty  and a characteristic that every servant should be keen of maintaining it. Abu-Hurayrah (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “…. no one is humble (for the sake of Allāh) unless Allāh raises him [in rank].” [Narrated by Muslim]

As it was said, “Humble yourself, you will be as a glimmering star to the viewer on the surface of the water even if it is lofty.” We should accept the truth no matter who conveys it to us, whether he is weak or strong, rich or poor, noble or commoner, a relative or not, a friend or an enemy.

The second meaning is to be modest in the way you treat people. You should be kind to people, whether servants or masters, rich or poor, noble or common. You should treat all human beings tenderly and cordially.

The Opposite Of Humility Is Arrogance.

“Arrogance” is the opposite of humbleness and it is “a serious flaw” in the sight of Allah Almighty.

Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated that The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) says: “Arrogance disdains the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.”[Recorded by Muslim: “The Book of Faith” (41), pp. 275.]

Allāh says: “…Indeed, He does not like the arrogant.” [An-Nahl, 16:23] 

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Al-Kibr (proud and arrogance) is the rejecting of the truth and looking down upon people.” [Muslim, At-Tirmidzi and Abu Dawud]  Arrogance or pride deprives the person from Paradise.

Al-Kibr, in its entirety, openly opposes the essentials of al-Imān. As such he who has an iota of Kibr in his heart shall not act upon that which Allāh has prescribed, nor shall he abstain from that which Allāh has prohibited. Instead his Kibr shall result in his denial and rejection of the Haqq (Truth) and instill in him the contempt of others.

The explanatory definition of al-Kibr is provided in the Hadīth of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ud (radiyallāhu’anhu) who narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“The one who possesses an iota of Kibr in his heart shall not be granted admission to Jannah.”

A companion (amongst his hearers) then asked: “[But] O Messenger of Allāh! A man likes to have fine clothing and footwear. Is this included in Kibr?” 

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied: “No. Allāh is Beauty and loves Beauty. Kibr is the rejection of Truth (Battrul-Haqq) and condescension of others (wā ‘ghāmttun-Nās).”

[This is recorded by Muslim (0164), Ibn Khuzaimah, Abu Dawūd, At-Tirmidzi, Ibn Sa’ad on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud. At-Tabarāni reports it on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin Salām]

It means disdaining the truth and not accepting it. So, humility would be “to accept the truth.” It is showing contempt toward people is to be conceited with the improper thinking that you are much better than them.

Allāh Almighty  says: “And by the Mercy of Allāh, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you”  [Al-‘Imran, 3:159] And Allāh Subhānahu  says: “And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character”  [Al-Qalam, 68:4]

This refers to the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) being a true slave of Allāh in many ways and his treating all people with the utmost kindness. His character was one of complete humility based on sincerity towards Allāh and compassion towards the slave of Allāh, which was the complete opposite of the characteristics of the proud and arrogant.

[Al-Majmu’ Al-Kāilah Li Mu’allafat Al-Shaikh Al-Sa‘adi, 5/442, 443]

There are many possible ways of attaining humility, which not all Muslim have it but he will aspire to attain the characteristic.

They were explained by Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh) as follows:  “Humility comes from the knowing about Allāh and His names and attributes, and His greatness, venerating Him, loving Him and being in awe of Him; and also from knowing about oneself and one’s faults, and weaknesses. From that may develop the attitude of humility, which means feeling helpless before Allāh, and being humble and compassionate towards His slaves, so that the person does not feel superior towards anyone, or think that he has any rights over anyone else; rather he thinks that others are better than him, and that their rights come before his. This is a characteristic that Allāh bestows to those whom He loves, honors and draws close to Him.”  [Al-Ruh, p. 233.]

The Grace Of Humility

Abu-Hurayrah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “…. no one is humble (for the sake of Allāh) unless Allāh raises him [in rank].”[Narrated by Muslim]

Abu  Sa’id Al-Khudri (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:  “He who is humble for the sake of Allāh by a degree, Allāh will elevate him one degree, until he reaches the highest degrees and he who is arrogant toward Allāh, Allāh will lower him one degree until he reaches the lowest of low degrees.” [Narrated by Ibnu-Hajar Al-Asqalani, number, 89: Hasan Hadith]

Ayad Ibn-Hammar (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Allāh revealed to me that we should be humble amongst ourselves and none should show arrogance toward others. [Recorded by Muslim; al-Sahih al-Jami’, book 040, number 6856]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Allāh Subhānahu wa ta‘ala says, He who is humble toward Me like this (and he lowered his palm to the ground until it was leveled with it, I will elevate him like this (and the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) raised his palm upwards facing the sky until it was high up)” [Sahih : Al-Albāni, al-Sahih al-Jami’, 2894].

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of arrogance shall not enter paradise.”[Muslim]

This Hadith reminds you that if your heart has but the size of a mustard seed of arrogance in it you will be deprived from paradise, even with all your praying, fasting, zakat and attending religious lessons. Beware of arrogance!

In a Hadith Qudsi The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: Allāh said: “Pride is my cloak and Might is My robe, and he who competes with Me in [respect of] either of them I shall torment him” [Narrated Abu Dawud; also by Ibn Mājah and Ahmad with sound chains of authority. This Hadith also recoeded in Muslim in another version].

Among the teachings of Luqman to his son in Qur’ān, Allāh says:“And turn not your cheek away from people in [false] pride, and walk not haughtily on earth: for, behold, Allāh does not love anyone who, out of self- conceit, acts in a boastful manner.” [Luqman, 31:18]

The word used in Arabic for ‘turn your cheek away…in [false] pride’ is tusa’ir which is taken from an illness that afflicts camels named sa’ar. When they are afflicted with this illness their necks are twisted and they never return back to the normal position. It is like Allāh is warning you not to turn your cheek lest your neck would stay in this position and it would never return to its normal position.

Allāh says:  “And walk not on earth with haughty self-conceit: for, verily, you can never rend the earth asunder, nor can you ever grow as tall as the mountains!”  (Al-Isrā’, 17:37)

Hence the Sons of Adam be humble; you won’t own anything forever, so why are you conceited?

The Reward Of Humility

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) that the Messenger of Allāh, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said:  “Wealth does not decrease because of charity, and Allāh increases His slave in honour when he forgives others. And no one humbles himself before Allāh but Allāh will raise him (in status).” [Muslim, 2588]

An-Nawawi (rahimahullāh) included it in a chapter entitled: “The Recommendation of Forgiveness and Humility.” He said:

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “And no one humbles himself before Allāh but Allāh will raise him (in status).” This is understood in two ways: the first is that He will raise him (in status) in this world, and give him status in people’s hearts because of his humility, and give him a high status in people’s eyes. The second is that what is meant is his reward in the Hereafter, where his status will be raised because of his humility in this world.

It may be that both are meant (and that his status will be raised) that it is in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allāh knows best.

[Sharh Muslim, 16/142.]

Kinds Of Humility And Humbleness

The level of Humility and humbleness are seen in various situations, such as the following:

1. A Person Humbling Himself To The Commands And Prohibitions Of Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta‘Ala, Doing What He Commands And Avoiding What He Forbids.

Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh) said: It is because a person may hesitate to obey His commands out of laziness, thus behaving reluctantly in an attempt to flee from the servitude towards Allāh, and his soul may have the desire to commit haram actions, but once the person humbles himself to the commands and prohibitions of Allāh, he will humble himself to the true submission to Allāh [‘Ubudiyyah]. [Al-Ruh p. 233]

2. Humbling Oneself Before The Might, Majestic And Power Of Allāh

Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh) said:

Every time he feels that he is great, he remembers the might of Allāh and that might belongs to Him only, and he remembers His intense wrath against those who compete with Him in that, then he humbles himself before Him and submits to the might of Allāh. This is the ultimate humility and inevitably includes the first type of humility mentioned above, but the converse can never apply (i.e., this type of humility inevitably leads to the first type, but a person may submit to the commands and prohibitions of Allāh but he does not humble himself before His might).

The one who is truly humble is the one who is blessed with both. And Allāh is the One whose help we seek.

[Al-Ruh, p. 233.]

3. Humility In One’s Dress And Manner Of Walking (Behavior And Mannerism).

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Whilst a man was letting his garment drag out of pride, he was swallowed up by the earth and will continue sinking in it until the Day of Resurrection.”[Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 3297]

Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Whilst a man was walking in a garment admiring himself with his hair nicely combed, Allāh caused (the earth) to swallow him up and he will continue sinking in it until the Day of Resurrection.”  [Al-Bukhari (5452) and Muslim (2088)]

4. Humility Towards One Who Is Of A Lesser Status And Helping Him

Al-Bara’ Ibn ‘Azib (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated: The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), was moving soil with us on The Day of Al-Ahzab, and I saw him with dust covering the whiteness of his stomach, and the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was saying:  “(O Allāh)! Without you, we would not have been guided, nor would we have given in charity, nor would we have prayed. So (O Allāh!) send the tranquility (Sakīnah) upon us as they (the chiefs of the enemy tribes) have rebelled against us. And if they intend afflictions (i.e. want to frighten us and fight against us) then we would not (flee but would withstand them).”  And Rasulullah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) raised his voice whilst saying it.  [Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 6809; Muslim, 1803]

5. Humility With Parents.

He treats them with kindness and respect, infinite compassion, utter politeness and deep gratitude. He recognizes their status and knows his duties towards them.

Allāh Says: “And serve Allāh. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [An-Nisā’, 4: 36] Allāh also Says: “And lowers to them the wing of humility out of mercy.” [Al-Isrā’, 17:24]

If your parents were alive, would you kiss their hands? Can you kiss your mother’s hands in public? This is one of the signs of humility. If they are not living anymore, then ask forgiveness for them and do something good with your life, something that can be added to their book of good deeds.

If you want to be a humble person, please try all the above for just one month and you will see how easily it will come to you. Just try kissing your mother’s hands and, by Allāh, you will learn by just that small act how to be humble before Allāh.

6. Humility In Interactions With One’s Wife And Helping Her.

It was narrated that Al-Aswad said: I asked ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu’anha) what the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to do in his house and she said: “He used to serve his family and when the time for prayer came he would go out and pray” [Al-Bukhari, 644]

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullāh) said: This shows that we are encouraged to be humble and not arrogant, and that a man should serve his family.  [Fathul-Bāri, 2/163]

7. Humility Towards The Young And Gracious With Them.

Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated: The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was the best of people in character. I had a brother whose name was Abu ‘Umair. He said, I think he was rather weaned, and when he (the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came he would say, “O Abu Umair, what happened to the nughair (a small bird that he kept as a pet)?” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 5850; Muslim, 2150]

An-Nawawi (rahimahullāh) said:  The term nughair is for a small bird. This hadith teaches us many things, such as being kind to small children. This demonstrates the good character of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and how he was of noble character and humble. [Sharh Muslim, 14/129]

8. Humility Towards Servants And Slaves [Or Employee].

Abu Hurayrah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated that the (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “If the servant of one of you brings his food and he does not want to make him sit and eat with him, then let him offer him a morsel or two, because he has prepared it and served it.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 2418 and 5144; Muslim, 1663]

Humility includes humble oneself to one who is also below you. If you find someone who is younger than you, or of less importance than you, you should not despise him, because he might have a better heart than you, or be less sinful, or closer to Allāh than you. Even if you see a sinful person and you are righteous, do not act with arrogance towards him, and thank Allāh that He saved you from the tribulation that He put him through. Remember that there might be some Riya’ (showing off) or vanity in your righteous deeds that may cause them to be of no avail, and that this sinful person may be regretful and fearful concerning his bad deeds, and this may be the cause of forgiveness of his sins.

According to Abu Dzarr or Jundub ibn Junadah al-Ghifari (radiyallāhu’anhu). the Messenger of Allāh, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), mentioned: “A man said, “By Allāh, Allāh will not forgive so-and-so,” and that Allāh Says: “Who is swearing by Me that I will not forgive so-and-so? I surely have forgiven so-and-so and nullified your deeds.” [Muslim]

Therefore, act humbly towards anyone. Even when you see a sinner, do not show superiority towards him, nor treat him with arrogance and domination. If you feel that the sinner may perform some acts of obedience which you do not, and that you may also poses some defects which the sinner may not, then deal kindly with him, and gently offer da`wah which will hopefully be the cause of his acceptance and remembrance.

All deeds also should not become too great in your eyes. If you do a good deed, or attempt to get closer to Allāh through an act of obedience, your deed still may not be accepted. Allāh Says: “…Indeed, Allāh only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].”[Al-Māidah, 5:27] This had made some of the Salaf (predecessors) said, “If I knew that Allāh accepted one Tasbih (saying “Subhānallāh”) from me, I would have wished to die right now!”

The arrogant person would never give credit to anybody or mentions good about someone, and if he needed to do so, he would also mention defects of that person. But if he hears somebody reminding him about his own defects, he will not be flexible nor comply due to his inferiority complex. A humble man would accept criticism or comment without any sensitivity or discomfort or feelings of shame and weakness.

‘Umar Al-Khattab (radiyallāhu’anhu), May Allāh be pleased with him, held the adage of, “May Allāh have mercy on a person who informed us of our defects.”

We therefore seek for Allāh’s blessing and guidance to be among of those who humble themselves before His might. Allāh the Exalted knows best.

[Excerpted with modification from Islam Q&A and]

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