Connect with us

#Islam

Humility And The Muslim : Manners of The Believers I Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Published

Humility

Humility is the queen of the akhlāq of the believer. It is even mentioned in the Quran as a defining characteristic of a believer.

 

 

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

“The ˹true˺ servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the foolish address them ˹improperly˺, they only respond with peace.” [Surah Al-Furqan: 25;63]

Notice how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) links worshipping Him with humility. This is why our scholars say that one of the defining characteristics of imaan, or faith, is humility. A person cannot have imaan if they have any arrogance within them, even an atom’s weight within their heart.

What is Humility?

From a linguistic perspective, consider the word تواضع  of which the Arabic root is وضع; meaning to put down or lower yourself. The linguistic profundity is as follows: a person constantly puts themselves down. This is the way in which we are meant to conquer our egos.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commanded the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the Quran,

 

 

“And lower your wings in front of the believers.” [Surah Ash-Shu’ara: 26;215]

This is used as a metaphor for showing humility. If the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was told to lower his wings, then what should the rest of us be doing?

In a hadith about humility, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Allah inspired me to tell all of you to be humble to one another,”  أَنْ تَتَوَاضَعُوا, “so that nobody feels kibr, or arrogance, against the other.”

The Essence of Humility

Humility is embodied in the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The way he interacted with people, lived, slept, ate, and dressed were all the epitome of humbleness. He would dress in the simplest garments and had no problem riding a mule or donkey even though they were humble animals and he could afford to ride a camel instead. People addressed him with his kunya, Abu Qasim, just as they addressed everyone else in the rest of society, and he didn’t mind being addressed this way. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mended his own shoes, and milked his own goats and camels. He didn’t command his servants and wives to do those menial tasks for him.

Even though the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the Messenger of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), he didn’t like to be praised. Anas ibn Malik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that the Companions wouldn’t stand up in his presence because they knew he didn’t like being the center of attention. Most notably, nobody could tell him apart when they entered a gathering. Strangers always had to ask, which one of you is Muhammad? because he never stood out among the rest of the companions. These beautiful examples of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) humility are what we should be looking for in our own lives.

Signs of Humility

Scholars have also mentioned that there are certain signs that can help us monitor the humility and arrogance within ourselves.

The first sign of having humility is not having the desire to be in the limelight or at the forefront of a gathering. It is not having the feeling of wanting to be the center of attention. This type of attention is something people should begrudgingly want. Speaking of leadership, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that others should encourage and put you in a leadership role. It is implied that we ourselves should not be clamoring for positions of power.

The second sign of humility is that when people praise us, we should feel uncomfortable. We shouldn’t relish in praise or welcome it from others, much less crave it. If someone is praised and they are truly humble, then they should thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for the blessing that the praise is. However, they should also have a hesitancy in their heart that makes them feel as if they aren’t worthy of the praise.

The third sign of humility is to recognize our mistakes and sins and admit them, not only in front of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) but also in front of other people. A great litmus test a person can use is this: after realizing that I’ve made a mistake, will I apologize for it or not? This litmus test measures how big a person’s ego is. The ego clashes with humility. If a person is humble and can recognize that they’ve made a mistake but can’t bring themselves to apologize for the mistake, this is a clear issue of arrogance.

As a side note, the worst type of arrogance is felt against Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It is kufr, or not being humble in front of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

The Fruits of Humility

What benefits do we enjoy in our lives when we’re humble?

Most importantly, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves the person who is humble. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Should I not tell you of the one who jahannam has been made haram for?” The Companions then asked who. “The one who is easygoing and soft and everyone knows him.”

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves a person who is humble and simple so much so that this attribute is a safeguard in the Hereafter.

Another fruit that comes from a person lowering themselves in their own eyes is gratitude. A humble person continuously understands Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed them above what they deserve. Alhamdulillah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blessed me with imaan and Islam and gave me family, wealth, and health. We thank Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and appreciate Him for all of those things.

Humility isn’t a nothingness mindset where a person tells themselves, “oh, I have nothing”–no! Humility doesn’t mean that we don’t feel blessed; it means that we don’t feel better about ourselves in comparison to others. A person should never feel better than others for the blessings that they enjoy–this is where humility comes into play. When a person is humble, they don’t think “that person is worse than me.” With humility, we should not feel better than another person or as if we are worthy of or deserve certain things due to our own volition or power.

The last fruit of humility is having izzah, or dignity and respect. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was once giving a khutbah on the mimbar. He made a gesture with his hands to demonstrate a point. He lowered his left hand and said “Whoever lowers himself for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He),” and then he raised his right hand and continued, “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will raise him higher.”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is informing us that whoever humbles themselves, Allah will dignifty them and bless them with izzah.  This is the divine irony of humility! If a person is truly humble they will be admired and respected. If a person desires fame and lives a life of arrogance, even if people will outwardly give them respect, inwardly these same people will not truly respect. It’s only the truly humble person whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)blesses with respect from the people.The truly humble person has the most izzah in the eyes of others even though in his own eyes he doesn’t think he’s worthy of such honor.

Ways to Achieve Humility

So how can we achieve humility or become more humble in life? Here are some practical steps we can take.

1- Study the dangers of arrogance. Understand that arrogance is the sin of Iblis, or Satan. Arrogance is also the sin and downfall of Fira’un and Abu Lahab. It is crucial to understand how evil arrogance is. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “No one who has an atom’s weight of arrogance shall enter Jannah.”  If we manage to internalize how toxic arrogance is, we’ll be forced to be humble and recognize the importance of humility.

2- Monitor your heart. We should be vigilant for moments whenever we feel that we’re better than someone, instead of more privileged. It’s fine for a person to think they’re more blessed than others. As a matter of fact, it’s perfectly okay for a person to even consider themselves as the most blessed person on earth! Feeling blessed is when a person thinks “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave me so much and He gave it all to me even though I don’t deserve any of it.” But we should never feel better than others. The minute we feel like we’re better or more worthy than another person is a sign of arrogance. We should monitor our hearts and whenever any trace of arrogant thoughts or feelings come, we must fight it.

3- Increase private actions of worship. This is another way to counter arrogance and gain humility. We should aim to do worship when nobody is watching, especially tahajjud, and also give in secret charity. These are two concrete actions we can take to practice humility.

4- Never ever feel disdain any chore or menial task that is a part of your routine. Whenever we have to do a halal task for  ourselves with our own hands we should not think it’s beneath ourselves to do it on our own. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would mend his own shoes and milk his own goats. We may have heard of this example from the seerah a hundred times in the past, but see how humble the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) truly must have been to not delegate those tasks to other people who would have gladly taken care of them for him?

The Khulafa ar-Rashideen did their own chores as well. It is said Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was seen carrying a large jug of water for his family. The people came to him and were astonished that he was engaging in such a menial task that they asked him, “You’re the khalifah now, how can you do this chore?” Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) responded to them, “A delegation came to me and I felt something in my heart and I had to break it.” He took care of mundane chores that otherwise another person would do. in order to remove  arrogance from his heart. Other sahabah also demonstrated this with having a simple life and doing chores.

I myself know of many teachers and ‘ulama would do the most menial things. One of these from the previous generation, who I would rather not name, was once seen cleaning the toilets of the masjid he would pray in. When his son found him and asked him, “What are you doing?” He also responded that he felt something in his heart so he decided to clean the bathrooms to break the arrogant feeling inside his heart.

All of these examples prove that a person overcoming something they might think is mundane or trivial is a way to fight the arrogance in their hearts whenever it arises.

5- Involve yourself with the less privileged. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said “If you wish to find me, you will find me amongst the weak and poor. For Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) helps a nation because of their ضعفاء and their مساكين.”  If we want to be truly humble, then we should be involved with those who are less privileged than ourselves. Don’t hang around the rich and elite only, otherwise the powerful people in the community. Keeping that selective company will corrupt  a person’s heart. A person who wants to be humble should hang around those who are socially and economically disenfranchised. Those are the ones society doesn’t look up to, and the Prophet said ابغونى in his hadith because Allah helps a qawm not because of the rich or powerful, but because of the widows, orphans, and poor. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “Go there, you will find me,” he is also suggesting to us that it is in being and working with the less fortunate that a person can find opportunities for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to love them. Get involved in work that is really benefiting socially underprivileged people If you want to overcome your arrogance and feel humble.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) bless us all with humility. May He eliminate any kibr from our hearts. Ameen.

[This article is a transcript of Dr. Yasir Qadhi’s “The Manners of The Believers: Humility” video lecture, as transcribed by Meena Malik]

 

Related reading:

Akhlāq 101: Character Development For Muslims I Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Akhlāq 101: Character Development For Muslims I Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Humility in Knowledge – A Forgotten Sunnah

Humility in Knowledge – A Forgotten Sunnah

 

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Batman

    December 16, 2022 at 9:34 AM

    Good manners begin at home, with spouse and children, and daughter-in-law if you live in a joint family. So many people behave very poorly at home and think that manners are only for outside the home.

  2. V

    December 16, 2022 at 10:40 AM

    “The third sign of humility is to recognize our mistakes and sins and admit them, not only in front of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) but also in front of other people.”

    We are NOT supposed to disclose our sins (or anyone else’s). It is a sin to disclose sins until and unless it is a grave need, such as saving someone from a fraud person. Admitting our mistake or sin privately in order to apologise is a different matter.

  3. Truth

    December 16, 2022 at 11:04 AM

    Worshippers with poor akhlaq don’t know that entering the house with a smile is sunnah.

  4. Truth

    December 16, 2022 at 11:24 AM

    We need articles to deal with porn and masturbation addiction, which are not the cause of problems but a symptom of deep spiritual and emotional problems.

  5. Spirituality

    December 20, 2022 at 10:28 AM

    Jazak Allahu Khayran for the great article and reminder! May Allah help us all achieve the most excellent character.

  6. Neha

    September 19, 2023 at 12:51 PM

    Jazakallahu khair.
    Where can I find the other transcripts to this series.
    How do I contact sister Meena Malik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending