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How to Attain Humility…and Why

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How do we claim to hate Iblees yet continue to follow his ways? ‘Arrogance and pride were the reasons why shaytan was expelled from paradise. Do not let it be the reason for you not gaining an entrance.’

Humility is a much-needed characteristic for all Muslims. Being modest is one of the most crucial traits of a humble person. We need to acknowledge our own defects and willingly submit to the commandments of Allah swt. The messenger of Allah, Mohammed SAW, was known for his incredible humility and grace. He used to be humble with his companions, at home and with everyone he met.

1) The prophet SAW was extremely humble and he refused to be glorified or elevated by his companions:

Narrated `Umar MALE radi-allahu-anhu: I heard the Prophet SAW saying, “Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle.” 1

2) The prophet’s humility at home:

Narrated Al-Aswad MALE radi-allahu-anhu: That he asked `Aisha “What did the Prophet SAW do in his house?” She replied, “He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was the time for prayer he would go for it.” 2

He, SAW, is every Muslim’s inspiration, teacher and role model, so is it not our duty to follow his footsteps?

Common reasons behind arrogance:

  • Race
  • Wealth and status
  • Beauty and fine clothing
  • Achievements

Punishment:

Severe warning and punishment can be found in Qur’anic verses and ahadeeth for those who are arrogant :

  • Those who believe themselves superior to others, for whatever reason, will indeed be punished, but what is more serious is that they would bring upon themselves the anger and wrath of the all-mighty Allah swt.

    “And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” (Surat Luqman, 31:18)

  • Those who perceive themselves higher in status compared to others due to their achievements will suffer, for indeed, Allah swtdoes not appreciate the work of the boastful. No matter how accomplished a person may be, they will never be able to reach the mountains in height nor tear the earth apart.

    “And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.” (Surat al-‘isra, 17:37)

  • We should never underestimate any signs of arrogance within ourselves, instead, we should rush to rid ourselves of such a blameworthy characteristic, because even an atom’s worth of it counts:

    It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah MALE radi-allahu-anhu that the Messenger of Allah SAW observed: “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.” 3

Such intense words and profound warnings should cause one to ponder deeply and evaluate their own levels of arrogance, and this is what we should be consistently doing: desperately trying to change our attitudes to become better Muslims.

Reward:

On the other hand, those who are constantly struggling to rid themselves of arrogance and pride and continue to seek humility will have a great reward:

Eternal Paradise

  • “That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire exaltedness upon the earth or corruption. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.” (Surat Al-Qaşaş, 28:83)
  • Narrated Haritha bin Wahb MALE radi-allahu-anhu: I heard the Prophet SAW saying, “Shall I tell you of the people of Paradise? They comprise every poor humble person, and if he swears by Allah to do something, Allah will fulfill it; while the people of the fire comprise every violent, cruel arrogant person.” 4
  • Mu’adh bin Anas MALE radi-allahu-anhu reported: Messenger of Allah SAW said, “Whoever gives up wearing elegant and expensive garments out of humbleness, when he can do so, Allah will call him on the Day of Resurrection and before all the creations, He will give him the choice to wear whichever garment of Iman he would like to wear.”  5.

Remedies:

  1. If we start feeling boastful due to our achievements, then we should always remember that without Allah’s help, we would not have been able to do it, hence let’s stop feeling like it was all due to our hard work!
  2. Allah swt tells us in the Noble Qur’an that a sign of being humble is that we respond peacefully when those who can’t control their emotions speak to us:

    “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.” (Surat Al-Furqan, 25:63)

  3. Those who are humble do not reject the truth nor do they despise people:

    Ibn Mas’ud MALE radi-allahu-anhu said: The Prophet SAW said, “The haughty, even with pride equal to a mustard seed in his heart, will not enter Jannah.” A man inquired: “What about that a person likes fine dress and fine shoes?” He said: “Allah is Beautiful and likes beauty. Pride amounts to disclaiming truth out of self- esteem, and despising people .” 6

  4. Whenever we feel superior to others due to wealth, family status, beauty or fineness of clothing, we should always remember that we were all created from clay and that no matter how pretty our faces are, we are all going to be food for worms, so let us set aside our arrogance and remember our graves.

    Narrated Ibn ‘Umar MALE radi-allahu-anhu: The Prophet SAW said, “While a man was walking, dragging his dress with pride, he was caused to be swallowed by the earth and will go on sinking in it till the Day of Resurrection.” 7

  5. It really helps to always be at service of others rather than being the one who is served; it brings down the levels of superiority within us.
  6.  We should start practicing our religion more rather than belittling others or boasting about our good deeds. We should pray for others’ hidaya(guidance) just as Allah swt has guided us. Know that Allah swt could, in the blink of an eye, remove iman(faith) from our hearts, therefore we should always pray for steadfastness. Others may have a better connection with Allah swt  than we do, thus we should never rush to the judgment of others or feel that we are better/superior than them.

Final Tip: Rather than trying to become better than others, try to be better than the person you were yesterday!

May Allah make us from those who are humble and keep us steadfast on the religion of Islam. Ameen.

For further reading/watching:

  1. http://islamqa.info/en/30864
  2. http://islamqa.info/en/9229
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImFPMZyNdWY
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCdga0-glpM

References:

  1. http://islamqa.info/en/30864
  2. http://islamqa.info/en/9229
  3. http://www.icgc.info/lectures/The%20Humility%20of%20Allah.pdf

 

  1.  Sahih Al-Bukhari
  2.  Sahih Al-Bukhari
  3.  Sahih Muslim
  4.  Sahih Al-Bukhari
  5.  At-Tirmidhi
  6.  Sahih Muslim
  7.  Sahih Al-Bukhari

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