photos-of-Cloud-Break-Columbus-Indiana-picturesHumbleness is to know the value of oneself, to avoid pride, or disregarding the truth and underestimating people. As the Prophet [sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam] said,

"Al-Kibr (pride, haughtiness) is rejecting the truth and looking down upon people." [Muslim, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].

Humbleness is for one who is important and significant and he fears to gain notoriety or to become too great among people. 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 don't say to an ordinary person, "Humble yourself." But it is said to him,

"Know the value of yourself, and do not place it in the wrong place!"

It was narrated by al-Khattabi in al-Uzlah that Imaam Abdullah bin al-Mubaarak came to Khuraassaan [in Persia] and went to a person who was known for his zuhd and wara' (asceticism and cautiousness in piety), so when he entered where the man was, he (the man) did not turn around nor give him any consideration at all. When 'Abdullah bin al-Mubaarak left, some of the people who were inside with the man said to him,

"Don't you know who that was?!" He said, "No," He was told, "This is the 'Ameer (leader) of the believers...this is... this is... this is... `Abdullah bin al-Mubaarak." So the man was astonished and came out to Ibn al-Mubaarak in a hurry apologizing and absolving himself from what happened, saying, "O Abu 'Abd al-Rahmaan! Forgive me and advise me!"

Ibn al-Mubaarak said,

"Yes... whenever you come out of your house and see someone, assume that he is better than you!"

He knew that the man was conceited. When Ibn al-Mubaarak inquired as to what the man's profession was, he found out that he was a weaver!!1 Therefore, this educated Imaam noticed that this mutazahhid (devoted pious person) possessed a kind of arrogance, conceitedness and feeling of superiority over others.

This disease sometimes envelops pious people; this is why he offered advice that was easy for him. Many times we find this characteristic in some of the pious people, as well as some of the du ‘aat (the caller to Islaam). But when it reaches the small students who misbehave with their shaykhs, scholars and teachers this really hurts inside! There is no objection if you differ in opinion or judgement with a scholar or a daai'y (caller to Islaam) as long as you are qualified to do so The problem occurs when this difference of opinion becomes a destructive element to the scholar's dignity, diminishes his value, disregards and disrespects him. This may be accepted from the common people, or from the people of innovation and misguidance, but it is not allowed in any circumstance for Ahl-As Sunnah (the people who follow the Prophetic Guidance) and from the students of `Ilm al-Shariyyah (knowledge of Islamic Law).

Humbleness is to humble oneself to one who is 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 Allah than you. Even if you see a sinful person and you are righteous, do not act in arrogance towards him, and thank Allah that He saved you from the tribulation that He put him through. Remember that there might be some riyaa' 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 Jundub, may Allah be pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah a mentioned that a man said,

"By Allah, Allah will not forgive so-and-so,"

and that Allah Ta`ala said, "Who is swearing by Me that I will not forgive so-and-so? I surely have forgiven so-and-so and nullified your deed." [Muslim]. Therefore, do not act in arrogance towards anyone. Even when you see a sinner, do not act superior 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 posses some defects which the sinner may not, then deal kindly with him, and gently give da’wah which will hopefully be the cause of his acceptance and remembrance.

Humbleness is that your deed should not become too great in your eyes. If you do a good deed, or attempt to get closer to Allah (ta`ala) through an act of obedience, your deed still may not be accepted, {Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (fear of Allah and consciousness of Him).} (Surat al-Maida: 27)

This is why some of the Salaf said,

"If I knew that Allah accepted one tasbeeh (extolling Allah) from me, I would have wished to die right now!"

Humbleness is that, when you are advised, if Shaytaan calls you to reject the advice, you must negate him. Because the purpose of advice is that your brother points out the defects that you have. As for he who Allah (ta`ala) has protected, if he finds one who will advise him and show him his defects, he'll overcome his nafs (evil inclinations of the soul), accept from him, thank and make du`aa (supplication) for him. The Prophet, may Allah be pleased with him, said,

"Al-Kibr is rejecting the truth and despising the people." [Muslim, Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud].

The arrogant never gives credit to anybody or mentions good about someone, and if he needed to do so, he would also mention five 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. This is why it is among man's moral integrity to accept criticism or comment without any sensitivity or discomfort or feelings of shame and weakness. Here he is, The 'Amir of the Believers `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, raising the flag and lifting the motto,

"May Allah have mercy on a person who informed us of our defects."

___________ 

Footnotes

1. See comments of adh-Dhahabi in aI-Mizaan concerning Waasil bin Ata'a].

 

Other articles in Humility and Sincerity

Be a Key that Opens the Doors to Goodness 13 Sep 2014

You Reap What You Sow 19 Mar 2014

"Do good, then throw it into the sea." 09 Jan 2014

The top ten reasons to get Punched in the Face if you're a Muslim speaker 06 Jan 2014

Humbling Reminder to a Group of Scholars 29 Jul 2013

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