Fruits for the Week

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AS A Muslim, you become humble when you abjure such negative qualities as pride, arrogance, and haughtiness; when you recognize your place in the universe and give up delusions of grandeur; and when you avoid giving any indication to people that you are superior to them. Since human beings are inherently boastful and think well of themselves, humbleness is an elusive quality for many of us; if we wish to adopt it, we must struggle and act contrary to our souls’ inherent inclinations; we must, if you will, swim against the current. Because humbleness is a quality that comes through effort and struggle, Allah (SWT) praised those of His slaves who are humble: “And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply with mild words of gentleness.” (Qur’an 25: 63)

To walk “on the earth in humility and sedateness” means to walk with dignity and with a demeanor that discharges the qualities of peace, tranquility, and decency. Therefore, to be humble, one must not walk with a strut, with swagger, or in a vainglorious manner.

The very word “humbleness” suggests the idea of lowering oneself in the presence of others. And while that may be true, in reality, one raises oneself above others. For whenever a Muslim acts in a humble manner, Allah (SWT) raises him both in the world and in the Hereafter. The Prophet (SAW) said: “The giving of charity never causes the wealth (of the giver) to decrease. And whenever a slave (of Allah) forgives (someone for wronging him), Allah increases that slave in nothing save honor. And whenever one is humble for the sake of Allah, Allah raises him (in ranking).” (Muslim)

It is through the quality of humbleness that Allah (SWT) makes a Muslim loved by people. So if one is humble, Allah (SWT) opens people’s hearts to him, causing them to love him and hold him in high esteem. That is how Allah (SWT) raises a humble person’s ranking in this world. Conversely, when one is arrogant and proud, Allah (SWT) punishes him with shame and humiliation both in this world and the Hereafter. Here, it is important to note the difference between sincere admiration and obsequiousness that stems from fear and worldly motives. The entourage of a dictator, for instance, does not love him, but instead fears him and hopes to gain some worldly favors from him. A practicing Islamic scholar, on the other hand, is surrounded by students who love him because of his knowledge, his humility, and his noble manners. Abu Saeed (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said about Allah (SWT): “Honor and Might are His lower garment, and glory is His robe. So I will punish anyone that vies with Me regarding these qualities.” (Muslim)

To be sure, the Prophet (SAW) was the epitome of humbleness, a fact that is made clear by the following examples:

1. Anas (RA) said, “The riding camel of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) was called Al-‘Adba. In races, it was never beaten (but instead always came in first-pace). One day, a Bedouin came with his riding camel and made it race against Al-‘Adba’. The Bedouin’s camel won the race, which came as a great shock to the Muslims. Overwhelmed and grief-stricken by the results of the race, they lamented, ’Al-dba’ has been beaten!’ The Messenger of Allah (SAW) then said, “Verily, it is Allah’s way that He never raises anything in this world without (sooner or later) lowering it.” (Bukhari)

2. Abu Mas’ud (RA) related that one day, a man went to meet with and speak to the Prophet (SAW). The man was in complete awe of the Prophet (SAW); in fact, he was so nervous that he was shaking. Noticing the man’s nervousness, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) put him at ease, saying to him, “Calm down, for I am not a king. I am nothing more than the son of a woman who would eat Al-Qadid (salted meat that has been dried in the sun; i.e. simple food).”

According to Al-Hakim’s narration of this hadith which he related from Jarir ibn Abdullah (RA), the Prophet (SAW) said, “Of a woman who would eat Al-Qadid in this rocky, barren land.” After he mentioned this hadith, Jarir (RA) recited the saying of Allah (SWT), “And you (O Muhammad) are not a tyrant over them (to force them to belief). But warn by the Qur’an, him who fears My threat.” (Qur’an 50: 45)

3. Even though the Prophet (SAW) was categorically the best human being to ever walk the earth, he (SAW) was always deferential when speaking of his fellow Prophet (SAW), deeming some of them to be better than him. For instance, when a man called out to the Prophet (SAW), saying “O best mankind,” the Prophet (SAW) replied, “That is Ibrahim (AS).” (Muslim). And another occasion, he (SAW) said, “No one should say that I am better than Yunus ibn Mattah.” (Bukhari)

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)

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