Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “Allah has revealed to me, that you must be humble towards one another, so that no one wrongs anyone else or boasts to anyone else.” (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah). In another place, the Prophet (saw) said: “Charity does not decrease wealth. No one forgives, but Allah increased him in honour, and no one humbles himself for the sake of Allah except that Allah raises him in status.” (Muslim and Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (saw) says in the first hadith that Allah, the Exalted, revealed to him that people should be humble and down to earth with each other so there is no boasting or looking down in contempt at others and there is no wronging each other. This is also exactly what Allah said to the Prophet (saw) in the Qur’an: “Do not walk on the earth arrogantly and exultantly, for you can neither rend asunder nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain stature like the mountains in height. All the bad aspects of such things are evil and hateful in the sight of your Lord.” (Qur’an 17: 37-38)

The Prophet (saw) explained these precepts of wisdom as revealed to him by not only enjoining us verbally to be humble but also by being the most humble and lenient person on earth in his daily lifestyle. He always ate with the poor, greeted and sat with children, ate his food while sitting on the floor, stitched his own torn clothes, milked his sheep, mended his shoes, and repaired his water bucket. Still, he (saw) put aside everything of the world at the call of prayer to devote himself to the worship of Allah. Aswad Ibn Yazid (ra) narrated that he asked: “O Aishah! What would the Prophet (saw) do when he entered his house?” She (ra) said: “He would busy himself with serving his family, and then when the time of shalah was due he would stand up for it.” (Tirmidhi)

Humility is a manifestation of the lowering of ourselves to our true status in this world as mere creatures of Allah endowed with uncountable blessings. Some of us have been given more than others as a test as whether we will be grateful to Allah (swt) and treat people of all statuses the same, without looking down on and despising others, nor raising others to levels that only belong to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) said: “Allah has bestowed His gifts of sustenance more freely on some of you than on others.” (Qur’an 16: 71)

Allah (swt) admonishes those who do not humble themselves and who think that they are self-reliant due to whatever wealth or positions of influence and authority they have been temporarily granted in this short life. Hence they think they can mistreat and abuse or enslave their fellow human beings as they wish. Allah (swt) said: “So let the human see from what he is created! He is created from water gushing forth proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs. Verily, Allah is able to bring him back to life! The Day when all the secrets (good and bad, prayers, fasting, ingratitude, arrogance, humility, and so on) will be exposed, then he shall have no power, nor any help.” (Qur’an 86: 5-10)

All these admonitions and many more, are for people to realize their true status in this world in order to humble themselves for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and treat other people with decency as each person himself or herself would like to be treated. Furthermore, when people humble themselves and do not let their egos get the better of them no one will wrong or hurt the other, as mentioned in the hadith under discussion. People will look at each other as equals in the sight of Allah regardless of their wealth, position of authority, social class, race, tribe or nationality. There will be no boasting since there will be no reason or cause for boasting as people treat and see each other as equals in Allah’s estimation.

However, when people have little knowledge about the greatness and power of Allah, the supremacy of His might and glory, His power to do things that one cannot even dream of doing and His control over all things in the universe including one’s life, and when people have no knowledge about the true, natural disposition of all affairs in this world according to the Sunnah of Allah (swt), then they start suffering from superiority complexes and go around boasting and looking down in contempt on those who are lower than them according to their misguided standards of judgments.

In the second hadith under discussion, the Prophet (saw) link charity, the forgiving of faults, and humility for the sake of Allah (swt) as the keys to honour and being raised in status by Allah (swt). Sahl ibn Muadh ibn Anas al-Juhani narrated from his father that the Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever avoids wearing elegant and expensive garments out of humility to Allah while he is able to afford them, Allah will call him before the heads of creation on the Day of Judgment so that he can chose whichever garments of faith he wishes to wear.” (Tirmidhi) 

When people are not enthralled with wealth and power, they live humble lives, spending their wealth and power of influence to help the needy for the sake of Allah. They forgive and pardon minor mistake, and so Allah raises them up in status, and they gain the love and pleasure of Allah and the love and acceptance of their fellow human beings. That is why Allah (swt) describes such humble people with the following sublime qualities and characteristics: “The servants of Allah, the Most Merciful, are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them harshly, they say words of peace. They are those who spend (part) of the night in adoration to their Lord prostrate and standing. They humbly cry to Allah saying: Our Lord! Avert from us the wrath of hell, for its wrath is indeed a grievous affliction. Evil indeed is it as an abode and as a place to rest in. Also, they are those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not miserly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes).” (Qur’an 25: 63-67)

Thus, from the understanding of the above description of humbleness, the conclusion made by Muslims scholars is that humility is measured according to the extent of one’s glorification of Allah (swt) and how one treat fellow beings.

Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim