Q. What is the meaning and the importance of being humble? I would like to know everything about humbleness including Quranic Ayaats and ahadith that goes with it plus explanations.
A. Humbleness is the opposite of pride. It is the ultimate form of respect towards others, honouring them, and not disgracing them with arrogance, without looking at their social or financial situations. Humbleness is a proof as to the existence of good character, purity of the self, and sound sense.
Humbleness is one of the praised attributes which every Muslim man and woman should observe. When a person is humble towards others, he will earn their love and respect; he would enjoy their care and support if he is afflicted with an ailment or a misfortune; people would help him through his hardships. If one is not humble towards others, they would simply hate him, and distant themselves from him. They might show respect to him because of his high social status, but they would curse him inside. If he suffers from anything, they would rejoice at his misfortune, and refuse even to comfort him; and if he was living in wealth, they would envy him, and wish that all blessings be removed from him, because of his arrogance.
Humbleness is a sign that a person is strongly attached to his faith; it is proof of good morals, and means leading to Paradise. Allah said: “That abode of the Hereafter We grant it to those who do not seek to exalt themselves in the earth or to cause corruption in it”. (Surah Qasas, verse 82)
Allah informs us in this verse that the Hereafter and its eternal blessings were reserved by Allah for His humble faithful slaves, who do not act arrogantly towards His other creation.
Humbleness is one of the attributes of the believers who do not behave with haughtiness or tyranny towards others; when they are abused by foolish people, they do not respond likewise; they forgive them instead, and say only that which is good to them. Allah said about this type of people: “The slaves of the All-Merciful are those who walk lightly on the earth and when the ignorant speak to them, they say, ‘Peace”. (Surah Furqaan, verse 63)
Allah enjoined on His Messenger humbleness with people, and commanded him to never act boastfully towards them. He said: “Be moderate in your tread and lower your voice”. (Surah Luqman, verse 18)
Ibn Katheer explained this verse saying: ‘Do not turn your face away when addressing people, or when they address you, in a contemptuous manner. Rather, you should face them cheerfully with a good heart’.
Whenever a man is humble, Allah increases his ranking among people, as it is referred to in the Hadith: ‘No slave is humble except that Allah raises him’.
Pride and arrogance is one of the causes that lead to the Hellfire. Abdullah bin Masud (R.A) narrated that the Prophet (S.A) said: ‘Whoever has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise’. (Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (R.A) reported that the Prophet (S.A) said: “Allah said in Hadith Qudsi: ‘Pride is My cloak, and greatness My robe; and he who competes with Me in respect of either of them I shall cast into the Hellfire”.
The Prophet (S.A) used to command his Companions to observe humbleness in their life, and avoid haughtiness or arrogance. He (S.A) informed them of all the benefits they would gain if they behave with humbleness with regards to their Lord and His creation. He (S.A) said: “Allah has revealed to me that you must be humble, so that no one oppresses another and boasts over another”.
He (S.A) said: “Humbleness adds nothing to a slave but elevation; so be humble (towards each other), may Allah bestow His Mercy upon you”.
The Prophet (S.A) said: “There are four characteristics that Allah gives only to those He loves: silence which is the first act of worship, reliance in Allah, humbleness and asceticism”.
When a person acts humbly with regards to his Lord and His creation, Allah accepts his deeds, and rewards him with the entry into Paradise. It was narrated that Allah revealed to His Prophet Moosa (A.S): “I accept the prayer of the one who is humble to My greatness and not arrogant to My creation; the one who observes fear and devotion to Me in his heart; the one who remembers Me during the day and abstains from the worldly desires for My sake”.
The Prophet (S.A) was the highest example of humbleness for the Muslims. He used to respond to any request from a slave (while the slave was under the authority of his master); in fact, the whole Ummah would seek his support, and he would oblige. When he conquered Makkah in the year 8 A.H. he entered bowing while riding his camel, in humbleness to Allah, thanking Him for His blessings. It was narrated that when a man saw the Prophet (S.A), he shivered out of fear, so the Prophet (S.A) said to him: “Relax, for I am the son of a woman from the Quraish who used to eat Al-qadeed (dried meat)”. The Prophet (S.A) once said: “If I am invited to a meal of trotters I will accept it, and if I am given a trotter as a present I will accept it”.
Humbleness is the way for a man to gain higher status and dignity; it is a proof of good morals in a person; it is one of the attributes of noble and beneficent people. The Prophet (S.A) has advised his companions saying: “When you meet the humble people of my Ummah, be humble to them; but when you see the arrogant ones, show your pride towards them; for it is a manner to disgrace them”. The Prophet (S.A) showed us the way to deal with arrogant people, by displaying our pride in their face, while showing a great deal of humbleness towards the humble people in our society.
Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak explained humbleness in a different context, saying that a man should be humble towards those who are less wealthy than him, to inform them, indirectly, that he has no preference over them just because of his wealth or profession.
Al-Hasan bin Ali bin Abu Talib (R.A) was asked about humbleness, and he said: “It is when you go out and you find merit (over you) in anyone you meet”.
A man asked one of the scholars: “Teach me humbleness” so he said to him: “When you see someone older than you, say: ‘He preceded me in Islam and good deeds, so he is better than me; but when you see someone younger than you, say: ‘I preceded him in sins and bad deeds, so I am worse than him”.
Isa (Jesus) (A.S) used to regard humbleness as the best act of worship. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal reported that Isa (A.S) once said to his companions: ‘Why don’t I witness in you the best of all acts of worship?’ They said: ‘And what is it?’ He said: “To show humbleness before Allah”.
The great companion, Abdullah bin Masud (R.A) defined humbleness saying: “The first act of humbleness is to begin by saying Salam when you encounter someone, and to accept the meager in a gathering”.
Literary and Islamic history books comprise many quotations about humbleness, and the following are some extracts:
The Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan said: “The best of men is the one who is humble despite his high ranking, ascetic even when having the means, and fair while possessing power and authority”.
Abdul-Malik bin Marwan also said: “Three characteristics are the best virtues: to be beneficent without expecting rewards, to go through hardships not for the sake of worldly desires, to be humble without disgracing oneself”.
Every blessing is envied except humbleness. Honour is in humbleness, dignity is in Taqwa (fear of Allah), and richness is in contentment. Humbleness is among the characters of the noble-minded, while arrogance is among the characters of the mean (evil) people. The crown of a man is his humbleness.
Among the signs of man’s success is that if his ranking is raised his humbleness increases, and if his wealth flourishes his generosity increases, and if his life is prolonged his performance of good deeds increases.
And Allah knows best.
Darul Uloom Trinidad & Tobago