By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
14 June 2018
The Arabic words ‘khusu’ and ‘tawadu’ literally mean humility and modesty. Both signify the state or quality of being humble. The virtue of humility or modesty is the opposite of arrogance, pride and haughtiness. Arrogance is an evil act in which a person praises himself instead of Allah, or he considers himself superior to others. Humility involves the idea that we are powerless and whatever we have is because of Our Lord Almighty and that we all human beings should not boast to one another.
The humble are praised in the Quran. Allah Almighty says, “And the servants of the Most Gracious who walk upon the earth humbly, and when the ignorant address them [harshly] they answer, “Peace”. (Good –bye)” (25:63)
Walking humbly in this verse is interpreted to mean with tranquillity and forbearance (Tafsir Razi). This refers not only to walking but also to the general conduct of one’s life. (Tafsir Qurtubi)
Allah Almighty loves people who are “humble towards believers” (5:54)
Allah the Most High also says, “Prosperous are the believers who in their prayers are humble” (23:1–2)
And those endued with knowledge have been described with al-Khusu meaning humble submission, as Allah Almighty says, “Say, "Believe in it or do not believe. Indeed, those who were given knowledge before it - when it is recited to them, they fall upon their faces in prostration, And they say, "Exalted is our Lord! Indeed, the promise of our Lord has been fulfilled. And they fall upon their faces weeping, and the Qur'an increases them in humble submission.” (17:107-109).
It is reported that the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone asked if that person was proud who likes that his clothes and shoes to be neat and smart. The Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty (This statement means that good clothing and shoes do not denote pride”. Thereafter the beloved Prophet added saying, “pride means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” (Sahih Muslim)
The foundation of humility and modesty is soft-heartedness. When the heart has humility, it is followed by the humility of all limbs and bones, since they all follow the heart, as the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed in the body there is a piece of flesh, if it is sound then the whole body is sound; and if it be corrupt, then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart” (Sahih Bukhari)
Humility means submission to the will of Allah, while submissiveness is surrender to Allah’s will and abandoning resistance to decree of Allah. When the heart stands before Allah Almighty with full concentration, it signifies humility. Sahl b. Abdallah al-Tustari said: “Satan cannot come near the person whose heart is humble.” Muhammad b. Ali al-Tirmidhi said, “Being humble means that the flames of your passion have been extinguished and the vapours of your breast have subsided, while the light of glorification of Allah has come to shine in your heart. [At this point,] a man’s passion dies, his heart is given [a new] life, and his limbs surrender themselves to humility.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 190)
It is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to feed [his] camel, sweep [his] house, mend [his] sandals, patch [his] clothes, milk [his] sheep, eat with [his] servant and help him grind, when he [the servant] got tired. He was not embarrassed to carry his goods from the bazaar to his family. He would shake hands with both the rich and the poor; he was the first to greet people; he would not scorn any meal of which he was invited to partake, even if this was unripe and dry dates. He made do with free supplies [of provision], he was gentle of character, generous of nature, pleasant of company; his face was cheerful, he smiled much, without laughing and showed [his] sadness without frowning; he was humble without being self-effacing, generous without being extravagant; his heart was gentle, he was compassionate to every Muslim; he would never eat his fill and he would never stretch his hand to a thing that he desired.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 163)
It is reported that Al-Fudayl b. Iyad said, “Whosoever considers himself to be important has no share of modesty.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 163)
Al-Fudayl Iyad also said: “Allah Almighty revealed to the mountains: ‘I will speak to a prophet upon one of you!’ The mountains raised themselves high in their pride. Only Mount Sinai remained modest. Therefore Allah the Most High spoke to the Prophet Moses – peace be upon him – upon it due to its modesty.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 163)
Someone asked Hadrat Junayd about modesty. He answered, “Being compassionate and gentle toward your [fellow] creatures” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 164)
Allah loves humility in a person. Perfect belief [Iman] will dictate to a person that he should show appreciation for all Allah’s bounties and behave humbly towards all mankind. Allah does not love the person who has pride and haughtiness, as Allah Almighty says,
“I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right…” (7:146)
The arrogant people are deprived of the blessing of Allah and thereby they spend their life disputing about the signs of Allah. Allah Almighty says,
“Those who dispute regarding the signs of Allah without any proof having come to them; how very disgusting this is, in the sight of Allah and in the sight of the believers! This is how Allah seals the entire heart of every haughty, rebellious person.” (40:35).
Allah Almighty says,
“And you will see on the Day of Resurrection the fabricators of lies against Allah, with their faces blackened; is not the destination of the haughty in hell?” (39:60).
Allah Almighty also says,
“It will be said, ‘Enter the gates of hell to remain in it forever’; so what a wretched destination for the haughty!”(39:72)
The Quran says,
“Verily, Allah does not love those who are proud and boastful.” (4:36)
The Quran also says,
“Those who turn away from My service out of pride will soon enter Hell being disgraced.” (40:60)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, He who has an atom of pride in him will not enter paradise. A proud man cannot love for others what he loves for himself as there is pride in him. He cannot give up hatred as there is pride in him. He cannot stand on truth as there is pride in him. He cannot control anger as he has got pride in him. He cannot accept admonitions as there is pride in him. He is not safe from accusations of the people as there is pride in him. The worst thing in self-conceit is to receive no benefit from learning, not to recognize truth and not to follow it. Allah Almighty says,
“Enter the door of Hell and live therein. How bad is the place of the proud” (37:72) (Ihyaul Ulum vol 3, p. 252-253)
Standing on the pulpit, Hadrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) once said, “Oh, people! Adopt humility because I have heard the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) say that Allah elevates the rank of the person who humbles himself for Allah. He will appear low in his own eyes, but high in the estimation of others. Allah will humiliate the person who is haughty. He will appear high in his own eyes, but will be more disgraced than a pig in the eyes of the others (Mishkat p.434)
The afore-mentioned Quranic verses and Ahadith signify the importance of humility and condemnation of pride. Pride eliminates our spiritual virtues whereas humility develops our spiritual perfection, sense of humanness and consequently becomes a source of establishing peace and tranquillity—and thus a source of attaining pleasure of Allah.
A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Writer and Translator.