Humility and Humbleness

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

All the praise is due to Allah, the Lord of Al-‘Alamin. And May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet SAW, his household and the companions.

The Character of humility or humbleness is one of the greatest blessings that Allah the Exalted could bestow upon His servant.

Allah the Exalted says:

•“And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you” [Al-‘Imran, 3:159]

•“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character” [Al-Qalam, 68:4]

This refers to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) being a true slave of Allah in many ways and his treating all people with the utmost kindness. His character was one of complete humility based on sincerity towards Allah and compassion towards the slave of Allah, which was the complete opposite of the characteristics of the proud and arrogant.

[Al-Majmu’ Al-Kaailah Li Mu’allafat Al-Shaikh Al-Sa’adi, 5/442, 443]

There are many possible ways of attaining humility, which not all Muslim have it but he will aspire to attain the characteristic. They were explained by Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim as follows:

Humility comes from the knowing about Allah and His names and attributes, and His greatness, venerating Him, loving Him and being in awe of Him; and also from knowing about oneself and one’s faults, and weaknesses. From that may develop the attitude of humility, which means feeling helpless before Allah, and being humble and compassionate towards His slaves, so that the person does not feel superior towards anyone, or think that he has any rights over anyone else; rather he thinks that others are better than him, and that their rights come before his. This is a characteristic that Allah gives to those whom He loves, honors and draws close to Him. 

[Al-Ruh, p. 233.]

There are many Hadiths which speak of the reward of humility.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Wealth does not decrease because of charity, and Allah increases His slave in honour when he forgives others. And no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).”

[Muslim, 2588]

Al-Nawawi included it in a chapter entitled: “The Recommendation of Forgiveness and Humility.”

Al-Nawawi said: 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “And no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).” This is understood in two ways: the first is that He will raise him (in status) in this world, and give him status in people’s hearts because of his humility, and give him a high status in people’s eyes. The second is that what is meant is his reward in the Hereafter, where his status will be raised because of his humility in this world. 

The scholars said: It may be that both are meant (and that his status will be raised) both in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows best.

[Sharh Muslim, 16/142.]

Kinds of Humility and Humbleness.

The level of Humility and humbleness are seen in   various situations, such as the following:

1. A person humbling himself to the commands and prohibitions of Allah SWT, doing what He commands and avoiding what He forbids.

Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

It is because a person may hesitate to obey His commands out of laziness, thus behaving reluctantly in an attempt to flee from the servitude towards Allah, and his soul may have the desire to commit haram actions, but once the person humbles himself to the commands and prohibitions of Allah, he will humble himself to the true submission to Allah [‘ubudiyyah].

[Al-Ruh p. 233]

2. Humbling oneself before the might, majestic and power of Allah.

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: 

Every time he feels that he is great, he remembers the might of Allah and that might belongs to Him only, and he remembers His intense wrath against those who compete with Him in that, then he humbles himself before Him and submits to the might of Allah. This is the ultimate humility and inevitably includes the first type of humility mentioned above, but the converse can never apply (i.e., this type of humility inevitably leads to the first type, but a person may submit to the commands and prohibitions of Allaah but he does not humble himself before His might).

The one who is truly humble is the one who is blessed with both. And Allah is the One whose help we seek.

[Al-Ruh, p. 233.]

3. Humility in one’s dress and manner of walking [behavior and mannerism ].

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:

“Whilst a man was letting his garment drag out of pride, he was swallowed up by the earth and will continue sinking in it until the Day of Resurrection.”

[Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 3297]

It was also narrated by al-Bukhari [5452] and Muslim [2088] from the hadith of Abu Hurairah. According to the version narrated by Al-Bukhari:

“Whilst a man was walking in a garment admiring himself with his hair nicely combed, Allah caused (the earth) to swallow him up and he will continue sinking in it until the Day of Resurrection.”

4. Humility towards one who is of a lesser status and helping him 

It was narrated that Al-Bara’ Ibn ‘Azib said: The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was moving soil with us on The Day of Al-Ahzab, and I saw him with dust covering the whiteness of his stomach, and he (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) was saying:

“(O Allah)! Without you, we would not have been guided, nor would we have given in charity, nor would we have prayed. So (O Allah!) send the tranquility (Sakinah) upon us as they (the chiefs of the enemy tribes) have rebelled against us. And if they intend afflictions (i.e. want to frighten us and fight against us) then we would not (flee but would withstand them).”

And he raised his voice whilst saying it. 

[Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 6809; Muslim, 1803]

5. Humility in interactions with one’s wife and helping her.

It was narrated that Al-Aswad said: I asked ‘Aishah what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to do in his house and she said:

 He used to serve his family and when the time for prayer came he would go out and pray.

[Al-Bukhari, 644] 

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said:

This shows that we are encouraged to be humble and not arrogant, and that a man should serve his family.

[Fath Al-Baari, 2/163]

6. Humility towards the young and gracious with them.

It was narrated that Anas said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the best of people in character. I had a brother whose name was Abu ‘Umayr. He said, I think he was rather weaned, and when he (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) came he would say, “O Abu Umayr, what happened to the nughair (a small bird that he kept as a pet)?”

[Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 5850; Muslim, 2150]

Al-Nawawi said:

The term nughair is for a small bird.

This hadith teaches us many things, such as being kind to small children. This demonstrates the good character of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and how he was of noble character and humble.

[Sharh Muslim, 14/129]

7. Humility towards servants and slaves [employee].

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“If the servant of one of you brings his food and he does not want to make him sit and eat with him, then let him offer him a morsel or two, because he has prepared it and served it.”

[Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 2418 and 5144; Muslim, 1663]

We therefore seek for Allah’s blessing and guidance to be among of those who humble themselves before His might.

Allah the Exalted Knows best.

 [Via Islam Q&A]


About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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