Dignity in Humility and Grace in Simplicity
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
In the last verses of Surah Al-Furqan, Allah (SWT) mentions some of the characteristics and qualities of His virtuous bondsmen and servants. He calls them Ibaad-ur-Rahmaan, which means the bondsmen or servants of Rahmaan. Let us try to understand this distinct honor. The Qur’anic word Rahmaan has been translated as ‘Most Gracious’, ‘All Merciful’ and ‘Most Kind.’ All these English substitutes are poor translations as these are understatements to define the term Rahmaan. Human mind is poor to comprehend and human language is poor to explain the beauty of the word “Rahmaan”. We only know the meaning to the extent human mind can grasp, but He, who is Rahmaan knows the depth and breadth of His “Asma’aey Husna.” How fortunate are those people whom Allah (SWT) has chosen and gave them the enviable status and called them “My servants.” The entire humanity is Allah’s servant though, but “The possessive term “My” in “My Servants.” indicates an exclusive endearment bestowed upon a certain people who have been defined as distinct and distinguished from the rest of the humanity. The word “servant” as a worldly term may carry a negative connotation, but to be the servant of Allah (SWT) is something incomparable. To be the endeared servant of the most powerful Master and the absolute Sovereign of the universe is the highest honor which one can possibly dream or aspire for.
The word “Ibaad” is the plural of “Abd” has its root in “Ubudiyyah”, which means that the servant is happy and contented in submitting himself to Allah’s will and decisions. In other words the servant is happy in the happiness of his Master. Some scholars think that “Abd” has its root in “Ibaadah”, which means the servant practices only those acts and performs on those deeds which please his Master.
Imaam Raghib, the well known linguist says: “Ubudiyyah” means modesty and bowing down in submission to Allah’s will. And Ibaadah means servitude in extreme humility.
Subhan Allah! Look at the beauty of the Holy Qur’an. By associating “Ibaad – the servants and bondsmen with “Rahmaan”, it points out that the servants should also have the attributes of graciousness, mercy and kindness in them like their Master to deserve the graciousness, mercy and kindness of Rahmaan. Now we must have understood what is meant by “Takhalliqu bi Akhlaaqillah.” Create and instill in you the moral attributes of Allah (SWT).
Before mentioning the qualities of “Ibaad-ur-Rahman”, Allah (SWT) mentions about he polytheists (mushrikeen) in verse 60 of Surah Al-Furqan:
“Yet, when they are told, “Bow down before the Rahmaan [the Lord of Mercy], they say, “What is the Lord of Mercy? Should we bow down before anything you command?”
On one hand there are people who are either ignorant or prefer to remain ignorant about “Rahmaan”, and on the other are people who not only know “Rahmaan”, but also fulfill their obligations as servants of Rahmaan.
There are many people who claim to practice Islam, being on the right path, leading life according to Qur’an, and as per Qur’an are among the bondsmen and servants of Rahmaan. But if examined closely, you will find that their words, acts, their morals and their character show their claim is shallow and hollow. They only don’t follow Qur’an, but contradict Qur’an in practice. Read the last verses of Surah Al-Furqan, which beautifully mirror the qualities of a Momin.
The first quality of Allah’s bondsman is his gait, or the way he walks. Verse 63 says:
“The servants of Rahmaan [the Lord of Mercy] are those who walk humbly on the earth, and who, when the foolish address them, reply, “Peace”.
Style of one’s walk indicates is also his introduction. The arrogant, proud and ego centric people walk differently, where as a Momin walks and talks differently. There is dignity in his humility and there is grace in his simplicity. Poet philosopher Iqbal says about Mard-e-Momin:
Her lehza hai Momin kee na’ee aan na’ee shaan
Guftaar main kirdaar main Allah ki burhaan
Yeh raaz kisi ko naheeN maaloom ke Momin
Qaari nazar aata hai, haqeeqat mayN hai Qur’an
A Momin has a new splendor and grace every moment.
In words and action, he mirrors the Message of Allah
No one knows this secret that a Momin
Looks like reader, but in truth is Qur’an himself.
A Momin never feels proud of his knowledge, wealth, health or success. He rightly considers these as blessings from Allah, and is always thankful to Him. He knows that he was created from dust and will return to dust one day. Allah says in verse 55 of Surah T’aha says:
“From the earth, We created you, into it We shall return you, and from it We shall raise you a second time.”
Allah (SWT) says in verse 37 of Surah Al-Isra:
“Do not walk pompously/arrogantly about the earth: you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height.”
One of the many advices of wisdom that Luqman gave as per verses 18-19 are:
“Do not turn your nose up at people, nor walk about the place arrogantly, for Allah does not love arrogant or boastful people. Go at a moderate pace and lower your voice, for the ugliest of all voices is the braying of asses.”
The verse throws light on the many expressions of modesty and humility. For example: one shouldn’t be cold or curt towards people or look down upon them as inferior. He shouldn’t walk proudly; the tone of his voice should not be impolite or harsh. Allah (SWT) does not like the proud and vain people. In the verse of Surah Furqan, I referred earlier, the word “Hawn” means contentment, dignity and modesty. It doesn’t mean walking extra slowly, which indicates affectation and ostentation. Prophet (SAW) used to walk with firm steps and it seemed as though he was walking down hill, which indicates determination and courage. Abu Hurairah (RA) said that he had not seen anyone more handsome than Prophet (SAW) and the earth seemed to shrink in distance for him when he (SAW) walked. We used to get tired, but he used to keep on walking effortlessly. [Zad-ul-Mi’aad].
Prophet walked briskly with a balanced speed; it was neither slow nor fast. He (SAW) said that any one who thinks himself superior and walks arrogantly will warrant Allah’s anger when he meets Him.
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that Prophet (SAW) said: “While a man was walking haughtily, dressed in clothes admiring him self, his hair combed, Allah caused the earth to swallow him. Now he will continue to go down in it (as a punishment) until the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]
Verse 81 of Surah Al-Qasas says about Quaarun:
“We caused the earth to swallow him and his home: he had no one to help him against Allah, nor could he defend himself.”
Imam Ghizali teaching humility and modesty says: “Why people walk haughtily with their head raised in pride, though their father is a significantly small drop of water, and their grandfather is dust. Imam Ghizali meant that he was born of a dirty droplet and Adam (AS) was created out of dust. Verse 87 of Surah Sajdah says:
“…The Almighty, the Merciful, Who gave everything it perfect form. He first created man from clay, then made his descendants from an extract of underrated fluid.”
Mutarrif bin Abdullah Ash’shakheer saw Muhallib walking haughtily in pride. He advised him to walk gently on Allah’s earth, with those who do it otherwise make Allah angry. Muhallib, a leader of prominence questioned the advice and said: “Don’t you know as to who am I? Mutarrif answered: “Yes, I know you, and I know your beginning and your end.” He then added: “Your origin is from a dirty drop which necessitates a “ghusl” (shower); if it is on a dress, it requires washing and purification. This body will decay in the grave, and become obnoxiously stinking and repelling. In between the two stages [of birth and death], the stomach remains full of stool and filth.” Muhallib in a shock of recognition meant to say:
“Jazak Allah ke chashmam baaz ker dee
Mira baa jaan-e-jaaN hamraaz ker dee”
May Allah reward you! You have opened my eyes to see the truth and opened my heart to recognize myself.
An Arab poet has very well said:
[which means] walk on the earth with humility. There are many people buried underground, who were of much higher status. They but became a patch of the earth. If you are proud of your power, respect and beauty, then think of those who excelled you in these gifts, but they too became a part of dust.
We must remember that Islam teaches us of dignity in humility and grace in simplicity.
Milaa jin’haiN uftaadgi sey auj milaa
Un’hee nay khaa’ee hai thokar jo sir utha ke chaley
Those who achieved greatness, achieved it with humility
Who had their head up in pride while walking, did stumble and fell.
Prophet (SAW) said: “Wealth is not diminished by giving [in charity]. Allah augments the honor of one who forgives; and one who displays humbleness towards another seeking the pleasures of Allah; Allah exalts him in rank.”
Prophet (SAW) also said: “Whoever gives up wearing elegant and expensive garments out of humbleness, when he can do so, Allah will call him on the Day of Resurrection, and before all the creations, He will give him the choice to wear whichever garment of Imaan he would like to wear. [Muslim]
The one who wants show off and acts with pride, he is looked down upon by Allah and His creation. That is why the best thing for a Momin is to be humble, simple and modest, which was preferred by our beloved Prophet (SAW). He didn’t like any mark of distinction for him self among his companions, and many times strangers had to ask as to which was Prophet (SAW) among them. He (SAW) used to help in the house hold things, used to sew patches in his clothes, and used to milk the goats and never thought of any work below his dignity.
Hazrat Aswad bin Yazid (RA) reported: Ummul Momineen Aa’isha (RAnha) was asked: “What did Allah’s Messenger used to do inside the house?” She answered: “He used to keep himself busy helping members of his family, and when it was time for Salat, he would get up for prayer.” [Bukhari]
Once Sayyidina Umar (RA) noticed a young man was walking very slowly. He asked him if he was sick. The youth said: “No”. Umar (RA) reprimanded him and advised him to walk steadily. He (RA) also saw some people who were trying to create the state of “Khush’u” (humility) in prayers by tilting their head down. He told to raise their head, as “Khush’u” is in the heart, and not in the neck.
May Allah give us the grace of simplicity and dignity of humility! Aameen!
SWT = Subhanahu Wa Ta'Ala
SAW = Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam
AS = AlehisSalam
RA = Radhiyallaho anhu
RAnha= Radhiyallaho anha
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.