Allah created us unique and out of His mercy not only blessed us with intellect, feelings and emotions but also taught us how to use these faculties in the right way. Joy and grief are two such emotions decreed by Allah for us – emotions through which we can draw closer to Him if we comply with His commands. Being grateful and praising Allah when happy and patient when sad while accepting whatever He decrees is the characteristic of a true believer. For, everything that Allah decrees for a believer is good for him in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for all his affairs are good, and that applies to no one except a believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is also good for him.” (Muslim-2999)
Remaining calm especially at the loss of a loved one can be devastating and the grief that follows cannot be belittled but a believer who has faith in His Lord’s promises doesn’t let shaitan overpower his senses and continues to be patient for His sake. He knows that everything good and bad is a test from Allah and the real purpose of the test is actually to make him learn to continue doing good deeds with patience despite the burden of the test he is facing. That’s when he is blessed with the mercy, guidance and reward of Allah as explained in the second surah of the Qur’an.
Experiencing negative feelings of sadness and anxiety or crying when grieving a loss is natural. Even the prophets went through such times and felt these emotions of sorrow and hurt but we need to learn and follow their attitudes of controlling their emotions and being steadfast in the obedience of Allah.
Anas bin Malik narrated: “We went with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to the blacksmith Abu Saif. He was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah’s Messenger took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelled him. Later when we entered Abu Saif’s house, Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Messenger, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.” (Bukhari 23:390)
In another narration, Abdullah ibn Umar said: Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubaadah fell sick and the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to visit him with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas and ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with all the companions). When he entered upon him, he found him unconscious with his family around him and he said: “Has he died?” They said: No, O Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) wept, and when the people saw the Prophet weeping, they also wept. He said: “Listen, Allah does not punish for the tears of the eye or the grief of the heart, rather He punishes for this” – and he pointed to his tongue – “or shows mercy (because of it).” (Bukhari-1304, Muslim-924)
These touching narrations teach us that being composed when grieving and submitting to the will of Allah does not exclude emotions. And while such emotions are characterized as a sign of human compassion granted by Allah, Prophet (peace be upon him) also placed limits on excessive display of grief. Merely crying when grieved is allowed but it is forbidden when it accompanies wailing or complaining. Furthermore, according to hadeeth, the family of a deceased is allowed to mourn him for three days only, but a widow may mourn her husband for four months and ten days.
Unfortunately we see many people nowadays spoil the image of Islam by grieving over the dead in ways that were forbidden by the Prophet (peace be upon him). They are seen beating their chests, slapping their cheeks, striking their shoulders with chains and cutting their heads with swords while complaining or uttering words of shirk. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never prescribed for his followers to do any of these things or anything similar to them to mark the death of a leader or the loss of a martyr irrespective of his status. During his lifetime, he (peace be upon him) lost his beloved wife Khadijah, almost all his children and a number of companions were martyred such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Zayd ibn Haarithah and Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib. He did mourn their loss, but he did not do any of the things that some people nowadays do. He or his companions did not strike their chests or scratch their faces, or shed blood or take the day of the loss of their beloved spouses, children or companions as a festival or day of mourning. Rather they used to remember their loved ones who had passed away; they used feel sad, silently shed tears and seek relief in prayer. According to a report by Abu Dawood, whenever something distressed him or pleased him, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say to Bilal: “Relieve us with it (i.e., the prayer).” He (peace be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, tears his garment, or wails with the cry(words) of the Jaahiliyyah.” (Bukhari-1294, Muslim-103)
When one remembers his beloved who has passed away or when he remembers some similar calamity, it is best to say that which Ali ibn al-Husayn narrated from his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who said: “There is no Muslim who is afflicted by a calamity and when he remembers it, even if it was in the dim and distant past, he says “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon” (Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return), but Allah will give him a reward like that of the day when it befell him.” (Ahmad)
He (peace be upon him) also said, ‘A person will be in the company of those whom he loves’. (Bukhari) So be consoled, oh believers, and patiently endure as the life of this world is temporary and we will soon be reunited with our beloved in Paradise if Allah wills.
“Then whoever follows My guidance he shall neither go astray nor shall (he) be distressed.” (Quran 20:123}
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, said, “In the heart are disorders that cannot be remedied except by responding to Allah. In it is a desolate feeling that cannot be removed except by intimacy with Him in solitude. In it is sadness which will not leave except by happiness of knowing Him and truthfulness in his dealings. In it is anxiety that is not made tranquil except by gathering for His sake and fleeing to Him from His punishment. In it is a fire of regret which cannot be extinguished except by satisfaction with His commands, prohibitions, and decrees, and embracing patience with that until the time he meets Him. In it is a strong desire that will not cease until He is the only one who is sought. In it is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.” (Madarij Al-Salikeen)
ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ ٱلْقُلُوبُ
Praise and thanks to Allah who has made us reach the blessed month of Ramadan yet again this year. He made it a month of mercy, forgiveness, du’aa and multiplied rewards. Every night of this blessed month, He invites the fortunate ones who witness it, to race and compete with each other in doing righteous deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils are chained, the jinn are restrained, and the gates of Hellfire are closed and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. A caller announces: O seeker of good, come near! O seeker of evil, stop short! Allah will save them from the Hellfire and that is during every night of Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi-682)
How amazing is that? Could our names be among the ones whom Allah removes from the list of people going to Hell? Insha Allah, Yes! With the devils being chained and the entrance to Paradise made so easy, racing to do all that Allah has commanded and trying our best to avoid all that He has forbidden has been made easy for us in this blessed month. Ramadan is without doubt a golden opportunity for all of us who hope to be saved from the Hell fire and yearn to dwell in Paradise, where we will have all that we desire. This is not a month of socializing and feasting even though it is common to see this around us. This is a month of competing with each other in improving our relationship with our Creator – A month where we ignore all distractions and race to him by doing lots of good deeds. Allah says, “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden [i.e. paradise] as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” (Qur’an 3:133)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There has come to you the month of Ramadan, a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with grace, sending down mercy, forgiving sins and answering supplication. Allah looks at your competition in doing good therein, and boasts of you before His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for truly the wretched person is the one who is deprived of the Mercy of Allah during this month.” (At Tabarani)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) and his companions would pray, fast, spend time with the Qur’an and be obedient to Allah all year round but in Ramadan, they would maximize their efforts to excel in various good deeds. Nothing can be better for us than following their footsteps in this world and then being rewarded by having their company in the Hereafter. The Messenger (peace be upon him) mentioned many actions which, if performed sincerely, grant us great rewards.
The best of such actions in Ramadan is fasting, which has been made obligatory by the Almighty. The exact reward for fasting has not been specified but it is expected to be tremendous because of the way this hadith describes it: “Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied between ten and seven hundred times. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, said: Except fasting. It is for Me and I shall reward for it. He gives up his desires and his food for My sake.” (Muslim-1151) SubhanAllah! We need to perfect our fast by not just avoiding food and drink but also false and hateful speech and deeds so the rewards can be maximized. According to another hadith, there is a gate to Paradise that is called Ar-Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: ‘Where are those who fasted?’ When the last [one who fasted] has passed through the gate, it will be locked. [al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The blessed month of Ramadan is a celebration of the Qur’an as the blessed Book was revealed in it. Striving hard to spend the month in reading, reciting and listening to the Qur’an carries huge rewards. Regarding reciting it, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif, Laam, Meem’ is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Laam’ is a letter and ‘Meem’ is a letter.” (Tirmidhi-2910)
While for the one who listens to the Qur’an attentively (in prayer at the masjid or elsewhere), it was said that mercy does not come quicker to anyone than the one who listens to the Qur’an according to the words of Allah: “So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.” [Qur’an 7:204] The words “you may” make it mandatory for Allah! (Tafsir Al Qurtubi)
In addition to studying the Qur’an, there is a narration by Ibn Abbas that emphasizes the need to be generous in giving all kinds of charity in Ramadan: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of people and he was the most generous in the month of Ramadan, when Jibril would meet him. Jibril used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an.” (Bukhari-1716, Muslim-4268)
Speaking of charity, you can also easily get the reward of fasting not just 30 fasts in the blessed month, but 60, 90 and so on! Surprised? Well, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Whoever gives a fasting person (food or drink to break their fast), they will have similar to the reward of the one who fasted, without any decrease for the one who fasted.” (At-Tirmidhi-Authenticated by Al Albani) Buy some dates and hand them over at some masjid, for the worshippers at the time of breaking the fast or hand over bottles of cold water and small packets of dates on the road sides at the time of Maghrib. If you are unable to do any of that, then just helping out in the kitchen and setting up Iftar with dates and cold water for your family will bring a similar reward insha Allah.
Making extra voluntary prayer along with the 5 obligatory ones is another way to race to Paradise according to the narration of Rabi’a b.Ka’b who said: I was with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) one night and I brought him water and what he required. He said to me: ‘Ask (for anything you like)’. I said: I ask for your company in Paradise. He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Or anything else other than it?’ I said: That is all (what I require). He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Then help me to achieve this for you by devoting yourself to frequent sujood [prostrations].’ “(Muslim-990) Let’s rush to the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise by spending the nights of Ramadan in prayer as whoever prays qiyaam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.” (Hadeeth classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)
According to a hadeeth, performing an Umrah in Ramadan is like accompanying the Prophet (peace be upon him) on Hajj.” (Bukhari-1764) But as for those who live far away from the blessed land of Makkah and feel sad because they cannot perform Umrah in this blessed month, well you can get the ultimate rewards of Hajj and Umrah, from right where you are. According to a hadeeth, whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, and then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 units of voluntary prayer (Al-ishraq), he will gain a reward equal to that of performing a perfect, perfect, perfect Hajj and Umrah. (Al-Albaani, Saheeh Al-Jaami’-6346)
“Race to [all that is] good.” says Allah in the Qur’an (2:148) and one can think of no better time to do this except in the blessed season that we find ourselves in. Restraining our temper and our tongues from evil or idle talk, helping those in need, being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us will make us gain not just tremendous rewards but also the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise in this blessed month. Some short but beautiful and meaningful phrases of praising, glorifying and exalting Allah taught by the Prophet should also be recited in Ramadan to get those extra rewards. He (peace be upon him) said:
- “Whoever says Subhaan Allaah il ‘azeem wa bi hamdihi (Glory and praise be to Allaah the Almighty), a palm tree will be planted for him in Paradise.”(Tirmidhi)
- “There are) two words which are dear to the Most Merciful (Allah) and very light (easy) for the tongue (to say), but very heavy in weight in the balance. They are: Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azim (Glory and praise to Allah, and Glory to Allah the Almighty)’. (Bukhari)
- “Glorify Allah a hundred times by just saying Subhanallah (Glorified is Allah) and a thousand good deeds will be written for you, or a thousand sins will be wiped away.” (Muslim)
- “Say ‘Laa Hawla Wa Laa Quwwataa Illaa Billaah’ (There is no might or power except with Allah) in abundance, for indeed it is from the treasures of Jannah.“ (Bukhaari) This means that this phrase is a treasure that will be preserved and rewarded to the servant in Jannah if he utters it.
How Merciful is our Lord, Who enlightened us to countless good deeds that lead to His pleasure and Paradise – Alhamdulillah! Regardless how much we do and how much we offer we will always fall short fulfilling Allah’s rights upon us, therefore we must increase in seeking His forgiveness and always seek His guidance and help in doing good for His sake. He says: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways (the means to attain the acceptance and pleasure of Allah). And indeed Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an 29:69)
May Allah grant us the strength and tawfiq to make the most of this blessed month and be winners in this race to be among His beloved ones. Ameen.
– Written Mariam Anwer
A condensed version of this article originally published in Arab News
Allah Almighty has made human beings weak; they need to be guided and are prone to making mistakes and committing sins. Some do so out of ignorance of the laws set by Allah while; yet there are some, who even though blessed by knowledge, are led to sins because of their desires, emotions or the conditions around them. When a person sins and realizes that he has done something wrong he is overcome by remorse and an overwhelming feeling of guilt. If not dealt with in the correct manner, these feelings of guilt can greatly affect one’s self-esteem, may weigh him down and make him lose interest in doing good deeds.
Fortunately, one of the many treasures of Islam, is that Allah doesn’t leave His servants to rot in their remorse and guilt, once they realize their sin. Mentioned as Al-Ghafoor (the most forgiving) in more than 90 places in the Glorious Qur’an, He offers every sinner chances of redemption and repentance. He says: “Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by sinning), do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful’.” (Qur’an, 39:53)
Al-Ghafoor comes from the root ‘ghafara’, which means to cover, conceal, and shield. Some of us might have committed sins that are too many, and at times too shameful, to even think about. But when Allah forgives a sin, He covers it and conceals it. Al-Ghafoor is the One who does not expose the sins of His servants. He protects His servants from the consequences of their sins, screens them and forgives them even though He is All-Knowing of the wrong they committed.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) clarified this when he narrated in a Hadith Qudsi, “Allah the Exalted said: ‘O son of Adam, if you call upon me and place your hope in me, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam, if you have sins piling up to the clouds and then ask for my forgiveness, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam, if you come to me with enough sins to fill the earth and you meet me without associating a partner with me, I will come to you with enough forgiveness to fill the earth’.” (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, 3540)
For the one who believes in the mercy of the Almighty, guilt is a powerful means to direct his heart back to the one whose doors of tawbah (repentance) are always open. Allah says: “O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow…” (Qur’an, 66:8)
Even if a person commits sin time after time, his sin is forgiven every time if he follows his sin with repentance – if his repentance each time is sincere. There are three conditions of sincere repentance: Giving up the sin, regretting it and resolving never to go back to it. If one of these three is missing, then one’s repentance is not sincere.
It was said to Al-Hasan: Shouldn’t one of us feel too shy to ask his Lord to forgive his sin, then do it again, then ask for forgiveness, then do it again? He said: ‘The Shaytaan wishes that you would have this attitude so do not tire of asking for forgiveness. I do not think this is anything other than the attitude of the believers, i.e., every time a believer sins, he repents.’
Umar ibn Abd Al-Azeez said: ‘O people, whoever commits sin, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent. If he does it again, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, and if he does it again, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent. For it is sin, which hangs around a person’s neck, and doom comes from persisting in sin.’
Knowing that Allah forgives should give us much hope. But we should balance fear and hope so that we do not purposefully disobey Him and say that we will repent later. We need to stop doing wrong deliberately and rush to repent from the greatest sins which are disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy, as well as sins like neglecting religious duties like prayer, charity, obedience to parents, spreading the message of Islam and also for sins like backbiting, slander, envy, suspicion, cheating and wasting time in useless things.
The Prophets and Messengers being so righteous and pure used to acknowledge their mistakes too and turned to Allah in repentance all the time. Prophet Adam and his wife accepted their mistake and said: “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers..”” (Qur’an, 7:23). Similarly Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) said: “My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me.” (Qur’an, 28:16) Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Sometimes I perceive a veil over my heart, and ask Allah for forgiveness one hundred times a day.” (Muslim, 2702)
If this was the practice of the messengers of Allah (peace be upon them all), then what about the rest of us, whose lives are full of shortcomings and sins? Certainly we have a greater need to accept our mistakes, stop and turn to the One who loves the repentance of his disobedient servants and invites them to seek forgiveness every single night.
Indeed, Allah is the Most Merciful and Most Kind. He gives respite even to the worst of sinners so that they realize their mistakes and turn back to Him. His rights are too great for His servants to be able to fulfill them. And indeed, His favors and blessings are too many for them to be able to enumerate them. The only way to safety and relief then, is for us to wake up from our sinful slumber, and let our guilty hearts lead us to repent to Al-Ghafoor every morning and every night.
Originally posted in Arab News
The purpose of our life is a topic that we seldom think about or it is a discussion that is put aside after occasional brief reflection. But it is extremely critical for us to know about this topic as it is having a purpose in life that pushes us to use our intellect and abilities in the right direction and it serves as a core factor to success and happiness. As Muslims, we believe that the great purpose for which we exist in this world is to worship our Lord, our Creator – Allah, Who says: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Qur’an, 51:56)
Indeed Allah created the creation so that they could worship Him alone, without associating any partner with Him. Whoever obeys Him will be completely rewarded, whereas whoever disobeys Him would be punished with a severe punishment. And He has informed that He is neither dependant, nor does He have any need for them. Rather, it is the creation that is in dire need of Him, in every condition and circumstance, since He is the One who creates, sustains and provides for them. Imam Ibn Katheer said: “Ibaadah (worship) is obedience to Allah by acting upon what He commands and abandoning what He forbids; and this is the reality and essence of Islam. And the meaning of Islam is: ‘istislaam’ (submission and surrender) to Allah – the Most High – along with the utmost compliance and submissiveness to Him.”
Whatever a servant of Allah does to seek His pleasure, in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah is Ibaadah. As Muslims we need to realize that from the conditions of our worship to be accepted by Allah, is that it needs to be sincerely for His sake. Allah says: “So whoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord let him work deeds of righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord.” (Qur’an 18:110). Similarly, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Indeed Allah does not look at your faces nor your wealth but He looks at your hearts (intentions) and your actions.” (Muslim) Also there is a Hadeeth Qudsi where the Messenger (peace be upon him) said that Allah said, “I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having partners. Thus, whoever does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine, will have that action rejected by Me to him whom he associated with Me.” (Muslim)
After sincerity the second vital condition of worship is that it should be correct and therefore acceptable to Allah. Our worship of Allah should be as He and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have commanded us. Allah says: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.” (Qur’an 47:33)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said regarding this: “Whoever does an action which we have not commanded will have it rejected.” (Muslim) He (peace be upon him) also said “Whoever does an action (of worship) in a way different from ours will have it rejected.” (Abu Dawood)
It has been narrated that `Umar Al-Khattab once passed by the monastery of a monk. When the monk came out, `Umar looked at him and began to weep. When people asked him why he was weeping, he replied: “I remembered the statement of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, in His Book: ‘Working [hard] and exhausted. They will [enter to] burn in an intensely hot Fire.’ [Qur’an 88:3-4] So that is what has made me cry.” (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
Hence, if an act of worship is correct but not sincere, it will not be accepted and if it is sincere but not correct it will not be accepted until it is both sincere and correct. Sincere means that nothing but the Face of Allah is sought by doing it and correct means that it is in conformity with the Sunnah.
Unfortunately, when we look around us today, we see a lot of people ignoring these two conditions; using worship as a tool to get worldly benefits or taking the way of their fathers, ancestors and other people as the yardstick of right and wrong. There exist in Muslim communities, several innovated cultural practices and beliefs which have no basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Innovated practices are actions like specifying words of Dhikr that are not prescribed in the Sunnah, or to say that a particular du’aa, a certain chapter/verse from the Qur’an or a specific Name of Allah should be recited a fixed number of times without any proof from the Hadith. These innovated actions also include singling out a day or night for worship and religious celebration that the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his companions never did (like the day of 12th Rabi’ ul Awwal, nights of 27th Rajab and 15th Sha’ban).
Yet, when these misunderstandings are brought to the attention of people, many respond in the exact words of the disbelievers of old times, “This is what our forefathers used to do so we will do the same.” People who make such statements should think about whether they are following the guidance of Allah or the way of the disbelievers. One of the key characteristics of Islam is the importance given to verification of information and to the prohibition of blindly following practices which are proven to be unislamic.
Islam is a complete way of life. All acts of worship that we need to get closer to Allah have already been revealed and explained to us by the Messenger (peace be upon him) who said, “I have left you upon the clear path, its night is like its day and no one deviates from it after me except that he is destroyed.”(Ahmad) This hadeeth should push us to acknowledge and accept the facts and not be careless, making our actions vain like Allah has mentioned regarding some people: “And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.” (Qur’an 25:23) Rather let us become cautious and send something foreword for the Day of Judgment, the Day when we will be in great need for good actions, i.e., our sincere and correct Ibaadah.
Originally Published at Arab News
Greatness belongs to Allah alone. He is in control of all the affairs of every single thing created. He commands and prohibits, creates and provides, gives and takes. He raises and lowers people’s status, alternates night and day, causes nations to rise and fall, so that one nation vanishes and another emerges. His command and decree are carried out throughout the heavens and on earth, in the oceans and in the air. Human beings are just a creation of Allah — a creation which is pretty insignificant in comparison to the unimaginably vast universe. In a hadith qudsi, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah the Almighty said: ‘Pride is My cloak and greatness is My garment, so whoever competes with Me regarding these two will be thrown into the Hellfire.’” (Abu Dawud 4090)
Anyone who understands this will realize that our real status in the life of this world is only that of servants of Allah and this understanding gives root to the beautiful quality of humility which is one of the greatest blessings that Allah could bestow upon His servant because when a person becomes humble, he acknowledges his weaknesses and defects and submits wholeheartedly to the rulings of Allah and Allah in turn raises his status in both worlds.
The prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…No one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).” [Muslim]
Humility makes a believer accept and believe in the greatness of Allah and makes him turn to Him sincerely by submitting to His commands, by taking care of His rights and also His servants’ rights. When Allah raises him in worldly status, the characteristic of humility protects a believer from self praise, pride and feelings of superiority over others. It makes him an individual whose only concern is the pleasure of Allah and not the approval and recognition of those around him
Even though being humble and confident are characteristics that we should acquire, we must be careful not to cross the line and trip into the sins of arrogance and self praise which are from the evil traits of the people who preceded us. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No one who has an atom’s-weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, what if a man likes his clothes and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” [Muslim]
The story of Qarun is worth mentioning here. Qarun was a man of great wealth and the owner of great possessions. It is said that when he rode anywhere, the keys to his treasures would be carried on sixty mules. But his great fortune and status had made him haughty towards his own people and towards the truth. He refused to accept the message of Allah and instead, boasted about his possessions, while looking down at the common folk around him. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that when the knowledgeable ones around him advised him: “Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant. But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” (Qur’an 28:76-77) He replied: “This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess.” (Qur’an 28:78) Instead of submitting to the One who gave him all that he possessed with humble gratefulness, Qarun totally ignored the favor of Allah on him and was defiantly arrogant. His arrogance brought him nothing but severe torment from the Almighty. Allah says: “And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves.” [Qur’an 28:81]
Allah Ta’ala also tells us the story of Iblees in the Qur’an to warn us about this disease of arrogance and notion of superiority. Iblis was ordered by Allah to prostrate to Adam and he rejected because of his arrogance and envy towards Adam. Allah says in the Qur’an: “(Iblees said) “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.” [Qur’an 7:12]
The stories of Iblis and Qarun are somewhat similar and both teach us that we need to adopt the qualities of humility and submissiveness and avoid the destructive sins of arrogance and self praise as both would lead us to destruction in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, “Shall I tell you about the people of Hellfire? They are every haughty, mean, and arrogant person.” (Bukhari 4634)
This hadeeth is enough to make a believer know his limits and guides him to never lose sight of his status as a humble servant of Allah. He knows that whatever Allah has given him by favoring him over others, is purely from His grace and mercy. Feeling proud and praising oneself is totally disliked by Allah. In fact it is a characteristic of those who rejected their scriptures and made changes in them. Allah says: “So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.” [Qur’an 53:32]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) even prohibited praising a person, especially while he can hear his praise. This is because such praise may encourage the praised person to overestimate himself and may lead him to be arrogant and overconfident regarding his status and deeds.
A believer possessing humility knows that his knowledge, talents and abilities are all from Allah and this keeps his feet on the ground, grateful to Allah and always kind to his servants. Humility increases a believer’s self confidence which motivates him to race to all that is good without putting others down.
Let’s take account of ourselves, strive to fix our attitudes and be of those who humble themselves for the sake of Allah, for if we do that then Allah will raise us in status in this world and in the Hereafter, Insha Allah.
-Written by Mariam Anwer
Originally posted at Arab News