Friday Sermon: Humility

By Babatunde Jose

VERILY, for all men and women who have sur­rendered themselves unto God, and all believing men and believing women, and all truly devout men and truly devout women, and all men and women who are true to their word, and all men and women who are patient in adversity, and all men and women who humble themselves [before God], and all men and women who give in charity, and all self-denying men and self-denying women,  and all men and women who are mindful of their chastity,  and all men and women who remember God unceasingly: for [all of] them has God readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward. (Quran 33:35)  

Allah went on to say:

 IS IT NOT time that the hearts of all who have attained to faith should feel humble at the remem­brance of God and of all the truth that has been bestowed [on them] from on high, lest they become like those who were granted revelation aforetime, and whose hearts have hardened with the passing of time so that many of them are [now] depraved? (Quran 57:16) 

The term “humility” comes from the Latin word humilitas, which derives from the word humus (earth). Thus, the basic meaning of humility is “grounded” or “from the earth”.  Humility is the quality of being humble, verifying that the individual is firmly grounded in knowledge of self – neither arrogantly elevating nor submissively lowering one’s perception of self.

When we Muslims pray, we prostrate ourselves; a symbolic acknowledgement of our lowliness in relation to our Lord, our absolute humility before Allah. Interestingly, prophets of the Old Testament too worshiped God in this manner; there are 33 verses of prostration in the Bible:  Numbers 20:6 ‘Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to them. And many more.

Allah’s Messenger (saws) say: When the time for a prescribed prayer comes, if any Muslim perform ablution well and offers his prayer with humility and bowing, it will be an expiation for his past sins, so long as he has not committed a major sin; and this applies to for all times. (Muslim)

The Quran went on to say:

Successful indeed are the believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers. (Quran 23:1-2)

The Quran describes worship as Ibadah, which in effect means to express ones humility. Ibadah is the absolute sense of humbleness that is reflected by the individual who totally submits himself to the will of Allah (swt). Worship requires submission to God and the essential component of submission is humility.  Although humility in relation to Allah (swt) is absolutely necessary, it is not self-sufficient for salvation as there are other precepts to be followed such as prayer, zakat and so on. However, to worship Allah in total humility is very essential.  

Apart from humility in prayer to Allah, we are also enjoined to show humility to our fellow man. Thus the Holy Prophet said: “Verily, Allah has revealed to me that you should adopt humility. So that no one may wrong another and no one may be disdainful and haughty towards another.”  (Muslim).

Showing humility does not lower the individual in the eyes of thinking people.  Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (saws) as saying: Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people). (Muslim)

What is the opposite of humility? Haughtiness, arrogance and aggressive behaviour, both of which are loathed by Allah as He revealed in the Quran: see Quran25:63 Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors. (Quran 7:55)

In relation to this Allah (SWT) says in Quran 17, Surah Al-Isra, Verse 37: “Do not walk pompously/arrogantly about the earth: you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height.” (Quran 17:37).  But this is exactly what our rich and famous do. They bestride the narrow world like colossi, master of all they see; they are not only pompous but arrogant and self conceited as if they created all lesser beings. They forget that their wealth is a gift from God and not based on their good works. Most of them wallow in stolen wealth which is a source of their eventual perdition. On the day when we would have to atone for our iniquities, there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But then it will be too late.

One of the many advices of wisdom that Luqman gave in Quran 31 Surah Luqman, 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.” (Quran 31: 18-19)

The story of Qarun in the Quran exemplifies this topic of humility. Qarun was a man blessed with immense riches far beyond contemplation. He was however a haughty fellow who felt that it was because he was special, that was why Allah blessed him. Against the wise counselling of pious men, Qarun did not mend his ways and in the end Allah caused the earth to swallow him and his home. Verse 81 of Surah Al-Qasas says about Qarun:  “We caused the earth to swallow him and his home: he had no one to help him against Allah, nor could he defend himself.” Quran 28:81; See Quran 28: 76-83 for the details.

May the wealth Allah has bestowed on us not be the source of our perdition; Ameen.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend


28 Days to D-Day: Our book unveiling is 28 days away. Reflections on Juma’at Greetings; a collection of Friday Huthba will be Unveiled on 19th December 2019, at the Sir Adetokunbo Ademola Hall, Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos at 11 am, under the Chairmanship of Aremo Olusegun Osoba CON. We look forward to your attendance.


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