And lower your wing upon the believers Surah Al-Hijr: 88.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
Whoever likes the people to stand up for him should take his seat in the hell-fire related by Ahmed.
The day the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) liberated Mecca, the Muslim army entered Mecca as victors with little resistance. They (the people of Mecca) turned their attention towards the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and the hearts of the polytheists, who had harmed the Messenger of Allah and his Companions, reached their throats out of their extreme fear of what the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) may do with them.
In such a situation, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) entered Mecca. He was riding a camel, reading Surah Al-Fath, with his back bent and his head lowered until the edge of his beard nearly touched his ride, as a show of humility to Allah as well as thanks to Him for honouring him (peace be upon him) with a great triumph.
On that day, a man came to talk to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). The man thought that he was standing in front of one of the victorious kings. This was the situation in which he found himself: in awe of the prestigious position of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). All that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) did was to calm his fears and say the well-known saying,
Relax! I am not a king. I am just the son of a woman from the tribe of Quraish who used to eat dried meat related by Ibn Majah.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) made clear to the man that he was not a king, and he told him what his mother used to eat to make clear that he was one of them (Quraish), not a proud one to be scared of. What type of great humility did the heart of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) feel?! He (peace be upon him) used to lower his wings (to care) for the elderly and the young, his family and his Companions, his relatives and non-relatives alike, even the male and female slaves. All of these, in his eyes, were the same; he did not prefer one over the other except according to their good deeds. His biography abounds with many incidents and proofs that testify to his humility with the people, no matter what their status and situation may have been.
Does being humble contradict a Muslim being proud of and respecting himself and his religion?
Humility penetrated deeply into the soul of Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)
Forgiveness, humility, compassion and tenderness were established deeply in the soul of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which instilled the love of him (peace be upon him) in the hearts of all those around him. It has been reported that he (peace be upon him) never refused the invitation from anyone no matter how poor or lowly the person may have been, and he never refused any gift that was given to him no matter how small it was. Moreover, if he sat with anyone, he did not raise his knees towards him in a show of pride and prejudice…”
He (peace be upon him) used to participate in serving his family in the house; he did not think such work was above him. Concerning this, a man asked Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her),
related by Ahmed
Yes… Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was very noble; he did not, despite his high level and position, disdain to mend his sandals and sew his thobe. In fact, he helped his family in the house and looked after his own belongings without feeling proud and feeling that he was above such work.
There are many examples of the Messenger of Allah’s humility with his Companions, for example: he, when he was leading the army, used to take the advice of his Companions, as he did in the battle of the ditch when he implemented Selman’s idea, who was one of the Muslim soldiers, to dig a ditch. In fact, he (peace be upon him) helped his Companions in carrying soil on the day of the battle to the extent that his stomach was covered with dust!!
Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited his Companions from standing up for him, and this was only because he was very humble. One-time Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) met his Companions when he was leaning on a stick, and they stood up for him. He (peace be upon him) did not like such an act from them, and told them,
Do not stand up [for the people] as the foreigners stand up to venerate each other related by Ahmed.
This is opposite to what some proud people do because of their love for people to venerate them. Such people become annoyed with others if they do not stand up for them.
Another example of the Messenger of Allah’s humility with his Companions is that he used to sit with them just like any one of them, that is, he did not sit with them in a way that differentiated him from others, to the extent that if a stranger, who did not know him, entered the gathering where the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was sitting, he (the stranger) was unable to distinguish him from the others. The stranger would ask,
Which one of you is Muhammed?!” Although the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting among them (his Companions), leaning on his arms related by Al-Bukhari.
The Prophet’s Message was not a worldly message by which he sought kingship or power. It was a prophetic Message for the next life, whose purpose, at all times, was based on gaining the pleasure of Allah, and whose aim was to inform the people about the Message of Islam.
The greatest example of the Prophet’s humility was clear when his Companions praised him and talked to him as though he was a master; he (peace be upon him) used to often say to them, “I am only a slave and Messenger of Allah.” And when he (peace be upon him) heard some of his Companions call him by saying, “Oh our master! Oh son of our master! Oh the best of us! Oh the son of the best of us!” He (peace be upon him) prohibited them from saying these words by saying,
I am Muhammad ibn Abdullah, a slave of Allah and His Messenger. By Allah, I do not like you to raise me above my true position which Allah set for me related by Ahmed.
He (peace be upon him) submitted to this position of a slave of Allah, being submissively obedient to Him concerning all that He orders and prohibits, although the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a Messenger of Allah to all the world.
How does a person’s arrogance indicate that he is of little worth and is insignificant?
[Muhammad had many noble characteristics, like being kind and courageous, and having good morals…his nobility reached the level that he would not move his hand from the grasp of one who was shaking it, even if the person was a child! Furthermore, he did not pass by a group of people, either men or children, without saying greetings of peace to them, with a beautiful smile on his lips and a lovely tone which was enough by itself to charm the listeners and attract the hearts to the speaker]
Orientalist and British archaeologist
An example of his humbleness is that whenever he passed by a group of boys he would greet them. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that
“he (Anas) passed by a group of boys and greeted them.”
And he added,
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to do this”
related by Al-Bukhari.
He (peace be upon him) also used to
“visit the Ansar (Muslims of Medina), shake hands with their boys and wipe their heads”
related by Muslim.
In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to friendly and laugh with them. One of the boys had a small pet bird which he loved and used to play with. He hardly left the bird without playing with it, even for one hour. If the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saw him, he used to ask about the bird, saying,
Oh Abu Omair (the child’s nickname) How is your bird today? (referring to the small bird the boy used to play with) related by Al-Bukhari.
And when the Messenger (peace be upon him) learned that the boy’s bird had died, he quickly went to him to comfort and console him until the boy started to smile and forget his sadness.
Is there a connection between being humble and holding a position of importance?
The Prophet’s humility was not limited to what we have mentioned earlier, in fact his humility was very clear in his dealings even with all the weak, poor and female slaves. He used to mix with them, supporting them in their happy and difficult times. Sahal ibn Haneef said,
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to meet and call on the weak Muslims. He (peace be upon him) used to also visit those of them who were ill and attend their funerals related by Al-Hakim.
The humility of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
The Prophet was even humble with the female slaves, although he was a Messenger from Allah. Anas ibn Malik said,
“Any of the young female slaves of Medina could take hold of the hand of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and take him wherever she wanted”
related by Al-Bukhari.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
Shall I tell you about the people of paradise?’ Those with him said, ‘Of course!’ He (peace be upon him) said, ‘Every weak and oppressed person; if he were to implore (ask) Allah for anything, He would grant it to him. Then he (peace be upon him) said, ‘Shall I tell you about the people of hell?’ Those with him said, ‘Of course!’ He said, ‘Every cruel, (who deals roughly with others) arrogant, (who think too highly of himself) proud and conceited person’ related by Al-Bukhari.
His work in spreading the Message and his responsibilities towards his nation did not stop him from visiting and meeting the weak and ill. Where are those with position and authority who have such great qualities as the Prophet had?!
With regards to the means of transport the Prophet (peace be upon him) rode on, he used the same as the normal man used to use. That is, he (peace be upon him) rode donkeys, camels, mules and horses. Mu’adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
I used to ride with the Prophet (peace be upon him), sitting behind him On a donkey which was called Ofayr' related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
This was the normal form of transport at the Prophet’s time.
As for the bed the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to sleep on, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) related a situation which affected him so much he even cried. He related, describing the Prophet’s room when he had entered upon him,
He (peace be upon him) was lying on the mat and there was nothing between him and that (mat), and under his head there was a pillow made of leather and it was stuffed with plam fibres, and at his feet were a heap of leaves from a saut tree (acacia niloctica, used for dyeing) and near his head there hung water skins (made of hide that had not been tanned). I saw the marks of the mat imprinted on the side of Prophet (peace be upon him), and so I wept. He (peace be upon him) said, ‘What makes you weep?’ I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, the Khosrau and the Ceasars (spend their lives in) the midst of (luxuries), whereas you, although you are Allah's Messenger (are leading your life in this poverty).’ Thereupon, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Don't you like that they should have riches of the world, and we have the Hereafter?’ related by Al-Bukhari.
Despite the Prophet’s high rank and important position, he held, he was one of the most humble people, and the most easy (when dealing with others). The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose to be a prophet slave when Allah gave him the choice to be a Prophet-king or a Prophet-slave is enough of a proof of such noble qualities.
In general, if we consider all the above, we will learn for sure that humility was a character trait of the Prophet all his life, and that it is a trait which a Muslim should strive to have. Follow the example of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in order to attain good in this life and the next.
How should we deal with one who is proud and difficult to deal with? Should we be humble with him or how should we deal with him? Cite incidents from the Prophet’s biography as proof for your answer.
The quality of being humble was a character trait of the Prophet throughout all his life, when he sat down, when he walked and when he rode animals, when he ate and drank, in fact in all situations. We see that when he (peace be upon him) sat down to eat, he ate like a slave eats, and when he sat with others, he sat down in a similar manner to a slave (that is, with humility). The Companions said that
He (peace be upon him) ate like a slave ate, and sat with others in a similar manner a slave sits with others related by Al-Bayhaqi.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was humble but did not act as though he was low or degraded. What is the difference between these two states?
There are many hadith that indicate that he (peace be upon him) encouraged his followers to be humble. Some examples include his saying,
Charity does not reduce one’s wealth, no one is forgiving with others but Allah makes him honourable, and no one is humble in front of Allah but He raises [his position] related by Muslim.
And he (peace be upon him) said,
Truly, Allah revealed to me that you should be humble, and to not act proudly with anyone or oppress anyone related by Muslim.
In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited his followers from being proud and warned them about this, saying,
Might is His (Allah’s) garment and pride is His cloak. And anyone who competes with Him in these, He will punish related by Muslim.
1. Appreciate that Allah raised the position of His Prophet (peace be upon him) because he (peace be upon him) was humble. Prophet Muhammad said,
Who lowers himself for Allah by any degree, Allah will raise him by the same degree. And who is proud towards Allah by any amount, Allah will lower him by the same amount until He will make him the lowest of the low related by Ahmed.
Being humble raises your status. Do not be proud in order to not be the lowest of the low.
2. Any time you feel proud or vainglorious, control yourself quickly by becoming humble again and reminding yourself of your weaknesses, deficiencies, and errors as well as how Allah blessed you by covering such errors from the eyes of others.
3. Follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) by being humble with your family as he (peace be upon him) advised us to be, by saying,
The best of you are those who are best to their family, and from among you, I am the best to the family related by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah
And be humble to your brothers and sisters
And lower your wing upon the believers Surah Al-Hijr: 88.
4. Read Prophet Muhammad’s biography, and contemplate on how he used to be humble although he was very noble.
Send prayers on the best example of humility and learn to be humble from him (peace be upon him). Follow his example in order to raise your standing in this world and the next.