Tawadhu’ (humility) is to be humble and to be aware of one’s nothingness before Allah. A person may have been given knowledge, position and property. However, he must not, as a result, oppress either physically or spiritually others who have been deprived of such things and claim to be superior to them.
The poet has expressed it well:
‘Do not be proud of your property and wealth, and do not say ‘is there any other like me?
For an adverse wind may come and blow everything away’…
Every instant and every tomorrow belongs to Allah and no one knows what will befall him in the future.
Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: ‘…and spread the wings of thy tenderness over all of the believers who may follow thee’ (Shu’ara, 26:215).
‘The slaves of the All-Merciful are those who walk lightly on the earth and, who, when the ignorant speak to them, say, ‘Peace’ (Furqan, 25:63).
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has said:
“Allah has commanded me as follows: Show such humility that none of you boasts to others and none of you oppresses another” (Muslim, Jannah, 64).
“Whoever shows humility in the face of other of Allah’s servants purely to gain the pleasure of Allah, Allah will raise him in degree” (Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 16)
The prophet Idris (upon whom be peace) would offer advice to his people with wise words. One of these pieces of wisdom is as follows:
“As the degree of the intelligent person rises, so does their humility”.
Yusuf-i Asbat explains how to perfect the state of tawadhu’, which is a type of ‘nothingness’, as follows:
“Whenever you leave your house in the morning look on whoever you come across as being superior to you. Tawadhu’ is such that you accept a truthful word told to you no matter who it comes from, and that you see those inferior to you as being above you. Let those who disparage you and those who praise you be equal in your eyes…”
Allah Most High will bestow the bliss of the afterlife on those who did not boast of pomp and grandeur in this world, who did not make mischief nor cause sedition, and whose hearts were filled with the love of Allah. Those who distanced themselves from the blessing of tawadhu’ and embraced vile traits have not been able to escape becoming a Pharaoh. In that case we need to embrace tawadhu’ and free ourselves of such contemptible traits.
The Holy Qur’an states:
‘That abode of the afterlife – We grant it to those who do not seek to exalt themselves in the earth or to cause corruption in it. The successful outcome is for those who have taqwa’. (Qassas 28:83)
The poet has also expressed it very beautifully:
A seed that has not been planted in the ground cannot develop
(So too) the mercy of the Most Merciful will nourish the one who is humble.
The Companions of the Prophet never took advantage of the worldly position and status entrusted to them by Allah and never became disillusioned with pride and arrogance as a sort of superiority.
They adopted the humble lifestyle of the Prophet (pbuh) and made it a principle in their lives. The city state of Madina was established with approximately four hundred families, but within 10 years its borders had reached Iraq and Palestine.
At the time of the death of the Prophet (pbuh), there was a war between the Byzantines and the Persians. Booty was flowing into Madina. However that state of the Companions 10 years ago, that is, their state of disattachment from the world, and their modest lifestyles, the economy of their houses and their enthusiasm for giving out, did not change in the slightest.
They were terrified that the pleasure they received from their faith would be harmed and so they were painstakingly careful about not using worldly bounties for their own purposes. This is why they directed their lives towards gaining the pleasure of Allah.