“And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, God likes not each arrogant boaster.” [Qur’an; 31:18]
“And the slaves of God are those who walk on the earth in humility and calmness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” [Qur’an; 25:63]
“Whenever We sent a prophet to a society, We took up its people in suffering and adversity, in order that they might learn humility.[Qur’an; 7:94]
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) 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). [Sahih Muslim]
Jundub reported Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: He who wants to publicise (his deeds), Allah will publicise (his humility), and he who makes a hypocritical display (of his deeds), Allah will make a display of him. [Sahih Muslim]
‘Iyad bin Himar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Verily, Allah has revealed to me that you should adopt humility. So that no one may wrong another andno one may be disdainful and haughty towards another.”
It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.” [Muslim]
“None shall enter the Fire (of Hell) who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of Iman and none shall enter Paradise who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride.” [Sahih Muslim]
When Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked, ‘What did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) do when he was with his family?’ she replied, ‘He would do chores for his family, and when it was time for the prayer, he would go out.’ [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]
“Allah has removed the pride of Jahiliyyah from you and boasting about lineage. (A person is either) a pious believer or a miserable sinner, and the people are the children of Adam, and Adam is from dirt.” [Tirmidhi]
Sayings of the Early Muslims
“Blessed is he whose own faults keep him from seeing the faults of others.” [Ali ibn Abi Talib]
The opposite of humility is arrogance and this can stem from many factors such as wealth, knowledge, lineage, race, skin colour, language, etc. It often arises from forgetting that these attributes were apportioned to each one of us by Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). Every day that we wake up to is a test of how we use what Allah has apportioned to us.
A common form of arrogance is that which may be termed “religious arrogance”, where a person begins to look down on others who appear to be less practising in their faith. One must remember that even the ability to practice faith is a bounty given by Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) that should cause one to be grateful rather than arrogant. At the same time, one must remember that perhaps the other person who seems less practicing, or even downright sinful, may have other saving virtues that balance his status in the sight of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). A sinner may repent and earn forgiveness, while an obedient person may earn Allah’s displeasure through his arrogance.
One of the hadith above uses the analogy of a mustard seed in mentioning the weight of arrogance that can prevent one from entering Paradise. The mustard seed is seemingly insignificant in size, yet the plant grows fast if the seed is not rooted out early.
Therefore a vigilant keeper of his heart must spot the insignificant seeds of arrogance that take root and take measures to remove them before they grow into a great disease. The way one responds to advice is a good indicator of the state of his heart. A heart that has been overtaken by arrogance will usually resent advice, whereas the humble heart is more receptive. This is the mechanical means of eradicating the problem.
In addition, one may resort to chemical means, i.e. the bitter medicine which kills the disease. In the case of arrogance, it’s medicine would be the remembrance of death. Remembering one’s beginning as a drop of fluid and one’s end in the soil, and one’s life in between as a carrier of waste is an effective remedy for curing arrogance, if we were to apply it.
Prevention, however, is better than cure. One must guard the garden of his heart by taking care of the soil that fills it, nourishing the thoughts that grow there, and watering them regularly so that they may grow in a healthy and beneficial manner.
In other words, one must work pro-actively to be humble and this is best achieved by following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in his attitude with his family and other people. A person must push himself to do things that require humility, so he trains his ego and quells it.
Practising humility does not mean self-humiliation or sacrificing one’s rights all the time. A human being–especially a Muslim–must conduct himself with dignity. However, it is also true that a tree which bears fruit will lower its branches. So the more one increases in knowledge and closeness to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He), the more he humbles himself and deals well with people. Faith and practice will produce fruit which cause you to lower your branches to meet the people.