Chapter 71: Modesty and Courtesy towards the Believers
allah, the exalted, says:
"and be kind and humble to the believers who follow you.'' (26:215)
"o you who believe! whoever from among you turns back from his religion (islam), allah will bring a people whom he will love and they will love him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers.'' (5:54)
"o mankind! we have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. verily, the most honourable of you with allah is that (believer) who has at-taqwa [he is one of the muttaqun (the pious)].'' (49:13)
"so ascribe not purity to yourselves. he knows best him who fears allah and keeps his duty to him [i.e., those who are al-muttaqun (the pious)].'' (53:32)
"and the men on al-a`raf (the wall) will call unto the men whom they would recognise by their marks, saying: `of what benefit to you were your great numbers (and hoards of wealth), and your arrogance (against faith)?' are they those, of whom you swore that allah would never show them mercy. (behold! it has been said to them): `enter jannah, no fear shall be on you, nor shall you grieve.''' (7:48,49)
602. `iyad bin himar (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "allah has revealed to me that you should humble yourselves to one another. one should neither hold himself above another nor transgress against another.''
commentary: to treat each other humbly, leniently and lovingly is understood as humility. one, under this principle, is also required not to despise anybody on the basis of wealth, social distinction and lineage. moreover, one should also not adopt an unkind attitude towards others. besides, if allah has bestowed honour on somebody, he is supposed to be grateful to him, instead of behaving disrespectfully towards people and subjecting them to unkindness and tyranny.
603. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "wealth does not diminish by giving sadaqah (charity). allah augments the honour of one who forgives; and one who serves another seeking the pleasure of allah, allah will exalt him in ranks.''
commentary: apparently giving in sadaqah (charity) decreases wealth, but allah fairly compensates an almsgiver by increasing his wealth. otherwise, he is sure to receive the best recompense in the hereafter which will make good his loss. or, allah blesses the rest of his wealth in such a way that the sense of loss is removed from his mind. as for a lenient and humble attitude, it is sometimes mistaken by man for his humiliation. but messenger of allah (pbuh) calls such an impression as erroneous. indeed, humility increases his honour and dignity. and as regards the hereafter, the best reward is bound to accrue to him when he will be blessed with spiritual heights.
604. anas (may allah be pleased with him) passed by some children and greeted them (by saying as-salamu `alaikum to them). then he said: the prophet (pbuh) used to do the same.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: to greet (saying as-salamu `alaikum) small children is an excellent expression of humbleness. similarly, a believer is under obligation to greet his wife and children while entering his home, and this will be a sign of his humbleness as well. besides, he is also supposed to greet his subordinates, servants and other lowly people. escape from it is an indication of pride and arrogance and shows a deviation from the practice of the prophet (pbuh) which is enough to incur the displeasure of allah.
605. anas bin malik (may allah be pleased with him) reported: a slave-girl of al-madinah would take hold of the hand of the prophet (pbuh) and take him wherever she desired.
commentary: this hadith throws light on the sublime courtesy and unique humbleness of messenger of allah (pbuh) as well as his passion to meet the wants of the needy. it provides all the muslims with a worth-emulating example. the hadith does not mean that the slave-girl would actually touch the prophet's hands, but that he would show humbleness to all kinds of people, be they young or old, rich or poor, men or women.
606. al-aswad bin yazid (may allah be pleased with him) reported: `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) was asked: "what did messenger of allah (pbuh) used to do inside his house?'' she answered: "he used to keep himself busy helping members of his family, and when it was the time for salat (the prayer), he would get up for prayer.''
commentary: here too, we are informed about the extreme humbleness of messenger of allah (pbuh). many a man deems his insult and indignity to extend his co-operation to woman in household affairs. this is against the practice of messenger of allah (pbuh). to co-operate with woman in doing domestic things is a sunnah and man should not feel complex in it. however, an excessive interest in domestic engagements which makes one indifferent to salat is not desirable. rather, one is supposed to give up all domestic engagements when it is time to offer salat and be ready for it.
607. tamim bin usaid (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i came to messenger of allah (pbuh) while he was delivering a khutbah and said: "o messenger of allah, a stranger (meaning himself) has come to inquire about his deen. he is quite ignorant about his deen.'' messenger of allah (pbuh) interrupted his khutbah and turned to me. then a chair was brought for him and he sat on it. he started instructing me what allah had taught him. then he resumed his khutbah and completed it.
commentary: this hadith also mirrors, apart from the extreme humbleness of the prophet (pbuh), his affability and consolation for a traveller as well as the priority which he gave to faith and islamic teachings. moreover, it reveals that, during the delivery of sermon, if it is needed, the preacher can converse with somebody and also leave the pulpit temporarily.
608. anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: when the messenger of allah (pbuh) finished eating his food, he would lick his three fingers (i.e., the forefinger, the middle finger and the thumb). he (pbuh) said, "if anyone of you drops a morsel, he should remove anything harmful from it and then eat it. he should not leave it for shaitan.'' he commanded us to clean out the dish saying, "you do not know in what portion of your food the blessing lies.''
commentary: this hadith also stresses humbleness, simplicity and regard for the blessings of allah. to be unwilling to pick up a fallen morsel and eat it and to keep from cleaning up the dish is the style of arrogant and wealthy people. it displays disregard for allah's blessing. to eat the fallen morsel after cleaning it and to lick up the dish shows, apart from humbleness, regard for the divine gift. such an act pleases allah. in it there is another advantageous aspect. man never knows which is the blessed portion of food. when one licks up the dish, or even his fingers, picks up the fallen morsel and eats it after cleaning it, nothing will be wasted from the meal. in this way, the blessed portion of meal will automatically come to him and he will not remain deprived of it. moreover, the hadith tells us that allah's blessing, in whatever small quantity it may be, must not be wasted. yet unfortunately, as we see today, food is wasted like anything in the feasts and marriage ceremonies. whereas there are countless people in the world who do not get enough to eat, and there are many areas where people simply starve. may allah guide us!
609. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "every prophet has tended sheep.'' he was asked: "and did you?'' he replied: "yes, i tended them for a few carats for the makkans.''
commentary: this hadith has already been mentioned earlier, approving of secluded life in a peculiar situation. as the same has relevance with humbleness, it is repeated in this chapter as well. indeed, it is the quality of humble people that they earn their living by manual labour.
610. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said: "if i am invited to a meal consisting of a sheep's foot or shoulder, i would respond and i would accept as a gift a shoulder or a foot of a sheep.''
commentary: this hadith brings to our knowledge the humbleness and simplicity of messenger of allah (pbuh). it serves as an exemplar to us that we should accept the simple invitation of a poor man and even an ordinary gift. we must not reject the gift owing to its ordinariness and inadequacy.
611. anas bin malik (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) had a she-camel called al-`adba' which would not allow any other camel to surpass her. a bedouin came riding his camel which outstripped it. the muslims were much grieved at this. messenger of allah (pbuh) perceived it and said, "it is allah's way that he lowers whatever raises itself in the world."
commentary: this hadith underlines a principle of allah that he never keeps anything in the world on the rise eternally. every rising star has its eventual decline. individuals and nations apart, this law of nature also applies to animal life. in it is embedded divine wisdom. first, annihilation and fall is the fate of everything. second, lest power and growth should go to man's head, he is warned by being reduced to smallness that there exists a supreme one who holds sway over all creatures and can render the powerful weak and helpless. the bedouin camel-rider resented the companions by overtaking messenger of allah (pbuh), yet he himself did not express his resentment. rather the occasion caused him to explain the divine wisdom behind it. the hadith also shows the prophet's humility.