Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Modesty and Humility: A Sermon
It is incumbent upon the righteous that they spend their lives in a state of modesty and humility. This is one branch of righteousness through which one has to fend off unjustified rage. For many great saints and men of truth, the last and most difficult stage (in the quest for righteousness) is to guard against rage.
Rage gives birth to conceit and arrogance. Sometimes conceit and arrogance create rage itself because rage is the outcome of sheer egotism. I do not want the members of my community to look down on each other, or exhibit pride over each other, or be arrogant towards each other.
Almighty Allah knows who is great and who is small. This is a form of contempt, which harbors hatred. It is feared that such hatred will grow like a seedling and destroy the perpetrator. Some people are very courteous in the company of the high and mighty but the truly great is he who listens with sympathy and humility to the words of a humble person and shows respect to what that person says, who honors his word and does not utter anything vexatious that causes hurt.
Allah Almighty says:
“And defame not your own people, nor call one another by nick-names. Bad indeed is evil reputation after the profession of belief and those who repent not are the wrongdoers.
You should not call each other by nicknames. Only ungodly and wicked people behave in this manner. He who taunts others will not die until he himself is thus afflicted. Do not be contemptuous towards your brothers.
When all of you drink from the same fountain, who can say which among you is destined to drink the most? No one can be judged honorable and respectable by worldly standards. In the sight of Almighty Allah, it is the righteous one who is the great one:
“Verily, the most honorable among you is the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-A ware. “(49:14)
Who are the Righteous?
The Word of God (the Holy Quran) tells us that the righteous are those who walk (the earth) in a meek and humble manner. They do not speak arrogantly; they speak as a humble person speaks to one of higher status.
In any situation our behavior should be conducive to furthering our own moral and spiritual betterment. Allah Almighty does not favor anyone. He wants us to be righteous. Only the righteous are able to attain the highest status.
I tell you truly that on the Day of Judgment, next after association of anything with God, no vice shall rank as high as arrogance. This is a vice that humiliates a person in both worlds.
Divine mercy rescues every believer in Divine Unity, except an arrogant one. Satan also claimed that he believed in the Unity of God, but as he was afflicted with arrogance and looked Contemptuously upon Adam, whom God loved, and found fault with him, he was ruined and became accursed. Thus the first sin whereby one was ruined forever was arrogance (Ayenae Kamalale Islam).
I admonish my community to shun arrogance, as arrogance is hateful in the eyes of God, the Lord of Glory. You may not perhaps fully realize what is arrogance. Then listen to me as I speak under the direction of God.
Everyone who looks down upon a brother because he esteems himself more learned, or wiser, or more proficient than him is arrogant in as much as he does not esteem God as the Fountainhead of all intelligence and knowledge and deems himself as something.
Has God not the power to afflict him with lunacy and to bestow upon his brother whom he accounts small better intelligence and knowledge and higher proficiency than him? So also he who, out of a mistaken conception of his wealth, or status, or dignity, looks down upon his brother, is arrogant because he forgets that God bestowed his wealth, status and dignity upon him.
He is blind and does not realize that God has power to so afflict him that in a moment he might be reduced to the condition of the lowest of the low, and to bestow upon his brother whom he esteems low grater wealth than him.
In the same way he who takes pride in his physical health, or is conceited of his beauty, or good looks, or strength, or might and bestows a scornful designation on his brother making fun of him and proclaims his physical defects is arrogant, for he is unaware of God Who has power to afflict him with such physical defects as to render him worse than his brother and to bless the latter so that his faculties should not suffer decline or be stultified over a long period, for he has power to do all that He wills.
So he who is neglectful of Prayer on account of his dependence upon his faculties is arrogant for he has not recognized the Fountainhead of all power and strength and relies upon himself
Therefore, dear ones keep all these admonitions in mind lest you should be accounted arrogant in the estimation of God Almighty unknowingly.
· He who out of pride corrects the pronunciation of a word by his brother partakes of arrogance.
· He who does not listen courteously to his brother and turns away from him partakes of
· arrogance. He who resents a brother sitting next to him partakes of arrogance.
· He who mocks and laughs at one who is occupied in Prayer partakes of arrogance. He who does not seek to render full obedience to a commissioned one and Messenger of God partakes of arrogance.
· He who does not pay full attention to the directions of such a one and does not study his writings with care also partakes of arrogance.
Try, therefore, that you should not partake of arrogance in any respect so that you may escape ruin and you and yours may attain salvation.
Lean towards God and love Him to the utmost degree possible and fear Him as much as anyone can be feared in this life. Be pure hearted and pure intentioned and meek and humble and free of all mischief so that you may receive mercy (Nuzulul Masih, pp. 24-25).