‘And the faithful servants of the Most Gracious Allah are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness.’

This final chapter of Surah Furqaan refers to those special servants of Allah who conform to the will of Allah and his Messenger and follow the Shari’ah: ‘And the faithful servants of the Most Gracious Allah are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness.’

The characteristics of the servants of the All-Merciful Allah are that they are the slaves of Allah. Generally, a slave becomes the property of the master and becomes completely subservient to his commands, and will do everything to please his lord.

Here, only such a person can claim to be Allah’s slave whose views and beliefs are completely in accordance with the pleasure of his lord. For a person to attain the pleasure of his lord, he needs to carry out the commands that Allah has made obligatory for him as and when he is required to do so.

‘They walk on the earth in humility and sedateness.’
Humbly does not mean slowly, it means to walk with modesty and free from arrogance. The Holy Prophet did not walk slowly; it is recorded in a Hadith that ‘He used to walk as if the earth was shrinking away from him.’ (Ibn Kathir) Our past predecessors have regarded walking slowly without reason as Makrooh because it resembles the walk of a sick person.

Hazrat Hasan Basri has mentioned that the organs of the believers are always humble to Allah so much so that one who is not familiar with them feels sick or disabled, while they are fit and healthy. It is the fear of the hereafter that has caused the humble servants of Allah to refrain from acts that oppose humility.

Arrogance and pride are called the root of all sicknesses of the heart. Prophet Muhammad warned that a person having even an iota of it in his heart will never enter paradise. The deadliest of all sins is arrogance.

We never like a person who is haughty, too proud, or condescending. We detest a person who belittles us and has a huge ego. Similarly, we love people who are humble, polite, and easy to talk to. We love people who give us respect and honor. Thus if we follow the principle of treating others the way we like to be treated, most of these problems might be cured.

We need to appreciate the difference between manners, and morals on the other. While manners deal with one’s external disposition, morals are dealt with our inner thoughts, feeling, and attitudes. In a healthy personality, manners and morals are in harmony. But it is also possible to have the former without having the latter. The first concerns itself with how a person deals with others. The second is concerned with what a person thinks of himself. Two persons showing humbleness in their dealings with others may have exactly opposite ideas in their minds. One may do it out of his or her “generosity”; the other may do it because he genuinely thinks that he is not better than the other person. The first person only has a shell of humbleness, which will crumble when tested. It is the second person who is really free of arrogance.

Real greatness belongs only to Allah, our Lord, Creator, and Master. Human beings are just a creation of Allah and very small creation in comparison to the unimaginably vast universe. Anyone who understands this will realize that our proper status is only that of servants of Allah. In fact, for a Muslim, the real human model is none other than Prophet Muhammad, who is the greatest of all human beings. His greatness lies in being the humblest of all servants of Allah. It is impossible for any person who has this consciousness to entertain any notions of his own greatness.

This leads us to the definition of arrogance, given in a famous Hadith: “Arrogance is to knowingly reject the truth and to belittle other people.”

This Hadith exposes two strains of this deadly disease, both dealing with our exaggerated ideas of self-importance. The first suggests that I am more important than the truth. The second suggests that I am more important than other people.

The Quraish and Jews of Arabia, who had come in contact with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), knew in their heart of hearts that he indeed was the Messenger of Allah. Their arrogance created an obstacle for them to accept it. History has recorded statements from some of them who said we know he is the Promised Prophet but we will keep on opposing him to maintain our leadership.

While that was the most manifest form of arrogance, we can witness the same attitude on a smaller scale in our discussions and arguments. A person realizes that he was wrong, but then his pride keeps him from admitting it. No matter how polite or “humble” that person may appear to be ordinarily, this test shows the presence of arrogance in his heart.

The second strain involves our feeling of superiority with respect to other people. Islam’s teaching is that one should never consider oneself greater than other people, because that Judgment will come from Allah, and Allah alone, on the Day of Judgment. None of us knows what our end will be, whether we will end up being a winner or loser over there. The person, who appears to be nobody, may end up with eternal bliss because of his goodness that only Allah knew. On the other hand, the person who was of a supposedly high rank here may end up among the sinners who will be punished because of his evil that only Allah knew.

Islam does not ask us to reject reality and imagine we don’t have what we really do. Rather it asks us to take a deeper look at reality and not be misled by a superficial perception of it. And the simple reality that escapes many is that our health, wealth, talents, and power are not of our own creation. Allah gave those to us as a test and He can take them back whenever He wills. For those who are conscious of this reality, their blessings will produce gratitude in them; those who are blind to it will develop pride and arrogance.

Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi says: “Some forms of arrogance are subtle. If a person is embarrassed to bow to Allah in the presence of non-believers, that is a case of arrogance in the face of Allah.” The truth is that problems arise when we turn away from reality. A humble person is a happy, content, grateful person who thanks God for his blessings and has no notions of his own superiority. False notions of superiority or of one’s entitlements in life, on the other hand, lead to frustrations and complexes.