Humbleness can be divided into two basic categories. The first kind is humbleness before God, which implies faith in Him and total submission to His will and commands without feeling haughty.

The second category is humbleness with people, usually defined in dictionaries as the quality of being humble or modest and lacking pride, boastfulness or excessive self-assertiveness. These definitions also reflect Islam’s view of humbleness.

Degrees of Honor

According to the Qur’an, the only basis for varying degrees of honor among people is their piety:

(O humankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and we have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct) (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Since piety and God consciousness are internal and only God is able to know whether a person is pious or just pretending, it follows that believers should observe modesty and humbleness as one of their basic traits.

Modesty is mentioned in the Qur’an as one of the characteristics of the people who are loved most by God and who themselves love God:

(O you who believe! If any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him,— lowly with the believers, mighty against the rejecters) (Al-Ma’idah 5:54)


A verse in the Qur’an instructs Prophet Muhammad to show humbleness towards the believers, where it makes a similitude between the modesty of Prophet Muhammad and his message towards all believers, and a bird that lowers its wings in kindness and humbleness to protect its offspring:

(And lower your wing (in kindness) unto those believers who follow you) (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:215)

The Qur’an also extends its instruction to all Muslims and advises them not to over-praise themselves, where it says what means:

(Therefore justify not yourselves: He knows best who it is that guards against evil) (An-Najm 53:32)

This attitude of over-praising one’s self is the cause of many of the malaise in today’s civilization. People make a lot of effort to appear different from what they really are, while they could spend much less effort just being themselves. In order to solve this problem, people must try to be humble and have a sense of simplicity in their attitudes and their relationships with others.

Concerning humbleness, Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah revealed to me that we should be humble among ourselves and none should show pride upon the others” (Muslim).

Also Prophet Muhammad indicated that being humble is a way of gaining God’s pleasure; he said, “And the one who shows humility, God elevates him in the estimation (of the people) and elevates his degrees in the hereafter” (Muslim).

Prophet Muhammad’s personal life and attitude were an example of humbleness. When `A’ishah (Prophet Muhammad’s wife) was asked what he was  like at home, she said that he used to help his family with the household chores but as soon as he heard the call for prayer, he would go out to the mosque to pray (Al-Bukhari).

It is reported that whenever Prophet Muhammad came to a place where the people were sitting, he didn’t rush himself to put himself in the forefront, he just sat wherever there was an available place.

Also, when Prophet Muhammad was entering Makkah after its conquest — a victorious event for Islam — he lowered his forehead on his camel, prostrating himself in humility and thanking God that He had finally given victory to the believers.

By  Dr. Jamal Badawi