“And the slaves of the Most Merciful are those who tread lightly upon the earth…” (Quran, al-Furqan, v. 63)
These days, more than ever before, I am craving the quiet qualities – those characteristics of a believer that are unobtrusive, that go without fanfare, that do not attract accolades or praise, except in the circles of those who have understanding. I am craving kindness. I am craving empathy. I am craving humility.
Humility. Undeniably a garment that should clothe every Muslim, humility is one of the defining characteristics of our relationship with Allah SWT. We are His slaves. We bow to Him, prostrate to Him, raise our hands to Him – all postures that emphasise our state as humble and supplicating slaves of Ar-Rahman.
And yet, so often, our manners, actions and thoughts, portray, not the humility of the prophet who mended his own shoes, not the prophet who allowed children to climb on his back while he led the prayer, not the prophet who spent nights in supplication and prostration, not the prophet who gave up his own rights for the rights of others, not the prophet who respected the dignity of the Bedouin who desecrated the masjid, but of prideful, arrogant beings whose salvation has been guaranteed.
How often have we looked down on our fellow human being, attributing their misfortune to the fact that ‘they are astray, ‘their iman is weak’ or, ‘Allah SWT is punishing them’? How often have we congratulated ourselves on the aspects of the deen that we have managed – by the grace of Allah SWT – to uphold, while deriding others who have not reached ‘our level’? How many times have we shunned a fellow Muslim due to a mistake or wrongdoing, shaming them, disrespecting them and making them feel worthless?
I ask you: is this the da’wah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW? Is this the way we are meant to behave as believers?
Allah SWT says that the believers are gentle with one another other. The deen teaches us that we are to cover each other’s faults. That we are to avoid suspicion. That we are to make excuses for each other. How many of us remember these aspects of the deen, these less visible, less tangible aspects of Islam, the things that no-one can commend you for but make you a kind, thoughtful human being? Where is our gentility? Where is our mercy? Where is our empathy? If we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of our brother, in the shoes of our sister, how can we be sincere friends and advisors?
It is of vital importance that we understand one thing: not one of us is guaranteed Jannah. No, this should not make us despondent, nor should we lose hope. But, at the very least, it should make us grateful for the iman that we do have. It should make us merciful to others, no matter what their state. And, above all, it should make us humble. Because where that sister is today – low on iman, piled with sins, hounded by demons of doubt and despair – could be you next month. There are no guarantees.
And, just as we should ‘tread lightly’ with each other, we should ‘tread lightly’ upon the earth. Our attitude towards the earth and all that Allah SWT has provided us needs to change. We need to cultivate gratitude. We need to cultivate respect. We need to cultivate humility with Allah’s creation.
If we were truly grateful for our food, we would not waste it. If we were truly grateful for our shelter, we would not destroy the earth to build it. If we were truly grateful for our comforts and amenities, we would not fritter them away, bleeding our natural resources dry.
If we were humble with this magnificent gift we’ve been entrusted with – the Earth – we would respect it.
So, I call on you to join me in this quest for humility on every level – in the major things and the minor things; those apparent and those hidden; the personal and the social.
May Allah accept our efforts to reform and cultivate ourselves and bless us with a harvest of guidance, understanding and beautified character so that we may be shining examples of the beauty of Islam in our own lives. Ameen, yaa Rabb, amen.