What is Humility?
Humility is the quality of having a modest or low view of one's importance. The absence of any feelings of being better than others.
Why is Humility important?
To help us better understand the importance of humility- let us reflect on the harm that arrogance and pride- the opposite to humility- can bring. How does it make us feel when somebody speaks or behaves in a manner that gives us the impression that they believe themselves to be ‘better’ than someone else? When we are arrogant or proud, we are less likely to listen to others’ perspectives, and to understand and be open to self-reflection, mindfulness, less likely to be open to hearing about other perspectives on ‘truth’, to learning, to bettering ourselves. Arrogance also often leads to reduced levels of compassionate loving kindness that we show others, and therefore others are far less likely to listen to what we also have to say. This we find to short-lasting- if any- success in relationships, and in all other areas of life.
So much of humanity is divided. Much of this division is a result of conflict and mutual jealousy, and pride and arrogance and because of believing that we are right and others are wrong. Much of it comes from our lack of humility and therefore our inability to judge right from wrong. With humility, comes awareness, and understanding- we are more likely to grow spiritually, embrace and respect and love one another and forgive one another- we are less likely to therefore argue or fight over land, or power or materialistic wealth- because the more humble we are, the more likely we are to want to share our blessings with others because we feel less deserving of them- or we use them to help others as a way of proving our gratitude for them.
Instead of ‘blaming God’ for events that happen in our lives that we may perceive as negative- through humility we remember that He knows best and that everything is given out by Him in due measure- and that He is the Best of Planners- and that perhaps if we assume something to be bad, it may in fact be good, and that if we assume that something is good, that it may in fact be bad for us.
How can Humility help us?
We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Humans come in different shapes, sizes, colours, backgrounds- but we all share one thing in common- our soul, and our freedom to Believe. When we have humility, we are more likely to grow spiritually through learning from each other, and from personal life experiences. Most importantly- we are more likely to be able to treat each other how we ourselves want to be treated, and therefore be successful in all areas of life- especially in the ‘relationship’ with both The Creator, and His creation.
What makes anyone ‘better’ than someone else? We all have been given the right to ‘believe’ whatever we like as long as we are alive- and some may choose this right to believe to choose to believe that they are better than others because of the blessings that are given to them. But let us invite one another to reflect for a moment; When we believe that one can be ‘better’ than someone else because of their race or colour of their skin or because of how much material wealth he or she has, or because of the status of their job, or because how outwardly attractive they are, or because of a certain talent that they might have..- Let us ask ourselves- did we choose the colour of our skin or was it chosen for us? If we happened to be born into a different family, a different culture with less provision that we have today- would we be in the position that we find ourselves now? Did we choose our education or was it chosen for us? How much control have we really got over our materialistic wealth? - Are we able to take it to the graves with us? Did we choose all of the blessings which we believe we have or were they given to us and chosen for us? What did we do to deserve these blessings? Did we create our talents or were they given to us? How do we spend our lives using these blessings- do we use them to benefit ourselves or do we use them to benefit others who are less fortunate than us? Asking these questions can lead us to realise that in fact in life much of what we have is not because we deserve it- so it can help us to be more humble, boast less, and yearn to be more grateful. A great way to show our gratitude for our blessings is to share it with others, or use it in a way that helps those that are less fortunate than we are. In no means does it make us ‘better’ than others because we have established that much of what people become boastful and arrogant about- is not because of their self-sufficiency- so let us see it more of a test of humility and gratitude…
Through humility we find it easier to turn to God, who is the One that we may or may not believe is the One that has provided our blessings for us. Making mistakes is part of spiritual growth and development and being ‘human.’ As long as we make mistakes out of ignorance, are humble and turn to Him to repentance, and try to actively mend our ways, we are much more likely to be able to turn negative into positive and use this ability to help others. Through humility we are more likely to be able to ‘forgive’ others who wrong us, because we avoid thinking that we are better than them. By being able to forgive others and pardon others, we naturally feel ourselves that we are also worthy of forgiveness in the presence of God and this helps to improve our relationship with the Creator, The Subtle One, The Aware.
Instead of ‘blaming God’ for events that happen in our lives that we may perceive as negative- through humility we remember that He knows best and that everything is given out by Him in due measure- and that He is the Best of Planners- and that perhaps if we assume something to be bad, it may in fact be good, and that if we assume that something is good, that it may in fact be bad for us. When we have humility- we do not assume that we have all the answers. So we find it easier to ‘let go’ of the need to ‘control’ what we have no control over. BY being able to let go, we are more likely to move on from traumatic events and make the most out of the present and the future instead of dwelling on feelings of resentment and anger about the past. It enables us to take more responsibility of our lives with the abilities we have, rather than playing the victim and blaming others.
Those who believe in Him- realise through life events how short-lasting our blessings can be when we are not grateful about them, or if we boast or assume that our blessings make us better than anyone else less fortunate: Because in His Hands are the dominions of everything- He gives to whom He wills and takes away from whom He pleases.
So it is important to remind ourselves that we are not all that self-sufficient or ‘in control’ of our lives. We have free-will to be able to use our blessings to the best of our potentials- so let us show gratitude for our blessings by using them to help others who are less fortunate than we might be. But let us not look down on others- for perhaps they use their blessings in better ways than we do, even though it may appear to us that we are more blessed than they are.
For those of us that believe in God: The message that we can get from scriptures that have been sent to mankind for guidance and wisdom- is that it is ultimately not what blessings we have that make us better than someone else, but how we use the blessings we have to worship God and help others. Only God knows our intentions and thoughts, and scripture encourages us not to be judgemental of one another- so even if one ‘appears’ to be more righteous than someone else- only He knows their intention behind their deed- so perhaps the one we look down upon is more pleasing to Our Lord than we are? Perhaps his or her intentions are purer than ours? Let us be humble and May He help us to remain humble and increase our humility so that we can maintain a good and healthy relationship with Him and others of His creation.
How can Humility help others?
Our level of humility can hugely affect our ability to ‘connect’ with others- other human beings, no matter what race or religion or background- as well as other creatures of creation. How do we feel in the presence of those who are boastful and proud and arrogant compared to in the presence of those who do not show off about their blessings, who are not too proud to admit their mistakes? So when we are more modest and humble ourselves, and act in a modest fashion in our behaviour- not boasting about our blessings and gifts that we may have been provided with- we help to make others feel better about themselves in our presence, so that they are more comfortable and able to be their ‘real selves’ in our presence. When we are more comfortable to be able to express our true selves in the company of one another without being made to feel uncomfortable or that we are looked down upon- we are more likely to grow our love for others, and for them to grow love and compassion towards us- we are more likely to be able to be true to ourselves and therefore establish longer lasting trustworthy relationships and be creative in many ways with one another.
When we behave in a modest fashion- we make it easier for others to avoid feelings of enmity and jealousy against us- and therefore they are more likely to ‘like’ us and be willing to establish a ‘relationship’ with us. We are more likely to see things form their perspective and therefore to listen to them and understand them and make them feel loved and valued. This enables others to feel more able to be true to themselves, believe in themselves and be creative using the blessings that they also have been given to help others as well as us.
The more humble we become- the more we realise that we are all part of one soul- one existence, and we start to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ our surroundings in a way which helps to ‘unite’ us- we concentrate on things we have in common rather than arguing and dividing due to our differences. We realise that there is no other Deity other than God- and that He alone has the right to be worshiped. It helps us to ‘let go’ of conflict and anger towards each other because we are less likely to assume that we are right and others are wrong. Instead whatever we do- is not about winning over each other- but it is to Please God and part of His Divine Will. We let Him judge our ways and guide us, we turn to Him for help and assistance, and we become more grateful to Him and are therefore more likely to serve Him according to the best of our abilities.
How can we become more Humble?
Sometimes events happen in life which ‘shocks’ us out of our assumptions that we are in control when we obviously are not. Life events such as losing a person we love, or a plague which destroys our ability to provide for ourselves- can help to remind us that we are not all that self-sufficient and that perhaps we could have been more grateful for our blessings and provisions. Loss of wealth, health, lives, children can all be a reminder to us that this life is not forever, and that all that we have will wither away and die and that all we take to our graves is our souls- and therefore it is important that we look after it. This reminder itself can be very humbling for us. That is why during major traumatic life events we are more likely to turn to God and ask for help. It is easier for us to forget God or a ‘Higher Being’ when we are distracted by worldly pleasures and often more likely to be ungrateful for them. However as long as we are human- we will all make mistakes and face events in our lives that we assume to be negative- until we reflect on them, and learn from them to better ourselves, become more grateful, remember that things could always be worse.
The following can help us to become more humble:
By turning to God for help
Seeking Knowledge and Wisdom: Often to more we learn, the more we realise that we know very little.
Showing gratitude: during times of ease, but also times of hardship if we can by remembering that things could always be worse
Through reflection during times of hardship and loss- to remind ourselves that we are not in ultimate control of everything. This can help us to turn to God- who is in ultimate control of Life and all existence
Through mindfulness- when we are mindful of our speech and behaviour and try to treat others how we ourselves would want to be treated in all we do- we show humility that we do not assume that we are better than others.
Through acts of loving kindness
Through modesty in our behaviour and words: avoiding boastful speech and dressing and walking and behaving in a modest fashion so that we do not make others feel like we are bragging about our blessings that have been given to us.
(Above Writings are based on the reflections of Dr Lale Tuncer)
Scripture quotes on ‘Humility.’
'When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.' Proverbs 11:2
'Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honour.' Proverbs 29:23
'Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honour and life.' Proverbs 22:4
'Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.' Matthew 11:29-30
'Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honour.' Proverbs 18:12
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.' Mark 9:35
'So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.' Matthew 6:2
'Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honour.' Proverbs 15:33
'Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.' Psalm 25:8-9
'Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”' Luke 9:48
'He must become greater; I must become less.' John 3:30
'For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.' Mark 10:45
'Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.' Daniel 4:37
'Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.' Psalm 115:1
'When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.' Matthew 6:16
'Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making? ‘Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?' Isaiah 45:9
'Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. John 13:14 | NIV
Come; let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.' Psalm 95:6
'The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.' 1 Samuel 2:7
'Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' Zechariah 9:9
'Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.' Matthew 20:26-27
'What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?' Psalm 8:4
‘The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace.’ Quran 25:63
‘Call upon your Lord with humility and in private. Verily, He does not love transgressors.’ Quran 7:55
‘Remember your Lord in yourselves with humility and in private without announcing it in the mornings and evening, and do not be among the heedless.’ Quran 7:205
‘Lower to your parents the wing of humility out of mercy and say: My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small.’ Quran 17:24
‘Successful indeed are the believers who humble themselves in their prayers.’ Quran 23:02
‘And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily God likes not each arrogant boaster.’ Quran 31:18
‘And we have already sent messengers to nations before you, then we seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves.’ Quran 6:42
‘Give good news to the humble-hearted.’ Quran 22:34
‘Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds and humbled themselves to their Lord- those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide eternally therein.’ Quran 11:23