On Trust, Humility, and Modesty

To fulfill a promise is a practical form of trustworthiness while to break it is identical, in effect, to untruthfulness. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has stressed upon us the need to discharge every engagement and keep a promise when we make one. To fulfill one’s promises is among the few moral virtues about which the Prophet has said that he could give the assurance of forgiveness in After-Life to those who possessed them. Humility is a virtue. Man, after all, is a slave of the Lord, and, like a good slave, it is expected of him that every act of his is performed with humbleness. Meekness is a mark of servitude, while pride is the exclusive attribute of Divinity. It, thus, does not become of a bondsman to be haughty and vainglorious. Modesty has a vital role to play in character-building. It restrains a man from behaving in an undesirable manner and acts as a shield against lewdness and immortality. It holds the key to piety and good-doing.

[1] It is related, on the authority of Ali and Abdullah bin Masud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Promise, too, is a kind of debt, (and should, therefore, be repaid).” – Tabrani

[2] It is related by Zaid bin Arqan; he relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If a person promises his brother to visit him, and it is, also, his intention to do so, but, (owing to some reason), he cannot go at the appointed time then there is no sin on him.” – Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi

[3] It is related by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he breaks; and when, he is trusted, he betrays.” – Bukhari and Muslim

[4] It is related by Ayaz bin Himar that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The Lord has revealed to me, and commanded me to observe humility. The effect of it should be that no one was cruel and unjust to others, nor gave himself airs.” – Abu Da’ud

[5] It is related to us about Umar bin al-Khattab that one day, in the course of a sermon from the pulpit, he said: “O people! Observe meekness for I have heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: ‘Whoever observes meekness, (for the sake of God, i.e., with the aim of earning His good pleasure), God will exalt him, and though he is lowly in His own judgment, others will hold him in esteem, and whoever is proud and vainglorious, God will reduce him to a lower condition and he will become worthless in the eyes of others, and, though he may be having a high notion of himself, others will consider him worse than dogs and pigs.’” – Baihaqi

[6] It is related by Abdullah bin Masud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever will have pride in his heart, even of the weight of an atom, shall not enter Heaven.” – Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

Generally speaking, “shall not enter Heaven” denotes that it has the effect of making one unworthy of entry into Paradise or that such a person will not be admitted to Heaven along with the faithful Believers, or straightaway, like them, but will have to do a spell in Hell.

[7] It is related by Zaid bin Talha; he relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Every religion has a distinctive quality, and the distinctive quality of Islam is modesty.” – Muwatta’, Ibn Majah, and Baihaqi

 

Commentary

In the common usage, what it signifies, simply, is that a man avoided lewdness and kept away from lustful and indecent acts. But, in Islam, it appears that it stands for a state of feeling which is intolerant of everything that is not desirable and produces a reaction of disgust and agony within anyone who, knowingly or unknowingly, falls into an error or behaves in a manner having a semblance of sinfulness.

A modest person is generally, inclined to feel shy in presence of their parents and other elders and benefactors, and God being the King of Kings and the Benefactor of Benefactors, the slaves of God, should, naturally, be modest and humble, in the highest degree, in respect of Him, the primary requirement of which will be that he felt pain and repugnance at everything that was displeasing to God, and, therefore, abstained from it.

[8] It is related by Abdullah bin Umar that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Modesty and Faith exist together, and when one of them goes out, the other, too, goes out.” – Baihaqi

[9] It is related by Imran bin Husain that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Modesty brings nothing but good.” – Bukhari and Muslim