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A Heart of Humility

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A man was once sitting at the airport waiting to board his flight, when out of the blue a random stranger approached him. The stranger sat next to him and said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I was seated nearby and my gaze fell on you. As a specialist who has been treating cancer patients for more than 30 years, I noticed certain distinct markers and signs in you which indicate that you likely have cancer. I am only mentioning this to you as I wish well for you. Please get yourself checked up and treated if necessary. If the cancer is detected early enough, there will be a greater chance of you making a full recovery.”
Hearing these words from a total stranger, the man became enraged. He rocketed to his feet, his face growing redder with rage by the second, and burst out, “Who are you to judge me? Why don’t you worry about yourself? All you doctors ever do is find fault in people!”
Or did he…? Of course he didn’t! Rather, he gratefully thanked the doctor and booked the earliest appointment at the hospital. Thereafter, when he was diagnosed with cancer and it was successfully treated due to early intervention, he phoned the doctor and thanked him yet again, sending him gifts as well, as he appreciated that the doctor had pointed out the problem in him, assisting him to treat it and save his life.
In the same way, just as people have bodies which become sick and require treatment, they also have souls which contract various maladies such as pride, greed, dishonesty, shamelessness, etc. These maladies too require treatment. The difference between the two is that neglecting the illnesses of the body will only lead to death, whereas neglecting to address and remedy the maladies of the soul will lead to misery, suffering and punishment in Jahannam.
Therefore, it is absolutely vital for people to regularly refer to and consult with the ‘doctors’ of the soul – the pious, rightly-guided ‘Ulama. If any ‘Aalim – or even a non-‘Aalim for that matter – has to point out our faults in order to correct us, we should realize that he is our well-wisher and only wishes to assist us to reform ourselves so that we will be saved from difficulties in this world and punishment in the Hereafter. If one has humility in his heart, where his ego, pride and arrogance does not prevent him from accepting criticism and correction, then he will indeed go far in life and will insha-Allah be successful in the Hereafter as well.
‘Allaamah Ibnu ‘Aabideen Shaami (rahimahullah) is a renowned Hanafi jurist who was born in Damascus in the year 1198 AH. The book he compiled, Raddul Muhtaar, is so invaluable that it will not be farfetched to say that almost every Hanafi Mufti is in need of it when issuing fatwa.
It is mentioned that when ‘Allaamah Shaami (rahimahullah) was a young lad, he would sit in his father’s business premises in order to observe and learn the workings of a business. On one occasion, when he was in his father’s business place, he began to recite the Quraan Majeed audibly. After some time, a person passed by and, on hearing him recite, he rebuked him saying, “It is not correct for you to recite the Quraan Majeed here, since you are reciting it in such a place where the people (coming here to purchase goods) are not listening attentively to your recitation (which is an obligation). Furthermore, your recitation has weaknesses and flaws in it (i.e. the tajweed and pronunciation is incorrect).”
On hearing this random stranger publicly rebuke him in this manner, ‘Allaamah Shaami (rahimahullah) was not upset and angry. Rather, on account of his humility and sincerity, he accepted the correction and went out in search of the greatest Qaari in the city. On being informed that the greatest Qaari was Shaikh Sa‘eed Hamawi (rahimahullah), he proceeded to him and commenced studying under him. (Ibnu ‘Aabideen wa Atharuhu fil Fiqhil Islami pg. 276 and Faqeehul Hanafiyyah Muhammad Ameen ‘Aabideen pg. 8)
In this manner, ‘Allaamah Shaami (rahimahullah) studied qiraa-ah and the other various sciences of Deeni knowledge, until Allah Ta‘ala blessed him with the high position which we all acknowledge today – where millions of people around the globe benefit from his knowledge and work.
The point over which we should reflect is that had ‘Allaamah Shaami (rahimahullah) been overcome by pride, and had he received the criticism and correction negatively, it is likely that instead of correcting his mistakes and improving himself, he would have remained in his father’s shop, conducting trade until the end of his life, and nothing more would have become of him. Hence, the hadeeth mentions that when a person humbles himself, for the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala, then Allah Ta‘ala elevates him and blesses him with a lofty position and rank. (Saheeh Muslim)
May Allah Ta‘ala bless us with the humility to accept correction, aameen.

Uswatul Muslimah 

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