How Can a Person Be Humble?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul Sami‘ al-Yakti


How can a person be humble?


Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the Master of the Messengers, and upon his family and all of his companions.

Humility is a great character trait found in the greats like the prophets, the pious, and those who follow in their footsteps. Allah (Most High) has praised this trait and those who embody it. This trait arises from a person’s true recognition of their worth and origin, their awareness of their weakness and neediness, and their incessant need for Allah the Exalted, His assistance, and His grace.

One must realize that they are just a servant among His servants. When this understanding settles in their heart, its effects manifest in their actions and interactions with all creation.

Detailed Explanation:

The Definition of Humility

Humility is defined as a person’s acceptance of a status less than what their merit and position would entail. It is a middle ground between arrogance and self-deprecation, where self-deprecation is to place oneself in a demeaning position by neglecting one’s rights, and arrogance is to elevate oneself above one’s true status.

Humility in Islam

Islam has encouraged this noble character in many verses and hadiths. Allah the Exalted says: “The ˹true˺ servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly…” [Quran, 25:63]. To “walk humbly” means with forbearance, serenity, and dignity, without being arrogant, tyrannical, or engaging in corruption and sins.

And He says: “That ˹eternal˺ Home in the Hereafter We reserve ˹only˺ for those who seek neither tyranny nor corruption on the earth. The ultimate outcome belongs ˹only˺ to the righteous.” [Quran, 28:83] Imam Baghawi commented on this verse, citing al-Kalbi and Muqatil to explain “tyranny”: “it means arrogance against iman.” He also cited ‘Ata, who said, “It is behaving arrogantly towards people and belittling them.” Al-Hasan said: “they did not seek honor and power from their rulers.” Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) said, “It was revealed regarding those in authority and people of power who are humble.”

‘Iyad ibn Himar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Allah revealed to me that you should be humble, so that no one boasts over another, and no one oppresses another.” [Muslim]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Charity does not decrease any wealth. Allah only increases a servant in honor when he forgives [others]. No one humbles himself for Allah except that Allah raises him.” [Muslim]

How to Achieve Humility

1. Fear of Allah: This is one of the first and foremost means that aids a person in being humble and prevents them from the arrogance and folly of the foolish. We mentioned this in the interpretation of the verse: “That ˹eternal˺ Home in the Hereafter We reserve ˹only˺ for those who seek neither tyranny nor corruption on the earth. The ultimate outcome belongs ˹only˺ to the righteous.” [Quran, 28:83]

2. Avoiding Conceit: One must refrain from thinking himself to be more knowledgeable, pious, devout, or God-fearing than others, or thinking others are worse than him. Such attitudes belittle fellow Muslims.

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he does not betray him, lie to him, or let him down. Every Muslim’s honor, wealth, and blood are forbidden to another Muslim. Righteousness is here (pointing to his chest). It is sufficient evil for a man to belittle his Muslim brother.” [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

3. Accepting advice and criticism, accepting the truth, and being fair to oneself: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “No one who has a spec’s weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise!” A man then said, “But a man likes his clothes and shoes to be nice?” He said: “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is rejecting the truth and belittling people.” [Muslim]

“Rejecting the truth” means pushing it away and refusing it when it is presented, and “belittling people” means degrading them and undervaluing their belongings.

Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad was asked about humility, and he said: “It means to be submissive to the truth, to accept it, and to accept it from whoever says it.” [Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman]

4. Mixing with people: One must interact with all types of people, be they young or old, rich or poor, obedient or sinful.

Allah says: “And patiently stick with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, seeking His pleasure. Do not let your eyes look beyond them, desiring the luxuries of this worldly life. And do not obey those whose hearts We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follow ˹only˺ their desires and whose state is ˹total˺ loss.” [Quran, 18:28]

5. Treating people as one would like to be treated: A person surely likes to be treated with humility, gentleness, and kindness by others and dislikes those who are harsh or arrogant towards them in any way.

Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junada and Muadh ibn Jabal (Allah be pleased with them) narrate that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Fear Allah wherever you are, and follow up a bad deed with a good one and it will wipe it out, and behave well towards people.” [Tirmidhi]

6. Reflecting on the origin and end of humans: Reflecting on their origin, how they came into existence from dirt, then from a drop of semen from the same place of urine, then from a clot, then from a lump of flesh.

Allah the Exalted points out, “Condemned are ˹disbelieving˺ humans! How ungrateful they are ˹to Allah˺! From what substance did He create them? He created them from a sperm-drop, and ordained their development. Then He makes the way easy for them…” [Quran, 80:17-20]

Then they became something worth mentioning, with hearing, sight, and life, as He says: “Is there not a period of time when each human is nothing yet worth mentioning? ˹For˺ indeed, We ˹alone˺ created humans from a drop of mixed fluids, ˹in order˺ to test them, so We made them hear and see.” (Quran, 76:1-2)

Habib Ali ibn Hasan al-Attas (Allah have mercy on him), in his book al-‘Atiya al-Haniyya wal-Wasiyya al-Marziyya, says: “As for pride, it should be prevented by reflecting on where your origin is, what state you are in, and to what will you turn? Were you not initially a vile drop of semen, between your sides filth, and your end a dirty corpse!?”

7. Knowing one’s worth: We must recognize that our capabilities and potential are limited no matter how great they appear.

Allah says: “And do not walk on the earth arrogantly. Surely, you can neither crack the earth nor stretch to the height of the mountains.” [Quran, 17:37]

8. Remembering states of weakness, sickness, pain, and trials that afflict us: Such states render one bedridden after being upright, weak after strength, poor after wealth, and humiliated after honor… and such will languish all blessings of the Dunya.

9. Purifying and ensuring the soundness of the heart: This is a comprehensive and beneficial cure; if the heart is sound, all actions will be sound by Allah’s permission, and vice versa.

Nu‘man bin Bashir (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say: “Indeed, the lawful is clear and the unlawful is clear, and between them are matters unclear… Beware, in the body, there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Beware, it is the heart.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

10. Prayer and supplication to Allah for it: For the hearts are in the absolute control of the Most Merciful; He turns them however He wills. For this reason, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) often prayed for firmness of heart.

Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to say often: “O Turner of the hearts, make my heart firm on Your religion.” He asked: “O Messenger of Allah, we have believed in you and in what you have brought. Do you fear for us?” He replied: “Yes, indeed, the hearts are in the complete control of the Most Merciful; He turns them as He wills.” [Tirmidhi]


If you, my Muslim brother, wish to acquire the trait of humility or increase in it, first aim to purify your heart from the diseases that have afflicted it, such as hatred, envy, conceit, and arrogance. Then, fill it with piety, faith, good thoughts, sincerity, and true intention. For in the heart’s soundness and purity lies your righteousness in your religion and worldly life, your safety from diseases and bad manners, and your happiness in this world and the Hereafter.

We ask Allah the Exalted to honor us all with that, to guide us to what leads there, and to save us from perils. And praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.

Shaykh Abdul Sami‘ al-Yaqti is a Syrian scholar born in Aleppo in 1977. He obtained his degree in Shari‘a from the Shari‘a Faculty of Damascus University, a Diploma in Educational Qualification from the Faculty of Education at Aleppo University, and a Diploma in Shari‘a and a Master’s in Shari‘a from the Faculty of Sharia and Law at Omdurman University in Sudan. He is currently writing his doctoral thesis.

He studied under esteemed scholars such as Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, Shaykh Mustafa al-Turkmani, and Shaykh Dr. Nur al-Din Itr, among others. Shaykh al-Yakti has worked in teaching and cultural guidance in orphanages and high schools in Aleppo. He served as an Imam, Khatib, and reciter at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and as a certified trainer for Khatibs in Abu Dhabi’s Khatib Qualification Program.

He is involved in developing and teaching a youth education program at Seekers Arabic for Islamic Sciences.

Among Shaykh al-Yaqti’s significant works are “Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni: Bayna Ilm al-Kalam Wa Usul al-Fiqh” and the program “The Messenger of Allah Among Us (Allah bless him and give him peace).”