In the previous parts of this series, we talked about the essential prerequisites of parenting (Part 1), avoiding shirk (Part 2), being grateful and caring towards our parents (Part 3), thereby establishing a connection with Allah (Part 4), and developing patience and a love for prayer in children (Part 5).
In this article, we will explore yet another essential trait that Luqman advised his son to uphold: humbleness.
A true Muslim is humble by default
Who are we? Muslims.
What does a Muslim do?
A Muslim submits himself to Allah . He accepts his powerlessness in front of Allah and with complete trust and love puts all his affairs at Allah’s disposal to guide him through his journey of life.
That is how a Muslim becomes humble.
The opposite of humbleness is arrogance and pride, both despised by Allah and the reason Shaytan was thrown out of jannah, despite being a great worshipper, because he refused to prostrate to Adam when ordered.
Arrogance and pride make a person selfish. A person who is proud and boastful harms people around him with his words and actions.
As Luqman advises his son:
“And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 31, Verse 18]
Luqman’s wisdom never ceases to amaze me. He advised his son to establish prayer and be patient before he advised him to be humble. When we prostrate to Allah , we are reminded of the Might of Allah and that we are powerless without His blessings and favors.
“From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We will extract you another time” [Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verse 55]
Some of the characteristics of those who are humble are mentioned in the following verse:
“For your god is one God, so to Him submit. And, [O Muhammad], give good tidings to the humble [before their Lord]
Who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts are fearful, and [to] the patient over what has afflicted them, and the establishers of prayer and those who spend from what We have provided them.” [Qur’an: Chapter 22, Verses 34 -35]
The Prophet also says:
“Allah has revealed to me that you must be humble, so that no one oppresses another and boasts over another.” [Abi Dawud]
Having highlighted the importance of being humble with examples from the Qur’an and sunnah, let’s go through some practical ways of teaching humbleness to our children:
1. Be humble yourself
It is extremely important to model the behavior that you want to teach to your child yourself. The first and the best school a child learns from is his/her family, mainly the parents.
2. Introduce them to the Lord of the heavens and the earth
Allah says in the Qur’an that He is the “Lord of the heavens and the earth and that between them..” [Qur’an: Chapter 44, Verse 7].
“Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He covers the night with the day, [another night] chasing it rapidly; and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, subjected by His command. Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah , Lord of the worlds.” [Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 54]
Everything belongs to Him and we should be grateful to Him for bestowing His favors upon us in this world. Children learn about the stars and the moon and the galaxies in school. A visit to the planetarium, for example, is a great opportunity to show the kids how mighty Allah is and how He created everything and how in comparison to the universe, we are tiny atoms.
Remind your children that it is Allah alone upon whom all creation depends, it is Him alone whose help we seek in every prayer by saying:
“It is You we worship and You we ask for help.” [Qur’an: Chapter 1, Verse 5]
This should be a daily reminder for us that without Allah we are nothing.
3. Introduce them to our role model: Prophet Muhammad
No one can be a better role model for us and our children than the Messenger of Allah . His humbleness is apparent in all aspects of his life. When at home he used to serve his family, do things around the house and mend his own clothes. Anas ibn Malik lived with the Prophet in his youth and he never heard even an “uff” from him. Even when a bedouin pulled harshly at his cloak that left marks on his skin, he didn’t say anything at all to him.
This was our Messenger , a mercy to all mankind. Reading stories about the Prophet to our children will instill love for him in their hearts and make them eager to walk in his footsteps, In sha Allah.
4. Walk and talk humbly
Humbleness is apparent in the way we walk and the tone of our voice. People who are arrogant walk with a strut and often talk loudly to attract attention to themselves.
The Messenger of Allah walked briskly, leaning forward as if he was walking downhill.
“He was the most generous of people [in hand, and the most big-hearted of them] in breast. He was the most truthful of people in speech, the softest of them in nature, and the most noble of them in his relations.” [Tirmidhi]
Children tend to speak loudly at times. My kids have a high-pitched voice and when they are excited it just goes higher. I realized that I too have a high pitch at times. So my constant task is to remind them and myself to speak softly. I have a secret sign that I use when I need them to lower their volume in public, as we don’t want to embarrass them.
To this effect, Luqman told his son:
“And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” [Qur’an: Chapter 31, Verse 19]
Teaching children to speak softly and speaking softly to them instead of shouting at them when they err is vital to teaching the trait of humbleness.
I remember as a kid when I dragged my feet on the ground, my grandmother would tell me to put my foot softly on the earth, as it would be hurt by me if I stepped on it really hard. Over the years, her words have stayed with me.
5. Teach them the magic words
Share with them these magic words: “I am sorry”, “please” and “thank you”.
To say sorry one has to swallow one’s pride. To ask for help is to acknowledge that we are not always self-sufficient, and by saying thank you, we are appreciating the thoughtfulness of others.
It takes a lot of courage to say sorry. Be the first one to say sorry yourself as soon as you realize that you have made a mistake. As I keep saying, parents are the best role models. Teach them to say sorry and tell them that it might hurt their pride but it will definitely strengthen their self-esteem to say sorry as it really takes a strong person to say “I am sorry”.
6. Serve others as a family
Volunteering at the local mosque for its clean up and upkeep or sitting with the sick and the elderly, opening doors for others, helping carry the load of groceries, and picking up something that fell on the floor for someone, are all small but significant actions by which we can serve and help others around us on a daily basis.
Visiting the orphanage yearly and gifting old toys to the kids there will also help your children be humble and grateful to Allah . You could make it a yearly or monthly routine depending upon your circumstances. Do it as a family and make it a family legacy that will be passed on.
Humbleness is an attribute of a believer by which he is recognized and remembered. Our Prophet is remembered and was loved by his companions and family and even those who didn’t agree with him because of his humbleness.
I leave you with a beautiful supplication of our beloved Messenger of Allah :
“Allahumma inni a’udhu bika min munkaratil-akhlaqi, wal-a’mali, wal- ahwa’i”
“O Allah! I seek refuge in You from undesirable manners, deeds, and aspirations.”
With that, we end the Productive Parenting series on lessons from Surah Luqman. May Allah accept from us and aid us in our parenting to gain His pleasure and help us fulfill our duties to the best of our abilities. Please share with us successful ways of inculcating humbleness in your children from a young age.