Humility

Letting Elders Enter First

Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī has mentioned this heading and quotes the following general aḥādīth. He then reports narrations from some of the Salaf about letting elders enter first.

From Ibn ʿAbbās, that the Prophet ﷺ said:

Blessings are with your seniors.

Ibn Ḥibbān et al. Graded ṣaḥīh by Al-Albānī and others. See Al-Ṣaḥīḥah no. 1778.

From Ibn ʿUmar, from Allāh’s Messenger ﷺ that he said:

Jibrīl told me to give precedence to those who are older.

Recorded by Abū Bakr Al-Shāfiʿī in Al-Fawāʾid, and graded authentic by Al-Albānī in Al-Ṣaḥīḥah no. 1555.

It is reported that Mālik b. Mighwal said:

I was once walking with Ṭalḥah b. Muṣarrif when we came to a narrow (entrance). He went in front of me, then said, “If I knew that you were older than me even by a day, I would have never preceded you.”

Al-Khaṭīb, Al-Jāmiʿ li Akhlāq Al-Rāwī #248.

It is reported from Al-Faḍl b. Mūsā that he said:

ʿAbdullāh b. Al-Mubārak and I once came to a bridge, so I said to him, “Go ahead”, and he said, “Go ahead.” So we calculated [the age difference], and it turned out I was two years older than him.

Op. cit. #249.

Al-Khaṭīb mentions after these and other narrations, “And if the elder gives precedence to someone more knowledgeable than himself, this is allowed, and it is good.”

He then reports that Al-Ḥusayn b. Manṣūr said:

One day, I was with Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā and Isḥāq (Ibn Rāhuwayh) visiting a sick person. When we all came to the door (next to each other), Isḥāq stepped back and said to Yaḥyā, “Go ahead.” Yaḥyā said to Isḥāq, “You go ahead.” He replied, “O Abū Zakarīyah, you are older than me.” Yaḥyā replied, “Yes, I am older than you, but you are more knowledgeable than me.” So Isḥāq went ahead.

Op. cit. #252.

From the Fruits of Sincerely Seeking Knowledge

It is reported that Ibrāhīm b. Adham – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

Whoever seeks knowledge sincerely, for the servants of Allāh to benefit by and to benefit himself, then being hidden (from fame) is more beloved to him than seeking loftiness. He is the one who becomes more lowly to himself, strives more in worship, fears Allāh more, yearns for Allāh more, and becomes more humble amongst people. He cares not what he has of this dunyā night or day.

Al-Bayhaqī, Shuʿab Al-Īmān article 1653.

How to Look at Yourself and Others

It is reported that Bakr b. ʿAbdillāh Al-Muzanī – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

When you see someone older than you, say: he has preceded me in īmān and righteous actions so he is better than me; and when you see someone younger than you, say: I have preceded him in sinning and disobedience so he is better than me. And when you see your brothers honouring and revering you, say: this is a virtue they have attained; and when you see them falling short (in their treatment of you) say: this is [because of] a sin I committed.

Ibn Al-Jawzī, Ṣifatu Al-Ṣafwah, article 505: Bakr b. ʿAbdillāh Al-Muzanī.

Knowledge is the Good of this Life

It is reported that Abū Al-Dardāˀ – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

There is no good in this life except for one of two men: a man listening carefully, receiving and holding [knowledge]; or someone knowledgeable speaking.

Ibn Ḥibbān, Rawḍatu Al-ʿUqalāʾ 1:42.

The Humble Elite

It is reported that Imām Al-Shāfʿee – Allāh have mercy on him – said, The loftiest in status are those who do not know their own status, and the most virtuous of them are those who do not know their own virtue.

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar ʾAʿlām Al-Nubalāʾ 10:99