An Overlooked Virtue

A Google search for “improving confidence” comes up with about 211,000,000 results; a search for “improving humility” just 597,000 results.


Many of us are involved in Muslim organizations. We’re always hearing of the great work being done, swapping out titles on profiles, name dropping in conversations and pulling on strings for favours. The thing is, the work is actually great, and we do get to know some really great people – the comments we hear generally have merit. But in a culture that requires us to constantly prove ourselves through achievements and involvements, how do we remember that from a certain perspective, these comments are baseless?

As a friend of mine recently put it, humility is “… essentially recognizing that everyone, regardless of who they are, can offer you something [you don’t already have].”

We’ve all seen an absence of humility firsthand: message boards full of ‘first google result’ knowledge; the dismissal of ‘simple’ reminders we’ve ‘all heard before’; making ourselves exceptions of the same standards we hold others to…

Since it seems like such an intangible concept, counteracting all this seems to be mostly talk, but many respected scholars of our communities have shared practical knowledge on humbling ourselves through our actions. Undertaking the most menial tasks and being at peace with them; appreciating the wisdom of basic teachings; speaking quietly and briefly; to be willing to learn from everyone around you; all simple manifestations of humility.

There is an inherent irony in writing about a topic like humility; it brings the implication that I have knowledge on how to address the topic – definitely not the case. As is oft (and quite aptly) repeated by our teachers, this is a reminder to myself first and foremost.


Scott Young summarizes, “Confidence without skill is nothing. Skill without humility is stagnant. Skill with humility creates confidence.”



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ISNA Canada is an Islamic organization committed to the mission and movement of Islam: nurturing a way of life in the light of the guidance from the Qur’an and Sunnah for establishing a vibrant presence of Muslims in Canada. ISNA exists as a platform for all Muslims who share its mission and are dedicated to serving the needs of Muslims and Muslim communities.