Reflection No. 205 on Q 23: 1 – 2 – Humility in Salāt

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ* الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلاَتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ
Qad aflaHal-mu’minūnal-ladhīna hum fī salātihim khāshi‘ūn
Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers
(Sūratul Mu’minūn, No. 23, Āyāt 1 &  2)

Everyone wants to be successful. But the criteria for success may differ from person to person. Moreover, whatever brings success in this world is short-lived and fleeting. It is susceptible to change. Success in the Hereafter however is not tinged with such transience. Those who attain happiness there will be able to retain the happiness forever. Thus true success is that which is achieved in the Hereafter.

Almighty Allah in this passage describes the qualities of truly successful believers. Their first quality is that they are humble when talking to God. Humbleness is an inner state of meekness when in the presence of a Great and powerful being. This inner state is manifested in the actions and movements of the body.

What exactly is meant by humility? It is a keen awareness of one’s own lowliness, and the Magnificence of the Almighty. It means being conscious of the sins that have been committed. It includes being overcome at times with the thought of the servant who possesses nothing, standing at the door of the One who is the Master of everything, and being allowed in to have a personal conversation with Him. Imam al-Sādiq (a) says: Humility means you are satisfied with sitting in a lowly position in a gathering, say ‘Salam’ to everybody you encounter, do not argue with anybody even though you are right, and do not desire to find fame through your piety (Jāmi‘us Sa‘ādāt, 2:356.)

Humility is the key to saying Salāt as it ought to be said. A person with humility prays in a calm and slow manner. He is tranquil in Salāt, feeling ashamed yet full of hope in and love for Allah. The infallible Imams, as we know from their life-styles (sīrah), used to say their prayers in utmost humility. Recite this verse often to remind yourself of the humbleness required in your daily prayers. To work your way towards success, that is the first quality you must attain.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne
“Humility in the Conduct of Great Scholars” by Maryam Banu – Message of Thaqalayn, Volume 14, Number 4, Winter 1435