I would not care if my name would become rubbed out of the soul of the earth.
I would not care if the world would move along forgetting me.
How could I define humility as it is a virtue that does not tell about itself. Thus, it does not speak. It does not have an ‘I’. [However,] its existence speaks and creates worlds in the souls. It cries since it is wounded as it is the victim of injustice. It does not admit glory for itself. It is intoxicated by divine beauty, which hides it. It sees only that beauty without seeing itself within it, since, like Mary, it has fallen into utter oblivion. Hiddenness has dwelt in it. [Nevertheless,] no one eradicated it. No one could do that.
People come to God through the gate of humility. It is thrilled by them all. It sees them as figures of light and it is unconscious that it reflects them. They pass through it and it does not stop them, and whenever they pause, they marvel its sublimity. Then [God] their Lord recognizes them and assumes that they are aiming at God. God carries them to the glory, since they have passed beside it, they have perceived the marvelous, they have dwelt in the marvelous’ poetry and played on the marvelous’ harp, as the angels have envied them and have kept silence. Did they ascend to heaven or heaven has descended? The Compassionate [God] has made this excellence, among the virtues of your Lord, a throne and [God] has sat [became on the same level] on it. Whatever you have in your world is nothing if humility does not shine on a surface that God has chosen it for its radiance. Whenever science disappears transfiguration becomes essential. Transfiguration becomes the utterance, or the language between a glory and another. Those who attain this language will dwell in the coming age, in which God will condemn those arrogant ones, who thought of themselves as gods and thus they died since they have not known that the Lord is God and that they are to fall into oblivion.
Once, a prince in Balkan had written to the crown prince (and he was going to succeed his father’s rule on the emirate): “Do not desire to become a bishop, an abbot or a prince. Do not desire, since all this is the glory of the world.” Contrary to that, whenever you desire the glory of God you partake in it. Nothing brings this and that together, since either you come from heaven and you conduct the earth through that or you come from the earth and die in it. The people of heaven are buried in earth; however, they are not from the earth. They have ascended.
“Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.” [John 17: 5] When Jesus said this he was on the way to his unjust death. To be subject to injustice is the condition of humility. People are subduers of one another. Few are those who accept injustice and love their subduers. Whenever the mercy of the subdued ones falls upon the subduers they might understand and repent. Thus, we do not attain understanding unless we are loved by someone. And no one loves unless he/[she] hides him/[her]self. Only the one hidden admits the Other. He/[she] admits that the Other, any Other, is better than him/[her]. This is a condition for the spread of humility. This is a condition for the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
When Mary has said, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.” [Luke 1:52], she was referring to those powerful in the earth, whom she had seen magnifying themselves for their things. Belongings are not beings. But whenever God raises the humble ones, God grants them eminence from God, namely that which is not created. And according to our Book [the Bible] God makes them gods, and God knows while they do not know. In this they become deified.
The one raising oneself is unable to reach at God, since God does not love the arrogant ones, thus they blow up from their own exaggeration. However, those who make themselves to the same level of the soil, their Lord will raise them and will sculpture them a new and will appreciate them, while they do not appreciate their own selves, since the essence of their virtue is that know that they do not have any virtue. On this matter Basil had said, “we have not done any good work on earth.” This echoes the words of the Savior: “No one is good but God alone.” [Mark 10: 18] That is why we remain in ignorance of our virtues till the day when “God judges the secrets of men”. [Rom. 2: 16] Then, when God declares the righteousness of those righteous ones, they refer their righteousness to God and are glorified on their own.
The whole thing is that you recognize God as the sole and the only giver, and you humble yourself to God for this knowledge and be thankful. Humility is an admission about the centrality of God, that is to say that God alone becomes the object of your sanctification. Sanctification within you lies in your confession that you are a sinner. That is the beginning of your trust on God, which is a plea for divine giving.
Whatever has been said so far does not invalidate the word of Socrates: “Know yourself”, since you have to know your abilities in order that you might work, contact people and build relationships with them. This is not limited to your rational abilities and your qualification for this or that activity. Civilized life requires competence, sciences and experiences. Thus, the human being should appreciate the talents he/[she] has in order that one does not undertake that for which he/[she] is not prepared, rather commit him/[her]self to the society, of which he/[she] is a member and has his/[her] political deliberation, and maybe commit him/[her]self to the political work. In this, one should not underestimate oneself and should not be inattentive to the development of one’s talents. And in this there is no arrogance.
Where does the merit of humility come in the human being’s awareness of his/[her] scientific and vocational talents? It is possible that a person is great in his/[her] academic or vocational mind and at the same time he/[she] is aware that the Lord is his/[her] help in this. And if he/[she] perceives his/[her] long struggle, it remains that he/[she] should thank God for these natural and vocational talents. We know that it is common among scholars their love of the truth and their acceptance of each other, whenever they disagree theoretically. The Quran had expressed this through the saying: “Of His servants, only the learned fear Allah.” (Fatir [The Originator of Creation], 28)
You might be very brilliant and at the same time poor to God. Whoever denies his/[her] rational or vocational talents and abilities ignores God’s gifts to him/[her]. If you pretend that you have knowledge, while you don’t, or that you are ignorant, while you are not, then this is false humility close to arrogance.
People perceive humility directly and at once. However we should not conceive that the humble person accepts whatever you say, without challenging or discussing with you. He/[she] might be a person of confrontation and struggle to the extent of intellectual contention. Yet, others love him/[her] since they perceive his/[her] honesty and faithfulness to the truth.
To be rubbed out for God does not mean to rub out your intellect in front of another person, regardless whether that was in a social setting or personal life. The beauty of the humble person is that he/[she] accepts the truth from whatever side it came. It does not matter here if there was a strong confrontation and his/her convictions were different than yours. The humble person thinks that whenever truth comes from you, then it is a message from God that reaches him/[her] sometimes through his/[her] opponent. Thus, it must be said that since the humble person asks God for inspiration, he/[she] does not take sides in his/[her] choices; and he/[she] does not have a package of boxed-in thoughts. He/[she] does not live through whatever he/[she] has collected from his/[her] memories or friends. In this sense the humble person is always a new, or a renewed, person. He/[she] encounters you through the dawn, and comes upon you through the light, by which he/[she] has been enlightened, and frees you from the trivialities and prompts you not to puff up, since he[she] dislikes the vanities. The humble person reminds you that your salvation comes from that which is true, in order that you might dwell in it through the blessings. Humility rubs out all the sins of the person.
Whoever opposes boasting and pretention provides with integrity whomever he/[she] befriends with, and whoever inclines to serenity. And God dwells in serenity.
Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi
Original Text: “التواضع” –An Nahar- 26-06-2010Continue reading