Words such as manners, etiquette and honour can be used to explain self-respect. Someone who has self-respect aims to avoid every utterance and action that may bring his self-respect into disrepute. Such a person does not allow his honour and self-respect to be tarnished during difficult times, let alone during times of ease. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘لَایَنْبَغِیْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ اَنْ یُّذِلَّ نَفْسَهٗ.’ Translation: ‘It is not permissible for a believer to humiliate himself.’ (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 112, Hadees 2261)
In the case of some people, you can observe them carefully, but you will still not find a trace of self-respect. They end up saying or doing things that completely blemish their honour and self-respect. To make matters worse, they consider such statements or actions a skill and accomplishment. Scrounging is from amongst those things which are contrary to self-respect.
Some habits that are contrary to self-respect
Despite having the ability to buy things for themselves, some people have the habit of asking others. Some examples are presented below:
1. Every other day, asking the neighbours for matches, teabags, sugar, etc.
2. Despite having money, not topping up a phone and asking for someone else’s mobile to make a call instead.
3. Not buying a pen despite needing it on a regular basis and asking others for theirs instead.
4. Not buying your own conveyance (motorbike, etc.) despite having the means, or asking others for a lift despite being able to travel on the bus.
5. Not taking adequate provisions on a journey, and instead, asking others for things throughout the journey.
6. Continuously using someone else’s charger.
Three disliked acts
Remember that Allah Almighty does not like this habit of constantly asking others for things. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘Indeed, Allah Almighty has disliked three things for you:
1. Useless talk.
2. Wasting wealth.
3. Constantly asking [others].’ (Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 498, Hadees 1477)
Guarantee of paradise
Just as criticism has been mentioned for constantly asking others, so too has praise been mentioned for not asking. It is narrated from Sayyiduna Sawban رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ that the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘Whoever accepts one thing from me, I guarantee Paradise for him.’ Sayyiduna Sawban رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ replied, ‘I accept it.’ The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘Do not ask others for anything.’ Thereafter, Sayyiduna Sawban رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ never asked anyone for anything. [This was to an extent that] When his whip would fall whilst riding, he would not say to anyone, ‘Pass it to me,’ rather he would dismount and get it himself. (Ibn-e-Majah, vol. 2, p. 401, Hadees 1837)
An increase in respect
Remaining independent of other people’s belongings and not asking them for anything increases one’s self-respect and brings about admiration from others. [In this regard] Note two sayings of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم:
عِزُّ الْمُوْمِنِ اِسْتِغْنَاؤُہٗ عَنِ النَّاسِ
Translation: ‘The respect of a believer is in him being independent of people.’ (Shu’ab-ul-Iman, vol. 3, p. 171, Hadees 3248)
2. ‘Become disinterested in the world, and Allah will love you. Become disinterested in the wealth of others, and people will love you.’ (Ibn-e-Majah, vol. 4, p. 422, Hadees 4102)
The Prophet’s Du’a
The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would make Du’a to His Lord for remaining independent of people. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would say: ‘اَللّٰهُمَّ اِنّی أَسْأَلُكَ الْهُدٰی والتُّقٰی وَالعَفَافَ والْغِنٰی’. Translation: ‘O Allah! I ask you for guidance, piety, chastity and independence [from people].’ (Muslim, p. 1117, Hadees 2721)
In relation to the word ‘غِنٰی’ (independence) in the Hadees, Sayyiduna Imam Abu Zakariyya Yahya Bin Sharaf-ud-Deen Al-Nawawi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes: ‘This refers to the heart being disinterested. In addition to being independent of people, it refers to being disinterested in what they possess.’ (Sharh Al-Nawawi, Ala Muslim, vol. 17, p. 41)
The self-respect of the Imam of Ahl-us-Sunnah
Once, A’la Hadrat, Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said to Jahangheer Khan Sahib Qaadiri Razavi, who used to sell oil, that he required a canister of oil. Hence, Jahangheer Sahib brought one to him, and Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه asked its price. Revealing its price at the time, Jahangheer Sahib said that it’s usually such and such amount but requested the Imam to reduce it and give him such and such amount instead. Responding to him, A’la Hadrat رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said: ‘Charge me the same amount that you charge everyone else.’ The latter replied: ‘Your honour, no! You are an honourable person to me, and you are a scholar, so how can I charge you the normal price?’ A’la Hadrat رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said, ‘I do not sell knowledge,’ and he went on to pay the normal price. (Hayat-e-A’la Hadrat, vol. 1, p. 172, summarised)
Dear Islamic brothers, you read how a follower of A’la Hadrat رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه asked for a lower price to be paid, but the Imam still paid the full amount lest he become the recipient of a favour done by the seller. We learn from this incident that even if the seller of an item is our relative, friend, follower, student or anyone else, we should pay the full amount for the item. This way, one’s self-respect remains intact, and you also avoid being indebted to anyone. Remember that there is a difference between bargaining at the time of buying an item and for someone to reduce the price due to your status or relationship.
A method of becoming pious
Just as ‘Allamah Abu Bilal Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qaadiri Razavi دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ has guided us on many religious and worldly issues, so too has he guided us on adopting self-respect. Of the various pointers issued for Islamic brothers to become pious, there is the following point: ‘Today, did you avoid asking others to borrow their items (e.g. slippers, shawl, mobile, charger, car, etc.)? (Get rid of the habit of asking others for their items. Mark your items of necessity and keep them safe with you.)’
My request to all devotees of the Prophet
Self-respect prevents us from asking others. It increases our respect and saves us from being dependent on others. It boosts our morale and stops us from falling into the bad habit of begging. Self-respect averts our attention from the creation and directs it towards the Creator. Given all the positive effects of self-respect, we should definitely attempt to adopt this characteristic.
May Allah Almighty give us the ability to do so.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم