Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Allahu Akbar And The Spirit Of Modesty
Superiority complex is present in everyone, in varying degrees. This gives one courage and confidence. If a person has no ego, he will be deprived of self-confidence and in the absence of self-confidence no one can perform any great task. But it is necessary that one’s feelings of self-confidence or superiority complex should be bound by limitations, that is, it should be reined in by the feeling of modesty.
In the absence of such pressure, a person will lose his utility and his viability in social life. He will suffer from ahankar, excessive pride. And without doubt, there is nothing more destructive than excessive pride in this world.
There are two things in this world which make a person modest. One is a scientific bent of mind, the other, is his being God-fearing. A scientific bent of mind results from the realisation of knowledge. And a God-fearing mind is the result of the discovery and realisation of God.
But one who has a scientific bent of mind in the real sense, sees himself and his issues in relation to knowledge rather than in relation to the person who has knowledge.
A person can be limited, but knowledge is unlimited. In relation to the person who has knowledge, one can think of oneself as greater than others but in relation to the vaster world of knowledge, everyone is less in stature. This feeling naturally produces modesty in a scientific or learned person.
Similarly, one who has fear of God will see his affairs in relation to God, the Almighty. When one sees oneself in relation to God, everyone becomes small, in relation to God. No one is great. In this way the belief of a God-fearing man makes him a balanced person. The spirit of Islam may be called the Allahu Akbar spirit. The expression Allahu Akbar is repeated several times during prayer, called namaz.
Allahu Akbar means God is great. It implies that ‘I am not great’. In this way, every day, all believers refresh their minds repeatedly with the idea that greatness pertains only to God: there is no greatness for them. Congregational prayer is a practical demonstration of this reality. In congregational prayer, all believers make one person a prayer leader and the rest stand behind him. This is a social form of expression of the Allahu Akbar spirit.
The purpose of saying Allahu Akbar is to develop the spirit of modesty. When the spirit of modesty develops in a person in the real sense, it does not stop at any point: just as this spirit manifests itself before God during prayer, it manifests itself in like manner in relation to other human beings. The spirit of modesty, becomes part and parcel of his everyday life.
Those who are imbued with this spirit will never display egoism or pride. They will never distance themselves from others on minor provocations. Working under others will appear to them as an act of worship. Their spirit will find happiness in surrender and modesty rather than in making others surrender to them. They will accept their mistakes. They will be totally free from any desire for leadership.