Zikr-e-Habib: Paragon of humility and unpretentious simplicity


This series, Zikr-e-Habib, explores the life of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, and his sayings, shedding light on his noble character and the impact of his teachings on his followers and the world at large.

M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
The residence of the Promised Messiahas

In our journey through life, worldly titles and positions are like fleeting shadows. No matter how high one’s position in the material world is, it is a temporary station, as every mortal is destined to leave this earthly stage. The spiritual realm, on the other hand, offers lasting significance and sheds light on the true value of life, which lies not in the temporary honours and privileges of this world but is something beyond corporal limitations.

As far as spiritual ranks are concerned, prophethood is the highest station granted by Allah to His chosen ones. The messengers of God are entrusted with the most challenging responsibilities of guiding mankind in every aspect of this life to helping them attain divine grace in the next.

Despite being blessed with the greatest spiritual position attainable by man in this world, prophets of Allah the Almighty are paragons of humility, displaying meekness and modesty at the highest levels. Their closeness to Allah the Almighty does not yield arrogance or pride but rather begets humility.

One of the tasks of prophets is to purify humanity from vain passions of arrogance and pride. They seek to establish a simple and humble atmosphere, devoid of selfishness and pretence. To achieve this goal, God’s messengers continuously guide mankind through their wise words and humble actions.

In the Holy Quran, Hazrat Luqman advises his son in the following words:

وَلَا تُصَعِّرۡ خَدَّکَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمۡشِ فِي الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَحًا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا يُحِبُّ کُلَّ مُخۡتَالٍ فَخُوۡرٍ

“And turn not thy cheek away from men in pride nor walk in the earth haughtily. Surely, Allah loves not any arrogant boaster.” (Surah Luqman, Ch.31: V.19)

The Holy Prophetsa said:

لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ کَانَ فِي قَلْبِہِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ  مِنْ کِبْرٍ

“One who possesses even an atom’s weight of arrogance within their heart shall not enter Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, Hadith 91a)

Explaining as to what is arrogance and pride, Prophet Muhammadsa went on to say:

الْکِبْرُ بَطَرُ الْحَقِّ وَغَمْطُ النَّاسِ

“Arrogance is refusing to accept the truth [out of self-conceit] and belittling people.” (Ibid.)

The unpretentious and simple life of the Imam of this age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, who was sent by God Almighty as the spiritual reflection of the Holy Prophetsa to reform the people of the latter days, bears witness to the fact that humility always prevails. Prophet Ahmadas showed through his personal examples that by humbling oneself for the sake of Allah the Almighty, one can attain divine rewards and blessings beyond the scope of human imagination. A clear manifestation of this phenomenon can be found in the following incident:

“Maulvi Abu Saeed Muhammad Husain of Batala, who had at one time been my [Prophet Ahmad’sas] fellow student, came back to Batala after completing his religious studies. The people of Batala looked askance at him on account of some of his notions and ideas.

“One person was very insistent that my humble self should debate a controversial point with Maulvi Muhammad Husain. Yielding to his insistence, I accompanied this man in the evening to the home of Maulvi Muhammad Husain and found him in the company of his father in the mosque. To summarise, upon hearing the explanation of the respected Maulavi [Muhammad Husain], this humblest one concluded that there was nothing unfair and objectionable in his statement; consequently, the debate with him was abandoned for the sake of Allah.

“At night, the Benevolent God addressed me in His revelation and discourse in reference to the same abandonment of the debate and said:

تيرا خدا تيرے اس فعل سے راضي ہوا اور وہ تجھے بہت برکت دے گا۔ يہاں تک کہ بادشاہ تيرے کپڑوں سے برکت ڈھونڈيں گے۔

“‘Your God is well-pleased with what you have done, and He will bless you greatly, so much so that kings will seek blessings from your garments.’ Thereafter, those kings, riding upon horses, were shown in a state of vision.

“Since the attitude of humility and lowliness was adopted purely for the sake of God and His Messenger, Allah, the Perfect Benefactor, did not desire to leave it unrewarded. فتدبّروا و تفکّروا [‘So reflect and ponder’].” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya [English], Part 4, pp. 399-400)

Referring to the above incident, Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra says:

“The party who had brought him [i.e., Prophet Ahmadas] was naturally upset and felt humiliated. So, he became an object of ridicule to both parties.

“But such was Ahmad’sas love of truth and honesty that he did not care for anything that friends or foes might say. He looked on things as they were in themselves, not through the dim spectacles of vulgar estimation. He suffered every humility and indignity with a cheerful countenance.

“It is not every debater that can behave in like manner. People generally seek popular applause. It is only a man of sterling character who has the courage to speak the truth, even when it is unpopular. So, God was immensely pleased with Ahmadas. The strength of character that he showed in such circumstances did great credit to him.” (Life of Ahmadas, p. 55)

Humility in response to abuse

Prophet Ahmad’sas remarkable patience and humility in the face of verbal abuse is demonstrated by a notable incident in Lahore. While having a discussion with a Hindu religious scholar, the Promised Messiahas was subjected to offensive remarks from another Hindu speaker. The Hindu scholar tried to stop his coreligionist, but Prophet Ahmadas remained calm, gesturing for the verbal assault to continue despite the incivility. Prophet “Ahmad[as] listened silently with his hand over his mouth. Sometimes he would put the end of his turban in his mouth, and finally, his accuser fell silent. Ahmad[as] then said, ‘Brother, if you wish to say more then please carry on.’ But the man rose and went away.” (Ahmad[as], The Guided One, p. 237)

The Hindu scholar was observing the entire situation. Deeply impressed by the humility and self-control of the Promised Messiahas, he said, “We have heard of Christ’s humility. Now I have witnessed the like with my own eyes.”  He added, “It is impossible for such a person not to succeed.” (Ibid.)

Explaining that God Almighty Himself resembled Prophet Ahmad’sas humility with Prophet Jesusas, the Promised Messiahas states:

“It has been revealed to this humble one that, on account of meekness, humility, trust in God, sincerity and the Signs and heavenly light, my humble self resembles the Masih [Jesusas] in his earthly life and that the nature of this humble one and the nature of the Masih resemble greatly as if they are two pieces of the same jewel or two fruits of the same tree. There is such a complete unity between us that the spiritual eye would have little to distinguish between us. There also exists an overt resemblance which is that the Masih [Jesusas] was the follower and servant of the faith of a perfect and high-standing prophet, i.e., Musa [Mosesas] and his gospel is a branch of the Torah, and this humble one is one of the lowly servants of that majestic Prophet, who is the Sayyedur-Rusul [the chief of all prophets] and crown of all the prophets. If they are Hamid, he is Ahmad and if they are Mahmud, he is Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.” (Tadhkirah [English], p. 96)

Unpretentious simplicity

The humility of the Promised Messiahas was unequivocally devoid of pretence and this trait was strikingly evident in his character. This was an attribute that was deeply embedded in his personality and emerged as a ubiquitous feature in a variety of situations.

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra Sialkoti narrates:

“His Holiness, [Prophet Ahmadas] is completely indifferent and unconcerned with decorated homes and fancy dress. By the grace and mercy of God, His Holinessas is of such rank and stature that if he so desired, the bricks in his home could be made of marble and his door rugs could be of silk and satin. However, the house in which he resides is so simple that one who is predisposed to worldly definitions of elegance and refinement would not be happy to stay there for even a moment. […]

“In reality, he himself lives in a very small portion of the house. He lives in his own house as one who stays in a temporary home for travellers; the traveller never entertains the thought that this is his own home.” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 63-64)

Austere clothing

“Moving on to the dress of the Promised Messihas. Pashmina is a very expensive cloth. A materialistic person will go to great lengths and employ exhaustive means to care for it and maintain it, and will mercilessly waste away a substantial amount of time worshipping it. To His Holinessas, however, it has no greater value than a useless cloth. By closing the buttons on his waistcoat into lower holes, eventually, all of the buttons break off. One day, he said with an air of wonder, ‘It is no easy task to reattach a button. My buttons seem to fall off quickly.’ Then he said, ‘In truth, doing one’s buttons is a great waste of time.’ […]

“In short, the Promised Messiahas is not captivated by fine clothing. There is no doubt that a materialistic person who is unaware of the actual truth may apparently see the Promised Messiahas in elegant dress and thus fail to reach the depth of the matter and may wellnigh consider – judging by his own state of affairs – that His Holinessas was interested in exquisite clothing. However, those who sit with him day and night know well his lack of interest in this respect. One day he said, ‘I would wear clothes which were cut and tailored at home, but now by the will of God, people bring clothes for me. Allah Almighty knows well that I do not consider these clothes to be any different from what I would wear before.’” (Ibid., pp. 64-66)

Inclusive humility

Generally, it is observed that people often behave humbly towards their elders and relatives, but the true measure of a man is how they treat their servants or subordinates. Apart from other interactions, such instances occurred many times in Prophet Ahmad’sas life, but his humble character always rose to the occasion. His friends and foes alike testify to this fact that the humility of the Promised Messiahas never wavered or faltered in any given situation.

Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra relates:

“Around 1896-97, I went to Qadian from Lahore, and my mother, who had come from Bhera to take bai‘at of the Promised Messiahas, was also with me. During this visit, she pledged allegiance to the Promised Messiahas.

“When we were about to start our return journey, the Promised Messiahas accompanied us to the place where we were to embark on the horse-drawn carriage. He ordered food for us to take on the journey. The workers of Langar Khana [i.e., public kitchen established by Prophet Ahmadas] did not wrap the food in a cloth, so the Promised Messiahas tore a three feet long piece of his turban, tied the bread and food in it, and gave it to us.” (Zikr-e-Habib by Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra, pp. 35-36)

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra states:

“The nature of His Holiness, [Prophet Ahmadas] is filled with such humility and modesty, and is so self-effacing that no greater example can be seen. He sits on the ground, while others sit on the rug or above him. The blessed heart of the Promised Messiahas does not even perceive such things.

“Some four years ago, the members of his household had gone to Ludhiana. It was the month of June and the house had been newly built. In the afternoon, I lay down on a traditional Indian-style bedstead (charpoy) that was present there at the time. His Holinessas was pacing back and forth. When I woke up, the Promised Messiahas was lying on the ground below my charpoy. I stood up out of respect. The Promised Messiahas very affectionately asked, ‘Why have you stood up?’ I said, ‘When you are lying on the ground, how can I sleep on the charpoy.’ The Promised Messiahas smiled and said, ‘I was standing on guard for you. The boys would make noise and I would stop them so that your sleep would not be disturbed.’” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 64-67)

Humble gatherings

“At the Mubarak Mosque, there is no formal seat for the Promised Messiahas. A stranger is unable to recognise the Promised Messiahas by any physical means of distinction. The Promised Messiahas always sits in the right-hand corner of the mosque when sitting in the row for Prayer all by himself, as one who swims in the river of contemplation, calm and collected. I often sit in the mehrab [niche] of the mosque, and for this reason, I am usually right in front of the main entrance.

“Many a time, strangers who are brimming uncontrollably with ardour come straight to me, and then they either realise their mistake by themselves or someone from among those present in the mosque directs them to the man who is truly worthy of their attention.

“The gatherings of His Holinessas are characterised by grandeur and dignity, along with openness and informality, all at the same time. Every one of his humble followers feels that His Holinessas loves them the most, and everyone will say whatever their heart desires to him freely. Even if someone goes on for hours with their own story, no matter how meaningless it may be, the Promised Messiahas will continue to listen with full attention. Often in accordance with their own limited strength of heart and patience, the audience will grow weary and begin to stretch and yawn, but His Holinessas will not show by any action whatsoever – not even for a moment – any signs of fatigue. […]

“The gatherings of His Holinessas are coloured in the hue of prophethood, may peace and blessings be upon the Prophet of Islam.” (Ibid., pp. 67-69)

Against arrogance

Prophet Ahmadas said:

“A great number of weaknesses lie dormant in man, but the basest weakness is arrogance. No one would have been a non-believer if there had been no arrogance. Therefore, make yourself humble of heart and serve your fellow beings with love.” (Tadhkiratush-Shahadatain, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 63)

The Promised Messiahas said:

“A person cannot attain divine love and pleasure of Allah the Almighty unless these two attributes are present in him:

“Firstly, one should shun arrogance. Just as a towering mountain with its head held high falls to the ground, so a man should remove all thoughts of arrogance and evil and adopt humility and modesty.

“Secondly, one should cut off all [maleficent] ties. As a mountain breaks down and rents asunder or a brick is separated from another brick, so all their relations which give way to filth and divine displeasure should be cut off.” (Zikr-e-Habib, p. 207)

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra Sialkoti narrates:

“There was once an occasion when an individual came to our mosque who was infatuated and accustomed to ascetics and the custodians of shrines seen in the world today. The man was surprised to see the people conversing with His Holinessas so freely and said to him, ‘There is a lack of respect in your mosque, people speak to you without fear.’ His Holiness, [the Promised Messiahas] responded:

“‘It is not my practice to sit in a fierce and frightful manner so that people should fear me as they are terrified of a carnivorous beast. I extremely detest the idea of sitting like an idol. I have come to abolish idol worship, not so that I should become an idol myself and people worship me. Allah the Exalted knows well that I do not give myself preference over others even in the slightest. In my opinion, there is no worse an idol worshipper and no one more wicked than an arrogant person. An arrogant person does not worship any God at all; in fact, he only worships himself.’” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 69-70)


When exercised on appropriate occasions, humility becomes a powerful tool for bridging gaps, enabling peaceful exchange of views, and fostering mutual respect. However, while striving for justice, addressing a wrongdoing, voicing the truth, etc., one should always balance between humility and assertiveness, as Prophet Ahmadas says, “The Quran does not advise that one should remain meek in every circumstance, nor to refrain from confronting evil. Rather, it teaches that forbearance, humility, meekness and passivity are all meritorious, but not when exercised inappropriately. All good deeds ought to be performed with an appreciation of appropriate time and circumstance.” (Noah’s Ark, p. 71)

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