Tawadhu meaning Reality of Modesty sense in heart

The Reality of Modesty (Reproduced with thanks from Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah (

"Tawadhu'" is an Arabic word. It means that one should consider oneself to be inferior. It is, however, not (modesty) to claim it (modesty) only verbally. It has become a fashion nowadays to call oneself meanest, worthless, Guilty or sinner. They are under the impression that by using these words the quality of modesty is acquired. It should be noted that it is not modesty to call oneself modest. The real modesty is to feel and realize in the heart that one is modest. One should feel that one has no importance and if one has done anything good, it was due to Allah's help and mercy without which one could do nothing. This is the reality of modesty. If this true modesty has been attained it does not matter whether or not one calls oneself mean, worthless or good for nothing. Allah raises him in rank who acquires modesty in the true sense as pointed out above.

There are respected saints and learned men from whom we learn Deen (Faith) and virtuous acts. If we read their biographies we will know that they considered themselves the lowest of all. I have heard this statement of Maulana Ashraft Ali Thanawi rahmatullah alayh from many of my saintly elders:-
It is my behaviour that I regard every Muslim superior to me, because he is a believer in his existing state; and I regard every non-Muslim superior to me, because there is always a possibility of his becoming by the grace of Allah, a believer any time in the future and he may become a better Muslim than I.
Once Hazrat Maulana Khan Muhammad Sahib rahmatullah alayh , a favourite Khalifah of Hazrat Thanawi rahmatullah alayh said to Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Hasan Sahib rahmatullah alayh  he felt that he was inferior to all these present in the assembly of Hazrat Thanawi rahmatullah alayh . Hearing this Hazrat Mufti Sahib rahmatullah alayh  said that he too had the same feeling about himself. They both decided to submit this matter to Hazrat Thanawi rahmatullah alayh  to know whether this was a good or a bad situation for them. Hearing this experience, Hazrat Thanawi rahmatullah alayh  told them that there was nothing wrong in it' and said that when he sat in the assemblies he also felt likewise that all the members present there were superior to him.
This is the reality of modesty. When this sense of modesty overpowers a man he feels that he is inferior even to animals, what to say of men.

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