Freedom From Humiliation and Illusion: A Step Forward to God

(Ibn Ata’s Words of Wisdom: Part 15)

“The tree of humiliation stems from a seed of neediness. Nothing deceives you as your illusion.

You are free from what you gave up on, and you are a slave to what you are in need of.”

This step of the journey is about freedom; it’s about freeing yourself.

What is the definition of freedom?

In Islam, the definition of freedom is to be free from humiliation, is to be a slave only for Allah Almighty.

One might ask, “How can humiliation be my fault and not the fault of the people who are trying to humiliate me?”

The answer is that my humiliation is my own fault because I am feeling humiliation; it is not about people trying to humiliate me, it is about how I feel.

And if I feel that I am in need of people, that people harm and benefit me, that my providence (rizq from Allah) is in people’s hands… That is the start of them humiliating me and not just working with me.

If you are a person who feels a need of others, you need to differentiate actually between two different needs:

1- The need of the practical help from others. You need somebody to help you in something.

2- The need in your heart that fundamentally you need that person is harming you or benefiting you. And it is only Allah who harms and benefits.

An Illusion

Because if you feel that the people are harming or benefiting you, this is what the sheikh is calling here ‘an illusion’; an illusion that people are benefiting me or harming me; an illusion that people will bring happiness to me or make me sad; and an illusion that people will make me comfortable or uncomfortable…. It’s only Allah who actually does these things in the fundamental sense of that.

Live with Dignity

Therefore, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked us to ask with dignity:

Ask for your needs with dignity.

This is the inspiration behind this word of wisdom. You see a lot in today’s world, unfortunately in the corporate world and corporate culture, where people are kind of enslaved because they work somewhere.

Even though the work relationship is not supposed to be an enslavement relationship, it impacts the heart when people feel that the boss would harm or benefit.

Not just that the boss is a leader who’s trying to direct the work, there is a difference between dealing with your boss as a director or as a leader versus dealing with your boss as the source of your providence (rizq), and the rizq is only from Allah. This is about how your heart feels.

And this is what the sheikh is saying here, in a beautiful way, that if you plant that seed of neediness, it will grow into a tree of humiliation, and then eventually you lose your dignity.

You become humiliated because you didn’t rely on Allah properly and you didn’t see things properly.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught Ibn Abbas, when he was eleven, saying:

Know that if the whole people would like to harm you with something, it’s only Allah who will allow that harm to happen. And if all of them want to benefit you with something, know that it’s only Allah who benefits and harms.


And this is real freedom. When you know that it’s only Allah who benefits and harms; it’s only Allah who gives providence and takes it away, then you are into the step of freedom.

Yes you work in structures and companies and so forth, but you are free because Allah is the one who provides and He is the one who harms and benefits.

We ask Allah to give us that feeling of freedom in our heart.

A Journey to God (Folder)


About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.