Humility: A Virtue for Clear Thinking

by Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Mohamedarif-Mohamed-Suleman Mohamedarif Mohamed Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) is a digital marketing specialist and an Educator-cum-Trainer. He has involved himself in community organisations and matters from a young age, and through his writings, continues to speak of social and cultural reform to this day. He is also the founding moderator of this forum.

Positive traits:

Many times, humility is seen incorrectly as a sign of fragility, low self-worth, or insecurity. In reality, humility is a virtue that can improve our ability to reason, learn, and behave morally. Being humble means appreciating our accomplishments, acknowledging our shortcomings, and respecting the opinions of others.

Humility is not a new idea. It has been valued by many ancient and modern ethical and philosophical traditions. Let us explore how humility can benefit us in our intellectual and moral pursuits, drawing on some examples from Islamic ethics and ancient philosophy.

One of the benefits of humility is that it can make us more open-minded and curious. Humility allows us to admit that we don’t know everything, that we can make mistakes, and that we can learn from others. Humility also helps us to avoid arrogance, dogmatism, and prejudice, which can cloud our judgment and prevent us from seeing the truth.

A great example of intellectual humility is the Greek philosopher Socrates, who famously claimed that he knew nothing. Socrates used his humility as a tool to question his own and others’ assumptions, to expose contradictions and inconsistencies, and to seek wisdom and knowledge. Socrates believed that humility was the first step to becoming a philosopher, and a lover of wisdom.

Another benefit of humility is that it can make us more compassionate and generous. Humility enables us to acknowledge that we are not superior or inferior to others, that we share a common humanity, and that we depend on each other. Humility also inspires us to be grateful for what we have, to be content with what we need, and to be helpful to those who are in need.

A great example of moral humility is the Islamic virtue of khushu, which means humility, modesty, and reverence. Khushu is one of the qualities of a true believer, who is humble before God and before people. Khushu is manifested in the way a Muslim performs the ritual prayer, with concentration, devotion, and submission. Khushu is also reflected in the way a Muslim behaves in society, with kindness, justice, and generosity.

Being humble is a strength rather than a weakness. It is an acknowledgement of our position rather than a rejection of our value. It is a source of wisdom rather than a sign of insecurity. We can learn more efficiently, act more morally, and think more clearly when we are humble. Thinking requires the virtue of humility.

Sadly, this is a waning skill and art, something we need to look at again, and start imparting all over again.

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