According to Psychology Today, embarrassment is something we bring upon ourselves, while “humiliation is something that is brought upon us by others.” Being ignored, overlooked, rejected, abused, betrayed, and abandoned – all of these can lead to humiliation. Unfortunately, as adolescents and young adults, these are things we experience every day.  


For youth, social humiliation can be a source of anguish. We are surrounded by humiliating situations just waiting to happen. As painful and as disliked as humiliation might be, it is a part of our lives and we will inevitably experience it in one way or another. The one precaution we can take is to know how to deal with humiliation. The way we will learn how to do this is by observing the lives of those who were humiliated the most: the prophets.1  


Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) are all prophets we look to as role models who achieved greatness and pleased Allah. Yet, when we look at their lives, we find instances where their own people humiliated them. From these stories, we learn our first lesson about humiliation: Your status amongst people does not determine your worth. This means that what people think of you does not define how valuable you truly are. 


What made these prophets special was their perseverance. It was the way they strove towards pleasing Allah, the patience they held when things became difficult. It was their submission and humility towards the commands of Allah. Here, we learn our second lesson: Your actions and accomplishments determine your worth. In other words, the goals you achieve by your own hard work with the help of Allah are determinants of your value. 


Nuh was called ‘crazy’ by his people for building a ship in a place where there was no water. Ibrahim was told to stop preaching, or else his own father would stone him to death. Musa was repeatedly disobeyed by his people even after he had saved them from a tyrannical leader and guided them to the truth. And finally, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was ridiculed by his people over and over again. He was accused of being a liar, a sorcerer, and a madman. He was plotted against, his family was hurt, and they were slandered and shamed by people who did not even know them.3  


Humiliation makes us realize how truly alone we are in this world. It rids us of the shackles of having to serve society and meet the status quo. These stories help us realize that we cannot handle our problems alone and are not self-sufficient. So what do we do now with this realization? Do we let go? Stop trying? Give up?  


No, absolutely not! We turn towards the One who is Self-Sufficient, All Powerful, All Seeing, All Hearing, and All Knowing. We open our hearts in front of the One who understands our pain and suffering when no one else acknowledges its existence. We learn to rely on Our Creator for our happiness and success, and not His creation 一 just as the prophets did.  


When we realize that our success or failure only depends on Allah, we need not go elsewhere asking others for forgiveness or seeking approval. We simply raise our hands to the One who created us and ask Him to forgive us, and to give us the strength to forgive ourselves.  

That is the benefit of being humiliated, and what a great benefit it is, indeed. Alhamdulillah*. 


*(Praise God)  

Once a man asked the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “O Messenger of Allah! Which of the people is tried most severely?” He replied, “The Prophets, then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them.” [Tirmidhi 2398] 

For more information on the stories of these prophets, please refer to Mufti Ismail Menk’s Youtube lecture series, “Stories of the Prophets”  

For more information on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, please refer to Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s Youtube lecture series, “Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (S)”  

About The Author

Writer & Editor for MY Voice; studying Translation at York University; Al Huda TQE graduate; avid knowledge-seeker & languages-lover.

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