COURAGE AND FEAR:
Taken from: Masharai al-Ashwaq Ila Masarai al-Ushaaq – Ibn Nuhaas
216. Abu Hurairah narrated: “The strong believer is more beloved to Allah than the weak believer” (Muslim)
217. The Messenger of Allah used to say: “O Allah I seek refuge in you from gloom and sorrow; from inaction and laziness; and from cowardice, stinginess and old age, and I seek refuge in you from the punishment of the grave” (Bukhari – Muslim)
Notice that the Messenger of Allah combined between seeking refuge in Allah from gloom and sorrow. For gloom is the fear of what is coming while sorrow is sadness on what has already passed. So the Muslim should not feel sorry for the past nor fear the future. And he combined between inaction and laziness for inaction is the state of the heart while laziness is the state of the body. He combined between stinginess and cowardice for stinginess is the unwillingness to give wealth for Allah while cowardice is the unwillingness to give the soul for Allah.
How to overcome fear:
Cowardice is the opposite of courage. Courage is the firmness of the heart. The heart is the essence of every good deed. The heart cannot be firm if the mind isn’t sound. If the heart is weak it leads to cowardice, and if the heart is too strong it leads to recklessness.
The coward needs to cure cowardice by eliminating its cause. If it is caused by ignorance then ignorance is cured by learning. The cause could be fear of the unknown and that is cured by experiencing situations. We find that the beginner in public speaking experiences fear in the beginning but after experience this fear is overcome. We find that when a person first meets a king they might fear the occasion and their tongue would be tied and their posture would change.
That is due to the anxiety of facing a new experience. But if that occasion is repeated many times the fear is eliminated. Original nature can be changed. It is sufficient as proof to see a Hawa child (children trained to care for snakes) grabbing a large snake that would make a brave man tremble while this same child could fear a frog because he is not exposed to frogs. Taming animals is a process of changing their original nature and it is done through training. A wolf could play with a sheep, a cat with a mouse, and a dog with a cat if they are conditioned to do so even though that is contrary to their original nature. Now if animals can change their characteristics can’t humans do the same?
Having a strong heart leads to victory. Ali was asked: “How do you defeat your enemies?” He said: “When I would meet my enemy I would believe with firm conviction that I would defeat him while he believes that I would defeat him so both myself and his self support me against him”.
Some have advised: “Believe in victory, you will be victorious”
Others say: “If you fear your enemy you have allowed an army to be sent against your heart”
We have found that the ones who died because of their fear are more than the ones who died due to their courage.
Al Tartooshi says:
Courage is of three types:
1. A man who stands in front of the army asking for a challenger from the enemy to come out and face him
2. A man who remains calm, concentrating, tranquil while the battle is ragging. And when others are succumbing to fear he has not lost his orientation and is not confused and acts in a way that proves he has control over himself.
3. A man when everyone else is defeated and is retreating remains firm calling them, and encouraging them to continue the fight.
Al Tartooshi says that the third man possesses the greatest form of courage.
The courageous of this Ummah:
The most courageous of all mankind is the Messenger of Allah.
He had the strongest heart of all.
He faced the toughest of situations. Heroes would scatter from around him while he is firm. The Messenger of Allah never turned his back in battle.
218. In Bukhari and Muslim Anas bin Malik narrates: “The Messenger of Allah was the best of people, he was the most generous and the most courageous.”
219. Ali said: “When the ferocity of combat would reach its limit and the eyes would turn red we would seek refuge next to the Messenger of Allah. He would be the closest of us to the enemy.” (Muslim)
220. A man asked al Baraa bin Aazib: “Did you run away during the life of the Messenger of Allah?” He said: “We did. But he didn’t.” (Bukhari – Muslim)
In Uhud Ubayy bin Khalaf, riding his horse, charged towards the Messenger of Allah. Some Muslims wanted to get in the way to protect the Messenger of Allah but he told them to move aside. The Messenger of Allah picked up a spear and threw it at Ubayy who was covered in iron armor from head to toe. Nothing appeared from him except his eyes and a small opening in his neck. The spear hit him right in the neck and he fell off his horse. Even though the spear only caused a minor bruise in his neck due to the protection of the armor, Ubayy rushed back screaming: “Muhammad has killed me!” The people of Quraish checked him and said we don’t find any major injury. You are fine! He said: “Muhammad claimed he would kill me, therefore it must come to happen!” Ubayy latter died on his way back to Makkah.
The courageous of this Ummah are too many to count. On top of the list are the Sahabah whom Allah praised in Quran:
Among the famous brave men of the Ummah are:
1. Abu Bakr:
The courage of Abu Bakr was witnessed by the hero of the Ummah Ali bin Abi Talib. When he was the Khalifah Ali asked: “Who is the bravest of men?” They said: “You are,” He said: “I have never dueled anyone and lost. But the bravest man is Abu Bakr. During the battle of Badr we built a shed for the Messenger of Allah and we asked who would be the bodyguard of the Messenger of Allah therein. Abu Bakr came carrying his sword and defended the Messenger of Allah for the entire day. In Makkah the disbelievers attacked the Messenger of Allah: One would pull him, the other would beat him and they would say: “Have you made the gods one God?” No one dared to go near the Messenger of Allah save Abu Bakr. He went and started fighting them and would say: “Are you going to kill a man just because he says: “Allah is my Lord!”““ Then Ali asked: “Who is better Abu Bakr or the believer of the family of Pharaoh? (His story is mentioned and praised in Quran)” The people remained quite. He said: “Why don’t you answer? In the name of Allah, one moment in the life of Abu Bakr is greater than the entire earth full of the likes of the believer of the family of Pharaoh! The believer of the family of Pharaoh was a man who concealed his faith while Abu Bakr was a man who proclaimed his faith”
Abu Bakr is the bravest man of this Ummah after the Messenger of Allah. One can note the strength of his heart during the battle of Badr, Uhud, the trench, al Hudaybiah, and Hunain. It is enough to note his steadfastness, firmness, and strengthening of the entire Ummah when the greatest disaster of all befell us: The death of Muhammad (saaws). That was when the hearts deviated, and the nation was shaken. When all the hearts where trembling the heart of the Siddeeq was firm. If the heart of Abu Bakr were placed on one side of the scale and the hearts of all the Ummah on the other, his heart would outweigh them all. The courage of Abu Bakr in his
decision to fight the apostates if distributed over the hearts of the cowards on the entire face of the earth, it would be sufficient to make them brave.
2. Umar bin al Khattaab
It is sufficient to point out that the courage of Umar was sufficient enough to make Shaytaan avoid him.
The Messenger of Allah told Umar: “O son of Khattaab: In the name of whom my soul is in His hands whenever Shaytaan sees you taking a route he would take another” (Bukhari – Muslim)
His Islam brought strength to the Muslims. Abdullah bin Masood said: “We used to not be able to pray next to al Kaabah publicly until Umar became Muslim.
3. Ali bin Abi Talib:
He was the lion of this Ummah. He never missed a battle with the Messenger of Allah except Tabook because the Messenger of Allah appointed him over Madinah in his absence. During the battle of Khaibar the Messenger of Allah said: “Tomorrow I will give the banner to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger, and Allah and His Messenger love him. He does not turn his back away in battle and Allah will make opening occur on his hands” All of the Sahabah desired that honor. The next day the Messenger of Allah called Ali and gave him the banner.
Musaab al Zubairi said: “Ali was very cautious in battle. He was swerve terrifically from his enemy and whenever he charges his enemy he would protect all his sides and when he retreats back from his charge he would be even more protective of himself. No one could get to him. His shield was one sided. It only protected him from the front. When asked: “Don’t you fear an attack from behind?” He replied: “I never give my enemy the chance to attack me from my
4. Talhah bin Ubaidillah:
He is one of the ten given the glad tidings of Paradise. During Uhud he shielded the Messenger of Allah with his own body causing over 70 injuries in his body. Whenever the Messenger of Allah wanted to look at the disbelievers Talhah would plead with him not to do so and would shield him with his body.
5. Al Zubair bin al Awwaam:
He is also one of the ten given the glad tidings of Paradise. He was the first Muslim to draw out a sword. During the early days of Islam in Makkah a rumor spread that the Messenger of Allah was kidnapped. Al Zubair drew out his sword and went looking for him. He ran into the Messenger of Allah who asked him: “What’s wrong with you Zubair?” He said: “I heard that you were kidnapped so I came out to fight them!” The Messenger of Allah prayed for him.
6. Saad bin Abi Waqqaas:
He is one of ten given the glad tidings of Paradise. The Messenger of Allah prayed for him: “O Allah make his arrow hit its target and make his prayer accepted” Umar appointed him to lead the army at Qadisiyah. The Muslims won and he continued leading them in Persia until he opened most of it and entered the capital, al Mada’in. Saad is the one who founded the two cities of Kufah and Basra. When he was dying he requested his body be rapped and buried in an old wool cloth. He said this was what I had on during the battle of Badr and I’ve reserved it for this day.
7. Abu Ubaydah bin al Jarraah:
He is one of the ten given the glad tidings of Paradise. Umar appointed him over the army opening al Shaam. He was the leader of the army during the great battle of al Yarmuk. He died in the plague of Amawas in al Shaam.
8. Hamzah bin Abdulmutalib:
He is the lion of Allah and his Messenger. After the battle of Badr Umayyah bin Khalaf who was captured asked AbdulRahman bin Awf: “Who was the man in your army marked with an ostrich feather on his chest?” AbdulRahman said: “That is Hamzah” Umayyah said: “He is the one who brought ruin to us!” He was killed during the battle of Uhud.
9. Jaafar bin Abi Talib:
He was ten years older than his brother Ali. He was the second leader in line at the battle of Mu’tah. When he took over after Zaid he carried the banner with his right hand which was cut off so he carried it with his left hand, which was in turn also cut off so he embraced the banner and continued fighting until he fell. They found in the front of his body over 90 injuries.
10. Muadh bin Amr bin al Jamooh:
He was the slayer of the Pharaoh of this Ummah Abu Jahl.
He said: I made Abu Jahl my target on the day of Badr. When I found him I charged at him and struck him with my sword and cut his leg in two. Then his son Ikrimah hit me on my shoulder until he cut off my arm. It only remained hanging to my body by the skin of my side. But
because fighting distracted me I remained dragging it behind me for most of the day. When it annoyed me I placed my foot over it and pulled it off.
11. Al Baraa bin Malik:
He is the brother of Anas bin Malik the servant of the Messenger of Allah. He was one of heroes of this Ummah.
Anas bin Malik heard his brother al Baraa humming poetry so he told him: “O my brother you are humming poetry? What if this is the last thing you speak?” [When Quran was revealed the Sahabah disliked reciting anything but Quran. Anas was warning his brother and saying that if you die this moment and the last words you spoke were lines of poetry, how would you face Allah? In another narration he told him to rather remember Allah] Al Baraa said: “No! A man like me won’t die on his bed. I’ve killed ninety nine of the nonbelievers and hypocrites!”
(Mussanaf ibn Abu Shaybah)
Umar wrote to his military generals to never allow al Baraa to hold any position of leadership in the Muslim armies. The reason: Umar said he is too hazardous for the Muslims! (Al Hakim)
During the battle against the forces of Musaylamah the liar, he sat on a shield and asked the Muslims to carry the shield on their spears and throw him over the walls of the enemy in order to open the gates! He did open the gates but after he received over 80 injuries. (Al Isabah) On the day of the battle of Tastur the Muslims asked al Baraa to make an oath to give them victory. Al Baraa said: “O Allah! I make an oath that you hand us over their shoulders (give us victory) and to make me follow your prophet (to die)” He charged the enemy and the Muslims followed him. The Persians lost, and al Baraa was martyred. Allah fulfilled his oath.
Anas narrated: When Abu Musa was appointed governor over al Basra he told al Baraa to choose any position of leadership in his government and he will be appointed to it. Al Baraa said: “I don’t want any. Rather I want you to hand me over my bow, horse, spear, sword, and shield and then sent me to jihad. He sent him in an army. Al Baraa was the first to die” (Ibn Abu Shaybah)
12. Sammaak bin Kharshah (Abu Dujaanah):
Before the battle of Uhud started the Messenger of Allah held a sword in his hand and said: “Who would fight with this sword and give it its due right?”
Some men stood up and offered to take it but the Messenger of Allah didn’t give it to them. And then Abu Dujaanah stood up and said: “O Messenger of Allah what is its due right?” He said: “That you strike with it the faces of the enemy until it bents!” Abu Dujaanah said: “I will take it O Messenger of Allah” and he gave it to him. Al Zubair bin al Awwaam said: “I felt saddened that I, the cousin of the Messenger of Allah, would ask for the sword and would not get it but Abu Dujaanah would. So I decided to follow Abu Dujaanah and see what he would do with it.
Abu Dujaanah pulled out a red bandanna and tied it around his head. The Ansar said: Abu Dujaanah has pulled out his bandanna of death! He then attacked enemy and whenever he would face anyone he would kill him!”
Before the battle he marched with pride before the enemy. The Messenger of Allah said: “This is a walk despised by Allah except in this situation”
During the battle of al Yamamah he threw himself over the wall surrounding the city and broke his leg. He continued fighting with a broken leg until he was martyred.
13. Khalid bin al Waleed:
He is the drawn sword of Allah. As soon as he became Muslim the Messenger of Allah was sending him to fight the enemies of Allah. Khalid never in his life lost a battle.
Khalid bin al Waleed said: “If I were to marry a beautiful woman whom I love, or if I were given the good news of having a newborn son, is less beloved and dear to my heart then to be in a cold icy night in an army waiting to meet my enemy the next morning. I advise you to go on jihad”
These were the words of Khalid before his death.
14. Salamah bin al Akwa:
We mentioned his story earlier when he fought the disbelievers alone.
The Messenger of Allah said about him that day: “The best of our foot soldiers today is Salamah bin al Akwa”
15. Ukashah bin Mahsan:
His bravery in war was well known. In the battle of al Ghabah he saw Amr bin Abaar along with his father riding the same camel. He threw his spear and killed both of them the same time.
16. Amr bin Ma’adi Yakrib:
He was a king from Yemen who was famous for his bravery. He later embraced Islam.
Umar would count him as a thousand men. Al Tartooshi mentions in Siraj al Molook that Amr bin Maadi Yakrib went next to the river and told his people: “I am going to cross the bridge. If you follow me after a time equivalent to the time it takes to slaughter a camel you would find me with my sword in my hand fighting whoever is in front of me with the enemy surrounding me and I am standing between them. If you come later than that you would find me dead.” And then
he crossed the bridge over the river towards the enemy’s camp. A while later his people said: “O sons of Zabid! Are we going to leave our man alone? We might not even catch him alive”
So they crossed the bridge and found him without his horse while he was holding both back legs of an enemy’s horse and the horse failed to move. The fighter on the horse was trying to reach Amr behind him with his sword with no avail. When the fighter saw us attacking he came down from his horse and ran away. Amr then mounted the horse. He then told us: “You were almost going to miss me” They asked him: “Where is your horse?” He said: “It was hit by an arrow that killed and I fell off its back”
17. Ikrimah the son of Abu Jahl:
He was courageous before becommung a Muslim and Islam only added to his courage. During the battle of Yarmuk he fought ferociously. He was told to slow down and be cautious. He replied: “I used to fight to defend Allaat and al Uzza (two idols) and I would not take any care for myself. Now you want me to take caution when I am fighting for Allah and His Messenger!”
He then said: “Who is going to pledge to die!” Al Harith bin Hisham, Dhirar bin al Azwar along with 400 of the brave gave their pledge. They attacked the Romans and disappeared in their ranks. Ikrimah never came out. His body was found with more than seventy injuries.
18. Tulayhah al Azdi:
When Saad bin Abi Waqqaas asked the Khalifah Umar to send him reinforcement. Umar replied:
“I have sent you 2000 men: Amr bin Ma’adi Yakrib and Tulayhah al Azdi. Each one of them counts as a thousand”
Tulayhah, Amr, and Qays bin Makshooh went on a reconnaissance mission to the enemy’s army.
Both Amr and Qays kidnapped some Persian soldiers and brought them back to the Muslim camp for interrogation. Tulayhah went further until he was in the camp of the army’s commander. He hid until nightfall and then went straight to the tent of the commander and took away his horse -which was tied to the tent- and ran away. A Persian horseman saw that and followed him. Tulayhah killed him and took his horse along with his and the commander’s horse.
Another horseman pursued him and Tulayhah also killed him and took his horse. A third horseman attacked him but then surrendered. Tulayhah captured him and carried him away, along with a total of four horses in addition to his. The Muslim leaders gathered to question the Persian who turned out to be one of their leaders. He said: “I have fought numerous battles but I have never seen anything like this man! He crossed our camps until he made it to where even the brave would not dare: the camp of our army’s commander, which had over 70,000 soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough he went ahead and took the commander’s horse! The first of us to follow him was considered among us to be equal to a thousand men and he killed him! The second to follow him was killed and then I pursued him and I don’t think that there is anyone in the army equal to myself in strength and courage. But I saw death on his hands and surrendered! The man then accepted Islam and fought along side the Muslims.
19. Abdullah bin al Zubair:
He was the courageous and son of the courageous. His father was al Zubair bin al Awwaam. Abdullah participated in the opening of North Africa and killed Jarjeer, the king of the Berber.
20. Abdullah bin Abi al Sarh:
He was the opener of North Africa. He was the one to lead the first naval battle of the Muslims:
The battle of al Sawari against the Romans. He was appointed by Uthman to govern Egypt.
When the fitnah occurred he retired to al Ramlah in Palestine where he remained until he died.
21. Al Qa’qaa bin Amr
When the Messenger of Allah was consulting the Sahabah before Badr Al Qa’qaa said: “Go ahead and fight and we will not say what Banu Israel said to Musa: “Go and fight with your Lord, we will stay here” But we will say: “Go ahead and fight with your Lord, we are going to fight with you”
Abu Bakr said about him: “The voice of al Qa’qaa in battle is better than 1000 men”