Courage According To The Qur'an
True courage, as outlined in the Qur'an, is showing determination in respecting all of Allah's limits, without exception, and without hesitation, fearing none other than Allah, and not deviating from this course whatever the circumstances or the condition. Essentially, courage is the virtue that arises as a result of faith, in those who fear no one but Allah, and who are deeply devoted to Him.
Those who believe in Allah show courage as an outcome of their fear of Allah and their longing for the Hereafter. Because they are sincere, they are also courageous. For the good pleasure of Allah, they adopt the manners taught by the Qur'an, and strive to persuade others to do the same, not remaining silent in the face of evil acts committed around them. They take on the responsibility of struggling against evil, and speaking of truth, beauty and virtue.
The very basis of the courage of the faithful is their love and fear of Allah, and their rendering sincere effort to earn His good pleasure. For that reason, their courage in fulfilling the requirements of morality is not dependent on specific circumstances. In all conditions, a believer retains the courage that results from trusting in Allah.
As for the courageous acts of unbelievers, these are carried out solely for their own gain or other worldly ambitions. Therefore, those who are removed from the light of the Qur'an apply what they deem as courage to the wrong situations. In matters where true courage is required, they may actually falter. As such, the courage they usually exemplify is of little purpose, and of no benefit to themselves, with regards to the Hereafter.
Being bound by his conscience, a believer cannot fail to be courageous. For example, if an innocent person is accused, and he is aware of his innocence, he defends the person, for the good pleasure of Allah, even if it is in conflict with his own interests, or places him at risk. This is a true example of outstanding courage. The source of this courage exemplified by the faithful is their fear of Allah. Because, Allah instructs us in the Qur'an:
… Do not conceal testimony. If someone does conceal it, his heart commits a crime. Allah knows what you do. (Surat al-Baqara, 283)
As told in the above verse, concealing evidence is defined by Allah as unlawful. Because they fear any shortcomings or hesitation in obeying Allah's commands, the faithful display exemplary courage in following Allah's prohibitions.
In a society that does not abide by the Qur'an, a person who listens to the voice of conscience, and defends the rights of the downtrodden, is asked questions like, "Are you his lawyer?" or "Is it your job to defend him?", in an attempt to belittle him and cause him to give up. The truth, however, is that what he is doing is a noble example of morality, and which deserves appreciation. If the person being criticized also fails to adhere to religious morality, he will be unable to withstand the criticism of those around him, and be inclined to his own selfish interest. But, if this person is a believer in Allah, who follows the Qur'an, he never hesitates in implementing the morality which Allah has commanded.
This person listens to his conscience and has the courage to fight for justice, even under the most difficult circumstances. When he encounters a wrong, he tries to counter it with virtue, as instructed in the verse. For this reason, he may be accused of being naïve, and be looked down on by those who do not follow the morality of the Qur'an. Nevertheless, he persists in his superior morality, even if those around him mock his behavior. A fine example is given in the Qur'an of not fearing the condemnation of accusers, but remaining brave and showing determination:
You who believe! If any of you renounce your religion, Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble to the believers, fierce to the disbelievers, who strive in the Way of Allah and do not fear the blame of any censurer. That is the unbounded favor of Allah which He gives to whoever He wills. Allah is Boundless, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 54)
We can explain this matter further with examples from our own lives. A person meets a poor man in the street who needs help. He wants to help, but those around him try to dissuade him. "Leave him be," they say, and, "Is it your job to help him?" mockingly to prevent him from doing so. In such a situation, the person is faced with a choice.
Some, fearing that their friends will look down on them, or that they may lose them, reject the right moral way and leave the needy person to his own devices. But, a Muslim helps the person without fearing any blame, because he knows that the needy person has been created by Allah, and put before him for a purpose. This may be a test of whether or not he will demonstrate steadfastness in being moral. A believer with insight knows right away that Allah has especially ordained this moment, and chooses the kind of behavior complying with Allah's good pleasure. If his friends mock him, it does not put him off at all. He behaves courageously in doing what he knows to be right.
From time to time, a person determined to act morally may encounter others who oppose him and who try to make him abandon his morals. When we study the verses of the Qur'an, we are led to understand such a situation as a test. As explained in the Qur'an, good people will always come across wicked people, who want to impart their wicked ways to others. Therefore, they try to interfere with those who do good. Allah tells us this truth in several verses:
… Who could do greater wrong than someone who denies Allah's Signs and turns away from them? We will repay those who turn away from Our Signs with the worst kind of punishment because they turned away. (Surat al-An‘am, 157)
Have you seen him who denies the religion? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who pray, and are forgetful of their prayer, those who show off and deny help to others. (Surat al-Ma‘un, 1-7)
The Qur'an draws our attention to the fact that those who resist Allah will do their utmost to prevent the spread of virtue. However, as it is a means of separating the good from the wicked, it will nevertheless be for the advantage of the believer. We are told so in the following verse of the Qur'an:
Those who disbelieve spend their wealth barring access to the Way of Allah. They will spend it; then they will regret it; then they will be overthrown. Those who disbelieve will be gathered into Hell. (It is) so that Allah can sift the bad out from the good, and pile the bad on top of one another, heaping them all together, and tip them into Hell. They are the lost. (Surat al-Anfal, 36-37)
Some commit evil acts because they are influenced by bad people. When they want to do good, their friends regard it as strange, and try to harass them by word and action. Being influenced by Satan, they present wickedness as virtuous and virtue as evil. The weak-willed, shy and timid are affected by such people and give up performing good. They easily conform to the behavior of people of low morality.
By abandoning what they know to be right and opting for base morality, in order to conform to those around them, and earn the admiration of those who are not on the right path, they do themselves great harm. In choosing the wrong path, so as not to be blamed or rejected by others, and conforming to wicked ways, they are actually oppressing themselves. These people, who then tolerate base morality, so as not to lose friends, not knowing that their true friend is Allah, are not aware that they are lowering themselves in the sight of Allah, and will suffer for it in the Hereafter.
However, those who, at all cost, are courageous and stay determined to follow the instructions of Allah, and of those of superior character, who are compassionate, merciful, just, self-sacrificing, devoted and magnanimous, who invite others to do good, think positively and regard everything as a blessing, may be belittled and rejected by other, but it does not bother them. Because, in this world, and the Hereafter, they will be exalted by Allah, and set above those who turned their faces from what is right.
Courage, according to the Qur'an, requires fearing nothing and no one other than Allah; not hesitating to act in the way which conforms the nearest to Allah's good pleasure, and showing determination. Amongst the most important characteristics of the faithful are that they do not give up when faced with difficulty, and fear nothing and no one but Allah. They know that there is no power other than He. This fosters courage in them, to overcome any kind of fear. An example of such exemplary behavior is given in the Qur'an:
(Prophets are) those who conveyed Allah's Message and feared (and respected)Him, fearing no one except Allah. Allah suffices as a Reckoner. (Surat al-Ahzab, 39)
To defeat the evil alliances that are established by those who enjoy wickedness, and want others to be like them, requires one to be as brave as the prophets, and the pious faithful who strove at their sides for good to prevail. The basis of this courage is a sincere faith purged of idolatry.
Those who do good, and urge others to do the same, will draw the attention of the wicked conspirators, and efforts will be made to divert them from virtue. This truth has been demonstrated a thousands times over. Efforts have been made throughout history to prevent every Muslim from living according to the superior morality and inviting others to it.
For example, in a society where the morality of the Qur'an is not adhered to, when a person begins to perform his daily prayers, attempts will surely be made to stop him, by saying things as, "You're still young. Never mind now, you can perform your prayers in the future," or "I take the responsibility of your sins." However, worship is something which must not be impeded but encouraged. Allah has this to say in the Qur'an about those who prevent others from fulfilling their acts of worship:
Have you seen him who prevents a servant when he goes to pray? Do you think he is rightly guided or commands fear of Allah? Or do you see how he has denied and turned away? Does he not know that Allah sees? No indeed! If he does not desist, We will grab him by the forelock, a lying, sinful forelock. Let him call his attendants; We will call the Guards of Hell! No indeed! Do not obey him, but prostrate and draw near. (Surat al-‘Alaq, 9-19)
Satan does not want even a single person to emerge with the truth, who lives according to the morality of the Qur'an, and directs his thoughts towards the Hereafter. For this reason he sends his cohorts to assault those who scrupulously adhere to the Qur'an, and tries to wear them down, frighten them and influence them negatively. Satan carries out this activity directly with blandishments and stratagems, but also through those who have come under his influence and made him their friend. Allah informs us that this method of Satan's can have no effect on the faithful:
That was only Satan who intimidated his adherents. But do not fear them—fear Me if you are believers. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 175)
In the following verses, the courage and determination in religious matters of those who fear Allah, and the fine reward they will receive from Him are described:
(Believers are) those to whom people said, "The people have gathered against you, so fear them." But that merely increased their faith and they said, "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians." So they returned with blessings and bounty from Allah and no evil touched them. They pursued the pleasure of Allah. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 173-174)
One who behaves bravely, listens to his conscience and, recognizing what is right, proceeds along the correct path without fearing anyone, will achieve salvation. He will be blessed with the mercy, pleasure and bounty of Allah in Paradise. As for the one who lends an ear to the blandishments of Satan, he is driven to the depths of Hell, where he will be forced to remain eternally.
The duty of a believer, as Allah has commanded, is to urge others to accept the virtuous and the correct. This is the main duty of the faithful. However, it must also be realized that in carrying out this task a person may meet various difficulties, or more correctly, trials. Efforts will be made to impede and oppress him, and he will suffer from various forms of slander and punishments, because this is a promise Allah informs us of in the Qur'an:
Or did you suppose that you would enter the Garden without facing the same as those who came before you? Poverty and illness afflicted them and they were shaken to the point that the Messenger and those who believed with him said, "When is Allah's help coming?" Be assured that Allah's help is very near. (Surat al-Baqara, 214)
As Allah vows in the above verse, every believer who hopes to enter Paradise will endure trials like those experienced by the faithful in the past. At this point, they will devote themselves to Allah, trust in Him, remain determined and courageous, knowing that all trials are a part of life.
If, under such circumstances, a person compromises his religion in any way whatsoever, it is truly dishonorable for him. If the person is sincere, there is nothing to fear. In fact, in the verses of the Qur'an, Allah informs us of the good news that for every difficulty there is relief, and that He will not burden anyone beyond their ability to cope with it:
For truly with hardship comes ease; truly with hardship comes ease. (Surat al-Inshirah, 5-6)
As for those who believe and do right actions—We impose on no self any more than it can bear—they are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever.
We will strip away any rancor in their hearts. Rivers will flow under them and they will say, "Praise be to Allah Who has guided us to this! We would not have been guided, had Allah not guided us. The messengers of our Lord came with the Truth." It will be proclaimed to them: "This is your Garden which you have inherited for what you did." (Surat al-A‘raf, 42-43)