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On Bravery and Valiance

 One night, the residents of Madinah heard some dreadful sounds and became terrified. Some people set out to find about the sounds. Lo! They saw the Messenger of Allah coming back from the direction of the sounds. He was alert enough to go out to make the inquiry before others.  He told them not to get panicky as there was nothing dreadful [unanimous].

It happened during the reign of the Commander of the Faithful Hadrat Umar Bin Al-Khattab (RadhiAllahu Anhu).

Pieces of cloth arrived in the Baitul Maal [Public Treasury].  Umar got it distributed equally among the members of the public. Then, he appeared on the pulpit wearing a cloak made out of that cloth. Addressing the audience he said: “Listen and obey!”  Suddenly a person from the audience stood up saying “we will never listen to you nor obey you.” Hadrat Umar RadhiAllahu Anhu asked “why?”  He said “you distributed the cloth equally among the people.  Every man got a small piece. How is it that you made such a big cloak with a small piece?” Hadrat Umar RadhiAllahu Anhu beckoned to his son Abdullah to explain the fact. He stood up to explain that he had given his own piece to his father so he made that big cloak which he needed. The objector was satisfied with this explanation and said: “Now you can speak. We will listen and obey.”

Bravery means demonstration of courage to deal with critical situations fearlessly. In this respect, the seerat of the Prophet is our great guide.  During battles and wars when the situation became very critical, his companions made him their shield. Thus Hadrat Ali RadhiAllahu Anhu says that whenever fighting was on a peak we took refuge in the person of the prophet. He used to be in the forefront of action face to face with the enemy. Hadrat Baraa (RadhiAllahu Anhu) informed that in the field of action we defended ourselves through the Messenger of Allah ().

During the battle of Hunain the enemy forced the Muslims to retreat by launching a barge of arrows. Many people began to flee but the Prophet remained steadfast.  He charged with his sword ferociously on his left and right chanting: أنا النبي لا كذب أنا ابن عبدالمطلب””AnanNabiyyo la kadhib/Anabno Abdil Muttalib” Translation of Meaning: [“I am a prophet not a pretender / I am the progeny of Abdul Muttalib”]. When his followers heard this they were charged with zeal and began to fight ferociously till Allah blessed them with victory. The Messenger of Allah ().was not only an exemplary fighter but had trained his companions in such a way that they later became prominent commanders registering epics of self-sacrifice.

A companion of the Prophet Hadrat Amr Bin Al-Jamooh (RadhiAllahu Anhu) had become lame for some reason and was disabled from movement.  On this basis his sons urged him to stay at home and not join jihad.  But he insisted on taking part in jihad saying he desires to attain martyrdom. In view of his resolve, the Prophet allowed him to join jihad.  He eventually attained martyrdom on the battlefield.

Likewise, Hadrat Ali was an example of bravery and valiance.  He was a courageous man since his childhood. On the eve of Prophet’s migration from Mecca, Hardhat Ali slept in his bed to hoodwink the pagans.  He took this risky action knowingly to enable the Prophet to leave Mecca surreptitiously and reach Madinah safely. In the battle of Mautah, Hadrat Abdullah Bin Rawaha, Zaid Bin Harithah, and Jafar Bin Abi Talib were the men whose feats are recorded in pages of history. Hardhat Khalid Bin Walid became a proverb in courage and bravery. Because of his prowess, the Prophet gave him the title of Saiful Islam [the Sword of Islam]. Towards the end of his life, he was sorrowful for not attaining martyrdom. He felt sorry for dying on the sickbed although no part of his body was free of a scar of injury.

Not only men folk distinguished themselves on the battlefield but because of the training provided by the Prophet, womenfolk were also engaged to join battles as nurses and attendants. The most prominent names in the Islamic history are those of Umme Imarah, Umme Atiyyah, Umme Saleem and Laila Ghifariyyah. This spirit of bravery and self-sacrifice was seen not only on the battlefield but everybody was zealously devoted to the triumph of Islam in all spheres.  It is narrated that a venerable lady companion of the Prophet Hadrat Khaulah Bint Tha’labah (RadhiAllahu Anha) once encountered the Commander of the Faithful Hadrat Umar (RadhiAllahu Anhu) on the way. She stopped him and gave him pieces of advice for a long time. Hadrat Umar listened to her differently and respectfully.

The spirit of bravery and daring, which was infused by the Prophet into his followers had also overtaken the young persons. Once the Messenger of Allah was readying to lead his fighters to a battle. He was inspecting the ranks when an adolescent named Umair Bin Abi Waqqas (RadhiAllahu Anhu) was seen hiding himself lest he is sent back. He was presented before the prophet who directed him to go back. He started weeping. The Prophet relented, and out of affection for him, allowed him to accompany the force. There may be a number of occasions when bravery can be demonstrated. For instance:

  • Bravery may be shown for the sake of enjoining ma’ruf [good behaviour] and forbidding the reprehensible acts. The Messenger of Allah never became angry unless somebody was committing any haraam [prohibited] act. In the latter case he expressed his displeasure, enjoined good and prohibited evil. He taught to his followers what was imposed on him by the Quran:

الَّذِينَ إِنْ مَكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلاةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنْ الْمُنْكَرِ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الأُمُورِ (الحج: 41)

Translation of Meaning: “Those who, if We give them power on earth, establish salat, pay zakat, enjoin the right conduct and forbid the abominable acts. And Allah is the final arbiter of affairs” (Al-Hajj: 41). In another place in the Quran it is declared:

وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُوا كَافَّةً فَلَوْلا نَفَرَ مِنْ كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ (التوبة: 122)

Translation of Meaning: “It is not for believers to go entirely to the battlefield. Would it not be better if a party from each group come out to gain sound knowledge of religion so that they would warn their folk on coming back. Perhaps they could take their guard [against un-Islamic behaviour]” (At-Taubah: 122). The prophet has exhorted to speak the truth even if it is bitter. He said:

“قل الحق ولو كان مرا” (أحمد)

Translation: “Speak the truth even if it is bitter” [Ahmad]. There is yet another tradition:

“من رأى منكم منكرا فاستطاع أن يغيره بيده ، فليغيره بيده ، فإن لم يستطع فبلسانه ، فإن لم يستطع فبقلبه ، وذلك أضعف الإيمان” (مسلم)

  Translation : “If any one of you sees an evil and he can stop it with his hands let him stop it with his hands; if he cannot then with his tongue; if he cannot then with his heart; and that is the weakest level of faith [Muslim]. Exhorting his followers to stand up to evil he said: There are two heads of the martyrs–Hadrat Hamzah Bin Abdul Muttalib and one who stands up against a tyrant ruler to teach him Right and forbid him from evil and gets killed for this cause [Hakim].

  • Bravery is not limited to a show of force and power. If somebody stands up against his own shortcomings and weaknesses it is also called bravery. If a student struggles against his own self and goes on asking questions to gain knowledge he is a brave student. The companions of the prophet had no qualms about getting knowledge from their young men.
  • To realize one’s own mistakes and struggle against them is also a kind of bravery. To do this, one has to fight with himself and overpower powers of his inner self. This is not easy. That is why it has been said that the brave is the one who overcome his anger. To realize one’s mistake and adopt what is right, is bravery. We find examples of such bravery in the bibliography of Allah’s messengers. Hadrat Adam had sought pardon of God for his mistake. Likewise Hadrat Yunus prayed to God seeking pardon of God and deliverance from the darkness of the belly of the fish. Allah (Ta’ala) informs us about prayer of Hadhrat Yunus (Alaihissalam) :

إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنْ الظَّالِمِينَ (الأنبياء : 87)

Translation of Meaning : “None has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allâh)], Glorified (and Exalted) are You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.” (87)  (Al-Anbiyaa: 87).

  • It is the mission of the courageous and brave to stake their lives in the battlefield for the sake of victory of right and defeat of evil

Allah (Ta’ala) says :

وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لا تَعْلَمُونَهُمْ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ (الأنفال: 60)

Translation of Meaning : “And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten the enemy of Allâh and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allâh does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allâh shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.” (Al-Anfal: 60). At another place, Allah (Ta’ala) says:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ صَفّاً كَأَنَّهُمْ بُنيَانٌ مَرْصُوصٌ (الصف: 4)

Translation of Meaning: “Verily, Allâh loves those who fight in His Cause in rows (ranks) as if they were a solid structure.” [As-Saff:4] Allah (Ta’ala) says in Surah Al-Anfal.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (الأنفال:45)

Translation of Meaning: “O you who believe! When you meet (an enemy) force, take a firm stand against them and remember the Name of Allâh much (both with tongue and mind), so that you may be successful.” (Al-Anfal: 45) At another place Allah (Ta’ala) says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا زَحْفاً فَلا تُوَلُّوهُمْ الأَدْبَارَ (الأنفال : 15)

Translation of Meaning: “O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve, in a battle-field, never turn your backs to them.” (Al-Anfal: 15) A Muslim does not fear from death, rather his bravery and Valiance demands to be martyred in the way of Allah (Ta’ala):

  • The Messenger of Allah was aware of the necessity of might in the way of fight against evil and victory of good. He used to encourage people to acquire might and strength: He stated:

“المؤمن القوي خير وأحب إلى الله من المؤمن الضعيف، وفي كل خير ، إحرص على ما ينفعك، واستعن بالله ولا تعجز” (مسلم)

Translation: “A strong believer is better and more favoured before Allah than a weak believer. Both possess good. Secure what is beneficial to you, seek succour from Allah and don’t become powerless” [Muslim].   A believer and his bravery are synonymous with each other. A believer may not fulfil the requirements of religion as he ought to unless he is a brave.`