His Bravery 

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How was the bravery of prophet muhammad? What is the bravery?

“(It is the practice of those prophets) who preach the Messages of Allah, and fear Him and fear none but Allah …” Al-Ahzab 33; 39

Bravery means chivalry, courage, valor, and heroism. It is the state of keeping anger in moderation between outburst of anger and cowardice. It means to show courage and to not be demoralized in fight, or in the presence of violence and danger, and to belittle death.

The extreme state of courage is called tahawwur, which means to suddenly get upset and to unnecessarily put oneself in danger. Tahawwur also implies to start a fight with an enemy who is much stronger than oneself so as to throw oneself into a certain death. What is asked from a true believer is to not use the animal-like courage which is encouraged by the poetry of the Age of Ignorance; but such bravery that generates from the strong belief in Allah and Judgment Day.

The paucity of courage, on the other hand, means cowardice, which is manifested by not maintaining patience and getting scared and running away from fighting.

Najdah is another term, which connotes a similar meaning. Najdah means to remain patient and persevere before fearful and unusual situations and not to do something improper as a result of fear.

The basis of courage is the submission to and contentment with Allah’s Will. This is why cowardice and abasement are not suitable characteristics for a true believer.

Courage, on the other hand, should be shown in situations ordered or allowed by Islam not in situations forbidden by Islam or because of the intention of vanity.

“When you ran off precipitately and did not wait for anyone, and the Messenger was calling you from your rear…” (Al-i Imran 3; 153)

Courage should be shown not in unlawful matters and with the intention of show off but in matters ordered and allowed by religion. For instance, actions which look courageous in appearance, such as persecution and using force upon others, and usurping other’s rights, are in fact actions prohibited by Islam.

The utmost level of both characteristics of courage and najdah existed in the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Abdullah b. Umar (r.a.) said that “I have not seen anybody more generous and more courageous than the Prophet (pbuh).” (Ibn Sa’d, I, 373) In fact, the Prophet (pbuh) tirelessly continued with his mission to convey the message of Islam, even though he faced severe oppression from the start. This was such a courageous behavior that nobody could have shown. He even took the risk of death and continued his journey by sacrificing everything he had.

When Allah the Almighty ordered him to migrate to Medina, polytheists of Quraish, who heard this, besieged his house and prepared to kill him with their swords as soon as he got out. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), on the other hand, fearlessly opened his doors, sprinkled dirt over the heads of polytheists, and went through them by reciting the thirty-sixth chapter (Yasin) of the Qur’an. (Ibn Sa’d, I, 227-228)

A while after he (pbuh) migrated to Medina, when believers were allowed to fight against the polytheists, everybody witnessed manifestations of his bravery. In this respect, Ali b. Abi Talib (r.a.) said that: “We were taking refuge behind the Prophet (pbuh) during the Battle of Badr. On that day he was the closest one to the enemy and the bravest and the strongest one of the people.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 86)

Another manifestation of his courage was seen in the Battle of Uhud. A polytheist on a camel came forward and challenged believers to send someone to fight. When he saw that everybody feared him, he repeated his challenge three times. Upon this Zubair b. Awwam (r.a.) went towards him. He jumped and caught the man and they began to fight. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told Zubair:

“Pull him down; make him fall down.” The man fell down and Zubair (r.a.) killed him. Then the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“If Zubair had not come forward, I was going to face him for everybody had stayed behind.” (Halabi, II, 235)

Again in the Battle of Uhud, Ubay b. Halaf, a polytheist from Quraish, was shouting: “Where is Muhammad?” and coming towards the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saying: “O Muhammad! I should not survive, if you survive in this battle.” Companions wanted to stop him, but the Prophet (pbuh) told them: “Let him come.” Every time companions attempted to stand against him, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) ordered them to hold off. Seeing the bravery of the Messenger of Allah, Ubay b. Halaf got scared and began to run away. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) shouted behind him: “O liar! Where are you running?” and caught him from his neck and threw him down. (Ibn Sa’d, II, 46)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had encouraged his companions at the severest times of the battles when people had been running away. Muhammad b. Maslamah said that: “I heard with my own ears and saw with my own eyes that Muslims were defeated and climbing up the mountain at the Battle of Uhud. Allah’s Messenger was calling them behind: “O so and so! Come towards me. O so and so! Come towards me. I am the Messenger of Allah.” (Waqidi, I, 237)

About this incident Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

“Behold! You were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger (standing bravely) in your rear was calling you back…” (Al-i Imran 3; 153)

The war was over and both parties had left the battle field giving about the same number of casualties. While leaving the battle field Abu Sufyan and his companions told Umar (r.a.): “We promise that we will come to Badr and fight with you next year.” Umar waited for Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) to give them a response. Then the Prophet (pbuh) told Umar (r.a.): “Okay! Tell them that let that place be a meeting place between us and them.” When the appointment time came, agents from the Quraish and hypocrites did everything they could to prevent facing the believers in battle because of their fear. When the effects of these efforts began to be seen among the believers the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) uttered the following words showing his bravery and audacity:

“I swear Allah on whose hands my life depends that I will go to Badr even if I have nobody coming with me.” After this Allah the Almighty helped the believers and gave firmness in their hearts. (Ibn Sa’d, II, 59)

Another day, when the Prophet (pbuh) showed his bravery, was the day of Hunain. On that day when everybody was running away from the enemy, our Prophet (pbuh) was riding his horse forward and approaching them without paying attention to his companions, who were trying to stop him. (Muslim, Jihad, 76)

As we can see from the above mentioned examples, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) knew no fear all his life and he inspired courage to his companions. In this regard, Anas b. Malik (r.a.) narrates:

“The Prophet was the best among the people both in physical shape and character and was the most generous and the bravest of them. Every time when a scary cry was heard or something terrifying happened in Medina, Allah’s Messenger would borrow Abu Talha’s horse called Mandub and ride it towards the direction of the sound. When a cry for help was heard we saw that Mandub arrived there like a wind. Once, the people of Medina got afraid of a sound. So the people went towards the sound, but the Prophet having gone to the sound before them, met them saying, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid” while he was riding Abu Talha’s horse and carrying a sword slung at his neck. Then the Prophet (pbuh) said about Mandub, “I found it fast like a strong flood, or, it is the flood indeed.” (Ibn Sa’d, I, 373; Bukhari, Adab, 39)

Imam Busiri expresses the bravery of the Prophet (pbuh), his help to his ummah, and his enemies’ fear from him as follows:

You cannot see anybody among his friends who has not reached victory

Similarly not a single one of his enemies could escape from defeat

Below is another example of bravery from the lives of the companions, which is achieved by being a believer. Together with the women and children, the Prophet’s aunt Safiyah (r.a.) was in Hassan b. Thabit’s mansion which was called Fari during the Battle of the Trench. A ten-man team from the Jewish tribe of Banu Quraiza came and began to shoot arrows at the mansion. They tried to enter it. One of them was circling around the mansion and looking for an opening. Meanwhile, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and his companions were fighting with the enemy in the trenches.

When Safiya (r.a.) saw that there was nobody to help, she covered her head, took a stick in her hand, and went out of the mansion. She quietly came behind the Jew and killed him with the stick. Other Jews who saw this incident said:

“We had been told that the women in this building were unguarded.” Then they left. (Haythami, VI, 133-34; Waqidi, II, 462)

In order to protect their lives, properties, and honors Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and his companions did not hesitate to do whatever was necessary. Another incident proving this is as follows: An Ansari lady went shopping at a jewelry store owned by a Jewish man. A companion named Amr, who saw that the Jewish store owner had attacked the honor of the Ansari lady, bravely defended her and killed the Jewish man. Upon this the tribe of Banu Qaynuqa got together and martyred Amr. Because they broke the agreement with this action, the Prophet (pbuh) prepared a troop and declared a war upon them. (Waqidi, I, 176-77)

One of the prominent sufis, Najmuddin Kubra (q.s.), who got his inspiration from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his companions, fought along with his disciples and got martyred when his city Harazm was invaded by Mongols. Brave sufi fighters, who settled and provided the security along the Muslim land, became the most significant representatives of courage and bravery in Islamic history.

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

The Human Reality

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