How is Courage Achieved?
Courage is a quality which is greatly admired and praised in the community. People want to be regarded as brave by those around them, because those who are considered courageous always attract much respect and admiration. But, while many try very hard to seem brave, they are unable to show real courage. However, there are reasons why they are unable to be as courageous as they would like to be.
As it is necessary to have true faith in order to be merciful, gentle, and compassionate, faith is also necessary to be brave. Although, this does not mean that a non-believer cannot be brave. There will be times at which he will be courageous. However, one who ascribes partners to Allah, who imputes power to other entities, and is not aware that everything is under Allah's control, will certainly be faced with situation in which he will be unable to be courageous. This is the proof that he does not possess the genuine courage that derives from faith in Allah, the sole source of power.
Belief is a prerequisite for genuine courage. Belief is the knowledge that everything is under Allah's control, and that nothing can take place without His willing it, and includes submission to Him and fear of Him alone.
One who possesses such belief devotes himself to Allah, and as a consequence has fortitude and is brave. He is courageous at all times, no matter what happens to him. Even great adversities do not make him lose his courage. He knows that everything is under Allah's control, that nothing occurs without Allah's willing it, and that He has created everything for his good. Even if death finds him, he remains devout, because, as a believer, he knows he will meet Allah in the Hereafter.
Knowing that everything is under Allah's control provides one who surrenders himself wholly to the fate which He has created for him with a strong faith, and with that faith, a strong character. To that end, one needs to be close to Allah, to recognize the ultimate good in all things, not to give in to despondence or sorrow, to be aware that Allah is the Creator of all things in the universe, that not even a leaf can fall without His willing it, that He governs all hearts and souls, and that there is no power or will other than His.
A person who knows that everything which takes place does so with Allah's approval, and by His will, and submits himself to Allah, is naturally brave. Because, there is nothing for him to fear or be nervous or worry about. Everything is brought about by Allah, and He maintains all things under His control. There is nothing at all for one who adopts Him as his friend and guardian to be nervous about or fear, because Allah is the Protector of the faithful. Allah tells us the following in the Qur'an:
Not so! All who submit themselves completely to Allah and are good-doers will find their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Surat al-Baqara, 112)
Children of Adam! If messengers come to you from among yourselves, recounting My Signs to you, those who guard against evil and put things right, will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Surat al-A‘raf, 35)
In spite of all the distress and difficulty they encounter, believers recommend the morality commanded by Allah to others with great determination, while the pressures over them never impede that determination in the least. This trait is directly related to the faith they possess. One without faith cannot remain determined when subjected to slander, harassment, or is unjustly mistreated. Those who do not possess genuine faith lose any sense of determination when faced with the slightest difficulty, abandoning their beliefs and principles.
The measure of the sincerity of a Muslim is the determination he shows when faced with difficulties. One without sincere faith does not accept social responsibility, for he knows that he may be faced with such difficulties, as have befell the prophets and their pious followers before. But, the behavior of those who accept the responsibility of promulgating the morality of the Qur'an, guiding others towards good and keeping them from evil, even when it becomes difficult, is admirable and truly worthy of praise. While the great majority of people are devoted to their own businesses and other worldly affairs, engaging themselves in an ideological battle for the sake of Allah, and accepting the large number of difficulties which it entails, is highly noble behavior.
Moreover, for a true believer, all this is not a problem, but a great blessing. Because, as pointed out earlier, similar trials befell the prophets. A number of prophets were subjected to slander, suffered oppression, were threatened with violence and death and even martyred. They attracted the hostility of those of base morality, simply because they called attention to Allah's existence and unity. But, in the end, Allah's promises were fulfilled, and they were successful in spreading His word, even though they had refused to hear it.
One of the most important ways of gaining and experiencing the genuine courage related in the Qur'an is thinking continually about death and the Day of Judgment. Indeed, the Prophet (saas) recommended people to think about death, and said: "Those who are most aware of death and prepare themselves for it. They are the wisest of people." (Muslim)
A Muslim who fears Allah knows that the life of this world will come to an end some day, and that he will be called to account for his actions in the Hereafter. He is aware that, in order not to be amongst those sent to Hell, he must conform scrupulously to the teachings of the Qur'an, and avoid cowardice, procrastination and lack of fortitude.
For that reason, he does not want to postpone fulfilling what Allah has commanded him to do, even for a moment, because he does not know when death will find him. He strives to achieve the highest levels of the morality which Allah has prescribed. This is one of the most important reasons for the extreme courage of believers, their refusal to make any concessions in carrying out Allah's commands, and their powerful determination. They know that they would be called to account in the Hereafter for any hesitation or failing to show the necessary determination. They know that they will have their recompense for ignoring Allah's commands and prohibitions after they die. In the Qur'an, Allah defines believers as follows:
Those who fulfill Allah's contract and do not break their agreement; Those who join what Allah has commanded to be joined and are afraid of their Lord and fear an evil Reckoning;
Those who are steadfast in seeking the face of their Lord, and establish prayer and give from the provision We have given them, secretly and openly, and stave off evil with good, it is they who will have the Ultimate Abode. (Surat ar-Ra‘d, 20-22)
In the Qur'an, Allah shows believers the way to conquer fear and worry, just as He shows the way on all other matters. The number one enemy of courage is fear, and the concerns and anxiety that arise from it. These are feelings which can easily be overcome if a person conforms to the Qur'an. When one of sincere faith conforms attentively to the Qur'an, his reaction to the things he encounters are reformed.