The Importance of Courage in Islam

Khutbah on Courage in light of Palestinian Struggle

O you who believe! Whoever of you goes back on his religion, God will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, kind towards the believers, stern with the disbelievers. They strive in the way of God, and do not fear the blame of the critic. That is the grace of God; He bestows it upon whomever He wills. God is Embracing and Knowing.

Quran 5:54

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Let not fear of the people stop one of you from speaking the truth, if he knows it.”

Musnad Aḥmad 11869

Courage is Necessary

Courage is necessary for Muslims. When calling people towards the truth, you will definitely find yourself at odds with many people and their ideas. The truth is often bitter and very difficult for people to swallow. Because they are unable to criticize the message, many people turn to criticizing the messenger instead. When you choose the path of Dawah, be conscious of the fact that you are choosing a path in which you will face great criticism, and perhaps even violence. The caller must be ready to defend the truth and propagate it in all circumstances.

When the Prophet ﷺ received the first revelation, Waraqah Ibn Naufal told him, “I wish I would live to assist you when your people exile you from this land.” The Prophet ﷺ was beloved to his people and could not understand why they would do that. Waraqah explained, “No messenger brought a message like this before you, except that his people turned against him.”

If the prophets could not convey their message without facing rejection, ridicule, and violence from their people, what makes us think that our Dawah will be easy and accepted without any pushback?

The Prophet ﷺ faced every kind of trial in the path of Dawah, yet he remained the model of courage and integrity throughout. He was mocked, slandered, ridiculed, boycotted, physically attacked, exiled, and eventually had to fight his own tribe in multiple battles. Yet he remained courageous in every circumstances.

The companions were all great models of courage in Dawah too. Abdullah Ibn Masud was the first to recite Quran openly by the Kabah, even though it led to him receiving a beating from the pagans. When Umar accepted Islam, he announced it in public, knowing that people would attack him for it. Sumayyah and her husband Yasir were killed by Abu Jahl for openly accepting Islam, and Bilal endured the stones and scorching sands of the desert for the sake of Allah.

During this period, one of the companion who endured the greatest torture narrates the following. Khabbab ibn al-Arat reported: We complained to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ while he was leaning upon his rolled up cloak in the shade of the Ka’bah. We said, “Will you ask Allah to help us? Will you supplicate to Allah for us?” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Among those before you, a believer would be seized, a ditch would be dug for him, and he would be thrown into it. Then, they would bring a saw that would be put on top of his head to split him into two halves, and his flesh would be torn from the bone with iron combs. Yet, all of this did not cause them to abandon their religion. By Allah, this religion will prevail until a rider travels from Yemen to Hadhramaut, fearing no one but Allah and the wolf, lest it trouble his sheep. Rather, you are being impatient.”

Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6943

In every generation, the people of dawah and truth had to face opposition with great courage. The likes of Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ahmad were unjustly imprisoned for their opinions, yet we know today that they were in the right. Imam al-Bukhari was slandered and boycotted through a dedicated smear campaign, yet today his book is the most important hadith collection on earth. Ibn Taymiyyah was courageous in both the battlefield against the Mongols, and in the court when facing tyrannical rulers. Every great scholar in history had decisive moments in which they proved their courage by standing firm for what they believed in, regardless of the consequences.

A man asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, while he had his leg in the stirrup, “Which jihad is best?” The Prophet said, “A word of truth before a tyrannical ruler.”

Sunan al-Nasā’ī 4209

Be very clear about this, when you choose the path of Dawah, you will face opposition, obstacles, and trials, and you will have enemies that will try to bring you down and destroy your reputation. It is part of the job as an heir of the prophets that you face these obstacles with courage and trust in Allah.

This is why those who are beloved to Allah are described as, “They strive in the way of God, and do not fear the blame of the critic.”

Quran 5:54

Do Not Be Cowardly

Sadly, many Muslims today were raised without any sense of courage, resiliency or mental toughness. Too many people choose the path of Dawah with a naïve mindset that people will love them, praise them, and support them. They are shocked at the first sign of resistance and lose heart at the first criticism. Such people are not cut out for this work. It is not a job for the weak of heart, this is tough role that requires firm courage, resiliency, and firmness in faith. Without these qualities, we will fail easily.

I remember joining a new dawah organization that was facing criticism for the first time. Many people quit their jobs with the organization saying that they did not expect any harsh criticism. Others cried in meetings, saying that they are trying to do something good, so why are people being mean. Nobody was looking in the mirror, analysing the criticism for any merits, or displaying the mental toughness necessary to power through. It was as if they were expecting dawah to be an easy job which brings with it only praise and fame. Because of these unrealistic expectations, many of these people quit the dawah and chose easier paths in life instead.

Dawah require courage because dawah means challenging people’s worldviews, opinions, and core beliefs. It means upsetting the status quo. Dawah is about countering falsehood with truth. Like Moses in the court of Pharaoh, you have to stand firm and brave as you convey the message with conviction. You cannot be naïve and expect people to like you or even accept you. For many people, dawah is a lonely path they thread alone or with a small companionship of righteous friends. But they have Allah, and Allah is enough for them.

Without courage, multiple problems occur. Either you give up, distort the message, hide the truth or becoming a pawn for someone else. Spineless people sell out the Muslims every day because they lack the courage to speak the truth and bear the consequences of it. In our times, some preachers purposely hide some aspects of the message out of fear of upsetting specific demographics, resulting in a distorted message.

Be brave and be ready to handle the trials that come with a life dedicated to spreading the message of truth. Falsehood will fight back, we must be ready for this, and courageous in the intellectual battle between truth and falsehood.

Learn more about the courage of the early Muslims with our in-depth history, which has over 100 five-star reviews, available here:

Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help and Izzah Academy, author of over a dozen books, and the operations manager of Yaqeen Institute.