Allah the Most Supreme commands in our holy Qur’an as follows:
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are fierce against unbelievers, (but) merciful amongst themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating (in salat/prayer), seeking grace from Allah and (His) pleasure. On their faces are their Marks, (being) the traces of their prostration.” (Al-Fath, 29)
Here believers are described as “fierce against unbelievers, (but) merciful amongst themselves” which warns and reminds that believers (should) treat each other on the basis of brotherhood and favors of Islamic ethics. On the other hand, they (should) be tough against unbelievers without going cap in hand.
This verse from the Qur’an vividly portrays the way we (should) look by describing the Ashab (the Companions) radiyallahu anhum. What is crucial here is that believers are not only described through their attitude towards disbelievers and among themselves, but also through their salat and dua. The fact that “believers are seen bowing and prostrating (in salat)” highlights we are supposed to perform the salat five times a day under any circumstances.
Our most distinctive characteristic as believers is indeed that we are seen performing salah consistently. What is distinctive during salah, on the other hand, is not the act of standing and sitting but rather the act of bowing and prostrating. The picture of a large crowd bowing and prostrating like the waves in the sea is absolutely impressive. Almighty Allah praises this scene that we create together during salat.
Another striking characteristic of believers in this picture is that we seek the grace and pleasure of Allah by performing dua. What makes this point a visible characteristic of believers is that we perform dua consistently. In fact, the whole life of a believer is filled with dua. Every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is an opportunity for believers to make dua. And of course, a life full of worship will show up on the believers’ face as a “trace of prostration”.
To take it from the beginning of the picture drawn by the verse, believers should be fierce, awe-inspiring and bold against disbelievers. This picture highlights the opposite of the sense of defeat and underdevelopment, and the inferiority complex the ummah has been suffering from for a long while.
Islamic scholars interpreted the description “fierce against disbelievers” in the verse as “believer’s boldness/shaja’at.” They stated that the verse in Ali ‘Imran similarly describes the believer’s boldness: “Those [believers] who responded to Allah and the Messenger after injury had struck them. For those who did good among them and feared Allah is a great reward.”(Ali ‘Imran, 172)
The word “shaja’at” signifies notions such as “bravery, courage, valor” and in ethics, it is used to describe the state when the feeling of rage and fury gains sobriety by coming under the control of the sound mind. In other words, it describes the state of people who show mercy when necessary and who walk into war without blinking an eye when they have to fight in the cause of Allah.
So, bravery, courage and valor in the core of boldness is bilateral: Mercy, justice and goodness to believers but bravery and courage against disbelievers… Our scholars also described boldness/shaja’at as follows: It is the midpoint between aggression and cowardice. Believers showing boldness/shaja’at neither cross the line by showing unnecessary, selfish aggression nor back off when they need to stand their ground.
The following verse is such a remarkable one to describe the believer’s boldness/shaja’at: When people said to them: ‘Behold, a host has gathered around you and you should fear them’, it only increased their faith and they answered: ‘Allah is sufficient for us; and what an excellent Guardian He is!’ (Ali ‘Imran, 173)
On the other hand, our holy Qur’an does not forbid Muslims from getting on well with non-Muslims who are not hostile towards them (Al-Mumtahanah 8) and commands them to refrain from going too far during war (Baqarah 191-194).Islamic scholars acknowledge that these verses also reveal the fact that boldness/shaja’at is limited by reason and justice.
The state of anger in Jahiliyyah people is also criticized In our holy Qur’an and it is stated that Allah sent down His “sakinah” (tranquillity) upon His Messenger (peace be upon him) and the believers (Al-Fath, 26). Sakinah is the state when boldness/shajaat is placed in the heart of Muslims as a feeling of peace. Imam al-Tabari (rahmatullahi alayh) describes sakinah as the opposite feeling of hamiyah/vehemence in unbelievers/polytheists and sees it as a feeling that is peculiar to Muslims.
Our Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) praised the state of boldness/shaja’at in many of his ahadith. There are lots of ahadith encouraging believers to show boldness and heroism during times of war and drawing the boundaries of boldness/shaja’at in the chapter of Jihad and Siyer, Sahih al-Bukhari.
Enes bin Malik (radiyallahu anh) stated that the Messenger of Allah ‘sallallahu alayhi wa sallam’ was the noblest, bravest and most generous of the entire humankind and he mentioned His outstanding bravery during the defeat in the Battle of Uhud as a unique example.
Abdullah ibn Umar ‘radiyallahu anh’ reported that he had never seen a more generous, braver and bolder person than the Messenger of Allah!”(İbn Sa’d, I, 373)
Hazrat Ali (karramallahu wajhahu) reported: “We were falling back on the Messenger of Allah during the Battle of Badr. He was the one in the forefront against the enemy on that day. He was the bravest and most resilient person of all.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 86)
Hujjat al-Islam Imam Ghazali rahmetullahi alayh stated that only the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) reached the ultimate level of sobriety in terms of these traits and others will differ based on their level ofintimacy to him and his sunnah.
Our scholars have said that bravery and heroism can only be seen as “akhlaq al-hamidah” (praised morals) when those feelings are freed from self-assertion, desire for dominance and gaining advantage. Besides, they say that it is necessary to protect religious and humanitarian values and prevent injustice without being affected by malicious feelings such as grudge, jealousy and hypocrisy.
The traits that we touched upon throughout this article are the ones Muslims of our time need. These traits also indicate the goodness that believers will bring about for humanity.
The Honorable Companions, being altruistic and bold, served as models wherever they went by being noble, merciful, fair and brave people under the guidance of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa salam. Thus, they endeared Islam to others and enlightened the darkness of persecution with the divine light of Islam.
Our mission is to possess all these traits befitting of a believer and concern ourselves with the good of all the Muslims and humanity. Thus, the beauty of Islam will shine on ourselves, our families and all around us. Only then, the large and forceful masses of persecutors will be defeated by our dignified stance and perseverance. Almighty Allah commands: “How many a small company has overcome a large company by the permission of Allah.” (Al-Baqarah 249). That is to say, when believers succeed in being true to themselves, they will be able to rise with dignity, protect the oppressed and plant the sanjak/flag of i’la-yi kalimatullah to the summit once again.
May Allah grant us to follow the path of the sahaba (companions), tabi’in (companions of sahaba), those who are true and pious, amirs and ghazis (leaders and veterans) who boldly followed in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam)
With His tawfiq and inayah…