Rafed English

Courage in its Wider Sense

Courage is not confined to the battlefield. Rather, it extends to all areas of life and is needed in all situations.

Dr. Marden discusses as follows the value of this outstanding moral virtue in various circumstances:

It requires courage to wear coarse cotton clothing when one's fellows put on garments made of broadcloth. Courage is needed to live a life of rectitude in the midst of poverty while others gather wealth through fraud and inequity. It requires courage to say 'No,' when everyone around you says 'Yes'. It requires courage to carry out one's duty in silence and anonymity when others hoard riches and acquire fame lay abandoning their sacred commitments. It requires courage to appear what you are and to disclose your shortcomings for critical eyes.

Ultimately, it requires courage to bear defeat and ridicule and not to be understood by the people. The young man who begins by being afraid to express what he thinks will end up being afraid of even thinking about what he cherishes in his heart.

How afraid are we of acting according to our wishes. We want to live like others. Our clothes, lifestyle, means of transport everything, must conform to the day's fashion, or we would be social outcasts! It requires courage for a man of social standing not to bow to common prejudices and to refrain from complying with social customs injurious to morality and health. 11

One of the salient qualities of those who had received an Islamic upbringing was their disregard for tyrannical rulers, despotic caliphs who had usurped power, so much so that they preserved their spiritual poise and intellectual strength under the most difficult of conditions.

Once Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik went to Makkah during the days of his rule to perform the pilgrimage of the House of God and the rites of hajj. He ordered that any person who had seen the Prophet of God, may Peace and God's benedictions be upon him and his Household, be brought into his presence so that he may discuss certain matters with him. He was told that no one from the Prophet's companions was alive. Hisham asked them to bring someone from among the Tabi'un (the people of the next generation after the Companions) so that he may benefit from his discourse.

Tawus al-Yamani was invited to see the caliph. When Tawus came into Hisham's presence, he took off his shoes before the caliph and saluted him simply and unceremoniously: "Salamun 'alaykum." He did not salute the caliph with the usual title 'Amir al-Mu'minin' (commander of all the faithful) by which he was addressed by all classes of people. Then, without waiting for the caliph's leave, he sat down on the ground facing him. Then turning to Hisham he said: " O Hisham! How do you do?"

This informal conduct and speech of Tawus angered Hisham. Turning to Tawus he said: "What is this behaviour of yours in my presence?" Tawus asked him, "What did I do?" The caliph said, "Why did you take off your shoes in front of me? Why didn't you address me with my appellation Amir al-Mu'minin? Why did you sit down in my court without my permission? Why did you inquire about my welfare in an irreverent manner?"

Tawus replied: 'As to my taking off my shoes in your presence, I do it five times daily in the presence of God, and I am not considered worthy of divine wrath on that account. The reason that I did not salute you with the appellation 'Amir al-Mu'minin' is that you are not the commander of all the faithful, many of whom are unhappy with your caliphate and rule. As to my calling you by your name (and not by kuniyah), God, in the Noble Qur'an, has called His apostles with their names, addressing them with such words as "O David," "O Jesus," "O John," and nobody considers that disparaging in respect of the sublime station of the prophets. On the contrary, the Qur'an mentions Abu Lahab with his kuniyah. The reason as to why I sat down without waiting for your permission in your presence is that I have heard 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, say: 'If you wish to see the inmates of hell, then look at him who sits while those around him are standing.'"

When Tawus had made these remarks, Hisham said to him, "O Tawus, exhort me! Tawus said, "I have heard 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, say, 'In hell are creatures with venomous stings which have been assigned to sting rulers who treat the people unjustly in the world.' " Having said this, he rose from the caliph's assembly and left. 12


11. Marden, Orison Swett, Asrar e Kamiyabi, p. 14

12. Safinat al Bihar, vol. 2 p . 95

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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