Courage is a virtue resembling the instinct of bravery. The very young human being, when it lacks sufficient reason, is appropriate to display bravery and is ready to thrust its hand into the fire, because, having no knowledge of the consequences of the instinctive quality is predominant in it, and its action is by no means a noble quality. The virtue which we call courage cannot be displayed but after a good deal of reasoning and reflection and a full consideration of the appropriateness of the act. The Glorious Qu’ran contains the following directions upon this point: “The true brave are those who lose not their hearts but stand firmly and behave patiently under ills and hardships and in battles – those are they who are true [to themselves], and those are they who guard themselves against the displeasure of their Lord” [2:177]
“They shall have a great reward from their Lord who do good to others and guard against evil; those who, when they are threatened with the mustering of people against them and are told to fear the forces gathering around to crush them, are not dispirited thereby” [3:172 – 174]. This circumstance, on the other hand, increases the faith of true believers and they say; “God is sufficient protector and excellent guardian, since they were to fight in the cause of truth and in obedience to their Lord” [3:173].
Therefore, the moral quality of courage, according to the teachings of Islam is not a mechanical movement depending upon passions and flowing in one direction only, but is utilized in two ways, viz, with its aid the faithful resist and overcome the passions of the flesh, and besides they utilize it to resist the attacks of transgressors when it is advisable to do so in the cause of God. The truly courageous do not display their bravery in a rude or disrespectful manner and with a view to appear with pretension to other men, but their only consideration is the pleasure of God, who wishes them to resist evil by their courage and to be patient under hardships. All this leads to the conclusion that true courage takes its root in patience and steadfastness. The courageous man resists his passions and does not flee from danger like a coward, but before he takes any step he looks to the remote consequences of his action. Between the daring dash of a savage and the indomitable courage of a civilized man, there is this vast difference that the latter is prepared to meet real dangers but he reasons and reflects even in the fury and tumult of battle, before he proceeds to take the course best suited to prevent the evil, while the former in obedience to an irresistible passion makes a violent assault in one direction only.
The next virtue, which is developed out of the natural conditions, is veracity. So long as there is no motive to tell a lie, man is naturally inclined to speak the truth. He is averse to lying from his very nature and hates the person who is proved to have told a plain lie. But this natural condition cannot claim our respect as one the noble moral qualities. Unless a man is purged of the low motives which impede him from truth, his veracity is questionable. For if he speaks the truth only in the matters in which truth produces no harm to himself and tells a lie or holds his tongue from the utterance of truth when his interest or property or honour is at risk, he can claim no superiority over the untruthful. In fact, no one speaks untruth without a motive, and there is no virtue in resorting to truth so long as there is no apprehension of harm the only circumstance which can serve as a test of truthfulness is the occasion when one’s life or honour or property is in danger. The Glorious Qu’ran contains the following injunctions on this subject: “Shun ye the pollution of idols and shun ye the word of falsehood” [22:30].
The shunning of idols and falsehood is enjoined in the same breath; it indicates that falsehood is an idol and the person who trusts to it – in like manner as the idolaters and the heathen used to do – does not trust in God for he bows in submission to an idol and does not worship God. “The witnesses –among the true believers– shall not refuse to present themselves whenever – they are summoned to give witness; and conceal not true testimony, for he who conceals it has surely a wicked heart” [2:283]. “When you speak a word or pronounce a judgment be true and just, though the person concerned be your relative.” [6:152]. “Stand fast to truth and justice and let your testimony be only for the sake of God and speak not falsely, although the declaration of truth might be against your own interest or against your parents or your near relatives, such as your children.” [4:135].
“Let not hatred towards any person induce you to act unjustly against him” [5:8]. “The truthful men and the truthful women shall find a rich reward” [33:35]. “They are beloved and blessed who enjoin truth and patience upon each other” [103:3]; “and they who do not give false witness or those who sit in the company of liars” [25:72].
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