By Sister S Bemath
Many of us are poor imitations of what we ought to be . . .
It is a fact of life that all successful people have one trait in common—courage. Without it there is little hope for achievement and fulfilment. We can never be our true selves until we learn to be courageous. Courage enables us to face difficulty, danger or pain in a way that allows us to maintain control over a situation. We can build courage by identifying things that frighten or challenge us and thinking of strategies for coping with them. We can also build courage by remembering that nothing can harm us unless ALLAH wills it and nothing can benefit us unless ALLAH wills it. Many of us are poor imitations of what we ought to be, our actions often governed by other people’s opinions—hardly a satisfactory way to control one’s destiny.
So what is courage and how can it transform the routine lives most of us seem to lead? It is not just mastering of fear. Courage requires us to remain steadfast in our beliefs. It asks that we stand by the convictions we express and never give in an inch, no matter what the cost. It can be likened to taking a blank sheet of paper and writing the first sentence of novel; to saying “No” when “Yes” is so much easier. It is the force which thrusts life onwards. It is to be cultivated and nurtured. If you know what you want to do with your life, take your first step forward today. Deep down most us know what we want, we simply lack the courage to take that first step, so we procrastinate. And, together with indecision, procrastination can prevent you from ever achieving anything.
Once you know what you want, make up your mind to look ahead—with courage. Some people are always planning to do great things; they declare they know exactly what they want and how to go about it. Yet somehow they never get started; never get past the preparatory stage because fear enters the picture. They lack the courage to step into the unknown. If you are such a person, make up your mind to put fear behind you, to go ahead, to make decisions. When you’ve made your decision, it’s time for action. Pluck up your courage and ACT! DON’T let yourself down.
Let me give you a practical illustration. Let’s assume you feel you should be promoted. You work hard and keep hoping. But that’s not good enough. Your employer probably takes it for granted that you’re satisfied, so it’s up to you to set the wheels in motion concerning your future. Speak to your employer. Ask to consider you for a better position when one is available. Be bold. Explain why you deserve promotion. If your employer refuses even to consider your request you must either accept the situation or look for another job which will give you the opportunities you’re looking for.
No matter how difficult it may seem. Make the choice to live consciously. Do not succumb to that half-conscious realm of fear-based thinking, filling your life with distractions to avoid facing what you feel in those silent spaces between your thoughts. Either exercise your human endowment of courage and progressively build strength to face your deepest, darkest fears to live as the empowered being you truly are, or admit that your fears are too much for you, and embrace life as a mouse. But make this choice consciously and with full awareness of its consequences. If you are going to allow fear to win the battle for your life, then proclaim it the victor and forfeit the match. If you simply avoid living consciously and courageously, then that is equivalent to giving up on life itself, where your continued existence becomes little more than a waiting period before physical death—the nothing as opposed to the daring adventure of life.
Courage, according to the Qur’aan Kareem, requires fearing nothing and no one other than ALLAH; not hesitating to act in the way which conforms the nearest to ALLAH’S good pleasure, and showing determination. Amongst the most important characteristics of the faithful are that they do not give up when faced with difficulty, and fear nothing and no one but ALLAH. They know that there is no power other than HE. This fosters courage in them, to overcome any kind of fear. An example of such exemplary behaviour is given in the Qur’aan Kareem:
(It is the practice of those) who preach the Messages of ALLAH, and fear HIM, and fear none but ALLAH: And ALLAH suffices as a Reckoner. (Qur’aan 32, Verse 39)
Don’t give up without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be. You may go broke. You may experience failure and rejection repeatedly. You may endure multiple dysfunctional relationships. But these are all milestones along the path of a life lived courageously. They are your private victories, carving a deeper space within you to be filled with an abundance of joy, happiness, and fulfilment.
A rose only becomes beautiful and gives fragrance when it opens up and blooms. Its greatest tragedy is to stay in a tight-closed bud, never fulfilling its potential… So, recognize your potential and utilize them. That is strength undefeatable!