| 2 Summary of Ethics


Cowardice

Overall Meaning: The Meaning of Cowardice

Jubn linguistically: is the antonym of courage. The jaban among men is he who is too awe-struck to go forth to anything, whether in the day or night. [833] Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (13/83).

Jubn technically: is fearing that which ought not be feared. [834] Tahdhib al-Akhlaq, Ibn Maskawayh (p. 23). Dispraise of Cowardice in the Qur’an and Sunnah

❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Believers, when you meet the disbelievers in battle, never turn your backs on them: if anyone does so on such a day - unless maneuvering to fight or to join a fighting group - he incurs the wrath of Allah, and Hell will be his home, a wretched destination!” al-Anfal: 15, 16.
❖ Allah, sanctified and exalted, described the hypocrites that they are cowards, and that they are not firm in facing the enemy in battle. He says: “They begrudge you any help. When fear comes, you see them looking at you with eyes rolling like someone in their death throes; when fear has passed, they attack you with sharp tongues and begrudge you any good. Such men do not believe, and Allah brings their deeds to nothing - that is all too easy for Allah. They think the joint forces have not gone, and if the joint forces did come again, they would wish they were in the desert, wandering among the bedouins and seeking news about you. Even if they were with you, they would hardly fight at all.” al-Ahzab: 19, 20.
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: ‘The worst qualities of man are apprehensive avarice and destabilising cowardice.” [835] Reported by Abu Dawud (2511) and Ahmad (8010). al-Albani authenticated it in Sahih Sunan Abi Dawud. Ahmad Shakir also authenticated it in his analysis of Musnad Ahmad (15/164). Meaning, avarice which leads one to anxiety and cowardice which makes his heart escape its place. He is neither generous nor brave - he does not benefit others with his wealth nor his self. [836] `Idat al-Sabirin, Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 275). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Dispraising Cowardice

❖ `A’ishah, Allah be pleased with her, said: “Indeed, among Allah’s creation are those who have the hearts of birds, wherever the wind blows they go with it; so pshaw to the coward! Pshaw to the coward!” [837] al-Nuwayri mentioned it in Nihayat al-Arab (3/318).
❖ Khalid ibn al-Walid, Allah be pleased with him, said: “I was present at such and such battle in the pre-Islamic and Islamic eras. There isn’t in my body a space but on it is a spear wound, or sword strike. Yet, here I am, dying upon my bed. May the eyes of the coward never find rest!” [838] Reported by al-Waqidi in al-Maghazi (p. 884) and Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (16/273).
❖ Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Cowardice and miserliness come together, they are respectively not benefiting others through one’s self and wealth. They are two causes of anguish, as the coward misses all sorts of pleasantries and great pleasures which can only be attained through courage, and likewise miserliness. Those two qualities are two of the greatest causes of suffering.” [839] Bada’i` al-Fawa’id, Ibn al-Qayyim (2/433). Impacts of Cowardice and its Harms [840] Summarised from the book Tahdhib al-Akhlaq by Ibn Maskawayh (p.170-171).
Self-humiliation and leading an evil life, seeking the stations of the lowly. Having no steadfastness and patience at times where they are necessary. A cause for laziness and love of comfort which are the root of all ignoble characteristics. A reason to accept every debaseness and grievance. Coming under every scandal in one’s self, family, or wealth. What cowardice begets of fleeing the battlefield when fighting for the sake of Allah is a major sin which necessitates the Fire. Curing Cowardice

Cowardice has its causes which make one characterised by it, therefore to cure it one must do away with them. Its reasons are either ignorance which goes away with experience, or fear which is removed through repeatedly placing oneself in the way of what is feared until it becomes a norm. [841] Mashari` al-Ashwaq ila Masari` al-A`shaq, Ibn al-Nahhas (2/954), with adaptation. Cowardice in Poetry

❖ A proverb on cowardice is: “The coward’s end is from above” meaning his wariness and cowardice will not repel death when Allah’s decree befalls him.
❖ They say: “The coward’s stick is longest.” Abu `Ubayd said: “I believe the coward to do that. Due to his failure, he says that having a longer stick will incite greater fear in his enemy than it being short.” [842] al-Amthal, Ibn Salam (p. 316, 318).
❖ al-Mutanabbi said:

“Only when the coward is in some land alone
Will he look to fight, seeking a solitary face-off.” [843] Diwan al-Mutanabbi (p. 411).


22 22