Rasoolullah(SAW) exemplified Bravery in his willingness to put himself on the line. At no point did he send others out to do what he was himself not willing to do. The logical position of the Standard Bearer is in the frontline, ahead of everyone else where he is clearly visible so that others can rally to his standard. This naturally puts the leader in the line of fire but the willingness to accept this responsibility is a sign of leadership and inspires respect, love and loyalty.
There are innumerable stories from his Seerah where he was out ahead, facing any potential danger even before others were aware of its presence. At no point in his life did he put any of his companions in the way of danger or hide behind them. His travel to At-Ta’aif which I’ve mentioned in detail later, is a good example where he personally took the risks instead of sending someone else. On another occasion in the battle of Hunain against the Hawaazim, when the Muslims broke ranks and retreated in confusion when they were suddenly ambushed, Abu Sufyan bin Harb(RA) saw the rout and said, ‘Only the sea can stop them now,’ meaning that they will not stop until they reach the shore of the Red Sea many miles away. Yet in that confusion and situation of chaos, Rasoolullah(SAW) forged ahead, refusing to show his back to the enemy. His companions tried to restrain him by pulling on the reins of his mule but he continued ahead.
He saw Abdullah bin Mas’ud(RA) and ordered him to call Al Ansaar and among them the Banu Najjar who were his special troops. And they came to him and surrounded him. In the end, it was just a little over 100 men who stood with Rasoolullah(SAW) in the field and turned back the tide of Al Hawaazim and won the day. Allah(SWT) helped them and it is these few men that He spoke of when he said that He sent tranquility on them and helped them with troops that they could not see. Such was the courage of Rasoolullah(SAW) that nobody could equal it.
Another example is his treatment of Abdullah bin Abi Sarh who was one of 7 people condemned to death for blasphemy and causing harm to Islam and to the person of Rasoolullah(SAW) himself. Rasoolullah(SAW) passed sentence on them and said that they were to be killed even if they were found hanging from the covering of the Ka’aba. Abdullah bin Abi Sarh took refuge with Othman ibn Affan(RA), who was his brother because of breast feeding. Othman took him to Rasoolullah(SAW). Abdullah bin Abi Sarh said, ‘I came to give you Bai’ah.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) did not respond. Abdullah bin Abi Sarh repeated his request twice. Rasoolullah(SAW) kept silent. When he said this for the third time Rasoolullah(SAW) accepted his Bai’ah and he became Muslim. When he left Rasoolullah(SAW) said to the men around him, ‘Was there nobody among you who was wise enough to get up and kill him when you saw that I was silent?’ The Ansaar said, ‘Ya Rasoolullah(SAW) if you had only made a signal we would have killed him.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘Prophets do not kill by giving signals.’ Abdullah bin Abi Sarh(RA) became a good Muslim and held some high positions of authority during the Khilaafa of Omar ibn Al Khattab(RA) and Othman ibn Affan(RA) and died in sujood in Salat-ul-Fajr.
In this incident Rasoolullah(SAW) demonstrated his commitment to truth and trustworthiness where even for his worst enemy he would not do anything in a clandestine manner.
For a leader physical and moral courage is a major requirement. As they say, ‘People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.’ Today, one may not need to take one’s life into one’s hands but the willingness to stand up for what one believes in or in support of one’s followers at personal risk to oneself are amazingly powerful tools to build loyalty and to demonstrate your own commitment to the goal. Many of these situations can’t be contrived. It is therefore essential that the leader has the courage of his convictions as an inherent trait so that when the challenge presents itself, it comes to the fore naturally. Leadership is always from the front and that is sometimes a dangerous place. But it is good to remember that there is no such thing as a cowardly leader.
People listen with their eyes. They don’t care what you say until they see what you do. They watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. If they see you doing something different from what you told them, then they will believe and follow your actions and not your words. In the process your own credibility gets seriously compromised. Credibility falls through the gap between talk and walk.
Rasoolullah(SAW) was always conscious of this and demonstrated his message by living it. That is why when someone asked Sayyida A yesha (RA) about the life of Rasoolullah(SAW) she replied, ‘Don’t you read the Qur’an?’ She meant that his life was the manifestation of the Qur’an in action.