Fear is something each of us knows intimately.
No matter where you live or who you are, you’ve experienced some version of fear. It’s universal. We fear for our and our children’s safety. We’re afraid what will happen if we don’t have enough money to make rent or buy food or send our kids to school. We’re afraid that one wrong turn somewhere on this journey is going to land us in a ditch we’ll never be able to get out of…
The problem with some kinds of fear, though, is they immobilize us. They paralyze our hope and cut the wings of excitement straight off our backs. We can’t move forward because every scenario of pain and failure plays and replays in our minds.
So how do we manage fear?
If we look at the story of Prophet Musa (as), we see an incredible and capable man who was chosen by God to receive revelation and to call a violent ruler towards the truth. Allah (swt) speaks directly to Musa, saying: “And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired to you” (20:13).
Imagine the Lord of the worlds saying to you, “I have chosen you.” What would that feel like? Wouldn’t it inspire you with immense amounts of courage? Wouldn’t you feel unstoppable?
But Musa (as) responds very humanly and honestly:
- He openly admits his fear:
Musa (as) said, “My Lord, indeed I fear that they will deny me; and that my chest will tighten and my tongue will not be fluent, so send for Harun; And they have upon me a [claim due to] sin, so I fear that they will kill me” (26:12-14).
A Prophet who is being spoken to by God Himself, and being shown miracles (his staff turning into a serpent, and his hand shining with light), was still harboring some fear in his chest.
This fear was not buried under layers of shame or hidden away under a brittle shield of false confidence. Musa brought it to the surface and openly explained it.
Allah (swt) responded to Musa’s fear by reassuring him: “No. Go both of you with Our signs; indeed, We are with you, listening” (26:15).
- He asks for help:
Musa (as) said, “And appoint for me a helper from my family; Harun, my brother; increase my strength with him; and let him share my task…” (20:29-32).
At no point in the exchange between them did Allah (swt) mention the option of having a helper accompany Musa to call Pharaoh to the truth. But the prophet still requested help.
Again, imagine that Allah (swt) is telling you directly that He chose you for a task. Would you turn around and ask for help from someone else? Or would you be too afraid or ashamed to ask?
Allah (swt) responded simply, beautifully, “You have been granted your request, O Musa” (20:36).
- He seeks Allah’s help with a specific dua:
Must (as) said, “My Lord, expand for me my chest [with assurance]; And ease for me my task; And untie the knot from my tongue; That they may understand my speech (20:25-28).
Musa (as) didn’t make just any general dua. He made this specific dua because it addressed what he felt was his weakness – an inability to convey the message of guidance with eloquence. Some scholars have commented on this, saying that Prophet Musa actually had a speech impediment.
This dua teaches us two things: a) the importance of identifying your weaknesses; and b) the importance of seeking help from Allah (swt) to overcome those weaknesses.
This incredible exchange between Allah (swt) and Musa (as) is saturated with wisdom and lessons. The way it addresses the idea of a very real and tangible fear is something I find profound.
Firstly, it shows us that admitting our fears is the first step to understanding how to overcome them. This could mean admitting the fear to yourself, to people you trust, or privately to Allah (swt). Deny your fears all you want, but know that you will never conquer something you don’t understand.
Secondly, it demonstrates that asking for help is normal. We weren’t created to do everything by ourselves. Humans were created weak. From the moment we were born, we needed the help of our parents to survive. As we grow older, that need for help and assistance doesn’t disappear. It’s okay to ask for help, and sometimes it’s necessary for our own well being to ask for help.
Thirdly, it illustrates the significance of being self-aware. Musa (as) knew himself, and thus he knew his weakness. Because of this, he was able to tailor his dua to address it. Many of us do not know or understand our own weaknesses. We aren’t in a continuous state of self-reflection, so we remain blissfully unaware of the existence of our flaws.
Most important of all, Musa (as) continuously sought the help and assistance of Allah (swt) in everything he did.
Genuinely trusting in Allah’s ability to help you liberates you from fear like nothing else can.
May Allah (swt) always strengthen us to live our lives courageously and upon the truth.
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