Featured, Tafseer

Unknown Heroes in the Qur’an


In the Qur’an, I have found several examples of people who achieved incredible things but their names and background are not mentioned at all.

1- Musa’s Two Brave Soldiers

When Allah ﷻ commanded Banu Israel to enter Al-Quds they refused except for two brave men who stood up to fulfil the command of Allah ﷻ:

قَالُوا۟ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّ فِيهَا قَوْمًا جَبَّارِينَ وَإِنَّا لَن نَّدْخُلَهَا حَتَّىٰ يَخْرُجُوا۟ مِنْهَا فَإِن يَخْرُجُوا۟ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّا دَٰخِلُونَ 
قَالَ رَجُلَانِ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَنْعَمَ ٱللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِمَا ٱدْخُلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْبَابَ فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُمُوهُ فَإِنَّكُمْ غَـٰلِبُونَ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱللَّـهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوٓا۟ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

They said, ‘There are tyrants in it, Musa. We will not enter it until they leave. If they leave it, then we will go in.’ Two men among those who were afraid, but whom Allah had blessed, said, ‘Enter the gate against them! Once you have entered it, you will be victorious. Put your trust in Allah if you are believers.’ (Al-Maida, 5:22-23)

2- The protector of messengers

When Allah ﷻ sent three messengers to a city in which the people had rejected them, a brave man came to their aid from the far side of the city which led to his martyrdom.

وَجَآءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ

A man came running from the far side of the city, saying, ‘My people! follow the Messengers! (YaSin, 36:20)

3- The man who accounted Firawn

When Firawn wanted to kill Musa (as), a believing man who had hidden his faith stood up and accounted Firawn for his tyranny.

وَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ مِّنْ ءَالِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَكْتُمُ إِيمَـٰنَهُۥٓ أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّىَ ٱللَّـهُ وَقَدْ جَآءَكُم بِٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتِ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ كَـٰذِبًا فَعَلَيْهِ كَذِبُهُۥ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ صَادِقًا يُصِبْكُم بَعْضُ ٱلَّذِى يَعِدُكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِى مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ كَذَّابٌ

A man among Pharaoh’s people who had iman, but kept his iman concealed, said, ‘Are you going to kill a man for saying “My Lord is Allah” when he has brought you Clear Signs from your Lord? If he is telling a lie, be it on his own head. But if he is telling the truth, then some of what he is promising you will certainly happen to you. Allah does not guide any unbridled inveterate liar. (Al-Ghaafir, 40:28)

In all these examples, the courageous believers that were mentioned were not prophets or messengers, nor were they famous or powerful. In fact, we don’t even know their names, yet they are mentioned in the Qur’an as unknown heroes.

There is a powerful lesson in this that to achieve greatness, you don’t need to be rich, powerful and famous. All that is required is faith, sincerity, and courage to reach greatness. In the age of mass communication, we think to achieve greatness we have to be household names and be in the public eye but this is in the estimation of people not in the estimation of Allah ﷻ. Many unknown heroes do great things for our community, and we don’t know them, this doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

These verses remind me of many Islamic scholars and callers to Islam who are struggling for the cause of Allah to establish His deen who are not celebrity scholars and personalities in the Islamic dawa scene. They are the unknown heroes of this Deen and their reward is with Allah ﷻ.

After the Battle of Nahawand the Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab asked about the martyrs, and was told some names that he did not recognise. He said, “Those are the weak and oppressed among the Muslims, but the One Who has honoured them with martyrdom knows their faces and lineages; what does it matter whether Umar knows them or not?” (Ibn Kathir, Bidayah wa an-Nihayah, 7/113)