Reflection No. 293 on Q 20:68 – Overcoming Fear
Qulnā lātakhaf innaka antal-a‘lā
We said: Fear not, surely you shall be the uppermost
(Sūrat Tāha, No. 20, Āyat 68)
When Nabī Mūsā (a) was in the court of Fir‘awn and he saw the sticks of the magicians turning into snakes he experienced a slight fear. The fear was not a personal fear. Rather, it was for the outcome for the mission of God. It was a natural reaction to what he witnessed. Almighty Allah ‘azza wa-jall reassures him and tells him not to be afraid, he would be victorious.
Fear is a natural emotion that has the purpose of keeping a person away from danger. The emotion of fear is a warning signal that informs of a threat. A correct response is to galvanize energies and forces to fight the threat, and think of how to deal with it. To be overcome with fear and let it paralyze you and to cling on to fears without doing anything about it are incorrect responses to fear.
It is interesting that the Quran mentions at a number of places, fears of Prophets and other believers and reassures them with calming words:
• Fear of Nabī Ibrāhīm from the angels who came in the form of human beings (Q 11:70)
• Fear ofٔ Nabī Mūsā when he was given the miracle of the stick (Q 27:10)
• Fear of Nabī Dāwūd when two men came suddenly into his private chamber (Q 38:22)
• Fear of the mother of Nabī Musa at placing her baby in the water (Q 28:7)
Trust and reliance in God is the answer to fear. Whoever is aware of God knows that all things lie in His hands and are under His control. He says: And whoever is God conscious He shall make a way out for him, and provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice for him (Q 65:2-3). Knowing that God is with you is a powerful tool to fight fear.
Imam Ali (a) teaches us how to face fears. He says: Whenever you are apprehensive of the difficulty of some task be steadfast and forbearing until it becomes easy for you. With all the hardship it may involve, make it appear simple and easy to those around you. Ghurar al-Hikam, p. 319
Fear is of two types, condemned and praiseworthy. The condemned fear is for personal and worldly reasons. But fear can also be positive and praiseworthy. The fear of God, as in His justice, and fear of your own evil deeds are fears that must be present in the heart of the believer. Imam Ja’far al-Sādiq (a) says: A believer fears no one other than Allah. Imam Ali (a) says: Fear is the clothing of those who know Allah.
Recite this verse when you are afraid of something. Use it to inspire and strengthen yourself. You need not be afraid of anyone other than Allah.
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;