Futuwwa - The Way of The Spiritual Warrior

Futuwwa is a treasure obtainable by climbing high beyond all the “highest mountains of the world”...What business have those who fall tired even on a smooth road with such a treasure?

The Islamic Code of The Futuwwa 
(Spiritually Youthful Chivalry and Honor)

Reading the daily news on CNN and other media outlets, you run across articles that feature Muslims or those who call themselves Muslims doing horrific things which are dishonorable.  It is as if they have forgotten the commandments of God and the tradition of their ancestors and have run a muck and have become hypocrites (Munafiqs).  So, I saw it necessary to write about Islamic Chivalry as I have in the past when faced with such ridiculous abuse of Islam, such as that of the Times Square Bomber from Pakistan or Bryant Neal Vinas from America.  Their  actions are a result of those who have misinterpreted such a beautiful faith of peace, love and harmony.  As he is being condemned in this life, he will also be condemned in the hereafter.  God is just and delivers justice to all beings regardless of what label of faith they carry. As the Qur'an says "God is closer than your jugular vein" and always knows what you do and what you harbor in your heart and mind.  Now on with the meaning of Futuwwa or in Persian "Javanmardi"...

Meaning youth and chivalry, Futuwwah, as a term, is a composite of virtues such as generosity, munificence, modesty, chastity, trustworthiness, loyalty, mercifulness, knowledge, humility and piety, and it is one of the stations a traveler on the path to Allah passes by and a dimension of sainthood.  (It has some similarities to Zen Buddhism's concept of "Bushido", Christian Gnosticism, and Jewish Kabalah, which is not surprising when one realizes that God is the source)

Sum of the four virtues:

1. Forgiving when one is able to punish.
2. Preserving mildness and acting mildly and gently when one is furious.
3. Wishing even one's enemies well and doing them good.
4. Always being considerate of the well-being and happiness of others first even when one is needy.

24.2 ) "Futuwwah is knowing that others can be forgiven for their misdeeds, but you yourself are always at fault;  that everyone and everything else is complete, while you yourself are lacking. Futuwwah is showing understanding and compassion equally to what appears good and what appears bad.  The highest form of Futuwwah is when nothing occupies you but Allah."  - Abu `Abdullah al-Sajazi in FUT-99

Futuwwa, defined as youth and chivalry, is really a composite of such virtues as generosity, munificence, modesty, chastity, trustworthiness, loyalty, mercifulness, knowledge, humility, and piety. It is a station on the path to God as well as a dimension of sainthood, and also signifies that one has made altruism and helping others one’s second nature. It is an important, indispensable dimension of good conduct and a significant aspect of humanity. Derived from fata’ (young man), futuwwa has become a symbol of rebelling against all evil and striving for sincere servanthood to God: 

"They were young men who had believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. And We strengthened their hearts, when they rose up and declared: Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and Earth; we will not call upon any god beside Him, or then we had spoken an outrage. (18:14) expresses this eloquently. They said: We have heard a youth talk of them (the idols); he is called Abraham (21:60) expresses the position and influence of one who has achieved perfect futuwwa in his or her community, one who has sought to guide humanity to truth. By contrast, the young men mentioned in the verses: With him there came into the prison two young men (12:36) and: (Joseph) told his young (servants) to put their merchandise (with which they had bartered) into their saddle-bags (12:62) were ordinary young men without chivalry. "

As many people have written on or talked about futuwwa since 1400 years ago, the concept has been defined in many ways: 


not despising the poor or being deceived by the rich and riches; being fair to everybody without expecting fairness from anyone; living one’s life as a pitiless enemy of one’s carnal self; being ever-considerate of others and living for them; smashing all idols or all that is idolized, and rebelling against falsehood so as to be wholly devoted to God Almighty; bearing whatever evil is done to oneself but thundering where the rights of God are violated; feeling remorse for the rest of one’s life for committing even a small sin, but overlooking others’ sins regardless of how large they are; seeing oneself as a poor, lowly servant while considering others as saintly; not resenting others while maintaining relations with those who resent you; being kind to those who hurt you; and serving God and the people more than anyone else, but preferring others to oneself when it is time to receive one’s wages.


Some have summed up futuwwa in the four virtues mentioned by Hazrat Ali, the fourth Caliph (first Imam of the Shia) and cousin of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. They are: 


forgiving when one is able to punish, preserving mildness and acting mildly and gently when one is furious, wishing one’s enemies well and doing good to them, and being considerate of others’ well-being and happiness first, even when one is needy.


Hazrat Ali was one of the greatest representatives of futuwwa. When he was stabbed by Ibn Muljam while leading the morning prayer in the mosque, his children, who saw that their father would die, asked him what he wanted them to do with Ibn Muljam. He did not order his execution in retaliation. 

During a battle, Hazrat Ali threw his enemy to the ground and then released him. His reason: When ‘Ali was about to kill this man, the latter spat in ‘Ali’s face, which angered him. Fearing that his motive for killing the man was now confused and sullied, ‘Ali released him. He felt sincere grief when Zubayr ibn ‘Awwam, a leading Companion and his staunch enemy, was killed. Since he always considered others first even when he was in need, he usually wore summer clothes in winter and trembled with cold. It was said about him that there cannot be a young, chivalrous man like ‘Ali, and there cannot be a sword like Dhu al-Fiqar (‘Ali’s sword). 


‘Ali lived with the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, and was raised by him. He lived a perfectly honest, pure life without any taint, and embodied God’s answer to the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, about futuwwa: It means that you are able to return your self to me as pure or untainted as you took it from Me.The signs of a fata’ (young, chivalrous one) are that the individual’s, created with the potential to accept Divine Unity and Islam, is totally convinced of Divine Unity; that it urges him or her to live according to the requirements of this conviction; that, without being captivated by carnal or bodily desires, he or she lives a pure, spiritual life; and that he or she always seeks to please God in his or her deeds, thoughts, and feelings. One who cannot be saved from the temptations of the carnal self, Satan, appetites, love of the world, or attachment to the worldly life cannot climb upward to the peak of futuwwa.

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