When Fear Is Natural and When It’s Shirk

Shaikh Rabīʿ ibn Hādī Al-Madkhalī, may Allāh protect him, said:

Natural fear is not shirk.¹ You’re afraid of a snake, you’re afraid of an enemy: this is not shirk. [They’re] tangible matters. But a fear of things not in one’s presence, a fear of secret [means of harm], as is said, [that is shirk]. [There’s] a dead, buried person, [and] you’re afraid he’s going to harm you: this is a fear [that is considered] shirk.

But [there’s] a person with a gun who wants to shoot you—you’re afraid of him. You take your precautions; you take whatever protective measures you can; you fight; you wear body armor and [take] something to shield you. You take protective measures against arrows, against spears, against swords. And now, in this day and age, you take protective measures against bullets, missiles, and these [kinds of] things.

A natural fear that you take protective measures against does not hurt or [even] put a scratch on [your] beliefs. But don’t take things too far in [the matter]: take protective measures against [the thing you’re afraid of] with manhood and courage, [and] not the way cowards take protective measures.

¹treating other than Allāh as an equal of Allāh in something that is only Allāh’s (tr.)

Nafaḥāt Al-Hudá wa-l-Īmān, 1426 Appendix, p. 52.