Before the battle of Uhud, when the Muslims were preparing and such, the Prophet, peace be upon him, lifted up his sword and said “who will fight with my sword?”
And all the sahaba were like “me, me”, like “pick me”. The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) put down his sword. Their emotions were raised.
The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) raised it again and said “who will take my sword and give it the haq (right) due to the sword?”
Abu Dujana, may Allah be pleased with him, an Ansar, said “ma haqquha” (what is the right due to it?)
The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said “that you fight with it, and bends from the amount of skulls it hits.”
So Abu Dujana (radiallahu ‘an) said “I’ll do it.”
So the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said “take it.”
Abu Dujana (radiallahu ‘an) got up and took the sword. He put on his red bandanna–and there are narrations about it: “when Abu Dujana puts on his red bandanna, it means death for the other army.”
So he put it on, took the sword, and strutted in front of the other companions, like showing off. He said (to the meaning of) “look what I got, you didn’t get it!” and so on.
The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) smiled and said “This is a walk hated by Allah, and his messenger, except in this context.”
And they did this in battles–competed for good deeds, for the honour of protecting the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم), and so on.
The lesson: compete to good deeds, and inshaAllah the work will grow exponentially. One MSA did this for Islam Awareness Week, and the number of professor sponsorships they got jumped from two the year before, to 90. Subnahallah.
They also competed tribally.
May Allah forgive all the companions and enter them into Jannatul Firdaus, and allow us to benefit from their teachings.