Patience (Sabr)

Patience and Quran

Almighty Allah says about patience:

“O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.”

(Quran, 3:200)

He also says:

“And be patient, [O Muhammad], and your patience is not but through Allah. And do not grieve over them and do not be in distress over what they cons”

(Quran, 16:127)

Anas ibn Maalik narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Patience ought to be exercised at the first (stroke) of grief.”

(al-Bukhaaree and Muslim).

This means that true patience for which Allah rewards is that which is exercised on the occasion of the sharpness or vehemence when a misfortune befalls us,

Definition of Sabr (Patience)

Sabr is an Arabic word which comes from a root meaning ‘to detain, refrain, restrain and stop’. Patience, therefore, means to prevent oneself from despairing and panicking, stopping one’s tongue from complaining and one’s hands from striking one’s face and tearing one’s clothes in times of grief.

Patience is a positive psychological attitude by virtue of which we refrain from doing what is not good. The person who has patience is the one who has trained himself to handle difficulties successfully. Patience means to calmly accept the trials Allah sends without complaining about His decree.

Patience means to seek Allah’s help and to complain to none but to Allah Alone. Complaining to Allah does not contradict patience. Prophet Ya’qoob complained of his grief and anguish to Allah Alone – “He said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah , and I know from Allah that which you do not know.” (Quran, 12:86). However, complaining to people, either directly or indirectly is contrary to patience and to the noble teachings of Islam in this regard.

Patience has many other names, according to the situation. If patience has to do with controlling one’s passions, it may be called honour. If it involves controlling one’s stomach, it may be called self-control. If it involves keeping quiet about what is not fit to disclose, it may be called discretion. If it involves controlling one’s anger, then it may be called restraint, If it involves refraining from haste, it may be called gracefulness. If it involves refraining from running away, it may be called courage. If it involves refraining from taking revenge, it may be called forgiveness; and if it involves refraining from being tight-fisted, then it may be called generosity

Three Kinds of Patience

  1. Patience for doing righteous deeds:

This is the kind of patience that is exercised in the course of carrying out Allah’s commandments even though they may look hard to do at times. Examples of this include performing all the obligatory prayers on time under all circumstances, bearing patiently while fasting during the month of Ramadan and leaving the nice, warm bed in winter to perform the fajr prayer on time.

  1. Patience for avoiding evil deeds:

This is the kind of patience that is exercised in the course of avoiding all the words and deeds that Allah does not like even though we may like to say or do them. Examples of this include stealing people’s property, backbiting them, watching dirty films, taking drugs and telling lies,

  1. Patience for Allah’s decrees:

This is the kind of patience that is exercised while undergoing the effects of His decrees, which cause you to experience all kinds of hardships and adversities, such as losing a beloved one, falling sick and failing an exam.

Patience in the Quran

Allah mentions patience in the Quran in as many as ninety places. He enjoins it upon the believers and makes it a condition of success and prosperity. In fact, He will reward those who have patience with a threefold reward: blessings, mercy and guidance.

Allah has promised the believers His support and victory in this life and a great reward in the hereafter, and mentions in His Glorious Book that they deserve this because of their patience. Allah has made patience a condition of His love; for indeed He loves those who are firm and remain patient and forbearing,

Patience in the Hadeeth

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) once said, “How wonderful the case of a believer is! Indeed, there is good for him in everything; and this is not the case with anyone except that of a believer: If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude (to Allah) and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is (also) good for him.” (Muslim)

He also said, “No affliction befalls a Muslim but Allah forgives his wrong actions because of it, even it be no more than a mere thorn.” (al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

Umm Salamah said, “I heard Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) say, ‘There is no servant of Allah who is afflicted with some misfortune and who says innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon. Allaahumma’ ‘jurnee fee museebatee, wa akhlif lee khctyran minhaa (Truly we belong to Allah and to Him we will return. O Allah, reward me for patiently enduring this misfortune of mine and replace it with something better) without Allah rewarding him and replacing his loss with something better.'” She said, “When Abu Salamah died, I said as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had ordered me, and Allah gave me someone better than him – Allah’s Messenger (pbuh).” i.e. as a husband.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) entered upon a woman and asked her, “Why are you shivering like that?” She said, “It is because of fever,” and she began to curse the fever. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Do not curse fever because it takes away many wrong actions, just as the blacksmith’s bellows remove dross and impurities from iron.” (Muslim)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, “When someone’s man dies, Allah asks the angels, “Did you take the soul of my slaves’ child?” They reply, “Yes.” Thereupon He asks them, “What did my slave say? They reply, “He said: To Allah we belong and to Him we will return.” Allah says, “Build a house for him in Paradise and call it Bayt al-Hamd (House of Praise).” (at-Tirmidhee)

A believer should regard both good fortune and misfortune as a test. Allah tests us to enable us to see for ourselves if we are grateful for His favors or ungrateful. He tests us to enable us to see for ourselves if we are patient when His favors are withdrawn. Therefore, a Muslim should be grateful to Allah if things go well. When things turn wrong, he should keep trying patiently and put his trust in Allah. He should not give up hope. He will pass the test if he remains patient. He will find with Allah a great reward in the hereafter, and Allah will give him success.

Be patient, for patience will open your heart to the present moment even if you do not like it. If you get stuck in a traffic jam, late for an appointment or find long queues at public establishments, becoming more patient will certainly help you relax. It will afford you a good time to breathe and give you an opportunity to remind yourself that, in the bigger scheme of things, being late is not the end of the world. This will make you a peaceful person. You will begin to enjoy many of the moments of life that used to frustrate you.

Patience is a quality of heart. It can be greatly deepened and enhanced through practice. An effective way to deepen our patience is to offer the five obligatory prayers regularly on time. Soon you will find life turning into a classroom, and the curriculum would be salaah and patience!

Exercise patience for the sake of Allah, and Almighty Allah will certainly give you the help you need in this world as well as blessings in the afterlife. As Allah says, “Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” (Quran, 39: 10)

Nothing is hidden from Allah, especially not the burden borne by those who suffer for His sake. Be patient with Him for a little while and you will see His grace and favors for years!

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