A quality that is admired in every culture and in every period of history is patience. A person who is patient has proven that they have the ability to transverse the various hardships of life. So naturally, Islam has placed great emphasis on being patient, there is unimaginable reward for those who have this trait. A Muslim should be one who tries to instill this trait in his or her own character, so they too might be eligible for this reward.
Throughout the Glorious Quran Allah has mentioned the virtue of patience, “give good tidings to the patient” (2:155) He even mentions that: “Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (2:153) This should be indication enough for the lofty status enjoyed by those who are the patient ones. It is paramount that we understand that there will be tribulations, regardless of our diverse situations, the key to solving these tribulations with optimal reward is patience.
The Arabic word ‘Sabr’, is translated as patience, this means that a person should persevere, and restrain oneself from behaving in a way that appeases the carnal self. The Scholars have categorised patience in different ways, depending on a person’s situation. There is some difference of opinion in this regard, however, most assert that patience is of three types:
- Patience implemented when fulfilling the commandments of Allah. This has been understood to mean that, no matter the difficulty; one should persevere in carrying the various commands of Allah in the best of manners. An example could be waking up for the Fajr Prayer on a cold and frosty night.
- Patience exercised when refraining from sin. To endure and be righteous, no matter how tempting the thought of sinning becomes. An example could be restraining oneself from committing fornication, even when the situation is relatively easy to do so.
- Patience exercised when faced with difficulty and hardship. To restrain oneself from complaining of behaving inappropriately when being tested. An example could be the loss of a loved one but not questioning the divine wisdom of Allah.
In all three instances a person will be rewarded, so we should not lose hope if we are but in any of these situations. If we have faltered in any of these then we should repent and learn from our mistakes.
At what time should one implement patience? This has been answered by the Prophet (SAW) he has stated; “The real moment of exercising Sabr, is upon the initial impact of the calamity.” (Bukhari) This is obvious, as at the incipience of a trial a person is most affected. He has not had the time to adapt, he is confused and is taken by surprise. The pain is freshest at the beginning. For example, when one receives the news of the death of one’s mother or father, the immediate response would determine whether that person had been patient or not. Behaving irrationally, or uttering inappropriate words, and thereafter coming to terms with what has happened is not regarded as Sabr. Therefore, one should ensure that appropriate behavior is observed in the initial moments of grief and anguish. This would elicit tremendous reward for the individual.
When a person is afflicted with sorrow, we oft find that he or she is perplexed, and does not understand why he of she has been afflicted. We must accept one simple premise in order to deal with lamentation: this life is a test. It is not a place of comfort or bliss that is why Paradise has been created, not this temporary abode. We should not conflate the two, the world is not a paradise for the Believer, in fact the Prophet asserts; “The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever.” (Muslim) Therefore, we should not aim to indulge ourselves here, we should try to make as many good deeds as possible, then live in tranquility in Paradise. This is our aim, we should not let anything distract us.
Sa’d (RA) narrates that he asked the Prophet (SAW), “Who is afflicted with the severest calamities?” Nabi (SAW) said, “Firstly the Ambiya [Prophets], then those that come after in rank, and then those that come after them in rank. A person is tested according to the status of his religiousness. If he is a strong Believer, he faces great trials, and if he is weak, he faces trials accordingly. These adversities strike him continuously, until he becomes so cleansed from sin that he walks on the Earth, sinless.” (Tirmidhi) It is established from the above Hadith, that calamities are in actuality blessings in disguise.
We are unable to understand the divine wisdom behind many incidents, but as Allah states in the Quran, “And Allah is the best of planners.” (8:30) So whatever transpires, know that it is all a part of Allah’s plan. We should rely upon Him and try our utmost to be patient, this is the best course of action. We should not lose hope, rather we should think that this trail will be a means of many sins being exempted. That being stated, one should not hope for, or make supplication for calamities, instead make supplication for the ability to be patient at the time of tribulation.
May Allah allow us to exercise patience and be raised on the Day of Judgement with the patient ones. May he ease our affairs and give us the strength to face them as pious servants. Ameen.