How often, in times of difficulty, have we reached out to others, to our Imams, or our friends or family and are told, “Patience” (Sabr) “Be patient”?
How often are we told this, but not given the proper steps or direction needed to rectify the circumstances we find ourselves in?
I have had first hand experience several times and have always walk away frustrated and confused. It was not until I really began to unravel the true definition of patience that I realized the advice of “have patience” is not enough, unless we know and understand what it means.
Because many of us do not know the true meaning of patience, we take the advice to mean, sit back, continue with your daily routine, put your trust in Allah……………..and wait.
What exactly are we waiting for?
Are we waiting for some miraculous lightning strike, some mysterious turn of events? Do we think that we will wake up someday and everything will be fixed?
That seems to be what people think when they keep hearing “Be patient.”
Well, in the famous words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for ya?”
It isn’t working, is it? It sounds like the old definition of insanity that we are taught: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)
What needs to happen is a bit of education. People need to learn and gain a deep understanding of the definition of patience.
The Wikipedia definition of patience is “the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties.”
The Islamic definition includes all of this along with forbearance, perseverance, determination, fortitude, constancy , steadfastness, and restraint of ones self to that which is dictated by divine law. Breaking the definition down even more:
- To be steadfast in obedience of Allah
- To be steadfast in avoiding what is prohibited
- To be patient at the onset of calamity
And, more importantly, in Islam it is understood that Allah will test us with loss, hardship, and difficulty. It is understood that when we are being tested, that we are to remain patient. We are not to react in extreme anger, we are not to complain to others, we are not to jump into making irrational decisions.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to as-sabirun (the patient ones).” [Qur’an 2:155]
Emotions erupt though, don’t they? When we are attacked, when we are faced with loss, when we are faced with disaster, or calamity, or turmoil, our human weakness comes to the front. Our first instinct is of raw emotion. And, shaytan is just waiting to jump in, catch us at our weakest, disturb events even more, and attempt to pull us far from Allah. Once that anger takes over, Shaytan has arrived! Shaytan has won that round and is relying on our weakness to win round 2,3,4…….!
We need to do all we can to seek Allah’s help and protection from the Shaytaan. “Audhu billahi min ash-shaitanir rajeem”
Once we have sought protection with Allah from the cursed Shaytan,take a breath, be patient. This is where the actions of patience are told. Here is where we can gain the Blessings of Allah, InshaAllah.
If we can check ourselves, hold back that initial anger, that initial reaction, and immediately seek protect with Allah and seek Allah’s help and guidance (action) we begin to calm. And, if we continue to ask only from Allah as part of our daily routine (action) , if we crawl out of our warm beds in the early morning hours to seek Allah’s help (action) , to cry opening to Allah (action) , and if we remember Allah throughout our day (action), our struggles become less overwhelming. And, if we do this, if our intentions are pure, if we are patient (with intention and action)we are showered with blessings from Allah.
I am not saying that we will openly know those blessings. I’m not saying that we will feel immediate instant relief and all is now good. I am not saying that we won’t experience that raw anger and react in the moment. What I am saying is that it is better to check ourselves. Take time to sit with “it” before reacting and seek Allah’s help (ACTION).
As Muslims,when we are angry or highly frustrated, we are told to make wudu (action) . Good advice! Wudu will calm us! When we stop, take a breath, make wudu (action), run to Allah (action), put our heads to the ground in prayer (action) , in seeking guidance , forgiveness, and assistance (action, action, action), our anger begins to subside. Although we may not feel it, or feel it in the way we want (immediate gratification), we are being heard.
Allah Hears our call and He responds.
Next, there is a bit of “waiting”, letting the fog lift, letting things settle, and letting our emotions adjust. However, within that wait is action!
- Action in the form of seeking Allah’s help and knowing that He is the only one who can truly help, truly guide, and truly forgive.
- Action in the form of increasing our remembrance of Allah, increasing our duaa, increasing our connection is needed.
We need to take these steps, these actions! He is waiting for us!
So, when we are told “have patience” take that advice as long as you follow the actions of patience!
We need to take action, ask of Allah! And, we need to be grateful for all that Allah provides to us.
We may not believe that our duaa has been answered because we do not get what we expect or want, however our duaa are answered with the best of answers. Maybe what we want is not good for us and therefore Allah is providing us with something which is good for us. Maybe we need something better that we do not know of. Maybe something harmful has been removed from our path in place of our duaa. Maybe something we have done that was not so nice is being forgiven. Our duaa are answered!
What is required of us?
Go back and re-read the definition if you are not understanding. This is big! This is it!
Action also comes in the form of what we can do for ourselves. We need to be proACTIVE!
We need to ask ourselves:
- What do we need to do as we struggle through the difficulties?
- What are our priorities?
- What are our responsibilities?
- What do we need to do to be patient while being accountable and making the correct changes?
Do we need to walk away from something that is not good for us? Do we need to accept something that we may not like because it is good for us? What do we need to do to fulfill our obligations? What is our “to do” list? And, our “what not to do” list? Do we need to look for new employment, new housing, knowledge, new associations? Do we need to remove ourselves from certain people, certain circumstances, certain perceptions?
All of these steps that we may need to take require a connection to Allah through seeking guidance, through the prayers of Istikhara. This is a must as Allah knows best and can help clarify our decisions for us.
SubhanAllah, if we can take a step back, breathe, and call upon Allah, we will benefit with blessings for enduring, with true patience, what Allah has placed on us here on Earth.
It is an opportunity for us to have sins removed. An opportunity to get closer to Jannah and further from Jahannam.
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and not be tested.” (29:2)
“Verily, Allah knows those who believe, and verily, He knows the hypocrites.” (29:11)
The Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) show us examples of patience/sabr and the rewards of true patience.
One of the most beautiful Hadith on patience is narrated by Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind becomes quiet, it becomes straight again. Similarly, a believer is afflicted with calamities (but he remains patient till Allah removes his difficulties.) And an impious wicked person is like a pine tree which keeps hard and straight till Allah cuts (breaks) it down when He wishes.”
So, be patient with whatever Allah wills upon us. Bend with the wind, endure! Don’t reject, be angry, don’t complain to Allah, you will be broken!
Some ayah on patience in the Qur’an:
And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (42:43)
“And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the cause of Allah) and As Sabirun (the patient)” 47:31
So, why are we tested?
As Muslims we know why. We know that Allah is Most Merciful, Most Forgiving, and Most Patient. In times of struggle, hardship, loss, and sadness we put our heads down and ask for His help alone.
We do not turn away!
We grab this opportunity to get even closer to Allah. And, when we are patient in all of our affairs, even while faced with temptation, with desire, stress, sadness, with ill-health, with calamity or loss, we are rewarded:
SubhanAllah! Do you see? Even the slightest hurt, if endured with patience, is rewarded!
This is why when we are faced with distress, we still say “Alhamdulillah”
Patience…..Sabr…… What is our reward?
“Peace unto you for that ye persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final Home!” (13:24)
When I am blessed with health, love, family, sustenance, goodness, happiness….I must put my head to the ground in praise of all that Allah blesses me with, InshaAllah.
And, when I am faced with hardship, I endure with patience, and I turn to Allah SWT, InshaAllah.
Alhamdulillah for everything! Alhamdulillah for everything!