His Patience


What is the patience of prophpet muhammad? What is the patience in islam?

“O you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.” (al-Baqarah 2; 153)

The Arabic term abr or patience has several meanings like to keep moderation, to endure pain, to keep calm before hardship, and to exhibit firmness on the path directed by Islam and human reason. Imam Nawawi explains it as follows: “Patience is to compel the self to fulfill the commands given to it. And this can be achieved by means of enduring the difficulties of the acts of worship, other troubles, and harms that will save from sins.”

Patience is a spiritual and moral characteristic encouraged by religion. It is a manifestation of faith. The object of patience is to keep firmness, not to become uneasy, and panic before unexpected incidents.

However, patience does not mean to comply with condemnation, derogation, and sluggishness. Additionally, it does not mean to endure the attacks directed upon human dignity and to not show protest against them, because Islam does not approve patience before unlawful acts. On the contrary, believers are expected to fight physically or orally against such acts, and if that is not possible, they are required to at least express hatred. Enduring hardship, for which a person has enough strength to overcome, or being indifferent towards necessities, which can be easily taken care of, is not considered patience but weakness and laziness.

Patience is a calming and consoling means that prevents believers from rushing and making regrettable decisions. This is why real patience is the one which is shown as soon as hardship strikes. As it was narrated by Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet passed by a woman who was weeping beside a grave. He told her to fear Allah and be patient. She did not recognize the Prophet (pbuh) and said to him:

“Go away, for you have not been afflicted with a calamity like mine.” Then, she was informed that he was the Prophet, so she went to the Prophet’s house. There she did not find anybody guarding his house. Thus she could go to the presence of the Prophet. Then (presenting her apologies) she said to him,

“I did not recognize you.” He (pbuh) responded:

“Verily, the patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.” (Bukhari, Janaaiz, 32)

In another saying, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) informs us about the types and virtues of patience as follows: “There are three types of patience: patience during times of hardship without complaints, patience in servitude (or patience to fulfill the obligations), and patience in abstaining from evil and prohibited acts. Allah the Almighty writes three hundred stages for those who show patience until the hardship is removed. Allah the Almighty writes six hundred stages for those who show patience in servitude and piety. Between two stages there is a distance as much as the distance between the sky and the seventh layer under the world. Allah the Almighty writes three hundred degrees for those who show patience in abstaining from sins. Between two stages there is a distance as much as the distance between the world and the Throne (of Allah).” (Suyuti, II, 42; Daylami, II, 416)

There are many verses in the Qur’an about patience. In the following verse, Allah the Almighty states that patience is one of the tests in this world:

“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,” (al-Baqarah 2; 155)

Allah the Almighty tests his servants to see who will show patience and then to reward them: “And verily We shall try you till We know those of you who strive hard (for the cause of Allah) and the steadfast, and till We test your record.” (Muhammad 47; 31) Allah loves His patient servants, and informs us that He is with such servants; and, He promises that He will abundantly bestow His spiritual rewards upon such servants. This is stated in the following verse:

“…those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.” (al-Zumar 39; 10)

One of the beautiful names of our Lord is al-Sabur, which means the Patient or the One who shows much patience. The Prophet (pbuh) explains this Divine name in the following saying: “None is more patient than Allah against the harmful saying. He hears from the people they ascribe children to Him, yet He gives them health and (supplies them with) provision.” (Bukhari, Adab, 71) In order to improve his/her patience a believer should often remember and contemplate about the Divine name of al-Sabur.”

In respect to the benefits of patience, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) says that “there are great benefits in your patience before the things that you do not like.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 307)

In another saying, the Prophet (pbuh) states that,

“Strange are the states of a believer for there is good in his every affair. And this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer. Because if he faces an occasion to feel delight, he thanks Allah, thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble, shows resignation, and endures it patiently, there is a good for him in it.” (Muslim, Zuhd, 64)

Patience, which is described by the Prophet (pbuh), is the common characteristic of all the prophets. All of them faced various hardships while conveying Allah’s message. They were exiled from their lands and thrown into jails by the rulers of their time. Many of them even became martyrs for the sake of their mission. However, they showed patience and continued to fulfill their mission. The life of our Prophet (pbuh) was filled with manifestations of patience. Tariq b. Abdullah al-Muharibi (r.a.) narrates one of his observations about the hardships endured by the Prophet (pbuh) as follows:

“I saw Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) in the market of Zulmajaz. He was wearing red attire. He was addressing people:

“O people! Say that there is no god but Allah and save yourselves.” A man with a rock in his hand was following the Prophet (pbuh) and shouting:

“O people! Do not believe and obey him for he is a liar.” The stones thrown by him caused the Prophet’s feet to bleed. I asked the people:

“Who is this person?” They said:

“This is one of the sons of Abdulmuttalib.” I asked again:

“Who is the other man stoning him?” They replied:

“He is his uncle Abu Lahab.” (Darakutni, III, 44-45)

Such saddening incidents happened to the Prophet (pbuh) many times in his twenty-three-year long prophethood life. One of these incidents is narrated by Mudrik al-Azdi (r.a.):

“I was performing pilgrimage with my father. When I arrived and encamped at Mina, I met a group of people. I asked my father:

“Why have these people gathered here?” He told me:

“Because of this man, who left his tribe’s faith.” When I looked towards the direction that my father was pointing at, I saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He was telling the people:

“O people! Say that there is no god but Allah and save yourselves.” Some people were spitting at him; others were throwing dirt at him and some people were verbally abusing him. This situation continued till noon. Just then a young lady came with a bowl of water and a handkerchief. She was crying. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) took the bowl and drank some water and then washed his hands and face. He raised his head and said:

“My beloved daughter! Please cover yourself. Do not be afraid that your father will be trapped and get killed; do not fear that your father will be disgraced.” We asked who that young lady was and we were told that “she was his daughter Zainab.” (Haythami, VI, 21)

The Prophet’s patience against all kinds of persecution and torture in the path of conveying the message of Islam even astonished the poet who wrote that “no matter how infinite perseverance is, there is an end to it.” He (pbuh) always faced great pains from his childhood till his death. He sent his father, his mother, his grandfather, his uncle Abu Talib, his beloved wife Khatijah, Hamza the master of the martyrs, and his children one by one to Allah the Almighty. He himself placed many of his companions into their graves, but none of these impaired his balance and resolution or made him lose his patience.

Even though he and his companions were exposed to the worst type of tortures, they maintained their patience as the order of Allah the Almighty. When companions lost their patience, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) refreshed their perseverence by giving them hope and glad tidings. Khabbab b. Arat (r.a.) narrates:

“I came to the Prophet while he was leaning against his sheet cloak in the shade of the Ka’ba. We were suffering greatly from the pagans in those days. We complained to him saying:

“Will you not invoke Allah to help us?” He sat down with a red face and said:

“There were those before you who were buried into pits, and then a saw might be put over the parting of his head which would split it into two parts, yet that would never make him abandon his religion. Again there were those before you who used to be combed with iron combs so that nothing of his flesh or nerves would remain on his bones; yet that would never make him desert his religion. Allah will surely complete this religion (i.e. Islam) so that a traveler from Sana to Hadramaut will not be afraid of anybody except Allah. Or he would not be worried about the wolf, lest it should harm his sheep, but you are in a hurry.” (Bukhari, Manaqib al-Ansar, 25, 29)

While fighting with the enemies of the religion Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) endured not only their persecutions but also the hardships caused by the lack of material means; however, he would never put these forward as excuses. Even at the worst times of poverty and shortage he continued his efforts on the path of Allah the Almighty. He and his companions endured all kinds of hardship that resulted from poverty. One example was narrated by Abu Musa al-Ashari (r.a.) as follows:

“We went out in the company of the Prophet for an expedition and we were six persons having one camel which we rode in rotation. So, due to excessive walking our feet were injured badly. My feet, too, got hurt and my nails had fallen. We used to wrap our feet with the pieces of cloth, and for this reason, this expedition was named Dhat-ur-Riqa as we wrapped our feet with rags.”

Abu Burda, who reported this tradition, said that: “When Abu Musa narrated this tradition, he felt regretful to do so and said: “I did not do a good thing by revealing this.” Probably he disliked to have disclosed his good deed performed just for the sake of Allah.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 31)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) shared the same conditions with his companions no matter how hard they were; and he never saw himself superior to them. If his people were hungry, he and his family were the first ones who suffered from hunger. Whereas, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had been offered the wealth of the world by Allah the Almighty and he was told that if he had wished, mountains of Mecca could have been turned into gold. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) refused all of those saying:

“I would endure hunger one day and fill my stomach and thank Allah on another day. Because faith is formed from two halves, which complete each other: one half is gratefulness and the other half is patience. Allah the Almighty says:

“…Verily in this there are Signs for such as are firmly patient and constant, grateful appreciative.” (Ibrahim 14; 5)” (Hakim, II, 484)

Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) endured the harshness of the bedouins and torments of the hypocrites and managed them kindly, even after he became victorious and established his state. He asked his ummah to do the same and serve people nicely saying:

“A believer who blends in with people and endures their harshness is better than the believer who does not get in to the public and does not endure their roughness.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 55) It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. Mas’ud (r.a.) who relates the following incident which is a nice example in this respect:

“While the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was distributing the war booty after the Battle of Hunain in Jiranah, people bothered him so much that he related the story of a Prophet who had been beaten by his people: “Allah the Almighty had sent one of his servants to his people as a messenger. His people had beaten him and wounded his head. But that servant of Allah was saying while he was wiping the blood from his face: “My Lord, forgive my people, for they do not know.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 456; Muslim, Jihad, 105)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also presented exemplary patience for us during his sicknesses. Abu Sa’d al-Hudri (r.a.) visited the Prophet (pbuh) when he was sick and witnessed how great his endurance to his pain was. Abu Said continues his narration as follows:

“I put my hand upon him and I could even feel his body fever under the blanket. I said:

“O Messenger of Allah! You have a really high fever.” He (pbuh) responded:

“We (prophets) are like this. Troubles come to us many times more, and in return multiple rewards are given to us.”

I asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Who among the people faces most of the hardships?” He said:

“Prophets” I asked again:

“Then who?” He replied:

“The righteous ones” and he made the following explanation:

“Some among them has to endure so much poverty that they cannot find anything to cover themselves except a cloak. But they feel joy from poverty just as you feel joy from affluence.” (Ibn Majah, Fitan, 23)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked his followers to endure the great and small hardships of life and expect their rewards from Allah the Almighty. He (pbuh) informed us that servants who are rested by their two beloved things (i.e., his eyes) and then who maintain their patience will be rewarded by Paradise by Allah the Almighty. (Bukhari, Marda, 7) He also told us that a servant who thanks Allah and maintains his patience during his sickness will enter Paradise if he dies as a result of this sickness; if he recovers from it, his flesh will be replaced by better flesh; his blood will be replaced by better blood; and his sins will be forgiven. (Muwatta, ‘Ayn, 5) This is why believers should endure the sicknesses and hardships which they are faced with and hope for their rewards from Allah the Almighty.

Patience before illnesses and troubles lets people gain Paradise. One incident which clearly manifests this fact is as follows:

It was narrated by Ata bin Abi Rabah (r.a.):

“Ibn Abbas said to me, “Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “This black lady came to the Prophet and said, “I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.” The Prophet said (to her), “If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.” She said, “I will remain patient,” and added “but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.” So he prayed Allah for her.” (Bukhari, Marda, 6)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also taught those who are inflicted by illnesses how to pray. Umm Salama (r.a.) reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: If any Muslim who suffers some calamity says, what Allah has commanded him,

“We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return; O Allah, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in exchange for it,” Allah will give him something better than it in exchange. When my husband, Abu Salama, died I said:

“Which Muslim is better than Abu Salama whose family was the first to emigrate to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)?” I then continued the above mentioned prayer, and Allah gave me Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) in exchange of Abu Salama” (Muslim, Janaiz, 3)

Let us mention another example in this respect from the companions of the Prophet (pbuh).

After the Battle of Uhud the daughter of Abdulmuttalib Safiya walked towards the martyrs to see her brother Hamza. Her son Zubair (r.a.) stopped her on the way and told her:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asks you to go back.” She said:

“Why? Should not I see my brother? I have already heard that he was butchered. He suffered all these for the sake of Allah. Of course nothing less could console us. If Allah wishes I will remain patient and expect its reward from Allah.” Zubair went to Allah’s Messenger and told him everything his mother said. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), mercy to the universe, responded:

“Then let her see her brother.” Safiya went to her brother’s body and prayed for him. (Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 349)

How great her patience was! Hamza was loved by everybody and had done so many great services on the path of Islam that he had deserved to be called “the lion of Allah.” The terrible end of the Muslim hero was one of the hardest things to endure in the world. However, it was enough to console Safiya (r.a.) that her brother’s sufferings were for the sake of Allah. She maintained her patience and hoped for the reward for her patience from Allah the Almighty.

Indeed the greatest sorrow for the believers, which was also the hardest one to endure, was the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). On that day, as was reported by Anas (r.a.), everything in Medina was darkened. Companions, who could not believe his death, unwillingly buried the Prophet’s blessed body. (Ibn Hanbal, III, 221, 268, 287; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 3) Despite all these, believers endured the death of the Messenger of Allah and buried their pain into their hearts. All the other hardships were next to nothing in their eyes. It certainly was much easier for believers to endure hardships remembering and comparing them to the death of Prophet (pbuh). Indeed, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) pointed out this fact by saying that “the believing servants, who were inflicted by troubles and hardships of this world, should console themselves and maintain their patience by thinking about the calamity they had faced by my death.” (Muwatta, Janaiz, 41)

To summarize, patience is the safest way to be saved from hardships and sorrows of the world and to attain comfort. Because, the medicine of patience both removes the curtains of heedlessness from the servants’ eyes and relieves and opens their hearts. Allah the Almighty has created many beneficial and effective cures; however, human beings have seen no remedies more useful than patience.

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

The Human Reality