What is patience in islam?

Patience is one the most essential virtues of a Muslim. Primarily, patience is one of the most crucial requirements for having genuine belief. It was one of the most important traits the early Muslims exhibited during the first thirteen years of Islam in Mecca. Due to their steadfast patience, many of the early Muslims were able to maintain their beliefs. Perhaps that is why, when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), was asked; “what is faith?” he replied; “Patience and tolerance.” Abdullah b. Masʿud said; “Patience is half of the faith” and Ali (may Allah be pleased him), likened patience to the head of a body and pointed to the fact, that just as a body cannot survive without a head, so faith will not advance without patience. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said; “Worship is a light, charity is a proof (of one’s faith) and patience is brightness.”[1]

Patience does not only refer to endurance against afflictions, but also to observing Allah’s commandments, concerning His obligations and prohibitions. Performing worship that will help faith develop towards perfection depends on patience. For example, fasting is associated with patience, so much so that, the Prophet called the month of Ramadan; “the month of patience.”[2] Piety and gentleness, which are characteristics of a mature character stem from being patient and patience is truly what is able to control the self. Once, the Bedouin Aqra b. Habis, who had recently accepted Islam, decided to relieve himself, in one of the corners of the mosque where the flooring was sand based. The companions immediately intervened and scolded Aqra b.Habis. The Prophet, who always advised patience to his companions, asked them to leave Aqra alone. Then he himself called upon Aqra and explained to him his error by saying; “This house was built to remember God’s name, and to pray. It is wrong to relieve yourself here.”[3] Aqra was so touched by the Prophet’s polite and patient attitude that he said; “May my mother and father be sacrificed for you. The Prophet neither cursed me nor scolded me.” The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), asked Muslims to avoid anger as it defies patience. He advised the importance of anger management. Once someone asked the Prophet to give him some advice; the Prophet told him; “Do not get angry!” The man repeated his question three times, and the Prophet gave him the same answer all three times. [4] It is very important to stay calm and patient, even if there are means to chastise the person one is angry with;[5]the Qur’an gives glad tidings of paradise to those who are able to curb their anger. [6] Managing anger in a difficult situation and circumstances in the Qur’anic vocabulary would mean; “preventing evil in the best possible manner.”[7] Due to this the Prophet said; “The strong man is not he who beats someone in wrestling, but he who controls himself when he is angry.”[8]

Patience is the way of the prophets who had strong wills and determination.[9] Through patience, Ismael (peace be upon him) surrendered his will to his father who agreed to sacrifice him according to the command of Allah[10]; it was through ‘beautiful patience’ that Yaqub (peace be upon him), dealt with the loss of his son, Joseph,[11] and it was through patience that Ayyub (peace be upon him), was cured from his long-lasting ailments.[12] The patience of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was such that it brought endurance to the trials and tribulations in Mecca; and it was the root cause of building a devoted society in Medina. In the words of the Prophet; “patience is the light that brightens the path of the Muslims”.[13] In this regard, one needs to take the principle of patience as a guide in serving Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, in observing His commandments and in taming the cravings of the ego. A Muslim should endure all calamities, face all tribulations, and overcome all challenges with patience. It is also important to note that Muslims are not only tested with difficulties but also with wealth and blessings. In the case of the latter, patience, requires maintaining the belief in Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, and serving Him without being allured by the seemingly never ending material pleasures and blessings of the world. The following statement of ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAwf captures this notion perfectly; “We were tested along with the Messenger of Allah by adversity, so we were patient, then we were tested after him with prosperity, but we were not patient.”[14]

Being patient does not mean to be submissive in difficult situations. Real patience is to perform good deeds and to speak the truth, despite facing hard and trying circumstances. The advice of Luqman to his son as described in the Qur’an is truly an advice for us all; “Keep up the prayer, my son; command what is right; forbid what is wrong; bear anything that happens to you steadfastly: these are things to aspire towards.[15]

[1].      Sahih Muslim, al-Tahara, 1.[2].      Abu Dawud, al-Siyam, 54; Ibn Maja, al-Siyam, 43.[3].      Sahih al Bukhari, al-Wudu, 58.[4].      Sahih al-Bukhari, al-Adab, 76.[5].      Abu Dawud, al-Adab, 3; Ibn Maja, al-Zuhd 18.[6].      Q. 3: 133-134.[7].      Q. 41: 34.[8].      Sahih Muslim, al-Birr, 107.[9].      Q. 46:35.[10].     Q. 37:102.[11].     Q. 12:18.[12].     Q. 21:83-84; 38:41-44.[13].     Sahih Muslim, al-Taharat, 1.[14].     Sunan al-Tirmidhī, Sifat al-Qiyama, 30.[15].     Q. 31:17.

Source: Islam For New Muslims An Educational Guide,Assoc. Prof. Amjad M. Hussain, Erkam Publications

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