Patience

The Qur’an

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Quran 2:153]

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” [Quran 2:155-157]

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…” [Quran; 2:286]

“O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.” [Quran 3:200]

“…And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of what they had patiently endured…” [Quran 7:137]

“Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Quran 8:46]

“Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward.” [Quran 11:11]

“…And the angels will enter upon them from every gate, [saying], “Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.” [Quran 13:23-24]

“…And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” [Quran 16:96]

“…And We have made some of you [people] as trial for others – will you have patience? And ever is your Lord, Seeing.” [Quran 25:20]

“Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend.” [Quran 28:54]

“And We made from among them leaders guiding by Our command when they were patient and [when] they were certain of Our signs.” [Quran 32:24]

“…Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” [Quran 39:10]

“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion [of good].” [Quran 42:34-35]

Hadith

Narrated Anas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “When a man’s child dies, Allah, the Exalted, asks His angels, ‘Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?’ and they reply in the affirmative. He (Subhanahu wa Ta’aala) then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ and they reply in the affirmative. Thereupon He asks, ‘What did my slave say?’ They say: ‘He praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return).’ Allah says: ‘Build a house for my slave in Jannah and name it Baitul-Hamd (the House of Praise).”‘ [Tirmidhi]

“And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.” [40 Hadith Nawawi]

“Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

 

Sayings from the Companions and Early Muslims

“Be patient. Know that patience is of two kinds, one of which is better than the other. It is good to have patience with disasters, but better than this is to protect oneself from the unlawful. And know that patience is the gist of faith, as the greatest religious act is the fear of Allah, which is gained by patience.” [Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)]

“Faith is built on four: certainty, patience, jihad and good judgement.” “Patience is to faith as head is to body. Whoever has no head has no body. Similarly, whoever has no patience has no faith.” [Ali (may Allah be pleased with him)]

“To remain patient with commands and to remain satisfied with fate is the best rank of faith.” [Abu al-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him)]

 


 

Patience is an attribute of man only: angels, birds and beasts have no such attribute.

Giving up sin and doing good deeds are not possible without patience. Patience is to act on the inclination to do good deeds after suppressing evil propensities. From this perspective, patience is half of faith.

The first kind of patience is patience with physical pain, such as patience with difficult good deeds, and with sudden accidents and dangers. If patience is observed according to the dictates of religion, it is praiseworthy.

The second kind is patience with inclinations to evil and desire. To have patience with the desire of the stomach and genitals is self-control; with battles–bravery; with anger–forbearance; with turns of fortune–the opening of the heart; with happiness and pleasures–renunciation; and with present possessions–satisfaction.

Patience must be exercised with regard to strength and weakness, in relation to hardship and ease, as well as in relation to laws. To keep patient with the unlawful is obligatory. For instance, it requires patience to perform wudu (washing up before prayer) during cold weather, or to fast long hours in hot weather. It takes patience to maintain concentration in prayer and pray on time, rather than letting myriad tasks distract us because we cannot be patient to finish the prayer first before attending to the tasks.

There are two kinds of things which a man has to face in this world and patience is necessary with both:

A. things which accord with his desire: such as physical health, safety, wealth, name and fame, a large number of followers and helpers. To keep patient with these worldly things is necessary, as whoever enjoys these things without control keeps himself busy with sins.

“Oh you who believe, let not your wealth or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah.” [Quran; 63:9]

Whoever can keep patient with pleasures and happiness is a real man; which entails not being addicted to these things. Such a man thinks of everything given to him as a trust and soon he will have to return it. He does not let himself be swayed by happiness, nor does he keep engaged in diversions.

B. things which oppose his desire: this can be divided into three:

  • matters in which man has a choice: e.g. goods deeds and giving up sin.
  • matters in which man has no choice: e.g. natural disasters, dangers and difficulties.
  • matters in which man has a choice but which he is free to eliminate: e.g. elimination of a harmful person by way of revenge.

If a person gives trouble to another by word or deed, patience–not retaliation–is sometimes obligatory, and sometimes it is regarded as an additional virtuous act.

“And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance.” [Quran; 73:10]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him”. [Bukhari]

Just as there is patience of different types, the methods for developing the required patience also varies. One must understand the root cause of not having the required patience in each situation and then identify the ways to eliminate that cause.

As promised in the Qur’an (2:153 and 8:46), Allah is with the patient. By virtue of this Divine companionship, those who are patient stand to gain in this life and in the next, gaining both apparent and hidden blessings.

Practising Patience (Sabr)

The ideal that we must train ourselves towards is to make patience the instantaneous and natural reaction.

“The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.” [Bukhari]

If you were to lose your phone, what would be the first words you utter? Would they be words of contentment with the turn of events and tawakkul, or would they be words of frustration, despair, and perhaps even vulgarity?

Developing patience takes effort. It does not come automatically. This may be more difficult for some people than others, depending on their temperament. However, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) sees our efforts and rewards us accordingly. The struggle matters as much as, or perhaps more than, the outcome.

“…And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and more encompassing than patience.” [Tirmidhi]

Patience is essential for going through life. One cannot erupt and be frazzled by every imperfection or inconvenience. A healthy dose of patience makes for far smoother sailing.

Anger management is a key point of consideration when seeking to develop one’s patience. Anger does have it’s purpose and place and a correct way of being utilized, just like any other human emotion. If one does not feel anger when one sees or hears of injustice, then perhaps there is something wrong within. However, that anger needs to be directed and utilized appropriately so that it does not reign unbridled and earn the displeasure of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).

Anger is described as a blaze of fire that resides in the heart–and most often destructive. Imam Mawlud compares it to “a swelling mass of emotion that is difficult to hold back once it is unleashed.”

To use an analogy provided by Imam Al-Ghazzali, think of your mind as a cave with a candle glimmering inside it. This candle is your intellect. When anger occurs, it as though a fire has started inside the cave. Soon, the cave fills with heat and smoke which nearly extinguishes the candle. In other words, anger clouds your intellect and ability to think clearly.

Thus it needs containing in order to prevent damage, humiliation, and other negative consequences.

It was narrated from Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no gulp that brings greater reward with Allah than a gulp of anger that a man swallows (suppresses), seeking thereby the Face of Allah.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Abu Hurairah narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, “Teach me something that is not too much for me so that, perhaps, I may abide by it.” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Do not get angry.” He repeated that (the request) a number of times, each time he replied: ‘Do not get angry.” [Tirmidhi]

Excessive anger is harmful and prevails over good qualities. A man with excessive anger first loses his intellect, religion and worship; then his sense of right and wrong and the power of right and good thinking, then his power of freedom. Finally he becomes a man afflicted with danger.

There are three causes of not getting angry: being more engaged in more necessary things, being immersed in Allah’s Oneness and knowing that Allah does not love anger, and so more love for Him extinguishes the fire of anger. This is possible when love of the world is ousted from the heart.

The causes which grow anger are self-conceit, self-praise, jest and ridicule, argumentation, treachery, too much greed for too much wealth and name and fame. If these evils are united in a person, his conduct becomes bad and he cannot escape anger. So these things should be removed by their opposites. Self-praise is to be removed by modestly; pride by knowing one’s own origin and birth; greed by remaining satisfied with necessary things; and miserliness by charity.

Medicines for Anger

Medicine based on knowledge:

  • To ponder over the rewards and punishments of appeasing anger that have been mentioned in the Qur’an and hadith
  • To fear the punishment of Allah and to know that Allah’s punishment of you is greater than your punishment of another.
  • To take precautions of the punishment of enmity and revenge on yourself.
  • To think about the ugly face of the angry person.
  • To imagine Satan goading you to be angry and refusing to allow him that influence over you.
  • To think of the reason why you are angry and remember that what Allah has wished has occurred.

Medicine based on action

  • Saying, “I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.”
  • To sit down if you are standing, to lie down if you are sitting and bring yourself close to the ground, as you have been created of earth. Thus, make yourself clam like the earth. “When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.” [Abu Dawud]
  • To perform wudhu or take a cold shower
  • To be silent until the anger subsides.

It is important to remain calm and think through things rather than rushing and acting on impulse. Reflect on what lead to the situation that is causing your anger. Perhaps it is our own mistake that brought about the situation and therefore it is not worth projecting that anger on someone else.

Even in the case of someone else who is making us angry, we must remind ourselves that it is not worth our expending our anger on most issues. An incident is related regarding Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) where someone accused him of not dealing with justice. However, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was reminded about the following:

خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ (١٩٩)

“Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.” [Quran; 7:199]

Some situations cannot be attributed to one’s own actions or the actions of another person but they need to be accepted as the Divine Decree of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) who ordains things by His Infinite Wisdom and we are not able to comprehend the full breadth and depth of His arrangements for us. We remind ourselves that we are His slaves and we give priority to accepting His decree over having our own desires met exactly as we prefer. It could be a test that takes us closer to Him (Glorified and Exalted be He) or it could be an arrangement that is for our own good. He is the All-Knowing.

وَسَارِعُوٓاْ إِلَىٰ مَغۡفِرَةٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّڪُمۡ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرۡضُهَا ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتُ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ أُعِدَّتۡ لِلۡمُتَّقِينَ (١٣٣) ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِى ٱلسَّرَّآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَٱلۡڪَـٰظِمِينَ ٱلۡغَيۡظَ وَٱلۡعَافِينَ عَنِ ٱلنَّاسِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ (١٣٤) وَٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُواْ فَـٰحِشَةً أَوۡ ظَلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَہُمۡ ذَكَرُواْ ٱللَّهَ فَٱسۡتَغۡفَرُواْ لِذُنُوبِهِمۡ وَمَن يَغۡفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَلَمۡ يُصِرُّواْ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُواْ وَهُمۡ يَعۡلَمُونَ (١٣٥) أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ جَزَآؤُهُم مَّغۡفِرَةٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِمۡ وَجَنَّـٰتٌ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡہَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيہَا‌ۚ وَنِعۡمَ أَجۡرُ ٱلۡعَـٰمِلِينَ (١٣٦)

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous. Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good; And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.” [Quran; 3:133-136]

The above verse mentions restraining anger (وَٱلۡڪَـٰظِمِينَ ٱلۡغَيۡظَ). We must keep it contained and not let it overflow and become apparent in our words and actions. Restraining anger is an act that disappoints Satan while giving into anger is an act that pleases him. We need to bear in mind that giving into anger makes us ugly even in appearance and more often than not causes us to feel remorse and shame later.

صِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ وَأَعْطِ مَنْ حَرَمَكَ وَاعْفُ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

“Reconcile with whoever cuts you off, give to whoever deprives you, and forgive whoever wrongs you.” [Musnad Aḥmad]

It is narrated that once when Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was once insulted by a man, he offered the man an expensive garment and 1000 Dirhams as a gift in return. In other words, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) chose to respond in a higher way. At this the man responded, “I bear witness that you are from the descendants of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).”

It is also narrated regarding Umar ibn Abdul Aziz that once when he was in the position of the Caliph, he was walking through the masjid when he happened to trip over another person. The other person became upset and asked Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) if he was crazy. Although the Caliph’s guards tried to take action against the man for asking such a question, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would not let them. Instead he simply answered the man’s question with, “No, I am not crazy,” and continued on his way.

These are examples of remaining sensible and collected even when faced with disturbing situations and dealing with them in a reasonable way.

“The strong-man is not one who wrestles well but the strong man is one who controls himself when he is in a fit of rage.” [Sahih Muslim]

Further Reading