Different perspectives on patience
may be of two types, either physical or psychological, and both types may either
be by choice, or without choice, as follows:
Physical patience by choice, such as doing hard labour willingly.
2. Physical patience without choice, such as patiently
bearing illness, beatings and extremes of heat and cold.
Psychological patience by choice, such as refraining from things which both the Sharî‘ah
and common sense say are wrong.
Psychological patience without choice, such as patiently bearing an enforced
separation from one whom you love.
Different degrees of patience
mentioned above, patience is of two types, by choice or without choice. Patience
by choice is of a higher status than patience without choice, as the latter is
common to all people, but the former is not attainable by all. Therefore the
patience of Yûsuf in disobeying the wife of al-‘Azîz, and his patience in
bearing the resulting punishment, is of higher status than his patience in
response to his brothers’ actions, when they threw him in the well, separated
him from his father and sold him as a slave. This superior, voluntary, patience
is the patience of the Prophets, of Ibrâhîm, Mûsâ, Nûh, ‘Īsâ and
the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (SAAS). Their patience was in calling the
people to Allâh and in striving against the enemies of Allâh.
The patience of men and the patience of
four types of patience apply only to human beings. Animals share only the two
types of patience in which there is no choice, and man is distinguished by
having the patience in which there is choice. However, many people have only the
types of patience that animals have, i.e. patience without choice.
The patience of jinn
share the quality of patience with humans, as they are responsible for their
actions like humans are. They need patience to fulfil their responsibilities
towards Allâh the same way that we do. One might ask: are they responsible in
the same way that we are, or in a different way?
The patience of the angels
question that may arise is: Do angels have patience? The answer is that angels
are not tested with whims and desires that contradict their reason and
knowledge. For them, worshipping and obeying Allâh are like breathing is for
us. Therefore the angels do not need patience,
The patience of man
a man’s patience is stronger than his whims and desires, then he is like an
angel, but if his whims and desires are stronger than his patience, then he is
like a devil. If his desire for food, drink and sex is stronger than his
patience, then he is no better than an animal.
said: “Allâh created angels with reason and no desires, animals with desires
and no reason, and man with both reason and desires.” So if a man’s reason
is stronger than his desire he is like an angel, and if his desires are stronger
than his reason, then he is like an animal. A little baby has only the desire
for food when he needs it, and his patience is like the patience of animals.
Until he reaches an age when he can tell what is what, he has no choice. When he
grows a little older and develops a desire to play, then his patience by choice
will develop. He will start to know what patience means when his sexual desire
develops. At the same time, his power of reasoning is also developing, but
between the age when he can tell right from wrong and
Different degrees of patience
kinds of patience which relate to resisting whims and desires can be graded
according to how strong and effective they are. There are three degrees of
patience in this respect:
The motive of religion is strongest in controlling and defeating the whims and
desires. This level of control can only be achieved through consistent patience,
and those who reach this level are victorious in this life and in the hereafter.
They are the ones “who say, ‘Our Lord is Allâh’” (Fussilât
41:30). These are the ones to whom, at the moment of death, the angels say, “Fear
not!...Nor grieve! But receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that
which you were promised! We are your protectors in this life and the
Hereafter." (Fussilât 41:30-31). They are the ones who enjoy the
companionship of Allâh, and who strive in the way of Allâh. They are the ones
whom Allâh has guided to the exclusion of others.
When whims and desires prevail, the religious motive is diminished. The doomed
person will surrender totally to Shaytân and his forces, who will lead him
wherever they want. His relationship with them will be either of two
possibilities. Either he will become their follower and a soldier in their army,
which is the case of the weak person, or Shaytân will become a weapon for him,
and one of his soldiers, which is the case of the strong person who rebels
against Allâh. Those people are the ones whose misfortune has overtaken them,
as they preferred this world to the Hereafter. The main reason for their sorry
fate is that they ran out of patience. The major characteristic of these people
is that they lie and cheat, indulge in wishful thinking and self-admiration,
delay doing good deeds, and prefer instant gains in this world to lasting gains
in the Hereafter. These are the people to whom the Prophet (SAAS) referred when
he said: “The helpless man is the one who follows his whims and desires,
and indulges in wishful thinking.”
unfortunate people are of several types. Some of them declare war against Allâh
and His Messenger, trying to destroy what the Prophet (SAAS) brought, pushing
people away from the way of Allâh, and spreading corruption on earth. Some are
interested solely in their worldly
many excuses, all because their whims and desires control their reason, and they
use their reason, in turn, to find ways of fulfilling those desires. Their
reason is held prisoner by the Shaytân, and put to work to serve his evil
purposes, just as Muslim prisoners-of-war may be
by the kâfirûn and forced to look after pigs, make wine or carry the
cross. The man who suppresses his reason and puts it under the control of the
enemy (Shayân) is like the one who seizes a Muslim and hands him over to the kâfirûn
to imprison him.
There is a war that is raging between the motives of reason and religion, and
the motives of whims and desires. Sometimes one prevails, sometimes the other
gains the upper hand. The pattern of victories for either side varies. This is
the situation in the case of most believers, who mix good deeds and bad deeds.
ultimate fate in the Hereafter will correspond to the three situations outlined
above. Some people will enter Paradise and never enter Hell, some will enter
Hell and never enter Paradise, and some will enter Hell for some time before
they are admitted to Paradise.
Different strengths of patience
people cannot have patience without struggling and facing many difficulties.
Others are able to have patience easily. The first type is like a man who
wrestles with a strong man and cannot beat him with the utmost effort. The
second type is like a man who wrestles with a weak
of the Sahâbah said, “A believer whips the Shaytân like the way a
person whips his camel when he is travelling.”
Abi’d-Dunyâ narrated from some of the salaf that one shaytân met with
another, and asked him why he was so thin. The other shaytân replied,
“Because I am a with a man who mentions the name of Allâh when he eats, so I
cannot eat with him, and he mentions the name of Allâh when he drinks, so I
cannot drink with him. When he enters his home he mentions the name of Allâh,
so I stay outside.” The first shaytân said, “But I am with a man who does
not mention the name of Allâh when he eats, so I eat with him. He does not
mention the name of Allâh when he drinks, so I drink with him. When he enters
his home he does not mention the name of Allâh, so I enter with him."
whoever develops the habit of patience is feared by his enemies, and whoever
finds patience difficult is in danger, as his enemy will readily dare to attack
him and do him harm.
When patience is needed
is required in the following areas of life:
In worshipping Allâh and following His commands,
2. In abstaining from wrong actions,
3. In accepting Allâh’s decree and ruling (qadâ’ wa qadr). This is the advice given to Luqmân when he told his son:
my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong;
and bear with patient constancy whate’er betide you; for this is firmness (of
purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.” (Luqmân 31:17)
what is just includes doing good oneself, and forbidding what is wrong includes
abstaining from wrong action oneself.
Patience in worshipping Allâh
in worshipping Allâh and carrying out His instructions means that you perform
the prescribed acts of worship regularly and do so sincerely and with knowledge.
Worship that is not performed regularly is of no value. Even if worship is
performed regularly, there are two dangers. Firstly, we risk losing our
sincerity, if the motive for performing prayers is not to please Allâh and draw
closer to Him. So to protect our worship we must make sure that we are sincere.
Secondly, we must be sure never to deviate from the way of the Prophet (SAAS),
so we have to ensure that our worship is done according to the Sunnah.
Patience in abstaining from wrong action
type of patience can be achieved through the fear of the punishment which
follows the wrong action, or through a feeling of hayâ’ (shyness or
shame) before Allâh for using His blessings in committing wrong actions. That
feeling of hayâ’ before Allâh can be strengthened through learning
more about Allâh and knowing more about His names and attributes. Hayâ’
is a characteristic of people who are noble and possess good qualities, so the
person who refrains from wrong action because of hayâ’ is better than
the one who abstains because of fear. Hayâ’ indicates that a person is
mindful of Allâh and His might. The person whose deterrent is the fear of Allâh
has his thoughts focused on the punishment. The fearful person’s main concern
is himself and how to save himself from the punishment, whereas the “shy”
person’s main concern is Allâh and His Glory. Both have attained the status
of îmân, but the “shy” person has attained ihsân, a higher
status of îmân, in which he conducts himself as if he can see Allâh,
and so his heart is filled with hayâ’.
reason why it is so important for a believer to abstain from wrong action is
because he must protect his îmân, as wrong action decreases îmân
or extinguishes it. The Prophet (SAAS) said, “When the adulterer commits
adultery he is not a believer, and when the winebibber drinks
he is not a believer and when the thief steals he is not a believer. The
believer should abstain from many permitted actions in case they may lead to
that which is forbidden.”
Patience at times of trial and adversity
during difficult times may be achieved by:
thinking of the good reward that lies ahead. The more you believe in the rewards
that are waiting for you, the easier it becomes to have patience. If it were not
for the anticipation of the rewards, no goals or objectives pertaining to this
life or the hereafter would have been achieved. Human nature loves instant
gratification, but reason and maturity make us think of the long term outcome,
which helps to strengthen our patience in enduring whatever faces us, whether
there is no choice or otherwise;
expecting and hoping for a time of ease. This hope in itself offers a measure of
thinking of Allâh’s countless blessings. When we realize that we cannot
enumerate the blessings of Allâh, it becomes easier for us to exercise patience
in facing the current adversity, because the present troubles are like a
raindrop compared to vast ocean of Allâh’s blessings and favours;
thinking of previous blessings of Allâh. This will remind us of Allâh’s
care, and strengthen our hopes ad expectations of a time of ease to come.
[Previous | Table of Contents | Next]