Chapter 4: Good Patience and Bad Patience


Bad patience means having patience in keeping away from Allh and His love and His will, because this prevents a person from fulfilling his potential of attaining perfection and doing what he was created for. This is the worst type of patience, and the most difficult, because there is no type of patience stronger than that of the person who wilfully keeps away from his Creator, as apart from Him there is no life at all. No-one is as careless as the person who has no interest in what Allh has prepared for His friends (awliy) in the hereafter, that which no eye has ever seen nor ear has ever heard, and has never been imagined by any person. Once a man who admired a zhid (one who does without) for his zuhd (doing without) and lack of interest in this world said to him, I have never seen a man who has as much zuhd (doing without) as you so. The zhid told him, Your zuhd is much stronger than mine, for my zuhd concerns the world, and this life is short and unstable, but your zuhd concerns the hereafter, which is eternal.

A man asked Shibl, What type of patience is more difficult? Shibl said, Patience through seeking the help of Allh. The man said, "No." Shibl said, Then patience for the sake of Allh. The man said, No. Shibl said, Patience in seeking the pleasure of Allh. The man said, No. So Shibl asked, What is it then? and the man answered, Patience in keeping away from Allh. Shibl screamed in such a way that he nearly died.

Good patience consists of two types: patience for the sake of Allh and patience by the help of Allh. Allh said:

Now await in patience the command of your Lord: for verily you are in Our eyes... (at-Tr 52:48)

It is impossible to have patience for the sake of Allh without patience by the help of Allh:

And be patient, for your patience is but by Allh... (an-Nahl 16:127)

This yah tells us that patience cannot be achieved without the help of Allh, which means that in addition to the help of Allh we need the companionship of Allh, as in the hadth [quds]:

I am his hearing with which hears, his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes.

The help of Allh is bestowed upon the believer and the wrongdoer alike, both of whom receive blessings and rizq. This hadth describes something more, the companionship of Allh, which the believer will attain when he performs nafl (supererogatory) acts of worship until Allh loves him. When he reaches that status, and Allh is his hearing with which he hears and his seeing with which he sees, he does not move or do anything but Allh is with him. Whoever reaches this level can have patience for Allhs sake and endure severe hardship to please Him. The person who does not reach this level will not have this degree of patience; his level of patience will be in accordance with his share of Allhs companionship. The believer who enjoys Allhs companionship will reach levels of patience that are impossible for others. Those who have patience are the winners in this world and the next, because Allh is with them:

for Allh is with those who patiently persevere (al-Baqarah 2:153).


Emulating the attributes of Allh

If a person loves an attribute of Allh, then this will help him to reach Him. Allh is as-Sabr, patient, and there is none that is more patient and forbearing than Him. It was reported that Allh revealed to Dwd (AS), Have my attributes, as one of My attributes is that I am sabr (patient). Allh loves His attributes and characteristics, and He loves to see the effects of His attributes on His slaves. As He is beautiful, so He loves beauty; as He is all-forgiving, He loves forgiveness; as He is generous, He loves generosity; as He is all-knowing, he loves the people of knowledge; as He is strong and powerful, so a strong believer is more beloved to Him than a weaker one; as He is sabr (patient), so He loves those who have patience; as He is shakr (grateful), so He loves those who give thanks. As He loves those who have His characteristics, so He is with them, and this is a special and unique type of companionship.


No contradiction between patience and complaining to Allh

Crying out and complaining to Allh does not mean that a person has no patience. In the Qurn, we find Yaqb (AS) saying, My course is comely patience (sabrun jaml) (Ysuf 12:83), but his love and longing for his lost son Ysuf made him say: How great is my grief for Ysuf (Ysuf 12:83). Sabrun jaml refers to patience with no complaint to other people. Complaining to Allh does not cancel out patience, as Yaqb said, I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allh (Ysuf 12:86).

Allh also enjoined sabrun jaml on the Prophet (SAAS) and he obeyed, but he would pray, O Allh, I complain to You of my weakness and helplessness.

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