Chapter 6: Ways
of strengthening patience
patience is fard (obligatory), Allâh has provided us with ways and means
of obtaining and strengthening the quality of patience, for He has never
instructed us to do something without providing us with help and support to do
it, and ways and means of achieving it. He has never created a disease without
creating a cure for it, and He has guaranteed cure when medicine is used. Even
so, patience is difficult, but it is not impossible to attain. Patience consists
of two elements: knowledge and action, and from these two elements are derived
the remedies for all spiritual and physical troubles. Knowledge and action,
combined, are always essential.
element of knowledge is necessary in order to realize the benefits of following
the commands of Allâh and the sense of happiness and fulfillment that one may
attain by following them; and to understand what it is in the forbidden things
that causes harm, imperfection and evil. When a person realizes that, and adds
strong willpower, the desire for spiritual achievement and the wish to live as a
complete human being (as opposed to as animal-like existence), then it will
become easy for him to attain the quality of patience. The bitterness of
patience will become sweet and the pain of patience will become joy.
we has already seen, patience is a constant battle between the motives of reason
and religion on the one had, and the motive of whims and desires on the other.
If a person wants reason and religion to overcome whims and desires, then he has
to strengthen the former and weaken the latter, just like promoting good health
and reducing the risk of illness.
example, a person who has a strong desire to commit adultery can take steps to
combat it. He may have such a strong sexual urge that he cannot stop committing
adultery; or he may not commit the act itself, but us unable to stop looking at
women; or he may be able to stop looking at women but he cannot stop thinking of
sex, to the extent that all his thoughts are devoted to this subject, and he
never gives any thought to things which could benefit him in this life and in
the hereafter. If he is really serious about finding a cure for this disease,
then he has to follow these steps:
He can find out what types of food increase sexual desire, then he can reduce
his intake of them, or avoid them altogether. If this does not work, then he can
fast, as fasting reduces sexual desire, especially if the food eaten when he
breaks his fast is moderate.
He should lower his gaze and avoid looking at women, as looking at women may
provoke sexual desire. The Prophet (SAAS) warned us, “Looking (at women) is
one of the arrows of the Shaytân.” Shaytân aims his arrows from reaching
its target unless one lowers one’s gaze. But if a person keeps looking, he is
exposing his heart to these arrows, any one of which may be fatal.
He should enjoy permissible sex (i.e. within marriage), because any desire that
Allâh created in us has a permissible outlet. This is the best cure, as the
Prophet (SAAS) has indicated.
He should think of the harm and damage that may befall him in this world as a
consequence of his fulfilling his sexual desire in a prohibited way. Even if
there were no Paradise or Hell, the harm that could be caused in this world by
such an action should be enough to stop him from doing it. The damage caused by
such actions is so great that it can barely be quantified, but sexual desire
makes some people blind.
He should think of the ugliness of the person who is tempting him to commit
adultery with her, especially if she is known to have other partners. He should
feel too proud to drink from the same place as dogs and wolves!
Strengthening the motive of reason and
the battle between reason/religion and whims/desires, we have the following
“weapons” at our disposal:
We should remember the glory and greatness of Allâh, and feel that He is too
great to be sinned against as He is all-seeing and all-hearing. Whoever thinks
of the greatness of Allâh will never be at ease in committing wrong actions.
If we claim to love Allâh, then we should not disobey Him, because of that
love. A person should be obedient to the One he claims to love. Those who
refrain from committing wrong action out of their love for Allâh are of the
highest status in His sight, as are those who worship Him out of love for Him.
There is great difference between the one who obeys Allâh and abstains from
wrong action out of love, and the one who does so out of fear of punishment.
We should think of the blessings and favours of Allâh, as a decent and noble
person would never act against the one who has been treating him kindly. Only
base and ignoble people do such a thing. If we think of the blessings and
favours of Allâh, we will realize that we should not respond by doing against
His commands and committing wrong action.
We should think of the wrath and punishment of Allâh, as He will be angry with
the person who persists in committing wrong action. Nothing can stand in the way
of the consequences of His anger, least of all this weak slave of His.
We should think of what the person who commits wrong action has to lose, in this
world and the next. It should be sufficient to think of the loss of îmân
(faith), of which the smallest amount is worth much more than everything in this
world. How can anyone be willing to lose his îmân in return for some
brief moment of pleasure the consequences of which might last forever? In a sahîh
hadîth, the Prophet (SAAS) said: “No adulterer is a believer at the
time of when he is committing adultery.” Commenting on this hadîth,
one of the Sahâbah said: “His îmân will be dragged out of him
until it goes over his head like a cloud. If he repents, then his îmân
will return to him.”
6. We should relish the idea of defeating the Shaytân
and being victorious over him, because of overcoming him, and our whims and
desires, is a thing of joy and carries a great reward. It is like taking
medicine and being rewarded with restoration to good health.
We should bear in mind the reward and compensation which Allâh has promised to
those who control their whims and desires, and abstain from that which is harâm.
We should think of the special companionship of Allâh, as He has told us: “Allâh
is with those who patiently persevere” (al-Baqarah 2:153) “For Allâh
is with those who restrain themselves and those who do good” (an-Nahl
16:128) “For verily Allâh is with those who do right.” (al-‘Ankabût
We should be ever mindful of death, which could come upon us at any time,
suddenly and without warning.
We should stop thinking of falsehood and bad ideas. Even if bad thoughts cross
our minds, we should not let them stay, otherwise they may become hopes and
wishes which we may act upon, and harm ourselves and others in the process.
We should gradually strengthen our religious motive in fighting whims and
desires. Once we have tasted the joy of defeating those whims and desires, then
our determination and willpower will grow stronger.
We should direct our thoughts towards contemplation of the signs of Allâh which
He has encouraged us to think about, whether they are in the Qur’ân or in the
universe around us. If such thoughts are constantly in our hearts and minds,
this will help us to shun the whisperings of the Shaytân. There is no greater
loser than the one who, instead of thinking of Allâh, His Book, His Prophet and
his Sahâbah, dwells on Shaytân and the ideas of Shaytân.
13. We should remember how short is our stay on this
earth. No-one would want to feel that all he has achieved in this life is the
worst kind of deeds, except a person who has no spiritual ambition, whose heart
is dead and who is careless. Such a person will ultimately regret his deeds when
he realizes that, far from benefiting him, they will lead to punishment. Even
the person who has many good deeds to his credit will feel that sense of regret
when he realizes that he could have done even more.
We should know that Allâh has created us to live an eternal life with no death,
a life of pride and ease with no humiliation, a life of security with no fear, a
life of richness with no poverty, a life of joy with no pain, a life of
perfection with no flaws. Allâh is testing us in this world with a life that
will end with death, a life of pride which is accompanied by humiliation and
degradation, a life that is tainted by fear, where joy and ease are mixed with
sorrow and pain. So many people are mistakenly seeking an easy life of power and
pleasure in this world, but most of them never manage to achieve it, and those
who do, enjoy it only for a brief time before it vanishes. The Prophets called
people to an eternal life of plenty, and whoever answers their call will have
the best life in this world, better than the life of kings and their followers,
for zuhd in this life is true richness. This is something which the Shaytân
greatly envies the believers.
knowing the facts that we have outlined above is not enough. We have to strive
and do our utmost to achieve our aim and attain perfection. The best way to do
so is to put a stop to the habits that are controlling our lives, as these are
the main obstacles which prevent us from succeeding. We should avoid places of fitnah
and temptation, as the Prophet (SAAS) told us, “Whoever hears of the Dajjâl
should keep away from him.” The best way to protect ourselves from wrong is to
keep away from anything that could lead to it. One of the favourite tricks of
the Shaytân, which deceives everyone except those who are clever enough to see
it, is to show a person some goodness in a wrong thing, and call him to go
towards what is good; when the person gets close to it, he falls into the trap.
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