Mar 8, 2012

Lessons In Patience From Verses Of The Quran

By Abeer S


If I ask you to define patience, what answer will come to your mind?

"To bear", "to endure" is the dictionary’s definition of patience. And perhaps this is the only form of patience that we are familiar with. However, this is not the Quranic definition of patience. The Quran does not suggest that in order to observe patience we must withstand any difficulty whilst holding our heads up high. This is the non-Quranic definition of patience; this idea sees patience as utterly futile in places where no benefit can be derived from simply bearing and enduring. The Quranic understanding of patience is quite different and quite deep.

As Muslims, it is part of our creed to believe that whatever happens – good or bad – has been decreed by Allah, whether we understand the wisdom behind it or not. And so, before anything else, patience in Islam is a command of Allah that must be observed in face of whatever befalls us, thus we can neither exhaust it nor lose it.

And for this reason, patience is not simply a moral characteristic that burdens a faithful believer but rather it is an act of worship that the believer accepts whole heartedly and with joy – all the while praising Allah the most exalted: “Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal” (Praise be to Allah for everything).

Patience is an obligation upon Muslims, and in Islam we’ve never been instructed to do something without receiving a description of how it is done. And thus, even if patience is difficult; it is not impossible.

(Through out the following piece, when I refer to patience I am referring to the Quranic version: Sabr)

Patience is of two types:

1. Patience in remaining firm upon our faith, continuing to perform acts of worship dutifully and refraining from haram – in times of difficulty and ease.

2. Patience in face of hardships and tests.

The first type of patience is perhaps what we face every day;

· Getting up in the cold to perform fajr
· Fasting in the intense heat
· Continuing to wear Hijab even if our society opposes it
· Persisting in Dawah even we are mocked and shunned
· Staying away from Music
· Lowering our gaze from looking at that which is forbidden

“And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good - those will have the good consequence of [this] home”  (Ar-Rad 13:22)

Human beings are creatures motivated by reward, and the Creator with Whom all knowledge resides, acknowledges that. And thus we are comforted with the true promise of an eternal abode in the heaven, if we are to observe patience, continue our acts of worship and refrain from Haram

In the Quran, Allah also comforts us when it becomes hard to remain steadfast, when societal pressure reaches boiling point, He says: And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance. (Al-Muzzammil 73:10) 

And what better comfort does a Muslim have than the comfort of Allah and His promise of rewards that are to come?

The second type of patience is to observe patience with the trials and tests - limited to this life.

Allah says: 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. (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Patience has been given a great deal of importance in the Quran and it has been highlighted again and again, thus indicating that it is a huge aspect in Islam. Ibn Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) says in his book (Addat Assabireen wa Dhakirat Ashakireen): “Faith is two halves; patience and gratitude”.

And Allah tests our faith, as He has tested the faith of many before us; and these tests are only so that He may reward us justly in the hereafter.

Perhaps a little reminder is due at this point: patience is not simply bearing and remembering Allah during calamities. It is also remembering Allah and remaining persistent during times of ease. Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says in the Quran that He answered the call of Yunus (as) when he was stuck in the stomach of the whale because Yunus remembered Allah during times of ease. However, Allah is the All Hearer and He will accept our supplication whether we are practising Muslims our not, but these verses in the Quran are a reminder – and we should be wise enough to take heed of them.

And similarly, the story of Ayyub (as); the story of Ayyub is special, it is not of his message and of his people and how they transgressed – like the story of other messengers, but his story which is mentioned twice in the Quran is the story of his patience. And his patience was so beautiful that it alone deserved a mention in the Quran. To outline the story: he was dutiful, patient and gracious to his Lord during times of ease and he was dutiful, patient and gracious during his period of difficulty – and his Lord was true to His promise, and after his difficulty prophet Ayyub found ease.

That is beautiful patience.

But for us, as laymen, how do we attain this patience?

Imam Ibn Qayyim outlines two elements to observing patience:

1. Knowledge
2. Action

And these two elements initiate the physical and spiritual uplifting that a believer sees upon remaining patient.

Knowledge; a key to understanding ‘why’ we need to observe patience and comprehend our reward in this life and in the next for observing patience and all of this strengthens our resilience in remaining steadfast and not giving in. Knowledge creates a greater awareness of Allah and it was narrated in a Hadith that it is the people of knowledge who truly fear Allah like He should be feared, and thus they are more steadfast.

The second element of patience is action. Patience in some instances is a constant battle between motives of reason and religion to overcome whims and desires.

If you want reason and religion to overcome whims and desires then you have to strengthen the former to weaken the latter.

Thus we need to act in accordance to Islam

And the precautionary remedies for this are the age old ones mentioned time and again – because of their effectiveness:

- Reciting the Quran, whilst pondering over its meanings, and applying what we take away from it.
- Dhikr; remembrance of Allah.
- Learning religion, whether you take a fundamentals of Islam class, a tafseer class or simply attend a Halaqah: all of these give one knowledge which in turn leads to spiritual upliftment.
- Sincere supplication to the King of the universe.
- Surrounding yourselves with righteous people.

Most people who complain that the above remedies have been ineffective are simply not doing them dedicatedly or are insincere when asking Allah – Ask alone with assurance that He will reply, because He will.

And finally, remember, you may be asking Allah for something for two years, but there might be someone who has been asking Allah for four. I recall reading a comment by scholar who said that he has been making the same dua for more than twenty years, yet he has not given up hope and neither has he stopped (because he knows very well that Allah will answer, whether it is by giving him what he wants OR by giving him something better).

The difficulty you may be in or the barrier we may be facing is going to last as long as He wants. And He does not want to hurt us but rather He has created us to show us mercy and always remember that He loves His slaves who turn to Him and ask Him. Even if it seems that the world has closed in on you, He will still be there, always, when you turn to Him, subhaana wa ta'aala.

And this is what the idea of patience is about, acknowledging this and implementing it.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Jazak Allahu Khairan.  The article has reminded and confirmed on how to acquire patience (a task humans find difficult to implement).  May Allah give you, me and the entire Ummah the knowledge and strength to gain sabr, Ameen!
Please do keep writing and posting different topics since these renew us and lift us.  

Alhumdulilah, very good post. I find a new meaning of patience here. I've always believed that patience is a virtue. I'm pleased to find how gratifing it is to our Faith.

Assalamu 3laykum wa ra7matullaah

Mashaa'Allaah, excellent article. Jazakiallaahu Khair.

As salaam aliakum ! i found total new form of patienace !
Jazalilah khair !

Wa'alaikum salam wa Rahmatu Allah wa barakatuh, 

Jazakum Allah Khair for your feedbacks. May Allah bless you all. 

Abeer S. 

Assalamualay kum wa rahmatullah hi wa barakatuhu.

Allah swt bless you for this reminder, I am at present going through a rough patch in life, and constantly seeking forgiveness, guidance and help from my Master.  Your article has confirmd to me that I am on the right track and should persevere, I love the bit "when the whole world closes in, you will still have Allah swt there!" That is so so inspirational, its realy true. Jazak Allah hu khirn


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