بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

The will and ability to observe patience is the best possible gift (from Almighty Allah)

Patience is a kind of internal human strength that is formed or comes into existence due to the force of one’s belief. It is through patience that one is able to control his or her desires and find contentment and meaning in Allah’s decisions. Patience does not imply that a person does not even cry or weep when in pain or in the face of a shocking incident. To express grief and sorrow in relation to pain or a shocking incident is natural for a human being. This is the reason why the Islamic Shari’ah has not imposed any restriction on crying in relation to a painful or tough situation because in case one cries inadvertently, it will not be considered as an act of impatience. However, what is implied by patience is that in the event of pain or a shocking incident or an accident, one should not start complaining to Almighty Allah. Instead, one should express agreement over Almighty Allah’s decision and fully accept it. Although every individual observes patience in his or her life on numerous occasions, but it is only when a person believes in Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) that observance of patience will be treated as an act of worship, else it will only be treated as an act carried out because of sheer helplessness.

The patience of Ayyub (AS), a prophet of exceptional stature, in relation to extreme suffering and testing and trying circumstances, is famously called Sabr-e-Ayyubi [the patience of Ayyub (AS)]. In addition to the death of Ayyub’s (AS) children, he had lost all of his wealth. Moreover, he suffered from a series of diseases as a result of which people had isolated him. However, Ayyub’s (AS) wife served him in an exemplary manner. When his wife too had to bear a great deal because of his sufferings, Ayyub (AS) prayed to Almighty Allah to relieve him of his sufferings. Thus, he was blessed with perfect health.

There are various kinds of patience: 1) Fulfilling the commandments of Almighty Allah that He has ordered us to perform or do even if doing so goes against one’s mood or temperament. For instance, getting out of the comfortable and pleasantly warm bed in the morning to offer Fajr Salat, giving of obligatory alms i.e. Zakaat (provided it is obligatory on the person concerned) despite immense love for and necessity of money or wealth. 2) Refraining from acts that Almighty Allah has forbidden for us even if the self has a deep desire to indulge in those acts. For instance, staying away from drinking of alcohol and taking of bribery. 3) Observing patience on Almighty Allah’s decisions. It implies that regardless of the nature of circumstances one confronts, he or she must observe patience and seek guidance from Allah.

In His Holy Book “The Noble Qur’an”, on various occasions, Almighty Allah has instructed us to observe patience. Few of the verses that instruct us on patience are the following: “O you who believe, seek help through patience and prayer. Surely, Allah is with those who are patient. Do not say of those who are slain in the way of Allah that they are dead. Instead, they are alive, but you do not perceive. Surely We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to the patient (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse nos. 153-155). Similarly, Almighty Allah says, “O you who believe, be patient, compete with each other in patience, and guard your frontiers and fear Allah” (Surah Aal-Imran, verse no. 200). Those who observe patience will be rewarded beyond measure, as Almighty Allah says, “Certainly those who observe patience will be given their reward in full without measure” (Surah Zumar, verse no. 10). To observe patience in testing times is something that Almighty Allah has called a courageous act. In that respect, Allah says, “One who holds on to patience and avoids, verily it is one of the courageous acts”. In Surah Al-Asr, the Creator of the Universe has declared patience indispensable for the success of a human being.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the last prophet for each and every human being and jinn to be born till the Day of Judgement, too, through his words and actions, has inspirited everyone to observe patience. So, right from the time he (PBUH) became prophet till the time he (PBUH) breathed his last, he was made to suffer on innumerable occasions. A she-camel’s intestines were put on his (PBUH) back while he was praying. House garbage was thrown on him (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was mocked at by being called Kaahin (a person who casts spells), sorcerer and Majnun (a crazy person). His (PBUH) daughters were divorced. He (PBUH) was boycotted for as many as three years. Stones were thrown at him (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had to leave his very own city i.e. Makkah. He (PBUH) was badly injured in the Battle of Ohud. An attempt was made to kill Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by giving him poison. Not even once in his entire life did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have two proper meals in a single day. When extremely hungry, he (PBUH) would even tie stones to his stomach. For as many as two months no fire was lit in Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) house. A boulder was pushed to crush Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to death. Other than Fatima (RZA), all his offspring died during his lifetime. Suffice it to say that the chief of all the prophets and the leader of the entire human race was made to suffer in various ways but Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never gave up on absolute observance of patience. The lesson we must learn from Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life is that regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in –at domestic, national or global level– we must observe patience in the face of those circumstances, and following the footsteps of our Prophet (PBUH), we must strengthen our relationship with Almighty Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Whatever fatigue, illness, sorrow, grief, and pain are suffered by a Muslim, even the thorn that pricks his or her body, Almighty Allah forgives his or her wrongdoings in return” (Bukhari and Muslim). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “One who does not want to fall in need of asking someone for help, Allah saves him from such situations, and one who seeks self-sufficiency, Allah makes him self-sufficient. One who observes patience, Allah grants him patience. No one has ever received a better and superior gift than patience” (Bukhari and Muslim). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Strange are the ways of a believer for everything he does is a source of benefit to him. Other than the believer, there is no other creature who has this privilege (of being the recipient of Lord Almighty’s such an extraordinary bounty). In case he prospers, he expresses gratitude and this act of expressing gratitude is good for him. And in case he confronts trying and testing circumstances, he observes patience and this observance of patience is good for him” (Muslim).

 Anas (RZA) says that Prophet Muhammad happened to pass by a woman who was sitting next to a grave and crying. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to her, “You fear Allah and observe patience”. The woman said to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “Stay away from me. You know nothing about what I am going through nor do you have any idea about it”. That woman had not recognised Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). When she was later told that it was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), she went to his (PBUH) house. Upon not seeing any watchman she said, “I did not recognise you”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Verily patience is that which is observed right at the beginning of painful and adverse circumstances” (Bukhari and Muslim). It means that whenever we run into a difficult or painful situation we must observe patience right from the beginning. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Whenever Almighty Allah decides to do good to someone, that person is made to go through pain” (Bukhari). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “None of you should desire for death because of being in pain. In case one wants to supplicate for his or relief from pain, it is to be done by saying, “O Allah! Keep me alive till the time my life has something good to offer me and give me death when it is better for me to die” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Whenever Almighty Allah decides to do good to someone, that person is promptly punished for his sin in this world only, and when Allah decides to make someone suffer, He halts the punishment of the person even after he has committed a sin so that He could punish him fully on the Day of Judgement”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) further said, “Higher reward is promised in relation to a higher trial. Whenever Almighty Allah develops a liking for a nation, He puts them under trial. Those who are contended with that trial, Allah is pleased with them and those who are discontented with the trial, Allah is displeased with them” (Tirmidhi). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The brave among you is not the one who outdoes others. Brave is the person who is able to control his or her self when he or she is angry” (Bukhari and Muslim). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The life, offspring, and wealth of a believer man and woman are always under trial till the time he or she meets the Almighty as someone who has no sin on his or her part” (Tirmidhi).

On the event of the death of a close relative, it is natural for any person to have his or her heart filled with sorrow or eyes filled with tears. However, our Prophet (PBUH) has forbidden us from loudly announcing the qualities of the dead person immediately followed by loud crying, tearing off the clothes and weeping. On such occasions, we must seek recourse to patience.  Um Salmah (RZA) says that she heard Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying, “Whoever says this in a difficult situation (prayer in Arabic), Almighty Allah rewards the person for his sufferings and provides him with something even better. Therefore, when Abu Salmah (RZA) died, as per the instruction of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), I too recited this Du’a, even though I was thinking who could possibly be better than Abu Salmah? Almighty Allah favoured me with someone much better i.e. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)” (Muslim).  Um Salmah (RZA) was firstly married to Abu Salmah (RZA) who was Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) paternal aunt’s son. She had migrated with her husband to Ethiopia and then Madinah. Her family members had stopped her from migrating to Madinah with her husband Abu Salmah (RZA) and had even taken away her infant from her. Later, grieved by her pitiful condition, her family members had returned her child to her and had even permitted her to migrate to Madinah. She was the first woman migrant. Her husband Abu Salmah (RZA) died of the wounds he had received in the Battle of Ohud. He left four orphaned children. When there was no apparent support conceivable, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) felt sorry about the condition of the orphaned children and their mother (Umme Salmah) and married her.

The crux of the matter is that there is no individual in this world who has not faced difficulties, hardships and adversities. In the Glorious Qur’an (Surah Al-Balad), swearing by four things, the Creator of the universe has declared the ever-applicable norm (till the Day of Judgement) that a human being is born in this world in a way that in order to stay alive, he or she has to bear difficulty and hardship in one form or another, even if the person concerned is wealthy or a king. Even prophets (AS), companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), learned scholars, and pious fellows had to go through extremely difficult circumstances. Whatever difficulties and hardships come our way are either to be understood as punishment for our wrongdoings or as designed by Almighty Allah as trials to test us. Therefore, whenever we confront hardships we must repent for our sins and strengthen our connection with Almighty Allah. In doing so lies our success. Under testing and trying circumstances, the Lord of the worlds has instructed us to observe patience and establish Salaat and has categorically mentioned that He is with those who observe patience. It means that those who observe patience are backed by Almighty Allah. These days Muslims are facing numerous hardships at both regional and global level. Various formulae can be proposed in relation to these challenges but the most important formula is that we strengthen our relationship with the Creator of the universe, and, in the light of the commandment of the Creator of the universe, observe patience and seek Almighty Allah’s help through establishing Salat.   

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (