بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Amina Salau
Allah’s Messenger (sa) said, “Wonderful are the ways of a believer. There is good in every affair of his – and this is only the case with a believer. If he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God). Thus there is good for him in it. If he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is also good for him in it.”(Muslim)
There is no better place from which we, as Muslims, can learn the virtues of patience and perseverance than from the life of the Prophet (sa). He was an exemplary leader whose manner of dealing with people, the events in his life, and the obstacles in his path, showed the utmost level of patience. Nowhere in the hadiths is it mentioned that the Prophet (sa) lost faith or became consumed by the trials he faced. Even in the little things, his reliance on the mercy and protection of Allah made him persevere.
The Arabic word for patience is “sabr”. In English, this loosely translates as “to be patient and persevere”. As Muslims, one of the best traits we can ever possess is sabr. It is our secret weapon whenever face the challenges in life. Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an:
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, we believe, and not be tried?” (Qur’an 29:2)
This verse alone is enough to point to us that there will always be trials in the life of a Muslim (negative or positive). If this is the case, why don’t we learn the virtue of patience and perseverance so that we can always triumph?
There are two instances or phases in our lives for which we can learn to be patient and persevere, and they are as follows.
Patience during trials
Abu Saeed Al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (sa) said, “No fatigue, or disease, or sorrow, or sadness, or hurt, or distress befalls a Muslim, even if it is a prick that he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” (Bukhari)
A hadith also tells us about the story of a lady who asked the Prophet (sa) to invoke Allah on her behalf to cure her epilepsy. The Prophet (sa) advised her to bear the illness with patience, and hope to achieve an reward from Allah. She agreed to be patient, but requested that the Prophet (sa) invoke on her behalf that she would not become uncovered during an epileptic fit, and the Prophet (sa) did so.
Whatever we are going through in life and the negative trials that we face, patience with the hope of reward from Allah can earn us His mercy and paradise. The Prophet (sa) lost his parents, his guardians, his beloved wife Khadijah, and all but one of his children in his lifetime. Even after all that, he never stopped persevering, and he never despaired of Allah’s mercy.
To learn sabr during trials, we can practice the following:
- Spend more time reading and understanding the Qur’an.
- Read the biography of the Prophet (sa) and how he and the early Muslims overcame the trials that they faced.
- Read Islamic books on patience, punishment, and faith.
- Always remember that the trials we face are only temporary and, if Allah wills, may expiation some of our sins.
- Pacify ourselves with the thoughts that Allah does not place a burden on us which is greater than what we can bear.
Once we practice this for some time, it slowly becomes a part of us, and that makes it easier to face trials with confidence, making us better Muslims.
Patience when making requests
I am sometimes guilty of impatience when making requests. I ask Allah for something and expect a response as soon as I’m done making the request. I am not sure if any of my prayers have ever been answered immediately, or as soon as I uttered them, but I know they are answered at the appointed time. As Muslims, Allah has promised to answer our prayers in one of the following ways:
- He grants exactly what we asked;
- He gives us something better than what we asked for;
- He removes some harm from us to replace what we have asked.
There is no reason to despair if we seek something, and have not received a response from Him.
It was narrated by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (sa) said, “The invocation of any one of you is granted (by Allah) if he does not show impatience (by saying, ‘I invoked Allah but my request has not been granted’).” (Bukhari)
Practicing sabr when making requests to Allah can take the following forms:
- Being patient while waiting for His response to our prayers.
- Not complaining when we do not get an obvious response to our prayers. Remember, the response to our prayers could have come in the form of a calamity being removed from our path without us knowing, or it could be that Allah has not answered the prayer because He knows that what we requested for is not good for us.
- Never get tired of asking Allah over and over again.
There will be several times in the course of our lives that our faith will be tested, and we will need our secret weapon – patience – to triumph. We should constantly ask Allah to make us patient.
The content for this article was based on 40 Hadiths on Good Moral Values by Yahya Ondigo published by IIPH
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2015