13 Jun 2024

Patience; the habit of endurance, steadfastness, and waiting hopefully

Patience; the habit of endurance, steadfastness, and waiting hopefully


mhussain (2)
Dr Musharraf Hussain is an Islamic scholar, CEO of Karimia Institute, and senior trustee of Muslim Hands. Formerly he was the chairman of the Christian Muslim forum (2008-2010), vice chair of the Association of Muslim Schools (2000-2003). He trained and worked as a research scientist before becoming a fulltime Imam and teacher. He has authored over 30 books.

Patience; the habit of endurance, steadfastness, and waiting hopefully

There are many virtues and attributes that reflect the beautiful character of the beloved messenger of Allah. Patience is one of his outstanding, but the hardest one in our fast paced and ever-changing society.

Patience refers to a state of endurance under difficult circumstances, persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting negatively even when enraged. It is enduring a tough situation, and being able to control the raw emotions when being criticized or attacked. Patience is exhibiting forbearance when under stress, especially when faced with longer-term problems. Patience is equivalent to Quranic sabr, In cognitive neuroscience, patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term, or a more valuable reward in the long term. When given the choice we often favour short term rewards over long term rewards. But patience is to wait for long term rewards.

Patient person the Sabir believes that an individual can grow closer to Allah and thus attain true peace since Allah the source of peace is with those who are patient, more specifically during suffering. The verses of the Quran urge Muslims to “seek Allah‘s help with patience and prayer” (2:145) and “give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (2:155-7); “Persevere in patience and constancy” (3:200) and “be steadfast in patience” (11:115). It notes that “No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (41:35).

Through the inner promptings or Ilham, Allah is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. How can you recognise this voice? Through time, through testing, through experience, and most of all through worship, hardships, sufferings and difficulties are from Allah, that’s why patience is so important.

Patience is controlling the 7 negative emotions

The seven basic emotions; joy, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, contempt, and disgust cause us annoyance and anguish. So, we often avoid them, or disguise them, however, instead of pushing them away we should accept them as useful though sometimes uncomfortable part of our lives’ experience taking them seriously. We often brush them under the carpet by being cynical, ironic, or by mocking them. The fact is that these strategies don’t serve our health or wellbeing. We need to understand each of the emotions and know its cause, so we may be able to deal with it. It would be better to accept them no matter how uncomfortable they are. The Quran describes true believers as Kazemeen people who can adequately cope with these emotions.

How to develop patience.

The difficulties of life can be likened to the storm at sea, problems in personal and family relationships, illnesses, problems at work, they are like the storm, daunting. These storms are even harder if the individual has not learned discipline and self-control. Those who think that life should be painless, and air cushioned ride are deceiving themselves and will face many disillusionment and defeats at hard times. The fact is storms don’t last forever but the people who practice self denial and self-control will be able to face them. Professional athletes don’t worry about conditions around them rather the conditioning of their bodies. The Arabic verb bala means testing, these are the ordeals, problems, crisis and stressful experiences of life. Allah has the final say in our tests, and he wants us to ask Him for help. Since Allah does not burden people more than what they are capable of. 

Patience needs dependency and trust in Allah, neither in the means nor the people, People can help to an extent, but the real help comes from Allah. The key figure the Qur’an uses to demonstrate patience is the prophet Ayyub, who survived his trial by keeping his belief in Allah and remaining patient. He knew that without a good spirit while enduring, the struggle will not bear its full reward, thus, patiently persevering, striving and going forward, despite the difficulty, is the pinnacle of behavior during challenging times. Through every difficulty, Allah promises they will be well and good at the end. Instead of wanting to skip challenging times, and avoid them, Allah is teaching that the way to the easing, is through, the difficulty. It takes patience and perseverance, or enduring with a good spirit still intact, to reap both the internal and external rewards of struggle.

Patience is a virtue that we can all work on to improve, here are few suggestions: firstly, accept the reality that life will always have its storms, trials and tribulations, Hard and difficult times, this is the human condition, these are the laws of nature. This view of life shows that all is in the control of Allah, and we are expected to face these challenges. So, the question is how will you face these challenges?

Reframe your viewpoint on the past, present and the future by refusing to dwell on the past mistakes and failings instead focus on the future the successes lie ahead of you. Admit your frailty and weakness. The blessed Prophet has variously described patience: as light, half of faith, the greatest wealth, patience is at the time of affliction. The blessed messenger said “those who suffer most are the prophets, then the righteous, then the most excellent after them and so on.” (Hadith). He once described how a certain Prophet was tortured by his people, and he said “they hit him so much that he was bleeding and as he was wiping the blood from his face. He was saying “O Lord forgive these people of mine, they are ignorant. They do not know what they are doing’.” (Muslim) Why is this so? Are these not Allah’s beloved and most faithful servants? And yet they are having to suffer more than anyone else. The poet Rumi gives us a possible explanation to this when he said;

Whoever is more awake has greater pain, /whoever is more aware has a yellower face (M 1; 629). The more aware they are of divine reality and the purpose of life and its meaning the more sensitive they are and therefore they will feel the pain more than others.

Once the Prophet said, “how wonderful is the Muslim, there is good for him in everything and this only applies to him, in good times he is thankful and in times of difficulty he continues patiently, and both are good for him.”

Patience is waiting

One of the meanings of the English word patient is ‘someone ill’ who must wait to get better, there are two images that come to mind, one is of a waiter at your table attending to your needs, he waits for your instructions your delicious selection but the other is someone putting a request to someone in authority. Here you must wait whether he grants you your wish or not is his choice. Your success depends on approaching them the right way, and on their willingness to grant your request. Since they hold the power, you must be patient and wait for them. Patience in Islamic teachings is a prized moral value, Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity sets in. It’s a habit of waiting, but hopefully, waiting is tiring, it drains energy from you, leads to mistrust and doubts and eventually enrages you. Now controlling these negative thoughts is patience. This is where faith in Human goodness and compassion is so important. In our fast-paced society waiting is intolerable, we want instant gratification, and waiting is viewed as waste of time, and unnecessary interruption to the flow of life. But not so in the Divine scheme of things, people of Allah had always had to wait for success and victory. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms of patience include hastiness and impulsiveness.

 Our problem is that we want Allah to wait for us, instead of the other way around. Second, we don’t want to wait for anything! In the past, if a traveler missed a caravan going to another city and he had to wait till next month then that was okay. But today it must be instant, immediate, and now! Allah is not like a vending machine that you put a few coins into and your wish will come out.

Why does Allah test people?

When we are in difficulty, we pray eagerly, as we are focused on our external misery rather than internal attitudes, we desperately want Allah to change our circumstances, notice we want change in the circumstances rather than inner change. It’s a lot easier that way. But we miss the point altogether. It’s the worst of circumstances that often brings out the best in us. And if it’s the terrible things that bring out the good things, then maybe those bad things are good things in the grand scheme of things! It’s only when you’ve been tested that you have a testimony to share with others. Yes, you can be saved without suffering, but you cannot be spiritually matured or equipped for service without it. That doesn’t mean you seek it out, but it does mean you see it for what it is – an opportunity to glorify God.

Example of Allah’s patience

It is incredible that the Almighty Lord showed self-restraint throughout history, allowing the Pharaoh, Nimrod, Genghis Khan, Hitler and Stalin to get away with their brutality and evil. The sense of betrayal, anguish, the distress, the excruciating pain from the wounds of the blessed Messenger make me marvel at the self-restraint Allah Almighty showed at the brutality of people of Taif.

Islamic teachings provide the best strategy to cope with hope and horrors of life

When children get into trouble at home school or with police, parents must pick up the pieces, if they go into drugs then then they must take care of their broken lives. Something they never expected trouble will come their way. Islamic teachings give “strategies” to deal with the hopes and horrors of life. The guidance from the glorious Quran, the Sunna of the messenger, and the promise of Allah “indeed Allah is with those who are patient”. It teaches the secret of overcoming distressing events in life, and the life of loved ones: believing that trouble will come, and secondly be prepared for it. The repeated invitation to be patient prepares you to be ever ready for approaching trouble and hard time, Allah warns us, “we shall try you with fear hunger, damage to your wealth your health…

How to be patient when angry

Anger is a sudden burst of intense emotions, lashing out at the other person, who is perceived as threat. This a knee-jerk reaction to strike back with fury. This is the time when patience is needed the most, remain cool headed. Since our reactions are based on our feelings rather than on reason. Therefore, sit down and listen to the person with cool mind, or go away and wash yourself. This is a good strategy to reduce the negativity, don’t react otherwise you will not break the negative cycle. This is a powerful way of regaining self-control.

The second thing is don’t rush to speak, take time to let things cool, don’t give him ‘piece of your mind’. Take a breather and try to give a gentle response. Another way to overcome anger is to avoid the company of angry people.

Patience is to be exercised all the time however when you come to a dead end it’s imperative, you have tried everything but nothing works, Be patient, don’t give up, this being tenacious, enduring, steadfast, and patient. Never forget Allah is with you.

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