Narrated Abu Said AI Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with Him): "Some Ansa'ri persons asked for (something) from Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings, of Allaah be upon him) and he gave them. They again asked him for (something) and he again gave them. And then they asked him and he gave them again till all that was with him finished. And then he said
" If I had anything, I would not keep it away from you. (Remember,) whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater , than patience." (Bukhari)
What is patience? And why is it such an attribute that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessing of Allaah be upon him)described it as the best blessing one can have? Is it possible to attain the status of being patient?
Patience defined and explained
Patience, which is translated from Sabr in the Arabic language, means to restrain oneself or keeping oneself under control. It can however be looked at from three different angles to get a fuller picture of what it is. One form of patience is, restraining From the haram (prohibited). This requires patience especially in these days that the prohibited seems so easy to get and it is everywhere. It really takes someone with inner strength to withstand the pressures.
Narrated Anas (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed a date fallen on the way and said,
"Were I not afraid that it may be from a Sadaqa (charitable gifts), I would have eaten it." (Bukhari).
How easy has it become for us to take a part of the prohibited; are we not supposed to be afraid of Allaah's punishment?
Some of us who restrain from them at the slightest provocation, we fall in to them. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
'Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever' indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Him a (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liablv to get in it. (0 people!) Beware Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things (Bukhari).
Another form of patience is forcing oneself to be patient in the observance of 'acts of worship and to be' steadfast in obeying the commandments of Allaah. Allaah says:
And enjoin As-Sa/at (the prayer on your family, and be patient in offering them." (Q20:132).
If we look at the life history of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and other pious people we would see lots of examples on how they showed patience in carrying out their acts of Ibaadah (worship).
Take a look at the Messenger's night prayer as reported by Hudhayfa (may Allah be pleased with him); "I prayed with the Messengerof Allah (peace be upon him) one night and he started reciting al-Baqarah. I thought that he would bow at the end of one hundred verses, but he continued; I then thought that he would perhaps recite the whole (surah) in a rak'ah, but he continued so I thought he would perhaps bow on completing (this surah). He then started an- Nisa', and recited it; then he started Aal-i-Imran and recited leisurely.
When he recited the verse, which referred to the Glory of Allaah, he glorified (by saying SubhanAllah-- Glory to my Lord the Great). When he recited the verses which tell (how the Lord) is to be supplicated, he would then supplicate (Him). When he recited the verses dealing with the protection of the Lord, he sought (His protection) and would then bow and say: Glory be to my Mighty Lord. His bowing lasted about the same length of time as his standing (and then on retuning to the standing posture after ruku) he would say: Allah listens to him who praises Him, and he would then stand about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He would then prostrate himself and say: Glory be to my Lord most High, and his prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing."(Muslim)
Let us look at our own ibaadah when was the last time you recited twenty verses in one rakah? What is the hurry about? another form is to endure all kinds of trouble and pain to understand clearly and to believe that If Allaah Wills one will get a reward thereafter. It is this third form that is most common to the people that is most common to the people as patience while ignoring the first two forms, which are also fundamental. An example of this endurance could be found in the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); how he bore the hurt, taunt and physical abuses of the disbelievers at the beginning of his work. Allaah instructed him to be patient just like the previous Messengers. Allaah says:
"Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before. you, but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news)' about the Messengers (before you)." (Q6:34)
In the above verse is a subtle lesson for us in bearing denial and hurt, we should know that other people have gone through the same route.
Allaah has informed us that he will test us in various ways, He says:
And surely we shall try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere." (02:155).
So a Muslims knows that whatever test and trial he is undergoing can only happen to him because Allaah will to happen to him. Allaah has also informed us why we have to go through these trials, he says:
"Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe" and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the' falsehood of) those who are liars, (although" Allah knows all that before putting them to test)." (029:2-3).
Once again, Allaah directs our attention to the fact that, we are not going to be the first to be tested other people have; and also that we are being tested so as to make known those who truly stand firm with Allaah. It is only someone who knows that the test happens only because Allaah permitted it and that only Allaah can remove the trial that can be patient and enduring.
Impermissible kinds of Patience
So far, we have talked about patience that one should aim for, however there are times and situations that we cannot claim that we are being patient, unless of course there is nothing within our powers to do. For example, if we were to be in the midst of people making fun of Allaah's word or any of the signs of Islaam, if we cannot stop the people, then the least we can do is to leave that place and if that is impossible then we should hate it in our heart. Allaah says:
"And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur'an) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan (Satan) causes you to forget, then after you remember sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers, etc.). " (Q6:68)
This is also true for all acts of disobedience to Allaah and His Messengerthat people are involved in, that is not the time for exhibiting patience unless there is an inability to change the situation.
Some Virtues of Patience
It is a source of help: Allaah says:
"0 you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As- Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)." (Q2:153)
The patient get their reward in full: Allaah says:
"Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning."(Q39:10)
It leads to Paradise: When Allaah tests us and we endure it patiently, then the reward is Paradise; insha Allaah! Narrated Ata bin Abi Rabah "lbn 'Abbas said to me, "Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?" I said, "Yes." He said, "This black lady came to the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) and said, 'I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.' The Prophet said (to her), 'If you wish, be 'patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you. ' She said, 'I will remain patient,' and added, 'but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.' So he invoked Allah for her." (Bukhari)
Ways of attaining Patience
One way of attaining patience is by wishing to be so and asking Allaah to make one patient. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience." (Bukhari)
Another way is through knowledge. Remember the story of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and Khidr? At the beginning of their journey, Khidr told Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) that he (Prophet Musa) would not be able to be patient with him when he sees some of the things he was about to do. He then stated that this is due to the fact that Prophet Musa (peace and blessing be upon him) did not know the reason why he took those actions, so he could not bear them. Allaah says:
"He' (Khidr) said. "Verily! You will not be able to have patience with me! ''And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not?" (Q18:67-68)