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Patience, a Road to Success

“O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.”(Holy Qur’an, 3:200)

Patience is one of the fundamental conditions of faithfulness and following righteous ways. It’s the lifeline of one’s religion and a necessity for striving tirelessly on the long journey to Allah (swt) with hope of success in reaching that destination. Patience is the weight which keeps the boat stable when there is a onslaught of stormy adversities at bay. Patience is not abandoning the journey when hardships impede the way, but rather it is facing the tempests but not giving up on the voyage. Patience is the victory of humanity over materialistic limitations. Patience is not surrender, but it is soaring of zeal.  

For some people patience is passive bearing of unpleasant and torturous circumstances. This view of patience favors inaction and passivity against the onslaught of corruption and exploitation. Those holding this view believe any kind of struggle or striving is against patience and thus, they surrender before what they think is their destiny. Those who have submitted before persecution or exploitation are disliked by the holy Qur’an. If they do not have strength to resist, they should migrate but never accept subjugation as their destiny: “When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: ‘In what (plight) Were ye?’ They reply: ‘Weak and oppressed Were we in the earth.’ They say: ‘Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?’ Such men will find their abode in Hell, What an evil refuge! Except the feeble among men, and the women, and the children, who are unable to devise a plan and are not shown a way.” (Holy Qur’an, 4:97-98)

On the other hand, patience in Islam is struggle and striving against the corruption, tyranny, and decadence. It’s an onward movement towards a higher goal. The great patience demonstrated by early Muslims in the early period of Islam made the latter success of Islam possible. Had they surrendered and given up, the message of Islam would not have seen the ultimate victory. In the words of Sayed Ali Khamenei, “Patience may be defined as a means of achieving perfection, excellence, and exaltedness, where man endeavours and makes sincere efforts for the ultimate goal of creation, to become a real servant of Allah. His personality ultimately becomes a manifestation of all the hidden potential of human talents and characteristics. In other words achieving the status of a perfect human being . . . Patience means resistance against all three types of barriers, and providing moral courage and necessary momentum for the traveller to continue his forward journey on the road of perfection. It offers resistance against those desires and tendencies which discourage men from performing compulsory obligations, resists the desires for indulging in sinful forbidden acts, and provides zeal and strength to be able to tolerate the unforeseen and unhappy occurrences, which threaten to break his determination.”

Maintaining patience increases intelligence, Imam Musa ibn al-Jafar (as) advises Hisham that  “Maintaining patience in loneliness is a sign of the strength of intelligence.” [1] Another tradition from the AhlulBayt (as) places patience in the factors which form the entirety of excellence and perfection: “The entirety of excellence and perfection is in good understanding of religion, exercise of patience in affliction, and setting up of means of living.” [2]

The holy Qur’an asks us to “seek assistance through patience and prayer,” (2:45, 2:153) and the divine book promises assistance and victory for the patient ones. Despite being less in number and lacking in means, the patient ones will overcome: “If there are twenty patient (steadfast) ones among you, they will overcome two hundred (of the infidels) and if there are a hundred (such ones), they will overcome a thousands.” (holy Qur’an, 8:65)

Patience increases rewards: “Patience in times of hardship makes reward abundant.” [3] Patience increases honor: “Patience in the face of calamities makes one attain honourable ranks.” [4] Patience in the face of difficulties takes to success: “Patience in the face of agonizing distress leads to success in attaining opportunities.” [5] Patience is a pillar and cornerstone of faith: “Espouse patience, for indeed it is the pillar of faith and the basis of affairs.” [6]  “Patience is the cornerstone of faith.” [7] Patience saves one from failure: “One who adopts patience does not fail.” [8] Additionally, there are honorable results of this virtue: “There is nothing that gives a more praiseworthy result, or a more delightful consequence, or is more repelling for bad etiquette, or more helpful in realizing what is sought, than patience.” [9] Lastly, “In patience there is triumph.” [10]

[1] Al Kafi, H 12, Ch. 1, h 12

[2] Al Kafi, H 47, Ch. 2, h 4

[3] Ghurar Al-Hikam Wa Durar Al-Kalim, Patience And The Patient, saying 2.

[4] Ibid, saying 4

[5] Ibid, saying 14

[6] Ibid, sayings 22

[7] Ibid, saying 35

[8] Ibid, saying 127

[9] Ibid, saying 105

[10] Ibid, saying 93

 

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