What is patience (Sabr)? Is it grieving the death of a loved one? Addressing problems at home or at work? Maintaining the Islamic obligations such as Hijab, prayers, and fasting? Being patient doesn’t always entail some unfortunate event occurring; simply being a believer requires a great amount of patience.
The principles of any faith are found in patience and acceptance. However, we have come to believe that patience is simply passively waiting. That definition is mere laziness. Rather, faith is a direction that bears things with resignations, yes, but above all, with steadfast and unrelenting sublime hope. We must learn also to glance realistically at the world around us, begin to accept things as they are, and maintain our conviction in the path we have chosen for ourselves.
While very few of us will contest the above, the line between theory and practice is not always clear. Islam has recognized this discrepancy and subsequently granted a great status to those who patiently persevere. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah says to His servants that we shall all indeed be tested: “And be patient and persevering, for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (8: 46)
Verse 31 of chapter Muhammad reads: “And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle).”
What is patience (Sabr)? Is it grieving the death of a loved one? Addressing problems at home or at work? Maintaining the Islamic obligations such as Hijab, prayers, and fasting? Being patient doesn’t always entail some unfortunate event occurring; simply being a believer requires a great amount of patience. Sabr is not only about enduring a long wait; it is also about enduring insults, provocation, and mistreatment without resentment, anger, or bitterness. The Buddhist faith refers to patience as “the armor that protects the compassionate person” from the verbal tirades of others.
In order to truly become more patient individuals, we must have the impetus to begin with ourselves, then move on to others. Agitation, fear, and complaints can all lead us to become disillusioned with faith and even Islam. In his Forty Hadiths, Imam Khomeini speaks of the direct link between patience and Taqwa (fear of God). With regards to the link between patience and obedience, the book gives us even greater insight, “Sabr in regard to obedience (Ita’at) is the source of intimacy with God and His love. And Sabr in misfortunes is the source of satisfaction (Rida) with Divine destiny and decrees.”
Learning to accept minor irritations allows us to prepare to endure major ones. Those who have mastered patience find even the greatest of sufferings tolerable with the help of God. Patience has such a profound effect on our happiness, so how can those who are upset and constantly complain be happy? Those with great endurance are the peacemakers of the world, while those who are impatient are the war makers. Almost all violence stems from anger, and patience often has the power to neutralize it. The patience of man is right and laudable and most certainly worthy of being considered among the greatest virtues.
Our intrapersonal interactions with others can sometimes (okay, let’s be honest, most of the time) require a great amount of patience. Patience, therefore, is respect for others. How can we expect others to accept our faults unless we are willing to accept theirs? Through interactions with others, we come to define ourselves also. If we act with kindness and understanding, that is who we become. And when we act with impatience and anger, that’s what we are. When we commit to relationships with others, we also commit our patience. Impatience is a divisive plague that ruins marriages, dissolves homes, and breaks hearts. Those with forbearance do not simply throw away people or possessions because they aren’t as they imagined. Instead, they work towards a solution.
The most difficult events, such as losing a family member, going through a divorce, or unforeseen financial losses can truly test our faith. Instead of becoming agitated and angry, we must remember what we still have and what Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, has blessed us with. So often we forget to be thankful for our good health, our family, and our faith. In the Holy Qur’an, we are told, “Surely with difficulty is ease. With difficulty is surely ease.” Our ability to be patient during calamities reveals our purity and humbleness of heart. We must overcome challenges with faith, logic, and determination. At the same time, we must remember that we are never truly alone in our struggles. “Surely Allah is with the patient.” (8:46)
Patience is a virtue which gives and also helps us gain. In Nahjul Balagha, Imam Ali says: “The one who practices Patience will never be deprived of success, even though it may take a long time.” And the Holy Qur’an tells us, “Give good news to the patient.” (2:155)