This book has been written to highlight the urgent need
for patience, and to explain that our happiness in this life and our salvation in the hereafter depends on patience. This
book is filled with benefits and readers will benefit from its advice and teachings. What is good and correct in this book
is by the help of Allah, and what is mistaken in it is from the Shaytan. May Allah forgive the author and the editor. Allah
is the Greatest Helper, and we put our trust in Him.
Chapter 1: The Definition of Patience
Sabr is an Arabic word which comes from a root meaning to detain,
refrain and stop. There is an expression in Arabic, "so-and-so was killed sabran," which means that he was captured and detained
until he died. In the spiritual sense, patience means to stop ourselves from despairing and panicking, to stop our tongues
from complaining, and to stop our hands from striking our faces and tearing our clothes at times of grief and stress.
What scholars have said about patience
Some scholars have defined patience as a good human characteristic
or a positive psychological attitude, by virtue of which we refrain from doing that which is not good. Human beings cannot
live a proper, healthy life without patience.
Abu Uthman said: "the one who has patience is the one who
trained himself to handle difficulties." Amr ibn Uthman al-Makki said: "Patience means to keep close to Allah and to accept
calmly the trials He sends, without complaining or feeling sad." Al-Khawwas said: "Patience means to adhere to the rules of
the Qur'an and Sunnah." Another scholar said: "Patience means to refrain from complaining. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said: "Patience
means to seek Allah's help."
Is it better to have patience at the time of
difficulty, or to be in a situation which does not require patience?
Abu Muhammad al-Hariri said: "Patience means
not seeing any difference between times of ease and times of hardship, and being content at all times." I (Ibn Qayyim) say:
This is too difficult, and we are not instructed to be like this. Allah has created us in such a way that we feel the difference
between times of ease and times of hardship, and all that we can do is refrain from panicking at times of stress. Patience
does not mean feeling the same at both easy and difficult times. That is beyond us, and is not part of our nature. Having
an easy time is better for us than having a difficult time. As the Prophet (SAAS) said in his well known du'a: "If You are
not angry with me, then I do not care what happens to me, but still I would rather have your blessings and your favour." This
does not contradict the hadith which says, "No one has ever been given a better gift than patience," because that refers to
after a test or trial has befallen a person. But ease is still better.
Patience and Shakwah (complaint)
Shakwah (complaint) falls into two categories:
The first type means to complain to Allah, and this does
not contradict patience. It is demonstrated by several of the Prophets, for example, when Ya'qub (AS) said:
"I only complain of my distraction
and anguish to Allah." (Yusuf 12:86)
Earlier, Ya'qub (AS) had said sabrun jamil, which means
"patience is most fitting for me." The Qur'an also tells us about Ayyub:
"And (remember) Ayyub (Job), when
he cried to his Lord, "Truly distress has seized me..."" (Al-Anbiya 21:83)
The epitome of patience, the Prophet (SAAS), prayed tohis
Lord: "O Allah, I complain to You of my weakness and helplessness." Musa (AS) prayed to Allah saying: "O Allah, all praise
is due to You, and complaint is made only to You, and You are the only One from Whom we seek help and in Whom we put our trust,
and there is no power except by Your help." The second type of complaint involves complaining to people, either directly,
through our words, or indirectly, through the way we look and behave. This is contradictory to patience
Psychologically speaking, every person has two forces
at work within him or her. One is the "driving force", which pushes him towards some actions, and the other is the "restraining
force", which holds him back from others. Patience essentially harnesses the driving force to push us towards good things,
and the restraining force to hold us back from actions that may be harmful to ourselves or others.
Some people have strong patience when it comes to doing
what is good for them, but their patience is weak with regard to restraint from harmful actions, so we may find that a person
has enough patience to perform acts of worship (Salah, Sawm, Hajj) but has no patience in controlling himself and refraining
from following his whims and desires, and in this way he may commit haraam deeds. Conversely, some people may have strong
patience in abstaining from forbidden deeds, but their patience in obeying commandments and performing ibadah is too weak.
Some people have no patience in either case! And, needless to say, the best people are those who possess both types of patience.
So, a man may have plenty of patience when it comes to standing
all night in prayer, and enduring whatever conditions of heat or cold may be prevalent, but have no patience at all when it
comes to lowering his gaze and refraining from looking at women. Another may have no problem controlling his gaze, but he
lacks the patience which would make him enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and he is so weak and helpless that he cannot
strive against the kuffar and mushrikun. Most people will be lacking in patience in any one case, and a few lack it in all
Further definition of patience
A scholar said: "To have patience means that one's common
sense and religious motives are stronger than one's whims and desires." It is natural for people to have an inclination towards
their desires, but common sense and the religious motive should limit that inclination. The two forces are at war: sometimes
reason and religion win, and sometimes whims and desires prevail. The battlefield is the heart of man.
Patience has many other names, according to the situation.
If patience consists of restraining sexual desire, it is called honour, the opposite of which is adultery and promiscuity.
If it consists of controlling one's stomach, it is called self-control, the opposite of which is greed. It if consists of
keeping quiet about that which is not fit to disclose, it is called discretion, the opposite of which is disclosing secrets,
lying, slander or libel. If it consists of being content with what is sufficient for one's needs, it is called abstemiousness,
the opposite of which is covetousness. If it consists of controlling one's anger, then it is called forbearance, the opposite
of which is impulsiveness and hasty reaction. If it consists of refraining from haste, then it called gracefulness and steadiness,
the opposite of which is to be hotheaded. If it consists of refraining from running away, then it is called courage, the opposite
of which is cowardice. If it consists of refraining from taking revenge, then it is called forgiveness, the opposite of which
is revenge. If it consists of refraining from being stingy, then it is called generosity, the opposite of which is miserliness.
If it consists of refraining from being lazy and helpless, then it is called dynamism and initiative. If it consists of refraining
from blaming and accusing other people, then it is called chivalry (muru'ah literally "manliness").
Different names may be applied to patience in different
situations, but all are covered by the idea of patience. This shows that Islam in its totality is based on patience.
Is it possible to obtain the quality of patience?
If a person does not naturally possess the characteristic of
patience, he can attain this characteristic by acting as if he does possess it, until it eventually becomes second nature.
This is what the Prophet (SAAS) has told us in the hadith: "Whoever tries to be patient, then Allah will help him to be patient."
A person can also strive to control sexual desire and lower his gaze until these too become second nature. The same applies
to all other desirable characteristics such as steadiness, generosity and courage.
Chapter 2: Different perspectives on patience
Patience may be of two types, either physical or psychological,
and both types may either be by choice, or without choice, as follows:
1. Physical patience by choice, such as doing hard labour
2. Physical patience without choice, such as patiently bearing
illness, beatings and extremes of heat and cold.
3. Psychological patience by choice, such as refraining
from things which both the Sharī`ah and common sense say are wrong.
4. Psychological patience without choice, such as patiently
bearing an enforced separation from one whom you love.
Different degrees of patience
As mentioned above, patience is of two types, by choice
or without choice. Patience by choice is of a higher status than patience without choice, as the latter is common to all people,
but the former is not attainable by all. Therefore the patience of Yusuf in disobeying the wife of al-`Azeez, and his patience
in bearing the resulting punishment, is of higher status than his patience in response to his brothers' actions, when they
threw him in the well, separated him from his father and sold him as a slave. This superior, voluntary, patience is the patience
of the Prophets, of Ibrahim, Musa, Nuh, `Isa and the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (SAAS). Their patience was in calling
the people to Allah and in striving against the enemies of Allah.
The patience of men and the patience of animals
These four types of patience apply only to human beings.
Animals share only the two types of patience in which there is no choice, and man is distinguished by having the patience
in which there is choice. However, many people have only the types of patience that animals have, i.e. patience without choice.
The patience of jinn
Jinn share the quality of patience with humans, as they
are responsible for their actions like humans are. They need patience to fulfil their responsibilities towards Allah the same
way that we do. One might ask: are they responsible in the same way that we are, or in a different way? The answer is that
with regard to matters of emotion and feelings they are responsible just as we are, and share the obligation to love for the
sake of Allah and hate for Allah, to believe and have faith, to take believers for friends and unbelievers for enemies, etc.
But as far as physical matters such as ghusl, wudu`, washing after relieving oneself and circumcision are concerned, they
are not the same as us. Their duties in that regard are in accordance with the way they are created.
The patience of the angels
Another question that may arise is: Do angels have patience?
The answer is that angels are not tested with whims and desires that contradict their reason and knowledge. For them, worshipping
and obeying Allah are like breathing is for us. Therefore the angels do not need patience, because patience is needed when
one has conflicting motives, religion and reason opposite to whims and desires. However, the angels may have some kind of
patience which befits them and makes them persevere in doing what they were created for.
The patience of man
If a man's patience is stronger than his whims and desires,
then he is like an angel, but if his whims and desires are stronger than his patience, then he is like a devil. If his desire
for food, drink and sex is stronger than his patience, then he is no better than an animal.
Qatadah said: "Allah created angels with reason and no desires,
animals with desires and no reason, and man with both reason and desires." So if a man's reason is stronger than his desire
he is like an angel, and if his desires are stronger than his reason, then he is like an animal. A little baby has only the
desire for food when he needs it, and his patience is like the patience of animals. Until he reaches an age when he can tell
what is what, he has no choice. When he grows a little older and develops a desire to play, then his patience by choice will
develop. He will start to know what patience means when his sexual desire develops. At the same time, his power of reasoning
is also developing, but between the age when he can tell right from wrong and the age of puberty, all he can see is his own
interests in this world, and what might make life good or bad. This limited view will remain until he is guided by Allah,
then he will have the full picture and begin to think of his interests both in this life and the hereafter. He will become
aware of where different actions may lead, and will prepare himself for a long struggle with his desires and natural inclinations.
Different degrees of patience
The kinds of patience which relate to resisting whims and
desires can be graded according to how strong and effective they are. There are three degrees of patience in this respect:
1. The motive of religion is strongest in controlling and
defeating the whims and desires. This level of control can only be achieved through consistent patience, and those who reach
this level are victorious in this life and in the hereafter. They are the ones "who say, `Our Lord is Allah'" (Fussilāt 41:30).
These are the ones to whom, at the moment of death, the angels say, "Fear not!...Nor grieve! But receive the Glad Tidings
of the Garden (of Bliss), that which you were promised! We are your protectors in this life and the Hereafter." (Fussilat
41:30-31). They are the ones who enjoy the companionship of Allah, and who strive in the way of Allah. They are the ones whom
Allah has guided to the exclusion of others.
2. When whims and desires prevail, the religious motive
is diminished. The doomed person will surrender totally to Shaytan and his forces, who will lead him wherever they want. His
relationship with them will be either of two possibilities. Either he will become their follower and a soldier in their army,
which is the case of the weak person, or Shaytan will become a weapon for him, and one of his soldiers, which is the case
of the strong person who rebels against Allah. Those people are the ones whose misfortune has overtaken them, as they preferred
this world to the Hereafter. The main reason for their sorry fate is that they ran out of patience. The major characteristic
of these people is that they lie and cheat, indulge in wishful thinking and self-admiration, delay doing good deeds, and prefer
instant gains in this world to lasting gains in the Hereafter. These are the people to whom the Prophet (SAAS) referred when
he said: "The helpless man is the one who follows his whims and desires, and indulges in wishful thinking."
These unfortunate people are of several types. Some of them
declare war against Allah and His Messenger, trying to destroy what the Prophet (SAAS) brought, pushing people away from the
way of Allah, and spreading corruption on earth. Some are interested solely in their worldly interests. Some are two faced
hypocrites who try to ingratiate themselves with everybody and gain something from every situation. Some are promiscuous,
and devote their entire life to the pursuit of physical pleasure. Some, if they are warned, say that they would dearly love
to repent, find it too difficult and plead they have no chance. Some say that Allah does not need their prayers and fasting,
that they will not attain salvation by virtue of their deed, and that they will rely on the fact that Allah is Merciful. Some
of them claim that refraining from committing wrong actions is like undermining the forgiveness of Allah. Some will say, "What
good could my worship do after all the wrong actions I have committed? What can help a drowning man if his fingers are above
water and the rest of his body is submerged?" Some say that they will repent when death approaches...
So many excuses, all because their whims and desires control
their reason, and they use their reason, in turn, to find ways of fulfilling those desires. Their reason is held prisoner
by the Shaytan, and put to work to serve his evil purposes, just as Muslim prisoners-of-war may be abused by the kaafiroon
and forced to look after pigs, make wine or carry the cross. The man who suppresses his reason and puts it under the control
of the enemy (Shaytan) is like the one who seizes a Muslim and hands him over to the kaafiroon to imprison him.
3. There is a war that is raging between the motives of
reason and religion, and the motives of whims and desires. Sometimes one prevails, sometimes the other gains the upper hand.
The pattern of victories for either side varies. This is the situation in the case of most believers, who mix good deeds and
People's ultimate fate in the Hereafter will correspond
to the three situations outlined above. Some people will enter Paradise and never enter Hell, some will enter Hell and never
enter Paradise, and some will enter Hell for some time before they are admitted to Paradise.
Different strengths of patience
Some people cannot have patience without struggling and
facing many difficulties. Others are able to have patience easily. The first type is like a man who wrestles with a strong
man and cannot beat him with the utmost effort. The second type is like a man who wrestles with a weak man and beats him easily.
Such is the war between the soldiers of ar-Rahmaan and the soldiers of Shaytaan. Whoever defeats the soldiers of Shaytaan
can defeat Shaytaan himself. `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud narrated: "A man wrestled with one of the jinn, and beat him, then asked,
`Why are you so weak and small?' The jinn answered, `I am very big and strong compared to the rest of the jinn.'" Someone
asked `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, "Was that man, `Umar?" and he replied, "Who else could it have been?"
Some of the Sahaabah said, "A believer whips the Shaytaan
like the way a person whips his camel when he is travelling."
Ibn Abi'd-Dunyaa narrated from some of the salaf that one
shaytaan met with another, and asked him why he was so thin. The other shaytaan replied, "Because I am a with a man who mentions
the name of Allah when he eats, so I cannot eat with him, and he mentions the name of Allah when he drinks, so I cannot drink
with him. When he enters his home he mentions the name of Allah, so I stay outside." The first shaytaan said, "But I am with
a man who does not mention the name of Allah when he eats, so I eat with him. He does not mention the name of Allah when he
drinks, so I drink with him. When he enters his home he does not mention the name of Allah, so I enter with him."
So whoever develops the habit of patience is feared by his
enemies, and whoever finds patience difficult is in danger, as his enemy will readily dare to attack him and do him harm.
When patience is needed
Patience is required in the following areas of life:
1. In worshipping Allah and following His commands,
In abstaining from wrong actions,
3. In accepting Allah's decree and ruling (qadā' wa qadr). This is the advice given
to Luqman when he told his son:
"O my son! establish regular prayer,
enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong; and bear with patient constancy whate'er betide you; for this is firmness (of
purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs." (Luqman 31:17)
Enjoining what is just includes doing good oneself, and
forbidding what is wrong includes abstaining from wrong action oneself.
Patience in worshipping Allah
Patience in worshipping Allah and carrying out His instructions
means that you perform the prescribed acts of worship regularly and do so sincerely and with knowledge. Worship that is not
performed regularly is of no value. Even if worship is performed regularly, there are two dangers. Firstly, we risk losing
our sincerity, if the motive for performing prayers is not to please Allah and draw closer to Him. So to protect our worship
we must make sure that we are sincere. Secondly, we must be sure never to deviate from the way of the Prophet (SAAS), so we
have to ensure that our worship is done according to the Sunnah.
Patience in abstaining from wrong action
This type of patience can be achieved through the fear of
the punishment which follows the wrong action, or through a feeling of hayaa' (shyness or shame) before Allah for using His
blessings in committing wrong actions. That feeling of hayaa' before Allah can be strengthened through learning more about
Allah and knowing more about His names and attributes. Hayaa' is a characteristic of people who are noble and possess good
qualities, so the person who refrains from wrong action because of hayaa' is better than the one who abstains because of fear.
Hayaa' indicates that a person is mindful of Allah and His might. The person whose deterrent is the fear of Allah has his
thoughts focused on the punishment. The fearful person's main concern is himself and how to save himself from the punishment,
whereas the "shy" person's main concern is Allah and His Glory. Both have attained the status of eemaan, but the "shy" person
has attained ihsan, a higher status of eemaan, in which he conducts himself as if he can see Allah, and so his heart is filled
The reason why it is so important for a believer to abstain
from wrong action is because he must protect his īmān, as wrong action decreases eemaan or extinguishes it. The Prophet (SAAS)
said, "When the adulterer commits adultery he is not a believer, and when the winebibber drinks alcohol he is not a believer
and when the thief steals he is not a believer. The believer should abstain from many permitted actions in case they may lead
to that which is forbidden."
Patience at times of trial and adversity
Patience during difficult times may be achieved by:
1. Thinking of the good reward that lies ahead. The more
you believe in the rewards that are waiting for you, the easier it becomes to have patience. If it were not for the anticipation
of the rewards, no goals or objectives pertaining to this life or the hereafter would have been achieved. Human nature loves
instant gratification, but reason and maturity make us think of the long term outcome, which helps to strengthen our patience
in enduring whatever faces us, whether there is no choice or otherwise;
2. Expecting and hoping for a time of ease. This hope in
itself offers a measure of immediate relief;
3. Thinking of Allah's countless blessings. When we realize
that we cannot enumerate the blessings of Allah, it becomes easier for us to exercise patience in facing the current adversity,
because the present troubles are like a raindrop compared to vast ocean of Allah's blessings and favours;
4. Thinking of previous blessings of Allah. This will remind
us of Allah's care, and strengthen our hopes ad expectations of a time of ease to come.
Chapter 3: Five Categories of Patience
Patience can also be divided into categories following the
five categories of deeds, namely wajib (obligatory), mandub (encouraged), mahdhur (forbidden), makruh (disliked) and mubah
Obligatory (wajib) patience
1. Patience in abstaining from forbidden (haram) things
2. Patience in carrying out obligatory deeds,
3. Patience in facing adversity which is beyond one's
control, such as illness, poverty, etc.
Encouraged (manub) patience
1. Patience in abstaining from disliked (makruh) things,
Patience in performing acts of worship which are liked and encouraged (mustahabb)
3. Patience in refraining from taking
Forbidden (mahdhur) patience
1. Patience in abstaining from food and drink until death.
2. Patience in abstaining from eating harum meat, carrion
and blood, when the alternative is death and starvation. Tawus and Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, "Whoever has no choice but to eat
carrion, harām meat and blood, but refuses to eat it and dies as a consequence, will enter Hell."
3. Patience in refraining from begging. There is a dispute
as to whether begging from people is forbidden or permissible. Imam Ahmad said that this kind of patience and abstention is
allowed. He was asked, "What if a person fears that if he does not do this, he will die?" Imam Ahmad answered, "No, he will
not die. Allah will send him his due provision (rizq)." Imam Ahmad did not allow begging: when Allah knows the need of a person
and his sincerity in abstaining from begging, Allah will send him rizq. Other scholars, including some of Imam Ahmad's companions
and Imam ash-Shafi`ī said, "It is obligatory on such a person to beg, and if he did not beg, than he would be a wrongdoer,
because by begging he protects himself from death."
4. Patience in enduring things that may lead to death, such
as predators, snakes, fire and water.
5. Patience at times of fitnah when the Muslims are fighting
Muslims. Patience in abstaining from fighting at such a time, when Muslims are killing Muslims, is mubah (permissible), indeed
it is mustahabb (liked and preferred). When the Prophet (SAAS) was asked about this, he said, "Be like the better of the two
sons of Adam." In other, similar reports he said, "Be like the slave of Allah who was killed, and not like the one who has
killed," and "let him (the killer) carry his own wrong action and your wrong action." In another report, he said, "If the
sword is too bright, put your hand on your face." Allah has told us the story of the better of the two sons of Adam, and how
he surrendered himself and did not fight back, and how Allah commended him for that. This is different to the case when Muslims
are fighting kaafiroon: in that situation the Muslim has to defend himself, because the meaning of Jihad is to defend himself
Disliked (makruh) patience
1. Patience in abstaining from physical appetites (food,
drink, sex) to the extent of causing damage to one's health.
2. Patience in doing a makruh deed.
Permissible (mubah) patience
Patience in abstaining from mubah deeds.
Chapter 4: Good Patience and Bad
Bad patience means having
patience in keeping away from Allah and His love and His will, because this prevents a person from fulfilling his potential
of attaining perfection and doing what he was created for. This is the worst type of patience, and the most difficult, because
there is no type of patience stronger than that of the person who wilfully keeps away from his Creator, as apart from Him
there is no life at all. No-one is as careless as the person who has no interest in what Allah has prepared for His friends
(awliya') in the hereafter, that which no eye has ever seen nor ear has ever heard, and has never been imagined by any person.
Once a man who admired a zaahid (one who does without) for
his zuhd (doing without) and lack of interest in this world said to him, "I have never seen a man who has as much zuhd (ascetism)
as you so." The zaahid told him, "Your zuhd is much stronger than mine, for my zuhd concerns the world, and this life is short
and unstable, but your zuhd concerns the hereafter, which is eternal."
A man asked Shiblee, "What type of patience is more difficult?"
Shiblee said, "Patience through seeking the help of Allah." The man said, "No." Shiblee said, "Then patience for the sake
of Allah." The man said, "No." Shiblee said, "Patience in seeking the pleasure of Allah." The man said, "No." So Shiblee asked,
"What is it then?" and the man answered, "Patience in keeping away from Allah." Shiblee screamed in such a way that he nearly
Good patience consists of two types:
Patience for the sake of Allah and patience by the help of Allah.
"Now await in patience the command of your Lord:
for verily you are in Our eyes..." (at-Tur 52:48)
It is impossible to have patience for the sake of Allah
without patience by the help of Allah:
"And be patient, for your patience
is but by Allah..." (an-Nahl 16:127)
This ayah tells us that patience cannot be achieved without
the help of Allah, which means that in addition to the help of Allah we need the companionship of Allah, as in the hadith
[qudsi]: "I am his hearing with which hears, his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes." The help of
Allah is bestowed upon the believer and the wrongdoer alike, both of whom receive blessings and rizq. This hadith describes
something more, the companionship of Allah, which the believer will attain when he performs nafl (supererogatory) acts of
worship until Allah loves him. When he reaches that status, and Allah is his hearing with which he hears and his seeing with
which he sees, he does not move or do anything but Allah is with him. Whoever reaches this level can have patience for Allah's
sake and endure severe hardship to please Him. The person who does not reach this level will not have this degree of patience;
his level of patience will be in accordance with his share of Allah's companionship. The believer who enjoys Allah's companionship
will reach levels of patience that are impossible for others. Those who have patience are the winners in this world and the
next, because Allah is with them:
"for Allah is with those who patiently
persevere" (al-Baqarah 2:153).
Loving the attributes of Allah
If a person loves an attribute of Allah, then this will
help him to reach Him. Allah is as-Sabur, patient, and there is none that is more patient and forbearing than Him. It was
reported that Allah revealed to Dawud (AS), "Have my attributes, as one of My attributes is that I am sabur (patient)." Allah
loves His attributes and characteristics, and He loves to see the effects of His attributes on His slaves. As He is beautiful,
so He loves beauty; as He is all-forgiving, He loves forgiveness; as He is generous, He loves generosity; as He is all-knowing,
he loves the people of knowledge; as He is strong and powerful, so a strong believer is more beloved to Him than a weaker
one; as He is sabur (patient), so He loves those who have patience; as He is shakur (grateful), so He loves those who give
thanks. As He loves those who have His characteristics, so He is with them, and this is a special and unique type of companionship.
No contradiction between patience and complaining to Allah.
Crying out and Complaining to Allah does not mean that a person has no patience. In the Qur'an, we find Ya`qub (AS) saying,
"My course is comely patience (sabrun
jameel)" (Yusuf 12:83),
but his love and longing for his lost son Yusuf made him
say: "How great is my grief for Yusuf" (Yusuf 12:83). Sabrun jameel refers to patience with no complaint to other people.
Complaining to Allah does not cancel out patience, as Ya`qub said,
"I only complain of my distraction
and anguish to Allah" (Yusuf 12:86).
Allah also enjoined sabrun jameel on the Prophet (SAAS)
and he obeyed, but he would pray, "O Allah, I complain to You of my weakness and helplessness."
Chapter 5: The Patience of Noble
and the Patience of Ignoble People
Every person has to exercise patience
in order to face difficulties, whether he does so willingly or unwillingly.
The noble person exercises patience willingly,
because he realizes the benefits of patience, and he knows that he will be rewarded for his patience and will be criticized
if he panics. He is aware that if he does not have patience, panicking and impatience will not help him to regain missed opportunities,
and will not take away things he dislikes. Whatever is decreed and is qada' wa qadr cannot be prevented from happening, and
whatever is decreed not to happen cannot be made to happen.
So an attitude of impatience and panic
actually causes harm. A wise man said: "A man with wisdom as soon as adversity appears does that which a foolish man does
after a month (i.e. he resorts to patience)." The ignoble man exercises patience only when he realizes he has no choice. After
wasting a lot of time and energy and panicking and struggling, he realizes that his impatience will not help him. Then he
exercises patience in the same way that a person who has been tied up to be whipped exercises patience.
The noble person practices patience in obeying
Allah, whilst the ignoble person exercises patience in obeying the Shaytan. So ignoble people have the greatest patience in
following their own whims and desires, and have the least patience in spending in the way of Shaytan and no patience when
it comes to spending even a few pennies in the way of Allah. They will endure many difficulties in order to follow their own
whims and desires, but cannot bear even the least difficulties in order to please their Lord. They will endure slander for
the sake of committing wrong actions, but cannot exercise patience in putting up with slander for the sake of Allah. Such
people will avoid enjoining the good and forbidding the evil for fear of what people will say about them for doing so, but
they will expose their honour to slander and bear it most patiently for the sake of following their own whims and desires.
Similarly, they are not prepared to practise
patience in devoting themselves to Allah, but when it comes to devoting themselves to Shaytan and their own whims and desires,
they will exercise remarkable patience. Such people will never be noble in the sight of Allah, and on the Day of Resurrection
they will not be raised with the people of nobility and decency.
Chapter 6: Ways of Strengthening
As patience is fard (obligatory), Allah has
provided us with ways and means of obtaining and strengthening the quality of patience, for He has never instructed us to
do something without providing us with help and support to do it, and ways and means of achieving it. He has never created
a disease without creating a cure for it, and He has guaranteed cure when medicine is used. Even so, patience is difficult,
but it is not impossible to attain. Patience consists of two elements: knowledge and action, and from these two elements are
derived the remedies for all spiritual and physical troubles. Knowledge and action, combined, are always essential.
The element of knowledge is necessary in order
to realize the benefits of following the commands of Allah and the sense of happiness and fulfillment that one may attain
by following them; and to understand what it is in the forbidden things that causes harm, imperfection and evil. When a person
realizes that, and adds strong willpower, the desire for spiritual achievement and the wish to live as a complete human being
(as opposed to as animal-like existence), then it will become easy for him to attain the quality of patience. The bitterness
of patience will become sweet and the pain of patience will become joy.
As we has already seen, patience is a constant
battle between the motives of reason and religion on the one had, and the motive of whims and desires on the other. If a person
wants reason and religion to overcome whims and desires, then he has to strengthen the former and weaken the latter, just
like promoting good health and reducing the risk of illness. For example, a person who has a strong desire to commit adultery
can take steps to combat it. He may have such a strong sexual urge that he cannot stop committing adultery; or he may not
commit the act itself, but us unable to stop looking at women; or he may be able to stop looking at women but he cannot stop
thinking of sex, to the extent that all his thoughts are devoted to this subject, and he never gives any thought to things
which could benefit him in this life and in the hereafter. If he is really serious about finding a cure for this disease,
then he has to follow these steps:
1. He can find out what types of food increase
sexual desire, then he can reduce his intake of them, or avoid them altogether. If this does not work, then he can fast, as
fasting reduces sexual desire, especially if the food eaten when he breaks his fast is moderate.
2. He should lower his gaze and avoid looking
at women, as looking at women may provoke sexual desire. The Prophet (SAAS) warned us, "Looking (at women) is one of the arrows
of the Shaytan." Shaytan aims his arrows from reaching its target unless one lowers one's gaze. But if a person keeps looking,
he is exposing his heart to these arrows, any one of which may be fatal.
3. He should enjoy permissible sex (i.e. within
marriage), because any desire that Allah created in us has a permissible outlet. This is the best cure, as the Prophet (SAAS)
4. He should think of the harm and damage that
may befall him in this world as a consequence of his fulfilling his sexual desire in a prohibited way. Even if there were
no Paradise or Hell, the harm that could be caused in this world by such an action should be enough to stop him from doing
it. The damage caused by such actions is so great that it can barely be quantified, but sexual desire makes some people blind.
5. He should think of the ugliness of the person
who is tempting him to commit adultery with her, especially if she is known to have other partners. He should feel too proud
to drink from the same place as dogs and wolves!
Strengthening the motive of reason
In the battle between reason/religion and whims/desires,
we have the following "weapons" at our disposal:
1. We should remember the glory and greatness
of Allah, and feel that He is too great to be sinned against as He is all-seeing and all-hearing. Whoever thinks of the greatness
of Allah will never be at ease in committing wrong actions.
2. If we claim to love Allah, then we should
not disobey Him, because of that love. A person should be obedient to the One he claims to love. Those who refrain from committing
wrong action out of their love for Allah are of the highest status in His sight, as are those who worship Him out of love
for Him. There is great difference between the one who obeys Allah and abstains from wrong action out of love, and the one
who does so out of fear of punishment.
3. We should think of the blessings and favours
of Allah, as a decent and noble person would never act against the one who has been treating him kindly. Only base and ignoble
people do such a thing. If we think of the blessings and favours of Allah, we will realize that we should not respond by doing
against His commands and committing wrong action.
4. We should think of the wrath and punishment
of Allah, as He will be angry with the person who persists in committing wrong action. Nothing can stand in the way of the
consequences of His anger, least of all this weak slave of His.
5. We should think of what the person who commits
wrong action has to lose, in this world and the next. It should be sufficient to think of the loss of iman (faith), of which
the smallest amount is worth much more than everything in this world. How can anyone be willing to lose his iman in return
for some brief moment of pleasure the consequences of which might last forever? In a sahih hadith, the Prophet (SAAS) said:
"No adulterer is a believer at the time of when he is committing adultery." Commenting on this hadīth, one of the Sahabah
said: "His iman will be dragged out of him until it goes over his head like a cloud. If he repents, then his iman will return
6. We should relish the idea of defeating the
Shaytan and being victorious over him, because of overcoming him, and our whims and desires, is a thing of joy and carries
a great reward. It is like taking medicine and being rewarded with restoration to good health.
7. We should bear in mind the reward and compensation
which Allah has promised to those who control their whims and desires, and abstain from that which is haram.
8. We should think of the special companionship
of Allah, as He has told us:
"Allah is with those who patiently
persevere" (al-Baqarah 2:153)
"For Allah is with those who restrain
themselves and those who do good" (an-Nahl 16:128)
"For verily Allah is with those who
do right." (al-Ankabut 29:69)
9. We should be ever mindful of death, which
could come upon us at any time, suddenly and without warning.
10. We should stop thinking of falsehood and
bad ideas. Even if bad thoughts cross our minds, we should not let them stay, otherwise they may become hopes and wishes which
we may act upon, and harm ourselves and others in the process.
11. We should gradually strengthen our religious
motive in fighting whims and desires. Once we have tasted the joy of defeating those whims and desires, then our determination
and willpower will grow stronger.
12. We should direct our thoughts towards contemplation
of the signs of Allah which He has encouraged us to think about, whether they are in the Qur'an or in the universe around
us. If such thoughts are constantly in our hearts and minds, this will help us to shun the whisperings of the Shaytan. There
is no greater loser than the one who, instead of thinking of Allah, His Book, His Prophet and his Sahabah, dwells on Shaytan
and the ideas of Shaytan.
13. We should remember how short is our stay
on this earth. No-one would want to feel that all he has achieved in this life is the worst kind of deeds, except a person
who has no spiritual ambition, whose heart is dead and who is careless. Such a person will ultimately regret his deeds when
he realizes that, far from benefiting him, they will lead to punishment. Even the person who has many good deeds to his credit
will feel that sense of regret when he realizes that he could have done even more.
14. We should know that Allah has created us
to live an eternal life with no death, a life of pride and ease with no humiliation, a life of security with no fear, a life
of richness with no poverty, a life of joy with no pain, a life of perfection with no flaws. Allah is testing us in this world
with a life that will end with death, a life of pride which is accompanied by humiliation and degradation, a life that is
tainted by fear, where joy and ease are mixed with sorrow and pain. So many people are mistakenly seeking an easy life of
power and pleasure in this world, but most of them never manage to achieve it, and those who do, enjoy it only for a brief
time before it vanishes. The Prophets called people to an eternal life of plenty, and whoever answers their call will have
the best life in this world, better than the life of kings and their followers, for zuhd in this life is true richness. This
is something which the Shaytan greatly envies the believers.
Merely knowing the facts that we have outlined above
is not enough. We have to strive and do our utmost to achieve our aim and attain perfection.
The best way to do so is to put a stop to the
habits that are controlling our lives, as these are the main obstacles which prevent us from succeeding. We should avoid places
of fitnah and temptation, as the Prophet (SAAS) told us, "Whoever hears of the Dajjal should keep away from him." The best
way to protect ourselves from wrong is to keep away from anything that could lead to it. One of the favourite tricks of the
Shaytan, which deceives everyone except those who are clever enough to see it, is to show a person some goodness in a wrong
thing, and call him to go towards what is good; when the person gets close to it, he falls into the trap.
Chapter 7: Man Cannot do Without
At any given moment, a person is in a situation
where he has to obey a command of Allah, or he has to stay away from something which Allah has prohibited, or he has to accept
a decree of Allah, or he has to give thanks (show gratitude) for a blessing which he has received from Allah. All of these
situations demand patience, so up until the time of death, no-one can do without patience. Whatever happens to us in life
is either in accordance with our wishes and desires, or against them. In both cases, patience is required. If a person enjoys
good health, security, power, wealth and fulfillment of his physical desires, he should not assume that this time of ease
will last forever, and he should not let his good fortune make him arrogant, extravagant or careless in a way that Allah does
not like. He should not devote all his time, money and energy to the pursuit of physical pleasure, because too much pleasure
results pain. He should take care to pay what is due to Allah in the way of zakat and sadaqah, otherwise Allah might take
away His blessing. He should also abstain from spending money in a haram way, and be careful to avoid spending it in a makruh
way. All of this takes patience, and nobody can exercise patience at a time of ease except people of very strong faith (as-siddiqun).
Patience at the time of adversity is easier than
at the time of ease
One of the salaf said: "Believers and unbelievers
alike may have patience at a time of adversity, but only people of strong faith can have patience at a time of ease." Therefore
Allah warned against the fitnah of wealth, wives and children:
"O you who believe! Let not your
riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah.
If any act thus, the loss is their own." (al-Munafiqun 63:9)
"O you who believe! Truly, among
your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them!" (at-Taghabun
The enmity referred to in these ayat is not that
which results from hatred and conflict, but that which results from love and care, that might prevent parents from religious
duties such as hijrah, jihad, seeking knowledge and giving sadaqah. At-Tirmidhi narrated from Ibn `Abbas that a man asked
him (Ibn `Abbas) about the ayah quoted above (at-Taghabun 64:14). Ibn 'Abbas told him that this ayah refers to some men of
Makkah who embraced Islam, but when they wanted to migrate to join the Prophet (SAAS) in Madinah, their wives and children
prevented them from doing so. Later on, when they eventually joined the Prophet (SAAS) and saw that others had already learned
a great deal about Islam, they wanted to punish their wives and children. So Allah revealed this ayah:
"O you who believe! Truly, among
your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them!" (at-Taghabun
At-Tirmidhi said that this report is hasan
sahih. The hadith, "Children are the cause of cowardliness and stinginess" reflects how much a man may be held back in his
pursuit of perfection and success by his wife and children.
Once, when the Prophet (SAAS) was delivering
a khutbah, he saw Hasan and Husayn walking and stumbling, so he interrupted his speech and went to pick them up, and said:
"Indeed, Allah has spoken the truth when He said: `…among your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to
yourselves.' I saw these two little boys stumbling and I did not have the patience to continue my khutbah, so I stopped and
picked them up." The Prophet (SAAS) did so because of his love for children, and in this way he set an example for his Ummah
to show mercy and kindness towards children. The reason why it is so difficult to exercise patience at a time of ease is because
we have a choice regarding how to behave. A hungry person has better patience when he has no access to food, and when food
becomes available, his patience weakens. Similarly, it is easier to control one's sexual desire when no women are around.
Patience in worship
We human beings have a natural aversion to carrying
out acts of worship, like salah, because of our inherent laziness. If a man is hardhearted and commits many wrong actions,
thinking too much of physical pleasure and mixing with people who do not remember Allah, then he can hardly perform his prayers,
and if he does not pray he does so absent-mindedly and hurriedly. Every step of the way, man needs patience in carrying out
an act of worship. Before he starts to do it, he must make sure that his intentions are correct. He should check his sincerity,
and seek to avoid showing off in performing any act of worship. Whilst he is performing any act of worship, he must try to
perfect it, to keep his intentions pure and his mind focused on the purpose of performing that act of worship, namely that
it is to please Allah. After completing an act of worship, he must abstain from doing anything that could corrupt his worship.
Allah has told us:
"O you who believe! Cancel not
your charity by reminders of your generosity or injury" (al-Baqarah 2:264).
He should exercise patience in refraining from
admitting and feeling proud of his performance, as this is more damaging than committing many other, more visible, wrong actions.
Similarly, he should always be discreet and refrain from telling others about his acts of worship.
Patience in abstaining from committing
The best way to help oneself abstain from wrong
action is to break all bad habits, and forsake all those who encourage one to commit wrong actions. Habits have a strong hold
over man's behaviour, and if habit is accompanied by desires, this means that there are two soldiers of Shaytan fighting the
motives of reason and religion, which cannot then withstand them.
Patience in adversity and in situations
beyond man's control
Trials such as the death of a beloved one, sickness,
loss of wealth, etc., fall into two types: adversity beyond one's control, and adversity caused by the actions of another
human being, such as slander, beating, etc. In facing situations that are beyond one's control, people may have any of the
1. Feeling helpless and discontented, panicking
2. Responding with patience, either for the sake
of Allah or as a sign of human strength.
3. Accepting and being contented with the situation.
This is actually of a higher status than patience.
4. Accepting the situation with thanks and gratitude.
This is even higher than acceptance, because in this case a person see the adversity as a blessing and thanks Allah for putting
him through it.
Problems and adversity that befall a person at
the hands of others may be faced with any of the following reactions:
1. he may choose to forgive and forget.
2. he may decide not to take revenge.
3. he may accept the decree (qada' wa qadr),
whilst recognizing that the person who harmed him was a wrongdoer, yet the One Who decreed that this harm should reach him
at the hands of the wrongdoer is not a wrongdoer. The harm caused by people is like heat and cold: there is no way to prevent
it happening and the one who complains about heat and cold betrays a lack of wisdom. Everything that happens, happens through
the decree (qada' wa qadr), even though there are many different ways and means for it to happen.
4. he may treat well the person who mistreated
him. This attitude has many advantages and benefits, which nobody can know in their entirety except Allah.
Patience in situations which are started by choice,
but whose consequences get out of hand
For example, love, the start of which may be
by choice but the final consequences of which are beyond a person's control. Similarly, one may expose oneself to the causes
of illness and pain (for example, by smoking or taking drugs), after which it is difficult to stop the consequences, and after
taking a large amount of intoxicants it is difficult to stop drunkenness. Man should exercise patience and abstain in the
Chapter 8: What is the most difficult
type of patience?
The degree of difficulty in abstaining from some things
depends on the strength of one's motive and one's ability to do the action in question. Whoever has no motive to kill, or
steal, or drink alcohol, or whatever, and at the same time in not able to do it, will find it very easy to exercise patience
in abstaining from those things. Whoever has a strong motive to commit a wrong action and has the means to do so, will face
great difficulty in exercising enough patience to abstain. There it is very difficult for a ruler to refrain from committing
injustice and oppression (dhulm), and it is difficult for a young man to refrain from fornication, and it is difficult for
a rich man to refrain from pursuing physical desires and pleasures. The Prophet (SAAS) is reported to have said: "Allah will
commend a young man who never behaved in an ignorant way" (Ahmad).
In another hadith, he referred to those who will be shaded
in the shade of Allah's throne for their perfect patience – such as the patience of an absolute ruler in being just
in all situations, regardless of his own feelings, and the patience of a young man in worshipping and obeying Allah and suppressing
his own whims and desires, and the patience of the man who gives sadaqah in keeping his sadaqah secret, and the patience of
a man who resists the temptation of a woman of beauty and high status, and the patience of two men who meet for the sake of
Allah and part for the sake of Allah, in keeping their relationship for the sake of Allah, and the patience of one who weeps
out of fear of Allah, in keeping that secret and not telling others about it.
All of these are among the most difficult types of patience.
Therefore the punishment of an old man who commits adultery, a king who tells lies and a poor man who is arrogant is more
severe, because it is easy for them to keep away from such wrong actions, and does not require much in the way of patience.
Their attitude indicates that they are willfully rebelling against Allah.
Patience in abstaining from wrong actions of speech and
sexual wrong actions
Amongst the most difficult types of patience is patience
in refraining from committing wrong actions of speech and sexual wrong actions. Wrong actions of speech – such as backbiting
and slander, telling lies to create trouble between people, and praising oneself explicitly or implicitly, and insulting people
one does not like and praising those whom one does like – are all entertaining and enjoyable. There is a strong motive
to commit these wrong actions, and it is so easy to move one's tongue and speak, so the patience required to abstain from
them is particularly difficult. Therefore the Prophet (SAAS) told Mu`adh, "Control your tongue." Mu`adh asked, "Are we accountable
for what we say?" The Prophet (SAAS) answered, "Is there anything other than the wrong actions of speech that cause people
to be thrown in Hell on their faces?"
Once the wrong actions of speech have become a habit, patience
becomes even more difficult. So you might see a man who stays up all night praying, fasts all day, and would refrain from
touching a pillow if it were made of silk, yet he gives his tongue free rein in backbiting, slandering and causing trouble
Chapter 9: Patience in the Qur'an
Imam Ahmad said: "Allah has mentioned patience in the
Qur'an in ninety places." Here, we will list the different contexts in which patience appears.
1. Instruction. Patience in enjoined upon believers:
"And be patient for your patience
is but by Allah…" (an-Nahl 16:127).
"Now await in patience the command
of your Lord…" (at-tūr 54:48).
2. That which is opposite to patience is forbidden:
"…and be in no haste about
the (unbelievers)…" (al-Ahqaf 46:35).
"So lose not heart nor fall in despair…" (Al `Imran 3:139).
"…and be not like the Companion of the
Fish (i.e. Yunus [AS]) – when he cried out in agony"
3. Patience is made a condition of success and
"O you who believe! Persevere in
patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that you may prosper" (Al `Imran 3:200).
4. The rewards of those who exercise patience
will be doubled:
"Twice will they be given their reward,
for that they have persevered…" (al-Qasas 28:54).
"…Those who patiently persevere
will truly receive a reward without measure!" (az-Zumar 39:10).
Sulayman ibn Qasim said that the reward of every
deed is known, except for the reward of patience, which will be like heavy rain.
5. Patience and iman are prerequisites for leadership
"And We appointed, from among them,
leaders, giving guidance under Our commands, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs" (as-Sajdah 32:24).
6. Patience is the way to earn the companionship
"…and be patient and persevering:
for Allah is with those who patiently persevere" (al-Anfal 8:46).
Abu Ali ad-Daqqaq said: "People who have patience
are the true winners in this world and the next, because they have the companionship of Allah."
7. Allah will reward those who have patience
with a threefold reward: blessings, mercy and guidance:
"…but give glad tidings to
those who patiently persevere – who say, when afflicted with calamity:
`To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return'
– they are those on whom (descend) blessings
from their Lord, and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance" (al-Baqarah 2:155-7).
When people came to offer their condolences to
one of the salaf, for some calamity that had befallen him, he said: "Why should I not practice patience, when Allah has promised
those who have patience three rewards, each of which is better than this world and everything in it?"
8. Patience is a means of seeking Allah's help:
"…seek (Allah's) help with
patient perseverance and prayer…" (al-Baqarah 2:45).
So whoever has no patience has no help.
9. Patience and taqwa are conditions for Allah's
help and support:
"Yea – if you remain firm,
and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste,
your Lord would help you with five thousand angels
making a terrific onslaught" (Al `Imran 3:125).
10. Patience and taqwa are a great protection
against the cunning of enemies:
"…But if you are constant and
do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you…" (Al `Imran 3:120).
11. The angels will salute the people of patience
"…and angels shall enter unto
them from every gate (with the salutation of): `Peace unto you for that you persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the
final Home!' "(ar-Ra`d 13:24).
12. Allah made it permissible to treat our enemies
no worse than they treat us, but He has made it clear that practising patience is better:
"And if you do catch them out, catch
them out no worse than they catch you out: but if you show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient" (an-Nahl 16:126).
13. Allah made patience and right actions a condition
for forgiveness and great reward:
"Not so those who show patience and
constancy, and work righteousness; for them is forgiveness (of wrong actions) and a great reward!" (Hud
14. Allah has made patience a standard of courage
and determination in the conduct of one's affairs:
"But indeed if any show patience
and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs"
(ash-Shura 42:43) "
(Luqman said:) `O my son! …enjoin
what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whate'er betide you, for this is firmness (of purpose)
in (the conduct of) affairs" (Luqman 31:17).
15. Allah has promised the believers His support
and victory, and has said that they deserve this because of their patience:
"…The fair promise of your
Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy…" (al-A`raf
16. Allah has made patience a condition of His
"How many of the Prophets fought
(in Allah's way), and with them (fought) large bands of godly men?
But they never lost heart if they met with disaster
in Allah's way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast (as-sabirin)" (Al `Imran 3:146).
17. Allah has made patience a condition of receiving
"But those who had been granted (true)
knowledge said: `Alas for you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is best for those who believe and work righteousness:
but this none shall attain, save those who steadfastly persevere (in good)" (al-Qasas 28:80).
"And no one will be granted such
goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint
– none but persons of the greatest good fortune" (Fussilat 41:35).
18. Allah has mentioned that only those who practise
patience and gratitude will benefit from the Signs of Allah:
"Do you not see that the ships sail
through the Ocean by the grace of Allah? – that He may show you of His Signs? Verily in this are Signs for all who constantly
persevere and give thanks" (Luqman 31:31).
"And among His Signs are the ships,
smooth-running through the ocean, (tall) as mountains. If it be His Will, He can still the Wind: then they would become motionless
on the back of the (ocean). Verily in this are Signs for everyone who patiently perseveres and is grateful"
19. Allah praised Ayyub (AS) for his patience:
"…Truly We found him full of
patience and constancy, how excellent in Our service! Ever did he turn (to Us)!" (Sad 38:44).
Allah described Ayyub (AS) as excellent because
of his patience, so the person who fails to exercise patience when it is necessary will be regarded as a failure and a sinner.
20. Allah has given a general ruling that whoever
does not have faith and does not belong to the people of truth and patience, is in state of loss. This means that the only
true winners are people of patience:
"By (the Token of) Time (through
the Ages), verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do right actions, and (join together) in the mutual teaching
of the Truth, and of Patience and Constancy" (al-`Asr 103:1-3)
Commenting on this surah, Imam ash-Shafi`i said:
"If people thought deeply on this sūuah, it would provide enough guidance, as man cannot attain perfection without perfecting
these two things, his knowledge and his actions, i.e. his faith and right actions. As he is required to perfect himself, so
he is required to perfect others, which is joining together in mutual teaching of the truth. The foundation of all this is
21. Allah has mentioned that the main characteristic
of those who attain salvation is patience and compassion:
"Then will he be of those who believe
and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the companions
of the right hand" (al-Balad 90:18).
22. Allah has mentioned patience alongside the
pillars of Islam and iman, as He has mentioned it alongside salah:
"Nay, seek (Allah's) help with patient
perseverance and prayer…" (al-Baqarah 2:45);
alongside right actions:
"Not so those who show patience and
constancy, and do right actions; for them is forgiveness (of wrong actions) and a great reward" (Hud 11:11);
alongside gratitude (shukr):
"…Verily in this are Signs for everyone
who patiently perseveres and is grateful" (ash-Shura 42:32-33);
"…and (join together) in the
mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy" (al-`Asr 103:1-3);
"…those who believe and enjoin
patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion…" (al-Balad
"…so long as they persevered
with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs" (as-Sajdah 32:24);
"…for true men and women, for
men and women who are patient and constant…" (al-Ahzab 33:35).
Allah has made patience the means for attaining
His love, His companionship, His help and support, and His good rewards. This is sufficient honour and blessings.
Chapter 10: Ahadith about Patience
Umm Salamah said: I heard the Prophet (SAAS) saying, "There
is no Muslim afflicted with calamity who says `To Allah we belong and to Him is our return; O Allah reward me for this calamity
and compensate me with what is better for me,' but Allah will compensate him with what is better for him. She said: "When
Abu Salamah died, I said: `Who among Muslims is better than Abu Salamah? His household was the first to migrate to the Messenger
of Allah!' Anyhow, I said what what the Prophet (SAAS) taught us to say, and Allah compensated me with the Messenger of Allah.
The Prophet (SAAS) sent Hatib ibn Abi Balta`ah to ask for my hand in marriage on his behalf, but I told him that I had a daughter,
and that I was a very jealous woman. The Prophet (SAAS) responded: `As far as her daughter is concerned, I shall pray to Allah
to make her independent, and I shall pray to Allah to take away her jealousy.' So I married the Messenger (SAAS)." (Muslim)
Abu Musa al-Ash`ari said: The Prophet (SAAS) said: "When
a child of a man dies, Allah asks the angels, `Did you take the soul of My slave's child?' They reply, `Yes.' He asks them,
`Did you take away the apple of his eye?', and they reply, `Yes.' The He asks: `What did My slave say?' They tell Him: `He
praised You and said: "To Allah we belong and to Him is our return." ' Allah says: `Build a house for him in Paradise and
call it Bait al-hamd (the house of praise)'." (At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and Ibn Hibban)
Anas (RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "Allah
said: `If I test My slave by depriving him of his two precious ones (meaning the eyes or eyesight), and he faces that with
patient perseverance, I shall compensate him with Paradise.' " (al-Bukhari)
From A'ishah (RA) via `Urwah and az-Zuhri: "The Prophet
(SAAS) said: `No affliction befalls a Muslim but Allah forgives his wrong actions because of it, even if it be no more than
a thorn'." (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas (RA) said: "I asked the Prophet (SAAS)
who among the people are most severely tried? He
said, `The Prophets, then the right acting people, and so on down through
various categories of people. Man will be tested according to the strength of his faith. The stronger his faith, the more
severe his trial, and the weaker his faith, the lighter his trial. The believer will be continually tested until he walks
on earth with all his wrong actions forgiven'." (al-Bukhari)
Anas (RA) narrated that a son of Abu Talhah (RA) fell ill
and died one day when Abu Talhah was away from home. When Abu Talhah's wife realized that her son had died, she covered him
with a blanket, and left him lying by the wall. Abu Talhah came home and asked how the boy was, and his wife told him: "He
has calmed down and I hope he is resting," so Abu Talhah thought that the child was getting better. That night he slept with
his wife, and in the morning he got up and performed ghusl. When he was about to go out, he wife told him that his son had
died. So Abu Talhah went and prayed with the Prophet (SAAS), then told him what had happened. The Prophet (SAAS) responded
by saying, "May Allah bless this last night of yours." A man from Ansar said, "I have seen nine children of the man who was
born as result of that night, and all of them have read the Qur'an." (al-Bukhari)
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAAS)
said: "No-one can be given a better an more abundant gift than patience." (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Patience at the time of sickness
Abu Sa`id al-Khudri (RA) said: "I entered upon the Prophet
(SAAS) when he was sick and had a high temperature. I put my hand on the cover with which he was covering himself and I could
feel the heat of his fever. I said, `How strong is your fever, O Messenger of Allah!' He said, `We Prophets are like that:
our pain is multiplied so our rewards will be multiplied'." (Ahmad)
Jabir ibn Abdullah (RA) said that the Messenger of Allah
(SAAS) entered upon a woman and asked her, "Why are you shivering like that?" She said, "It is because of fever," and cursed
the fever. The Prophet (SAAS) said, "Do not slander fever, because it takes away many wrong actions, just as the blacksmith's
bellows remove dross and impurities from iron." (Muslim)
Ziyad ibn Ziyad, the mawla (freed slave) of Ibn `Abbas (RA),
narrated from one of the Sahabah, who said: "We entered upon the Prophet (SAAS) when he was ill with fever. We expressed our
sorrow for his pain, and said, `May our mothers and fathers be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! How severe is your
pain!' He replied, `We Prophets are afflicted many times more strongly.' We said, `Subhanallah!' He asked, `Do you find this
strange? There were some Prophets who were killed by ringworm.' We said, `Subhanallah!' He asked, `Do you find this strange?
The most severely tried of people are the Prophets, then the right acting people, the those who are less right acting, and
so on.' We said, `Subhanallah!' He said, `Do you find this strange? They used to enjoy their times of trials and afflictions
as you enjoy your times of ease.' "
Masruq narrated from آ'ishah (RA) who said: "I have
never seen anyone endure more severe pain than the Prophet (SAAS). When he fell ill, his pain became so severe, to the extent
that he could not sleep for nineteen nights."
`آ'ishah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah
(SAAS) said: "Truly fever makes wrong actions fall away from a man like leaves fall from a tree." And it was narrated that
the Prophet (SAAS) said: "The likeness of the believer when he suffers from illness is like iron when it enters the fire;
the dross is removed, and the good elements stay."
It was narrated that Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (RA) said: "The
Prophet (SAAS) visited a sick man of the Ansar, and when the Prophet (SAAS) asked how he was, he said, `O Messenger of Allah,
I have not closed my eyes for seven days.' The Prophet (S) told him, `Have patience, my brother, for if you do, you will be
rid of your wrong actions as easily as you acquired them.' The Prophet (SAAS) also said: `The time of illness cancels out
the time of wrong actions.' "
Anas (RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "When a
slave of Allah becomes ill for three days, he will come out having shed all his wrong actions, and will become as sinless
as the day he was born." And it was narrated that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "The prayer of the sick person will never be rejected,
until he recovers."
It was narrated that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "By the One
in Whose hand is my soul, there is no qada' that Allah decrees for the believer but it is good for him. If Allah decrees that
he will go through a time of ease, the believer will be grateful, and that is good for him. If Allah decrees that he will
suffer some affliction, he will be patient, and that is also good for him. This applies only to the believers." (Ahmad)
Chapter 11: Sahabah on the Virtues of Patience
As-Safar said: "Abu Bakr fell ill, so some people visited him
and asked whether they should call a doctor for him. He said, `The Doctor has already seen me.' They asked, `What did he say?'
Abu Bakr said, `He said, "I do what I want".' " (Meaning, that Allah is his "Doctor" and can make him sick or healthy as He
wills) (Ahmad). `
Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) said: "The best days we ever lived
were by virtue of patience, and if patience were to take the shape of a man, he would be a noble and generous man."
`Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) said: "The relation of patience
to iman is like the relation of the head to the body. If the head is chopped off, the body becomes useless." Then he raised
his voice and said: "Certainly, the one who has no patience has no iman, and patience is like a riding-beast that nevers gets
`Umar ibn `Abdu'l-`Aziz said: "Allah never bestows a blessing
on His slave then takes it away and compensates him by giving him patience, but that with which he has been compensated is
better than that which has been taken away from him."
The story of `Urwah ibn al-Zubayr
`Urwah ibn al-Zubayr came to visit the Khalīfah al-Walid
ibn `Abdu'l-Malik. With him was his son Muhammad, who was one of the most handsome of men. The young man had dressed up for
the occasion in fine clothes, and had his hair in two plaits or braids. When al-Walid saw him, he said, "This is how the young
people of Quraysh look!" and by so saying, put the evil eye on him. Before he left, the young man fell ill. When he was in
the stable (preparing for the journey) he fell down, and the horses trampled him to death. Then `Urwah got gangrene in his
leg, and al-Walid sent doctors to him, who suggested that the leg should be amputated, otherwise the gangrene would spread
to the rest of the body and kill him. `Urwah agreed, and the doctors began to remove his leg, using a saw. When the saw reached
the bone, `Urwah fainted, and when he came around, sweat was pouring down his face, and he was repeating, "La ilah ill-Allah,
Allahu akbar." When the operation was over, he picked up his leg and kissed it, then said, "I swear by the One Who mounted
me on you, I never used to walk to any place of wrong action or to any place where Allah would not like me to be." Then he
gave instructions that the leg should be washed, perfumed, wrapped in a cloth and buried in the Muslim graveyard. When `Urwah
left al-Walid and returned to Madinah, his family and friends went to meet him at the outskirts of the city and to offer condolences.
The only reply he made was to quote from the Qur'an: "…truly we have suffered much fatigue at our journey" (al-Kahf
18:62). He did not say any more than that. Then he said, "I will not enter Madinah, for people there either rejoice over the
afflictions of others, or else feel envy for their blessings." So he went to stay in a place at al-`Aqiq.
`Isa ibn Talhah came to visit him there and said, "May your
enemies' fathers perish!" and asked him, "Show me the affliction for which I have come to console you." `Urwah uncovered his
stump, and `Isa said, "By Allah, we were not preparing you to wrestle! Allah has saved most of you: your sanity, your tongue,
your eyesight, your two hands, and one of your two legs." `Urwah told him, "Nobody has consoled me as you have." When the
doctors came to perform the amputation, they had asked `Urwah whether he would drink intoxicants to ease the pain. He said,
"Allah is testing me to see the extent of my patience. How could I go against His commands?"
Beautiful patience (sabr jamil – Yusuf 12:83)
Mujahid said: "Beautiful patience is patience without any
panic." `Amr ibn Qays said: "Beautiful patience means to be content with adversity and to surrender to the will of Allah."
Yunus ibn Yazid said: I asked Rabi`ah ibn `Abdu'l-Rahman:
"What is the ultimate of patience?" He said: "To be outwardly the same at the time of affliction as one was the day before
it struck." (This does not mean that a person does not or should not feel pain or anguish; patience in this instance means
that one refrains from panicking and complaining.)
Commenting on the meaning of beautiful patience, Qiyas ibn
al-Hajjaj said: "The person who is suffering from some affliction should behave in such a way that nobody is able to distinguish
him from others."
Patience at the time of bereavement
The loss of a loved one is a time when a person may be overwhlemed
with grief and many customs surrounding bereavement reflect the depth of the feeling of loss. Wailing, eulogizing and tearing
one's garments are all customs which were known at the time of jahiliyah, and are still common among some muslims. Such conduct
is not permitted in Islam, as the believer is required to face bereavement, like all other trials of life, with patience.
It is permitted to cry or weep softly before death, at the
time of death and after the person has died. According to ash-Shafi'i, however, it is makruh to cry after the person has died,
but permissable before the soul has departed.
The correct opinion is that crying is permitted both before
and after death. The evidence for this is the hadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah (r) in which he said "My father died at
the battle of Uhud, and I began to weep. The people told me to stop, but the Messenger of Allah (saw) never asked me to stop.
Then my aunt Fatimah began to weep to, and the Prophet (saw) said "it does not matter whether you cry or not, the angels kept
shading him until they ascended with his soul". (Agreed Upon)
Ibn 'Abbas (r) reported that when Ruqayyah (r), the daughter
of the Prophet (saw) died, the women started to cry and 'Umar began to whip them to make them stop. The Prophet (saw) told
him "O 'Umar, leave them alone and let them cry". To the women, he said, "Go ahead and cry but avoid the crying of the Shaytan.
Whatever comes from your eye and heart is from Allah and is a sign of mercy and whatever comes from your hand and your tongue
is from Shaytan" (Ahmed).
A number of sound ahadith describe the Prophet (saw) weeping
on a number of occasions when someone he loved had died. When the Prophet (saw) visited the grave of his mother he wept, and
caused others to weep. When he was burying the martyr, Uthman ibn Madh'un (r), after Uhud, he kissed him and his tears fell
on 'Uthmans face. When he gave the news of the death of Jaf'ar (r) and his companions in the battle against the Romans at
Mu'tah, he spoke with tears streaming down his face.
Another sound report describes how Abu Bakr (r) wept when
he kissed the Prophet (saw) after he had died. The ahadith that forbid crying should be interpreted as referring to the kind
of crying that is accompanied by eulogizing and wailing.
Eulogizing and wailing
Eulogizing the dead and wailing in grief are haram, according
to Ahmad, ash Shafi'i and others. In a hadith narrated from 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (r) the Prophet (saw) said "He is not one
of us who strikes himself on the cheeks, rends his garments and behaves like the people of jahiliyya." (Bukhari and Muslim).
Umm 'Atiyyah (r) said, "When we gave our allegiance to him,
the Prophet (saw) asked us never to wail (at the time of bereavement)" (al-Bukhari, Muslim).
Abu Malik al-'Ash'ari (r) said "The Prophet (saw) said "There
are four habits which my ummah has which are from jahiyyah. My ummah will never rid itself of them. They are : seeking pride
in noble descent; slandering one another by casting doubts on one anothers lineage; seeking rain through astrology and wailing".
In another hadith the Prophet (saw) said that if a woman practices the custom of wailing, and does not repent before she dies,
on the Day of Resurrection she will be raised with clothes of tar and a shield of scabs. (Muslim)
Abu Musa (r) said "The Prophet (saw) said the deceased person
suffers because of the wailing of the living. When the wailing woman says "what a great loss! I have lost my right arm, the
one who clothed me", the deceased will be pulled up sharply and asked "Are you her right hand? Are you her support? Are you
the one who clothes her?" (Ahmad)
There is no doubt that wailing and eulogizing are haram,
how could it be otherwise, when they indicate discontent with one's Lord and contradict patience? Behaving this way harms
oneself too, when one slaps ones face, pull out one's own hair, prays to Allah to takes ones soul, wastes posessions by tearing
one's own clothes, complains of injustice from Allah and praises the deceased with qualities that he did not possess. Any
one of these would be sufficient grounds for the total prohibition of wailing and eulogising.
Saying a few words
It is permissible to say a few words when crying over a
deceased perosn so long as these words are true and are not accompanied by wailing or expression of discontent with the decree
of Allah. Such brief words do not contradict patience, and are not haram. Anas (r) reported that Abu Bakr (r) entered upon
the Prophet (saw) after he had passed away, put his hands on his temples, kissed him between the eyes and said "O my prophet,
O my dearest friend, my beloved" (Ahmad)
Anas (r) reported that when the Prophet (saw) became very
ill, he started to lose consciousness. Fatimah (r) said, "how great is the distress of my father!" He said "There will be
no more distress for your father after today". When the Prophet (saw) passed away, she said, "O my father who answered the
call of his Lord, O my father whose destrination is paradise, O my father to Jibril will tell the news of your death". After
the Prophet (saw) had been buried, she said "O Anas, how could you bear to bury the Prophet and cover him with dust?" (al
When his son, Ibrahim died, the Prophet (saw) said, "We
are very sad for your death, O Ibrahim." This does not indicate discontent with the decree of Allah or complaining against
Allah. Such statements are no more than crying or weeping.
The deceased person suffers because of a people's
wailing for him
A sahih hadith, narrated from 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (r),
and his son, and al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah (r), indicates that a deceased person suffers because of people wailing over him.
There should be no problem in understanding this hadith, and it should not be seen as contradicting the quran or the basic
princples of the shariah. It does not mean that a man can be punished because of another person deeds. The Prophet (saw) did
not say that the deceased person will be punished because of his family crying over him. What he said was that the deceased
suffers because of that, meaning that it hurts him. Similarly, a dead person in the grave might suffer when a person in a
neighbouring grave is being in punished, just as in this life it hurts him to see his neighbour being punished. So when the
famly of a dceased person cries, wails and eulogizes him , like the people of jahiliyya used to do, the deceased person will
be hurt in his grave because of it. This is the suffering that is referred to in the hadith.
Patience is half of iman
Iman is in two halves - half is patience
(sabr) and half is gratitude (shukr). Therefore Allah has mentioned patience and gratitude alongside one another -
"Verily in are signs for all who
constantly perserve and give thanks" (14: 5; 31:31; 34:19: 42:33)
The reasons why one half of iman is patience and the
other is shukr are as follows
1. Iman is a term which covers words, deeds, and intentions,
all of which are based on one of two things, action or abstinence. Actions refers to performing a deed in accordance with
the instructon of Allah, which is the reality of gratitude. Abstinence as in refraining from the wrong action, requires patience.
The whole of religion is embodied in these two things, carryng out that which Allah has commanded and refraining from that
which Allah has prohibited.
2. Iman is based on two pillars, yaqin (conviction)
and patience which are referred to in the following ayah
"And We appointed from among them
leaders giving guidance under our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in our sins"
It is through faith that we know the reality
of Allahs commmands and prohibitions, of reward and punishment and it is through patience that we carry out His instructions
and abstain from that which He has prohibited. A person can never come to believe in Allahs commands and prohibitions, and
in reward and punishment, except through faith, and that is truly from Allah. And we can never carry out Allahs instruction
and abstain from that which He has prohibited except through patience. Therefore patience is half of iman and the other half
3. Man has two powers - the power of doing
and the power of abstaining - which control all his behaviour, so a person will do what he likes and abstain from that he
dislikes. The whole of religion is doing or abstaining, carrying out of instructions of Allah or abandoning from that wich
he has prohibited, neither of which can be accomplished without patience.
4. The whole of religion is hope and fear
and the true believer is the one who is both hopeful and fearful. Allah said
"They used to call on us with love
and reverence and humble themselves before Us" (21:90)
The Prophet (saw) used to pray to Allah "I have
surrendered my soul to You and turned my face to you, my own affair, I commit to Allah and I seek your protection, in hope
of You and in fear of You" (al-Bukhari). So the believer is the one who is both hopeful and fearful but hope and fear can
only be based on the foundations of patience: fear should make the believer patient, and his hope should lead to gratitude.
5. Any action done by man is either beneficial
or harmful to him in this world and the next, or else it is beneficial to him in one world and harmful to him in the other.
The best course for man is to do that which is beneficial to him in the hereafter and abstain from that which is harmful to
him in the herefater . This is the reality of iman: to do what is good for him, and that is gratitude; and to abstain from
that which harms him, and that is patience.
6 Man is always in a situation where he has
to carry out an instruction from Allah or avoid something which Allah has prohibited or accept something that Allah has decreed.
In all cases he has to face the situation with patience and gratitude carrying out Allah's instructions is gratitude and abstaining
from prohibited things and being content with the decree of Allah constitutes patience.
7. Man is constantly being pulled in two
opposing directions - should he respond to the lure of this world of desires and pleasures, or should he answer the call of
Allah and the hereafter, with the eternal paradise that Alllah has prepared for His friend (wali)? Going aganst the call of
whims and desires is patience, and responsding to the call of Allah and the hereafter is gratitude.
8. Religion is based on two principles; determination
and perserverance, which are referred to in the du'a of the Prophet (saw) "O Allah! I ask You for perservance in all my affairs
and I ask You for the determination to stay on the straight and narrow path".
9. Religon is based on haqq and patience,
which is refered to in the ayah:
"..And they (join together) in the
mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy" (103:3).
Man is required to work according to the truth,
both by himself and with others, which is the reality of gratitude but he cannot do that without patience, therefore patience
is half of iman wa Allahu Alam.
Patience and Loving Allah
Patience is one of the most important qualities demanded
of those who claim to love Allah as the degree of patience determines those who are sincere in their claim and those who are
not. The degree of patience needed to endure hardship and difficulties in order to please the Beloved proves the sincerity
of one's love. Many claim to loved Allah, but when Allah tests them with hardship, they forget the true essence of love. No
one can adhere to the love of Allah except those who are patient and perserving (as-sabirun). If it were not for the test
of hardship and sincerity, there would be no proof of the sincerity of a person's love for Allah. The one whose love of Allah
is greater, has a greater degree of patience.
Therefore, Allah has attributed the quality of patience
to His close friends (awliya) and most beloved. He said about His beloved slave, Ayyub (as)
"...Truly we found him full of patience
and constancy. How excellent in Our service! ever did he turn (to Us)!" (38:44)
Allah instucted the most beloved to Him of everything He
created to have patience in accepting His decree and told him that patience comes only by the help of Allah. He praised those
who have patience and promised them the best of rewards: the rewards of others are defined and limited but the reward of as-sabirun
is without measure.
Patience is vital at all levels of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan
as well as being a major element in iman and tawakkul.
Patience for the sake of Allah, by the help of Allah and
in accepting the decree of Allah
1. Patience for the sake of Allah, hoping for His rewards
and fearing His punishment.
2. Patience by the help of Allah, as man realised that He has no patience himself and he
has no power to acquire patience. Rather he knows "there is no power and no strength except by the help of Allah".
Patience in accepting the decree of Allah, as man realises that Allah is the only one Who is controlling the affairs of the
universe so he will patiently accept the ruling and decree of Allah, regardless of what it may mean for him in the way of
ease or hardship.
Patience for the sake of Allah is of a higher degree than
patience by the help of Allah as patience for the sake of Allah is related to His being ilah (god, deity), whilst patience
by His help is related to His being Rabb (Lord, cherisher and sustainer) Whatever is connected to His being ilah such as patience
for His sake, is worship, and as such is greater than whatever is conncted to His being Rabb, such as seeking His help in
having patience. Worship is the ultimate goal, whereas seeking help is a means to that end. The goal is sought for its own
sake, but means are sought for the sake of other thing. Patience by his Help is common to believers and unbelievers, good
and bad alike, while patience for His sake is the way of the messengers, prophets and true believers. Patience for His sake
is patience in matters that please Allah, while patience by His help may apply to matters that please Him or displease Him.
Patience in obeying Allah's commands and abstaining from
that which He has prohibited is greater than patience in accepting the decree of Allah, because the patience involved in obedience
comes by choice, but the patience involved in accepting His decress is forced upon a person.
Different degrees of Patience
1. Patience both for the sake of Allah and by the help of
Allah a person will have patience by the help of Allah for the sake of Allah realizing that he has no power of his own whatsoever.
This is the highest degree of patience.
2. Patience for the sake of Allah but not by the help of
Allah such people may want to have patience for the sake of Allah but they are not actively seeking His help and their trust
and reliance is weak. Such people willl have a good ending but they are weak and cannot achieve most of what they want to
achieve. This is the situation of a sincere but weak believer.
3. Patience by the help of Allah. Such a person seek's Allahs
help and puts his trust in Him, admitting that he has no power or strength whatseoever, but his patience is not for the sake
of Allah, as his patience is not for reasons of faith. This will achieve his aims, but his ending may be the worst. An example
of such a people are the leaders of the kuffar and the followers of Shaytan, as their patience is by the help of Allah but
is not for the sake of Allah.
4. No kind of patience whatsoever. This is the lowest degree
and a person of this types deserves all sorts of failures.
Those who have patience for the sake of Allah and by the
help of Allah are those who are strong and achieve much. Those who have patience for the sake of Allah but not by the help
of Allah are good people, but weak and helpless, those who have patience by the help of Allah but not for the sake of Allah,
are capable, but evil. Those who have neither patience for the sake of Allah nor by the help of Allah are doomed to failure.
Gratitude in the Qur'an
Allah tells us
"Then remember Me; I will remember
you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject Me." (2:152)
And He has told us that only those who are grateful
to Him truly worship Him:
"... and be grateful to Allah, if
it is Him you worship" (2:172)
Allah has mentioned gratitude alongside iman,
and has made it clear that He gains nothing from punishing His people if they give thanks to Him and believe in Him:
"What can Allah gain by your punishment,
if you are grateful and you believe..." (4:147)
In other words: if you carry out the duties for
which you were created, namely gratitude and iman, why should Allah punish you?
Allah has divided people into two categories,
the people of gratitude (shukr) and the people of ingratitude (kufr). The thing most disliked by Him is kufr and the people
of kufr; the thing most liked by Him is gratitude, and the people of gratitude:
"We showed him (i.e. man) the way:
whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)". (76:3)
According to the Qur'an, the Prophet Sulayman
"..This is by the grace of my Lord!
- to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul;
but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is free of all needs, Supreme in honour!" (27:40)
And Allah says -
"And remember! your lord caused to
be declared (publicly): "If you are grateful to me, I will add more (favours) unto you; but if you show ingratitude, truly
My punishment is terrible indeed" (14:7)
If you reject (Allah), truly Allah
has no need of you; but He likes not ingratitude from His slaves: if you are grateful He is pleased with you...." (39:7)
There are many ayat in the Qur'an where Allah
makes a contrast between gratitude (shukr) and ingratitude (kufr). For example,
"Muhammad is no more than a Messenger:
many were the Messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels? If
any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he doe to Allah, but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward
those who (serve Him) with gratitude" (3;144)
The rewards of gratitude
The reward of gratitude is unlimited:
"..If you are grateful I will add
more (favours) unto you..." (14:7)
In contrast other rewards and divine favours
are conditional upon His will, for example, relief from poverty
"..but if you fear poverty, soon
will Allah enrich you, if He wills.." (9:28)
* answering prayers
"Nay - on Him would you call, and if it be His
will, He would remove (the distress) which occasioned your call upon Him..." (6:41)
* rizq (sustenance and provision)
"...He gives Sustenance to whom He pleases" (42:19)
"..He forgives whom He wills, and
He punishes whom He wills..." (48:14)
* Divine mercy
"Again will Allah, after this, turn (in mercy) to
whom He will.." (9:27)
But Allah has made the reward for gratitude free
from any conditions, as in:
"..And swiftly shall We rewards those that (serve
Us with) gratitude" (3:145)
"But Allah will swiftly reward those
who (serve Him) with gratitude". (3:144)
Iblis and gratitude
When the enemy of Allah realized the virtue of
gratitude, he made his main aim to keep people away from it:
"Then I will assault them from before
them and behind them, from their right and their left; nor will You find, in most of them, gratitude (for Your mercies)." (7:17)
Allah has described the people of gratitude as
being very few:
"..But few of My slaves are grateful!" (43:13)
Gratitude and 'Ibadah
Allah explained in the Qur'an that the only people
who truly worship Him are those who give thanks (gratitude) to Him, so those who are not among the people of gratitude are
not among the people of 'ibadah:
"..and be grateful to Allah, if it
is Him you worship." (2:172)
He instructed His slave, Musa (as) to accept
what He had bestowed upon him with gratitude:
"..O Musa! I have chosen you above (other) men,
by the mission I (have given you) and the words I (have spoken to you): take then the (revelation) which I give you, and be
of those who give thanks". (7:144)
Allah has told us that His pleasure may be attained
"...If you are grateful, He is pleased
with you" (39:7)
Allah praised Ibrahim (as) for being grateful
for His favours:
"Ibrahim was indeed a model. Devoutly
obedient to Allah, (and) true in faith, and he joined not gods with Allah. He showed his gratitude for the favours of Allah.
Who chose him, and guided him to a straight way." (16:120-1)
Allah mentioned that gratitude is the purpose
"It is He Who brought you forth from
the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing: and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affection: then you
may give thanks (to Allah)". (16:78)
"Allah had helped you at Badr, when
you were contemptible little force, then fear Allah; thus may you show your gratitude." (3:123)
As well as being the purpose of creation, gratitude
was also the purpose of sending the Prophet saw :
"Then remember Me, I will remember you. Be grateful
to Me and do not reject Me". (2:152)
Gratitude in the Ahadith
It was reported that the Prophet saw
stayed up all night, standing until his feet became swollen. When he was asked, "Why are you doing this, when Allah has forgiven
all your past and future wrong actions?" he replied, "Should I not be a grateful slave?" (Bukhari, Muslim)
The Prophet (saw) told Mu'adh (r): "By Allah, I love you,
so do not forget to say at the end of every salah, "O Allah, help me to remember You and to give thanks to You and to worship
You well". (Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi).
Hisham ibn 'Urwah said it is amongst the dua of the Prophet
Ibn 'Abbas (r) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: "There
are four qualities, whoever is given them has truly been given the best in this world and the next. They are: a grateful heart
(that is thankful to Allah), a remembering tongue (that mentions Allah often), an enduring body (to persevere through the
trials which Allah may send), and a faithful wife (who does not cheat him of her body or his wealth)".
al-Qasim ibn Muhammad reported from 'A'ishah (r) that the
Prophet (saw) said: "No blessing is bestowed on a slave and he realizes that it is from Allah, but the reward of giving gratitude
for it is written for him. Never does Allah know the regret of His slave for a wrong action he has committed, but Allah forgives
his wrong action before the slave seeks forgiveness. No man buys a garment with his own money then puts it on and thanks Allah,
but Allah will have forgiven him all his wrong action before the garment reaches his knees".
The Prophet (saw) said: "Allah is pleased with His slave
if, when he eats something, he thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something he thanks Allah for it." (Muslim).
Shu'bah said: "al-Fadl ibn Fudalah narrated that Abu Rajah
al-Utaridi said: "Once we saw 'Imran ibn al-Husayn wearing beautiful clothes that we have never seen before or since. 'Imran
told us that the Prophet (saw) said "If Allah bestows His blessing on His slave, He likes to see the effect of that blessing
Ibn Shu'aib narrated from his father and grandfather that
the Prophet (saw) said: "Eat. drink and give sadaqah without being extravagant or showing off, as Allah likes to see the effect
of His blessing on His slave".
Shu'bah narrated from Abu Ishaq from Abu'l-Akhwas who narrated
that his father said: "I came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) looking dishevelled and scruffy. He asked me, "Do you have any
possessions?" I said, "Yes". He asked me what sort, and I told him, "I have all sorts. Allah has given me camels, horses,
slaves and sheep." The Prophet saw said, "If Allah has given you all of that, then let Him see His blessing on you".
Abu'd-Dunya narrated the hadith of Abu Abdur-Rahman as-Silmi
from ash-Sha'bi, from an-Nu'man ibn Bashir who said: "The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Speaking of Allah's blessing is
gratitude and ignoring it is ingratitude (kufr). The one who does not give thanks for a small blessing will not give thanks
for a great blessing, and the one who does not give thanks to people will not give thanks to Allah. To be with a group is
a blessing, and to be alone is a punishment".
Ibn Abi'd-Dunya narrated that 'A'ishah (r) said that the
Prophet (saw) entered upon her one day and saw a small piece of bread on the floor, so he picked it up and wiped it, then
told her: "O 'A'ishah (r), treat the blessings of Allah with respect, for when it departs from a household it may never come
back to them".
ad-Darwardi narrated from 'Amr ibn Abi Amr from Sa'id al-Maqburi
from Abu Hurairah (r) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "Allah said, The position of the believer in relation to Me
is of the best: he praises Me even when I am pulling the soul from his body".
Abu Hurairah (r) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: "If
any of you would like to see the great blessing of Allah on him, then let him look at those who are less fortunate than him,
not those who appear better of than him."
The Sahabah and Taab'ieen on Gratitude
Salman al-Farsi (r) said: "There was a man who was given
many of the luxuries of this world, and then they were taken away from him. But he continued to praise and thank Allah until
everything had been taken from him, eve his bed. And then he still praised and thanked Allah. Another man , who had also been
given many of the luxuries of this world asked him, "What are you praising and thanking Allah for?" The man said, "I am praising
Allah for blessing which, if others asked me to give them to them in return for all that they have, I would
never give them up." "What can they be?" asked the second man. "Can't you see?" asked the first man. "I have my eyesight,
my tongue, my hands, my feet.."
Mukhallad ibn al-Husayn said: "The definition of gratitude
is abstaining from wrong action". Abu Hazim said: "Every blessing that does not bring you closer to Allah is a disaster."
Sulayman said "Remembering His Blessings makes one love Allah".
Hammad ibn Ziyad narrated that Layth ibn Abi Burdah
said: "I went to Maidah, where I met Abdullah ibn Salam, who said to me: "Would you like to visit a place visisted by the
Prophet (saw) and we will offer you sawiq and dates?.." Then he said, "when Allah gathers people on the Day of Judgement,
He will remind them of His Blessings. One of His slaves will say: "Remind me of something, " and Allah will say: "Remember
whn you faced such and such
adversity, and you prayed to Me, so I relieved you of it. Remember when you were travelling
in such and such a place, and you asked Me to give you a travelling companion, and I did so... Remember when you asked for
the hand of so and so the daughter of so and so, and others also asked for her hand, so I gave her to you to marry, and kept
the others away." His slave will be standing before his Lord, Who will remind him of His many blessings". Then the narrator
of this story (Layth) wept and said, I hope that no one will stand before his lord in this way, because the one who does so
will be punished." (ie if Allah has to point out that which should be obvious, this is a sign of a person's ingratitude, and
he will be punished).
Bakr ibn Abdullah al-Muzani said: "When a man faces affliction,
he may pray to Allah and Allah may deliver him from adversity. Then Shaytan comes to the man and whispers, "It was not as
bad as you thought." Thus the man's gratitude will be weakened."
Zazan said: "The right of Allah over the man who is enjoying
His blessings is that such a man should not use His blessings in order to commit wrong actions." A man of knowledge said:
"The blessing of Allah to us is in keeping the luxuries which he has given us, because Allah did not like His Prophet to have
the luxuries of this world. So I prefer to live in a manner which Allah preferred for His Prophet than to live a life which
He disliked for him."
Ibn Abi'd-Dunya said: "It was narrated to me that some scholars
said: "The scholar should praise Allah for having deprived him of the luxuries of this life, in the same way that he should
praise Him for what He has bestowed upon him. How can you compare the blessings and luxuries for which he will be accountable
to the deprivation of luxuries which is a relief from being tested and which keeps his mind free to worship and remember Allah?
So he should give thanks to Allah for all of that."
It has been said: "Gratitude is giving up wrong action".
Ibn al Mubarak said: "Sufyan said: "He does not understand religion properly who does not count affliction as a blessing and
ease as a disaster"".
Gratitude of different faculties
A man said to Abu Hazim: "What is the gratitude of the eyes?".
He said "If you see good things, you speak about them, and if you see bad things, you keep quiet about it." He asked "What
is the gratitude of the ears?". He said, "If you hear something good, you accept it, and if you hear something bad, you reject
it." Then he asked "What is the gratitude of the hands?" He said, "Do not take that which does not belong to you and do not
from paying the dues of Allah (zakat)". Then he asked, "What is the gratitude of the head?". He said "To have
knowledge in it". Then he asked "What is the gratitude of one's private parts?". He quoted: "Who guard their private parts,
except from those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess - for (in their case)
they are free from blame, but those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors." (23:5-7)
As for those who only pay lip service to gratitude, and
do not give thanks with the rest of their faculties, are concerned, they are like a man who has a garment, and all he does
with it is touch it, but he does not put it on: it will never protect him from heat, cold, snow or rain.
Prostration of Gratitude
When the Messenger of Allah (saw) used to receive good news,
he would prostrate himself (sujud) and give thanks to Allah. Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (r) narrated: "The Prophet (saw) entered
upon us in the mosque, stood facing the qiblah, then prostrated himself and remained in sujud for a long time. I said to him,
"O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated yourself for such a long time that we thought Allah had taken your soul." He said "Jibril
came to me with good news. He told me: "Allah says, Whoever sends blessings on you, I will send sixty blessings on him in
return and whoever salutes you, I will salute him in return", so I prostrated myself and gave thanks to Allah."
(Ahmad) Sa'id ibn Mansur narrated that Abu Bakr (ra) prostrated
himself when he heard the news that Musaylimah had been killed, and Ka'b ibn Malik (r) prostrated himself when the Prophet
(saw) told him the good news that Allah had forgiven him.
All the good deeds of men cannot pay for one blessing
A worshipper worshipped Allah for fifty years, so Allah
told him that He had forgiven him. The man said, "O Allah, what is there to forgive when I have not committed a wrong action?"
So Allah caused a nerve in his neck to give him pain, so he could not sleep or pray. When the pain eased and he was able to
sleep, an angel came to him, so he complained to the angel of the pain he had suffered. The angel told him, "Your Lord says
to you that your fifty years of worship is to pay for the soothing of your pain".
Ibn Abi'd-Dunya mentioned that Dawud (as) asked Allah: "What
is the least of Your blessings?" Allah revealed to him "O Dawud, take a breath." Dawud did so, and Allah told him "This is
the least of My blessings on you".
From this we may understand the meaning of the hadith which
was narrated by Ziyad ibn Thabit and Ibn 'Abbas (r): "If Allah was to punish the people of heaven and earth, He would have
done that without being unjust towards them, and if He were to have mercy on them, His Mercy would be far better for them
than their deeds." (Abu Dawood).
In a sahih hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "No
one will attain salvation by virtue of his deeds." The people asked, "Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?". He said, "not
even me, unless Allah covers me with His Mercy and Blessings."
The deeds of a man cannot pay for even one of the many blessings
of Allah, because even the smallest of Allah's blessings and favours far outweighs the deeds of man. So we must always bear
in mind the rights which Allah has over us.
Patience and Gratitude are the keys to success in
this world and the next, as is evident from the words of Imaam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah.
May Allah guide us to His Way and help us to
be among as-Sabirin and ash-Shakirin.