Tuesday 19 July 2022

Sabr: Patience with Perseverance - the best trait of a Muslim

Life is a complex living with generally smooth sailing, yet marred with tests and trials, up and down and many a challenges that rob one's peace of mind and makes one dejected and depressed. This could be loss of near and dar one, loss of property, wealth, position or a job. These are occasions when one is in extreme distress and does not, though momentarily, see any hope or light at the end of the tunnel. Some even lament "Why me!!"

Well, this is how life has been planned for us by Allah to test us in times of happiness and sorrow. Both these conditions are in fact a test for the man, specially for the true believers for sometimes their faith too wavers and they look towards the sky in distress, silently asking the why of bad times they are passing through. Cognizant of man's state of mind, Allah has asked the believers to be patient with perseverance for they do not the WHY and even do not know how better things in their  lives are planned, promises that those who face difficulty and yet persist on the right path, will be doubly rewarded for their faith in Allah and being patient.  

But do we really understand what Sabr really is. Jamal Badawi explains:
Typically people translate sabr as patience, which is an approximate meaning. Patience s is not a very good translation because it comes from the Latin origin which means suffering. Thus patience is understood in peoples minds as a passive type of suffering. The term sabr comes from the verb sabara which means to tie or bind. In other words it means to be tie down uncontrolled fears, weakness and human passion. There is no specific English word that expresses this meaning but some words that are close are perseverance, resolution, fortitude, self discipline and control. This quality is not passive but more active determined and dynamic. The term sabr (perseverance) in Islam has so many applications that are not limited to perseverance in cases of calamity or disaster. It does include fighting for justice or freedom, demolition of human tyranny unlike the negative passive term, patience.
Going by the above explanation we understand that the main difference between patience and perseverance is that patience is the ability to endure difficult situations without being annoyed or anxious, but perseverance is the quality of continuing with something even though it is difficult.

Thus believers are advised not only to overcome their grief but also continue enduring their grief and resultant difficulties with complete faith in Allah and never ever wavering from their true path for this is the stage when the Satanic machinations are at their prime to offset a believer and inculcate in his mind the feeling of abandonment. 

Thus under the distressful circumstance, a true believer must know that:
  • Whatever is happening or happened to us, we don't understand the WHY, yet we trust Allah without questioning.
  • That when in distress, we do not show our grief to people around us holding back our tears and being strong but cry when it's just Allah with us and beg Him for mercy to take us out from the grievous situation we are in.
  • Instead of being feeling low,  still manage to say Alhamdulillah.
  • Everything belongs to Allah which He has very graciously given to us. But if it is taken back, we need not lament for the taken back things was not ours anyway. Instead we should say:  Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) - “Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will all return.“
It is certainly difficult for a person to look at the tragedies of the world today and not feel helpless and sad. But believers are called to put their trust in their Lord, and not to fall into despair or hopelessness. You must continue to do what Allah has called to do: put trust in Him, perform good deeds, and stand as witnesses for justice and truth. This is how Allah advises a believer to exhibit sabr and perseverance in Qur'an:
  • "Seek Allah's help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble." (2:45)
  • "Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere." (2:153)
  • "Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives, and the fruits of your toil. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those 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. They are the ones who receive guidance." (2:155-157)
That is those who have faith in Allah in times of distress, Allah promises them good tidings and releif as is said in Surah 94 Al-Sharh:5-6:
فَاِنَّ مَعَ الۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرًا ۙ‏ 
(94:5) Verily with every difficulty there is relief.
اِنَّ مَعَ الۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرًا ؕ‏ 
(94:6) Verily with every difficulty there is relief.

The above quoted last verses of the Surah Al-Sharh were revealed when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was passing through some of the hard times of his life3 and these two repeated verses were revealed to tell him that with every hard ship comes the ease provided one faces the hardships with patience and perseverance. 

Yusuf Ali explains: This verse is repeated for extra emphasis. Whatever difficulties or troubles are encountered by men, Allah always provides a solution, a way out, a relief, a way to lead to ease and happiness, if we only follow His Path and show our Faith by patience and well-doing. The solution or relief does not merely come after the Difficulty: it is provided with it. I understand the definite article in al-'usr in a generic sense, and translate: "every difficulty". In xcii. 7, I have translated Yusr as Bliss, and in xcii. 10 'Usr as Misery.
The essence of all above is in fact a strong message for the believers to exhibit extreme sense of  Sabr (patience with perseverance) whenever in in testing and trying times for Allah is on the side of those who bow their heads to Allah in every state of happiness and despair and know that both happiness and distress are from Allah and his duty is to remain subservient to whatever comes from Allah. Such are the true believers and Muslims.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others life miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so  that they are able to discuss issues with Non Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

Photo | references: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

You may read more posts on similar theme in our series of posts related to: Selected verses from Al-Qurʾān about Sabr   "صبر "   / Patience

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JazakAllah for a great article. Any specific online Exegesis / Tafsir that you recommend?

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