“Allah is with the patient” (Al Baqarah: 153)
Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with long-term difficulties.
Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms include hastiness and impetuousness. Patience refers to not returning harm, rather than merely enduring a difficult situation. It is the ability to control one’s emotions even when being criticised or attacked.
In cognitive neuroscience, patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term or a more valuable reward in the long term. When given a choice, all animals, humans included, are inclined to favour short term rewards over long term rewards.
Patience in Islam is one of the best and most valuable virtues in life. Through patience, a Muslim believes that an individual can grow closer to Allah and thus attain true peace. It is also stressed in Islam, that Allah is with those who are patient, more specifically during suffering. Some of the Quranic verses about patience urge Muslims to:
“Seek Allah’s help with patience, perseverance and prayer”
(Al Baqarah: 45)
“Give good news to those who patiently persevere”
(Al Baqarah: 155-157)
“Persevere in patience and constancy”
(Ale Imran: 200)
“Be steadfast in patience”
“No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint”
A key figure in the Quran used to demonstrate patience is Prophet Ayyub (Job) (peace be upon him), who survived his trial by keeping his belief in Allah and remaining patient. Muslims believe that without a good spirit while enduring, the struggle will not bear its full reward, thus, patiently persevering, striving and going forward, despite the difficulty, is the pinnacle of behaviour during challenging times. Through every difficulty, Allah promises there will be found relief upon its conclusion. Instead of wanting to skip challenging times and avoid them, Allah is teaching that the way to the easing is through the difficulty. It takes patience, perseverance, or enduring with a good spirit still intact, in order to reap both the internal and external rewards of the struggle.
Narrated by Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by a woman who was weeping beside a grave. He (peace be upon him) told her to fear Allah and be patient. She snapped “Go away, for you have not been afflicted with a calamity like mine”, she did not recognise who he was. She was later informed that he was the Prophet (peace be upon him). So she went to the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and she said to him, “sorry, I did not recognise you earlier.” He (peace be upon him) said, “patience is at the first stroke of a calamity” (Bukhari).
In another hadith narrated by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her): I asked Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) about the plague. He (peace be upon him) said, “That was a means of torture, which Allah used to send upon whoever He wished, but He also made it a source of mercy for the believers, for anyone who is residing in a town in which this disease is present, and remains there and does not leave that town, but has patience and hopes for Allah’s reward, and knows that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, then he will get the reward of a martyr” (Bukhari).
Abu Huraira narrates: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends, but when the wind becomes quiet, it becomes straight again. Similarly, a believer is afflicted with calamities (but he remains patient till Allah removes his difficulties). And a wicked person is like a pine tree, which keeps hard and straight till Allah cuts it down when He wishes” (Bukhari).
May Allah give us the ability to remain patience in our times of difficulty, Ameen!