I would like to focus on the importance of patience, which is often recommended alongside prayer. There are so many more-than-adequate verses in the Holy Qur’an on patience, and as I researched for this tarbiya, I found myself feeling reassured and content when flipping to each one.
“By time, verily! Man is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, recommend one another to the truth, and to patience” (Qur’an 104). These are the Words of the Almighty, the All-knowing Allah. And who can know man better than his Creator, than the one who provides for him and sustains him?
He tells us: “Verily, man was created very impatient; irritable when evil touches him; and miserly when good touches him; Except those devoted to prayers, those who remain constant in their prayers; and those in whose wealth there is a known right…” (Qur’an 70: 19-24).
“Seek help in patience and prayer; truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for the true believers” (2:45).
What is patience, in Islam? I passed a church billboard the other day that read “patience is trusting God’s plan.” Sabr, generally translated as patience, entails calmness in the face of confusion, loyalty to the unseen, perseverance in doing good, and trust in the face of the unknown. Who faced more trials in this life than Mohammad (pbuh)? He encountered enemies of Islam everyday through both violence and verbal abuse. He also endured the loss of loved ones from a very early age, yet there are no stories of him giving up or losing his temper or dealing unjustly.
We have more examples of patience in each of the prophets of Islam. “O Mohammad (pbuh), follow the inspiration sent unto you, and be patient till Allah gives judgment…And he is the Best of judges” (Quran 10:109). A most inspiring story is that of Ayoub (as) whose test is summed up in this brief article (and of course in a previous tarbiya) http://www.helium.com/items/887791-the-story-of-the-prophet-ayub.
Like death is unavoidable, Allah warns us: “You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you, and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you preserver patiently, and become of the pious, then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters [which you must hold on with all your efforts].” (Qur’an 3:186)
In this age of instant gratification, it is easy to lose sight of the ‘big picture.’ But remember, life is short. “Verily, be patient. Allah loses not the reward of the good-doers” (Qur’an 11:115). A hadith in Bukhari relates that the Prophet (pbuh) said “do good deeds properly, sincerely, and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target.” Moderation and regular prayer requires patience and constant practice.
Facing worldly matters can be difficult when combined with a lack of taqwa. So in Surah Ta’Ha (20:130), Allah reminds us: “strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of disbelievers, the splendor of the life of this world that We may test them thereby…the provision of your Lord (reward in the Hereafter) is better and more lasting.”
Patience is the appropriate advice in almost any situation. Job searching, marriage hunting, being bullied, dealing with a colleague or loved one, being stuck in traffic…there’s truth in the saying ‘patience is a virtue.” This also could not be truer when one makes dua. Allah, as the omniscient and omnipresent, answers duas in three ways: 1) yes 2) yes, but not now 3) He has a better plan for you. Or, as another church billboard I came across says, “God answers knee mail.” This life is full of tests, and the only way to pass is through prayer, worship, and patience…no matter if it takes 100 years or 5 days to achieve the desired result.
When faced with a difficult situation, say “Allah is sufficient for me, there is no god but He. In Him I put my trust” (9:129).
If we can be impatient in any aspect, it should be in rushing to our prayers.