Cultivating patience and gratitude
By: Thahir Mohamed
Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How amazing is the case of the believer; there is good for him in everything, and this characteristic is exclusively for him alone. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across some adversity, he is patient, and that is good for him.” [Muslim]
Allah Most High, the Most Merciful, has created situations in our lives, such that by having strong faith and positive attitude we can earn immense good. But the Satan on the other hand tries to make us despondent and negative and make us forget the favors of Allah. Satan makes us focus and zoom in on minor difficulties and disregard the billions of Niyamat our Lord has bestowed on us.
What is Patience and how to develop it ?
Sabr (Patience) is the ability to endure pain and difficulty with self-control, forbearance, calmness and equanimity having in mind the reality that the current life is fleeting and the true life is the life of the hereafter.
We learn from Hadith that it is the most virtuous people who go through the most trials. It is the Prophets who endured the greatest hardships. Allah (Exalted and Majestic) gives us trials and difficulties to the extent of our piety and thereby helps elevate us. For even in this worldly life, no one can become a doctor or an engineer or achieve anything without going through hardships and succeeding in several tests and exams. Then what about attaining high stations in the eternal life ?
The Prophet (Allah’s peace be upon him) was mocked, ridiculed and harassed by his own community when he started preaching Islam. These were the people who once honored him and named him Amin (Trustworthy). Still our beloved Prophet (Allah’s peace be upon him) endured all this with patience, constantly making dua for their guidance. When Prophet (Allah’s peace be upon him) returned to Mecca victorious he showed his extreme forbearance and forgave all those who had abused him. These people consequently accepted Islam and became his ardent followers. Similarly, when any of us start following the Deen and adopting the Sunnah we may face difficulties and ridicule from our own relatives and friends. But surely Allah’s help is with those who are steadfast in following His commandments. Allah says in the Holy Quran – ” Allâh has decreed: “Verily! It is I and My Messengers who shall be the victorious.” Verily, Allâh is All-Powerful, All-Mighty” (Surah Mujadila, verse 20). Allah says – “Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning”. Further Allah says, “Indeed Allah is with those who are patient.”
We face trials of patience in our daily life. Allah bestows some with more in terms of worldly comforts than others. Allah might bestow some with better family, children, reputation or jobs than others. Verily these are tests of our patience and gratefulness. “Your wealth and your children are only a trial (fitnah). And Allah – With Him is a great reward (Paradise).” [Surah al-Taghabun, 15] When we look at people who have more than us, we need to realize that what Allah has bestowed on them is a trial for them and it may be that if Allah had bestowed the same on me I may not have been able to fulfill the responsibilities of these Niyamats and would be held responsible on the Day of Judgement.
Further we need to look at people who have been less fortunate. Alhamdulilah, Allah has blessed us with sight, hearing, speech, ability to walk etc. What about people who miss any of these ? If any small organ does not work properly in the body, then the person has to undergo so much pain and medical expenses. We need to be constantly thankful to Allah for each and every organ in our body – which are doing their jobs without us making any effort or paying them.
We also face trials wherein people do not fulfill their responsibilities towards us (Say for example the daughter-in-law does not respect and treat well the mother-in-law and vice versa). “The one who reciprocates the good done to him by a relative is not the one who joins the tie of kinship. He is rather the one, when his relatives treat him badly he treats them well.” (Al-Bukhârî)
So when in any such situation where our kith and kin do not give us treatment we might deserve we need to remember the above words of the Prophet (Allah’s peace be upon him) and do good to them. We need to take peace and rest from the fact that on the Day of Judgement, Allah will settle all accounts. And for any of our rights which were not fulfilled, Allah (Exalted and Majestic) will honor us and fulfill them on the Day of Judgement and give us an eternal reward.
Developing gratefulness (shukr)
“If ye give thanks, I will give you more; but if ye are thankless, lo! My punishment is dire” (Ibrahim 14: 7)
All our relationships and dealings with others in life are based on mutual reciprocation. But Allah is fully Self-Sufficient and needs no one, while we are completely in need of Him. Hence the least we can do is to show sincere gratitude and obedience to Him.
Allah is taking care and providing for us right from the time we were conceived to the time of our death.
“We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot), then We made the alaqah into a mudghah (chewed substance)” (23:12-14).
When we are weak and powerless in the mother’s womb He provides us food through the umbilical cord. When we are born, Allah puts so much love and compassion for us in our parents’ hearts that they do not mind any suffering in taking care of us. True shukr or gratefulness to Allah is in realizing each and every blessing Allah has given us, and thanking Him for it.
We ask Allah to make us all of the patient and the grateful.