THE BEAUTY OF SABR
Sabr or Patience
Sabr lexically means in Arabic “Habasa nafsaho anho”. (Al Mujam al waseet. Dar ul Dawah-Cagri yayinlari-Turkey 1989). He restrained himself or his nafs from it. It means to “hold or control one’s self” against something and remain composed internally even though the external environment may be in chaos. It also means to “tie”, “bind” and “fetter.” (Hans Weir: A dictionary of Modern Written Arabic 1980. Edited by J. Milton Cowan. Macdonald and Evans Ltd London.)
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that: Certain people of the Ansar asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and he gave them; then they again asked him and he gave them until all what he possessed was exhausted. Then the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whatever wealth I have, I will not withhold from you. Whosoever would be chaste and modest; Allah will keep him chaste and modest and whosoever would seek self-sufficiency, Allah will make him self-sufficient; and whosoever would be patient, Allah will give him patience, and no one is granted a gift better and more comprehensive than patience”. (Bukhari/Muslim: Hadith 26 Book of patience Riad ul Saliheen).
|وعن أبي سَعيد سعدِ بن مالكِ بنِ سنانٍ الخدري رضي الله عنهما : أَنَّ نَاساً مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ سَألوا رسولَ الله فَأعْطَاهُمْ ، ثُمَّ سَألوهُ فَأعْطَاهُمْ ، حَتَّى نَفِدَ مَا عِندَهُ ، فَقَالَ لَهُمْ حِينَ أنْفْقَ كُلَّ شَيءٍ بِيَدِهِ : « مَا يَكُنْ عِنْدي مِنْ خَيْر فَلَنْ أدَّخِرَهُ عَنْكُمْ ، وَمَنْ يَسْتَعْفِفْ يُعِفهُ اللهُ ، وَمَنْ يَسْتَغْنِ يُغْنِهِ اللهُ ، وَمَنْ يَتَصَبَّرْ يُصَبِّرْهُ اللهُ . وَمَا أُعْطِيَ أَحَدٌ عَطَاءً خَيْراً وَأوْسَعَ مِنَ الصَّبْر » . مُتَّفَقٌ عليه . في هذا الحديث : الحثُّ على الاستعفاف ، وأَنَّ مَنْ رزقه الله الصبر على ضيق العيش وغيره من مكاره الدنيا ، فقد أعطاه خيرًا كثيرًا .|
The best sabr is the beautiful sabr of Prophet Yaqoob pbuh. He complained of his problems only to Allah swt and did not even confront his own children when they told him that Yusuf his son pbuh had died. (12:18). Further, later on in the story, when his sons informed him that Benjamin had committed theft and had not returned with them Prophet Yaqoob said: “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah.”(12:86).
Sabr is of Three Kinds in Islam
In Islam sabr manifests itself in three forms:-
- Upon sins (holding yourself back from committing sins)
- Upon obedience to Allah swt. In controlling the lower self from sins.
- Upon trials and tribulations. Staying composed when they happen.
Are We Obliged to Be Patient?
There are very few obligations in Islam but patience is a beautiful action of the heart. An action that carries immense reward, and a condition that all the great Prophets peace be upon them displayed. The hadith below state that it is half of faith. When the believer’s life is problem free it is incumbent on him to give gratitude. When he endures hardship he is obliged to be patient.
Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him”. (Muslim: Hadith 27 Book of patience Riad ul Saliheen).
|وعن أبي يحيى صهيب بن سنانٍ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رسولُ الله : « عَجَباً لأمْرِ المُؤمنِ إنَّ أمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ لَهُ خيرٌ ولَيسَ ذلِكَ لأَحَدٍ إلا للمُؤْمِن : إنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكانَ خَيراً لَهُ ، وإنْ أصَابَتْهُ ضرَاءُ صَبَرَ فَكانَ خَيْراً لَهُ » . رواه مسلم . في هذا الحديث : فَضْلُ الشكر على السّرّاء والصبر على الضرّاء ، فمن فعل ذلك حصل له خيرُ الدارين ، ومَنْ لم يشكر على النعمة ، ولم يصبر على المصيبة ، فاته الأَجر ، وحصل له الوِزْر .|
Patience is a two – fold obligation: Quranic and Prophetic:
- Quranic obligation
Allah, the Exalted, says:
“O you who believe! Endure and be more patient..”. (3:200)
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient)”. (2:155)
“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” (39:10)
“And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (42:43)
“Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (2:153)
“And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the Cause of Allah) and As-Sabirun (the patient)” (47:31)
- Prophetic Obligation
Ibn Masud reported that The Messenger of Allah said “Patience is half of faith”. Abu Nu’aym
Ibn Abbas reported that The Messenger of Allah said to the wounded men of Abdul Qais tribe: “Surely there are in you two attributes which Allah likes – patience and delay.” Muslim
(Mishkat ul Masabih ch 4 sec 13 Engl version Vol 1)
In order to be considered, complete patience on the part of the believer, must be an immediate, not delayed response to the trial of one’s Lord.
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) passed by a woman who was crying over a grave and said, “Fear Allah and be patient.” She said, “Away from me! My calamity has not befallen you and you are not aware of it.” The woman was later told that it was the Prophet (PBUH) (who had advised her). She came to his door where she found no doorkeeper. She said, “(I am sorry) I did not know you.” Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Patience is (becoming) only at the first (stroke) of grief”.( Bukhari /Muslim: Hadith 31 Book of patience Riad ul Saliheen).
وعن أنس قَالَ : مَرَّ النَّبيُّ بامرأةٍ تَبكي عِنْدَ قَبْرٍ ، فَقَالَ : « اتّقِي الله واصْبِري » فَقَالَتْ : إِليْكَ عَنِّي ؛ فإِنَّكَ لم تُصَبْ بمُصِيبَتي وَلَمْ تَعرِفْهُ ، فَقيلَ لَهَا : إنَّه النَّبيُّ فَأَتَتْ بَابَ النَّبيِّ ، فَلَمْ تَجِدْ عِنْدَهُ بَوَّابينَ ، فقالتْ : لَمْ أعْرِفكَ ، فَقَالَ : « إنَّمَا الصَّبْرُ عِنْدَ الصَّدْمَةِ الأُولى » . مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيهِ . وفي رواية لمسلم : « تبكي عَلَى صَبيٍّ لَهَا » . في هذا الحديث : أَن ثواب الصبر إِنَّما يحصل عند مفاجأة المصيبة ، بخلاف ما بعدها ، فإن صاحبها يسلو كما تسلو البهائم
Why Are We Tested? Trials Beautify Our Lives
Anas narrated that the Messenger of Allah(s.a.w) said:
“When Allah wants good for his slave, He hastens his punishment in the world. And when He wants bad for His slave, He withholds his sins from him until he appears before Him on the Day of Judgment.” And with this (same) chain, (it was reported) from the Prophet (ﷺ) who said: “Indeed greater reward comes with greater trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a people He subjects them to trials, so whoever is content, then for him is pleasure, and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath.
|Grade||: Hasan (Darussalam)|
|Reference||: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2396|
|In-book reference||: Book 36, Hadith 94|
|English translation||: Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2396|
“I have not seen ailment affecting anyone worse than upon the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).”
|Grade||: Sahih (Darussalam)|
|Reference||: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2397|
|In-book reference||: Book 36, Hadith 95|
|English translation||: Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2397|
Mus’ab bin Sa’d narrated from his father that a man said:
“O Messenger of Allah(s.a.w)! Which of the people is tried most severely?” He said: “The Prophets, then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them. A man is tried according to his religion; if he is firm in his religion, then his trials are more severe, and if he is frail in his religion, then he is tried according to the strength of his religion. The servant shall continue to be tried until he is left walking upon the earth without any sins.”
|Grade||: Hasan (Darussalam)|
|Reference||: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2398|
|In-book reference||: Book 36, Hadith 96|
|English translation||: Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2398|
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:
“Trials will not cease afflicting the believing man and the believing woman in their self, children, and wealth, until they meet Allah without having any sin.”
|Grade||: Hasan (Darussalam)|
|Reference||: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2399|
|In-book reference||: Book 36, Hadith 97|
|English translation||: Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2399|
What the Scholars Say Imaam Ghazali
“As for patience, it is a bitter medicine and a blessed though distasteful potion. It procures every benefit and protects you from every harm…the intelligent person forces the lower self to drink it and gulp it down.”
Further Imaam Ghazali states that the patient one is free from the shackles of the world as “he will not be tried by the search for this world.” This is since he has sold his soul to the Beloved and Most High. To his Maker and Lord. He is therefore indifferent of the physical problems of the world. In fact he has reached a state of perfect love and contentment with the decree of his Lord that he is happy with whatever gifts The Beloved bestows upon him. Diamonds or dust. The Presenter is more valuable than the present.
An impatient human being suffers multiple losses and deficiencies:
- Loss of the test that raised his ranks to Allah swt in the first place.
- Loss of reward for enduring that test with forbearance.
- Loss of the virtue of patience as he gains of the vice of anger. His inability to show forbearance results in anger with his environment and society who are at no fault at all for his misfortune.
- He loses his trust in his Lord’s divine compassion and fails to comprehend that Allah swt only wills what is in a person’s best interest.
(Al Ghazzali: The path of the worshipful servants, translated by Muhtar Holland- Amal Press 2009).
Brutish Beasts do not have patience
Brutish beasts do not have patience and are very deficient. According to Imaam Ghazali patience is a battlefield in the breast of man between two opposing armies: The Angelic force and The Satanic force. Man is constantly struggling between his “religious impulse” and his “carnal impulse.”
(Al Ghazzali: The Alchemy of happiness, translated by Jay R. Cook-Great Books of The Islamic world 2008).
The Medicine for The Spiritual Sickness
Impatience needs treatment. The medicine for this spiritual disease of the heart is to strengthen the religious impulse and the angelic cavalry inside the breast of a human being. This can be achieved by gratitude for one’s circumstances. Even in times of adversity the afflicted one remembers his Lord and gives thanks that he has been saved from a worse state than this one. All is in the hands of The One above. Had Allah swt willed worse circumstances and stronger tests one would still have had to endure them. It is Allah’s mercy and compassion that the person has been saved.
Further doses of medicine which strengthen the religious impulse can be found in the dhikr of Allah. The Quran and the Salah are also some of the greatest ways that the soul re-connects to its’ Lord and remembers Him. Salah is a beautiful training ground for sabr as it is a contra- intuitive state of actions that motivate the body to serenity, stillness, humility and patience. It must be read with concentration and is the first act of worship one will be questioned about on The Day of Judgement.
Footnote : Further analysis
Patience has also been given a fourth category by the scholars. It is obligatory to be patient upon one’s wealth and not squander unnecessarily on material luxuries.
“The planning of The Almighty (Allah) is better for you than your own planning, and He could deprive you from what you ask to test your patience. So let Him see from you a determined patience and you will soon see from Him what will give you joy. And when you have cleaned the paths of answering (of supplication) from the stains of sin [i.e have repented] and were patient about what He has chosen for you, then everything that happens to you is better for you whether you were given or deprived of what you have requested.”
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