Patience…a source of empowerment
By Dr Basil Mustafa*
We all realise that patience is a necessity of life in addition to being a moral virtue. Moreover, it is an asset which helps humans to withstand hardships and excel in achieving their aspirations. Those who observe patience, espousing God’s pleasure, are commended in the Qur’an:
“And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them discretely and publicly and prevent evil with good – for those there is the final attainment of the (eternal) home.” [Qur’an 13:22]
Patience, the second source of human empowerment (after prayer [Reminder #6]), is an integral part of our life experience for two reasons. First, because life itself is the transient existence of so many human beings who engage and interact with each other, as well as with other beings and nature. This interaction results in strenuous situations that sometimes become stressful and calamitous; to live steadily through such experiences, there is a need for patience and resolve. Secondly, faith itself is a claim that needs to be substantiated and the quality of which is tested. The testing process often entails hardships of one kind or another. Patience is the quality that enables us to endure the challenge of being believers and earn its vast reward.
The Qur’an reminds us of this fact:
“Did you think that you would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?” [Qur’an 3:142]
“Do people think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.” [Qur’an 29:2-3]
It is meaningful to distinguish between three types of patience: one that is exercised on the performance of virtues and obligatory duties, patience that is needed to refrain from moral hazards and shameful deeds, and patience that is exercised to endure a human calamity.
“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance” [Qur’an 2:155-157]
The exercise of patience is made easier by two practices: one is the regular invocation of Allah (swt) through various means of dhikr (remembrance of God), and the second is the ample time employed in contemplation and pondering about the purpose of life and its course. Regular dhikr and contemplation are both necessary elements of iman (faith) which help believers in their progression towards higher spiritual attainment.
*Dr Basil Mustafa has been an active member within British Muslim organisations for over four decades. He was a former deputy secretary general of the MCB, a founding President of the Islamic Society of Britain, and has had a longstanding association with FOSIS and MSS. As an educationalist, Dr Mustafa has published numerous chapters and articles on varied Islamic Studies themes internationally. He is based in Oxford, UK.
Muslim Association of Britain
30th May 2018 / 14th Ramadan 1439