Patience – It’s quality and influence


Patience is that trait of character, which only gets invoked in adversity. Since true character emerges only in contradiction; therefore it is of essence, that only those can claim possession of this virtue, who when faced with difficulties or opposing point of view, are able to contain negativism and absorb the pain, without complaints.
It, therefore, also follows that patience is silent. Loud and vulgar claims of being “patient” are in conflict of the virtue. Patience needs no verbal expression. It is exercised without self-recognition, since it is an intrinsic and integral part of character and self.
The Holy Quran is replete with verses exhorting mankind to exercise patience in suffering, as it’s stated in one of the verses: “God is with those who are patient.”
The prophetic traditions alluring to patience as a major facet of one’s character are a plenty. He was truly a paragon and ultimate standard of being a patient individual. He withstood with bravery, laced with hitherto unknown quality of patience to the Meccans, their persecution and insult. If the call of Islam would have been devoid of patience as its essential article of faith, the religion would not have spread from the shores of Atlantic to archipelagoes of the Pacific.
We often confuse and use interchangeably the concept of patience and tolerance. They are not the same. These virtues are distinct and mutually exclusive. Patience is a quality that can be exercised by both the powerful and the powerless; while tolerance in contradiction means that whilst possessing power to respond or retaliate, the individual exercises restraint or in other words refuses to use either de jure authority or de facto power.
Khalil Gibran, the noted Lebanese write (he was not a Muslim) beautifully crafted this sentence, which reads, “…I have planted my pain, in the fields of patience….” If ‘suffering’ and ‘enduring’ were not solid tools of chiseling character, then, Allah Almighty, who is the most Merciful, would not have chosen to test, His apostles with pain and torture, caused to them by their own communities. Jonah’s oft repeated prayer of patience delivered him from the belly of the fish. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was both patient and tolerant, to the woman who used to throw garbage on him. Almost all prophets underwent severe hardships, but because they were blessed with boundless reservoir of patience, they all passed through it and came out of their typical circumstances basking victoriously in the glow of the quality of their patience.
Patience is the quality of being steadfast in the face of adversity and torture. It is that unyielding faith one must harbor in the Creator, that, He shall protect his people from any ill designs laid out. The Quran defines patience as one of the paths that lead people from darkness to light and as an attribute of morality that is superior to, wide ranging and very different from the daily behavior of many people. True patience is a moral characteristic displayed in the face of difficulty and in every moment of life. Moreover it requires the demonstration of determination and consistency during times of ease and hardship, and is a lifelong endeavor that never goes astray.
Allah gives the most striking examples of patience in the lives of the prophets, because they patience while teaching Allah’s religion and leading a moral life. “How many of the Prophets fought (in God’s way) and with them (fought) large bands of Godly men? But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in God’s way, nor did they weaken (in will) or give in. and Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast. (3, 146)
Allah reminds us that all people will be tried and tested in life, and calls upon Muslims to bear these trials with “patient perseverance and prayer.” Indeed, Allah reminds us that many people before us have suffered and had their faith tested; so too will we be tried and tested in this life. “No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (41:35)
The Qur’an repeatedly stresses the need for patience. In chapter 31, we are enjoined to remain patient in these words, “Endure with fortitude whatever befalls you.” (46) Chapter 103 says, “Perdition shall be the lot of man except for those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to justice and to fortitude.
Patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. It is a virtue, which enables the individual to proceed towards worthy goals, undefeated by adverse circumstances or repeated provocations.
The only way to deal with the irksome side of daily living is to exercise patience. Patience will ensure that whenever one has some bitter experience, he will opt for the way of tolerance rather than that of reaction to provocation. It will enable one to absorb shocks and to continue, undeterred, on one’s onward journey. Patience, as well as being a practical solution to the problems faced in the outside world, is also a means of positive character building. One who fails to exercise patience, gives free rein to negative thoughts and feelings, develops a personality which is likewise negative while one who remains patient is so morally bolstered by his own positive thoughts and feelings that he develops a positive personality.
It is narrated that During the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet’s incisor was broken. His lower lip was ruptured, and he had a bleeding wound on his forehead. He was constantly drying up the blood to keep it from falling upon the ground, saying, “If any of this blood falls on the ground, Divine Punishment would descend upon them [the Quraysh].” The situation weighed on the Companions, and they implored, “Why do you not pray against them?” He replied, “I have not been sent to damn people. I have been sent as a caller and a mercy. O, God! Forgive my people for they know no better.” Such is the character of the Holy Prophet(Pbuh) where nobilty and patience are the hallmark of his persona. It indeed offers a great lesson for the Muslim Ummah to follow, a virute which is much extolled and repeated in the Holy Quran and in the teachings of all the prophets, that in order to partake of the blessings of Allah one must submit oneself to His will with utmost patience. We must purge ourselves of grudges, vengeance and envy for each other. The tendency to lose one’s calm at the slightest of provocation must be reigned in. As Muslims we have flawless examples to follow in the shape of the invincible chain of prophets. Although difficult, to emulate them in character, but we must strive to raise ourselves close to their characters. This world is but a temporary abode and feeding into the vices against each other will not offer us any eternal peace or reward. As true followers of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) we must conquer our mortal weaknesses and serve as examples to the rest of the world.