We live in difficult times, in a stricken world, wherein human beings continually lose their sense of being.
Today, life is about instant gratification, with patience thrown to the winds. Few are willing to go through the wise and time-tested routine of observation, reflection, planning and action to achieve noble ends. In such a world, absolute values erode into oblivion while relative values come and go. Nothing matters as long as ends are achieved, with few being bothered about the means.
To be sure, patience, as a prime virtue, appears in the Qur’an, no less than 90 times. In Islam, therefore, faith without patience is a contradiction of sorts. Says the Qur’an: “And seek assistance with patience and prayer, and assuredly it is a hard thing except for the humble,” [Al Baqarah 2: 45].
Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan RA 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].
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri RA reports 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 he exhausted whatever he had. 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,” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Patience can be of several types: one that is exercised when avoiding sins and another when committing oneself to acts of worship and obedience. There is also a third type often required in the face of affliction which, like repentance, forms a regular part of the believer’s religious experience in Islam.
According to Marshall Mcluhan, the modern world has rendered into a global village via cable TV, internet, social networking sites etc. The benefits aside, the connectivity these offer comes not without serious pitfalls. The value systems of the people, for instance, stand negatively transformed.
The absolute standard of values provided by pure religion – which, until recently, guided people in locating moral benchmarks in life – are in sharp contrast to the trends generated by New Media. The guidance of the Qur’an, quite in harmony with human nature, is a case in point.
It aids the believer in building his willpower, his perseverance. Instead of struggling merely for self-gratification, it re-routes the believer’s energies into a quest for perfection in the cause of Allah SWT, but that too a quest in which assistance is sought from on high. The believer is thus shown his way to patience, forbearance and gratitude.
Few can escape the need to exercise patience: some do it willingly, others unwillingly. The true believer does so willingly, out of his faith in Allah SWT and the knowledge that he will be rewarded for such forbearance.
Doubtless, real hope thrives only in invoking Allah SWT in the alleviation of our pain, our suffering. Impatience and panic helps little in overcoming hurdles. Thus, the truly wise, as soon as an adversity appears, does what the unenlightened attempts after a month or more: resort to Patience.
This article was published in Deccan Herald, a daily of Karnataka and the author of the script is Tariq Jameel.