Patience in Acts of Obedience

As such, anything that a person can be harmed by in performing acts of worship such as prayer, commanding good and preventing evil, and seeking knowledge, then being patient with them is better than being patient upon that which is not related to them. Likewise, when the ‘self’ invites its owner to do prohibited acts such as power, taking wealth unjustly and committing lewdness, being patient upon it is better than being patient with what is below that in priority. For indeed the greater a good deed is, being patient upon it is greater than what is without either [a high level of good or patience].

Indeed, knowledge, power, Jihad, commanding good and preventing evil, prayer, Hajj, fasting and Zakah have tribulations in respect to one’s desires that other matters do not have. In those issues, a person is exposed to the inclinations of the self in terms of power, wealth and appearances. When the self is incapable of attaining any of that, it is not tempted to achieve them in the case where they are attainable. Being capable to attain them makes it asking for the prohibited matters as opposed to its condition without the ability. It is for this reason, patience while having the ability to obtain something is a form of Jihad, rather it is among the greater forms of Jihad and perfect from three angels:

  1. Patience from prohibited acts is superior to patience upon calamities.
  2. Abandoning prohibited acts while having the ability to commit them and while subjected to the invitation of the self [to attain them] is superior to abandoning them without experiencing that.
  3. Being subjected to the invitation of the self when it is a result of a religious matter – like going out in order to pray, seeking knowledge, or Jihad – therefore one is tempted to attain that which his self is inclined to, then being patient with that includes doing what is commanded and abandoning what is prohibited – is in contrast to what one’s self inclines towards when not dealing with a righteous act. Yunus Ibn Ubayd [a righteous man from Basrah d. 140AH] used to recommend three things:  a) Do not visit the ruler, even if you say ‘I want to order him to be obedient to Allah’; b) Do not visit a woman, even if you say, ‘I will teach her the Book of Allah’ c) Do not pay attention to a person who started an innovation, even if you say ‘I want to refute him’. This shows that he commanded people to safeguard themselves from the causes of tribulation, for indeed when a person is exposed to that, they will be put to trial and not be safe.

Therefore, if it was decreed that he be tried by [the causes of tribulation] without a choice or one got involved in it by choice and so they tried, then they ought to fear Allah, be patient and sincere and strive to resist. Being patient and safe upon tribulations as well as establishing the obligations are among the most superior deeds, like one who is entrusted with authority and is just with regards to it, or a person who is refuting the innovators with the pure Sunnah while not being subject to or effected by their doubts, or is teaching women religion in an appropriate manner without being subject to temptation.

Gardens of Purification by Ibn Taymiyyah Pages 48-50