The type of patience which relates to resisting whims and desires can be graded according to how strong and effective they are. There are three degrees of patience in this respect:
1. The motive of relgion is the strongest in controlling whims and desires. This level of control can only be achieved throuigh constant patience and perseverance. Those who reach this level are successful in this life and the Hereafter. They are the ones who say, “Our Lord is Allah” (Surah Fussilat:30). They are the ones to whom, at the moment of death, the angles say, “Fear not!…Nor grieve! But receieve the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that which you were promised! We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter” (Surah Fussilat:30-30) They are the ones whom Allah had guided.
2. When whims and desires prevail, the motive of religion is diminished. These are the ones whom misfortunes has overtaken because they prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter. They have no patience to wait for the promises of the Hereafter. They are at the mercy of their whims and desires, self-admiration and wishful thinking. These are the people whom the Propeht Muhammad, peace be upon him, referred to when he said, “The helpless man is the one who follows his whims and desires and indulges in wishful thinking.” The people in this category fall into several types. Some of them declare war against Allah and His Messenger, and spread corruption on the earth. Others are interested solely in their own wordly interests and desires. Some, if they are warned, plead that they would sincerely like to repent, but find it difficult. Others say that Allah does not need their prayers and fasting, and that they will attain salvation by virtue of being ‘good’, relying on the fact that Allah is Merciful. Some claim that abstaining from committing wrong action is like undermining the forgiveness of Allah. Some will say, “What good can my worship do after all the wrong actions that I have committed?” Other say they will repent when death approaches. So many excuses!!! All because their whims and desires control their reason, and they use their reason to find ways of submitting to their whims and desires.
3. In this group of people, there is a war ranging between the motives of religion and the motives of desire. Sometimes one prevails and other times the other does. The pattern of victories varies on either side. This is the situtaion of the majority of believers, who mix good and bad deeds.
Our ultimate fate in the Hereafter will correspond to the three situations outlined above. Some people will enter Paradise and never enter Hell, others will enter Hell and never enter Paradise, and some will enter Hell for sometime before they are finally admitted to Paradise. May Allah make us of those who never enter the Hellfire Ameen.
Extracted from Patience and Gratitude by Ibn al-Qayyim Pages19-21