Patience in Adversity is Easier than in Times of Ease

One of the salaf said: “Believers and unbelievers alike may have patience at a time of adversity, but only people of strong faith can have patience at a time of ease.”

Allah has warned against the fitnah of wealth, wives and children:

“O you who believe! Let not your riches or children divert you from remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is their own.” (Surah Munafiqun [63]:9)

 “O you who believe! Truly among your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them!” (Surah at-Taghabun [64]:14)

The enmity that is referred to here is no the hatred that results from conflict, but that which results from love and care, that might prevent parents from religious duties such as hijrah, seeking knowledge and giving sadaqah. At-Tirmidhi narrated from Ibn Abbas that the ayah (64:14) refers to some men from Makkah who embraced Islam and wanted to migrate to join the Prophet, peace and blessings fo Allah be upon him, in Madinah, but their wives and children prevented them from doing so.

The hadith, “Children are the cause of grief, cowardice, ignorance and miserliness” (Reported by al-Tabarani) reflects how  much we can be held back in our pursuit of perfection. Once, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was delivering a khutbah, when he saw Hasan and Hussein walking and stumbling so he interrupted his speech and went to pick them up, and said, “Indeed Allah has spoken the truth when He said: ‘… among your wives and you children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves.’ I saw these two little boys stumbling and I did not have patience to continue my khutbah so I stopped and picked them up.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, did so because of his love for children, and in this way he set an example for his Ummah to show kindness and mercy towards children.

The reason why it is so difficult to exercise patience at a time of ease is because we have a choice regarding how to behave. A hungry person has better patience when he has no access to food, and when food becomes available, his patience weakens. Similarly, it’s easier to control one’s desires when the object of desire is not around.

Extracted from Patience and Gratitude by Ibn al-Qayyim Pages 37-39

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