The Virtues of Patience 1

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“Know that great good lies in bearing with patience what you dislike.”

The narration of Umar, the freed slave of Ghufrah, on the authority of Ibn Abbas has an additional sense before this phrase,

“If you are able to work deeds for the sake of Allah, being content and in a state of certainty, do so. If you unable, know that great good lies in bearing with patience what you dislike.” (Abu Nu’aym)

The meaning of certainty here is to actualise faith in the decree.

When you have consolidated the topic of certainty, attaining certainty in the heart of the decree and ordainment necessitates the heart being at rest and peace with it. This very meaning is articulated by the Qur’an:

“Nothing occurs, either in the earth or in your selves, without it being in a Book before We make it happen. This is so that you will not be grieved about the things that pass you by or exult about the things that come to you.” (al-Hadid 57:22-23)

In his exegesis to this verse, Dahhak said, ‘He strengthened their resolve: “so that you will not be grieved about the things that passed you by,” so grieve not about worldly effects (that have missed you), for We have not decreed them for you. “Or exult about the things that come to you,” exult not about the wordily effects that We have granted you for they would never have been held back from you.’ (ibn Abi al-Dunya)

Said ibn Jubayr explained the verse with the words, “so that you will not be grieved about the things that passed you by,” of well-being and affluence, this because you know that it was decreed for you before He created you.’ (ibn Abi Hatim)

It is in light of this that one of the Salaf said, ‘Faith in the decree removes worry and distress.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, alluded to this with his words,

“Be desirous of all that would benefit you and seek Allah’s aid and do not despair. If you are afflicted with something, do not say, ‘If only I had done [this], such and such would have happened,’ rather say, ‘Allah decreed and did what He willed.’ [Saying], ‘If only,’ opens [the door to] the actions of Shaytan.” (Muslim)

Alluded to in this hadith is that if one were to, at the onset of affliction, remind oneself of the decree, the whisperings of Shaytan which lead to worry, distress and sorrow would go away.

Anas said, ‘I served the Prophet for ten years and he never once said about something I did, ‘Why did you do that?’ or about something I did not do, ‘Why didn’t you do that?’ (Bukhari) He said, ‘When one of his family reprimanded me, he would say,

‘Let him be, if something is decreed it will happen” (Ahmad)

Actualising this statement necessarily leads to relegating all affairs to Allah and believing that nothing will happen unless Allah wills it. Faith in this removes worry and distress. the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, advised a man, saying,

“Do not impugn Allah for something He has ordained for you.” (Ahmad)

When the servant sees the workings of Allah’s wisdom and mercy through His decree and ordainment and knows that He is not to be impugned for His decree, he will attain contentment at Allah’s ordainment. Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, says,

“No misfortune occurs except by Allah’s permission. Whoever has faith in Allah – He will guide his heart.” (al-Taghabun 64:11)

In exegesis to this verse, Alqamah said, ‘This refers to a misfortune that befalls a person, but he knows that it is from Allah so he accepts it and is content.’

In an authentic hadith, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“There is nothing that Allah ordains for the believer except that it is good for him. If he encounters times of ease, he is grateful and that is good for him. If he encounters misfortune, he is patient and that is good for him. This only holds true for the believer.” (Muslim)

The Qur’an also proves this,

“Say: ‘Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Master and it is in Allah that the believers put their trust.’ Say: ‘What do you await for us except for one of the two best things?…” (al-Tawbah 9:51-52)

Here, He informs us that nothing could happen to them except what He has decreed. This indicates that, regardless if what they encounter is hard or easy, it is the same to them. He then informs us that He is they Master and whoever is in such a position will not be forsaken by Allah; indeed He will take charge of effectuating good for him,

“Know that Allah is your Master, the Best of Masters and the Best of Helpers!” (al-Anfal 8:40)

“What do you await for except for one of the two best things?…” (al-Tawbah 9:52)

The two best things are either aid and victory or martydom: both are best. (ibn Abi Hatim and Tabari quote this as exegesis of ibn Abbas and Mujahid)

Tirmidhi records on the authority of Anas that the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“When Allah loves a people, He tries them. Whoever is content will have good-pleasure, and whoever is displeased will have displeasure.” (Tirmidhi)

Abu Darda said, ‘Allah loves that a [servant] be content with a better when he ordains it.’ Um Darda said, ‘Those who are truly content with the ordainment of Allah are people who are content, no matter what is ordained. On the Day of Rising they will have such stations in Paradise as would make the martyrs envious.’

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz would say, ‘These invocations have left me with no further needs, only submission to the decree of Allah, Mighty and Magnificent. He would employ them in supplication frequently, saying, ‘O Allah make me content with Your ordainment and bless me in Your decree to the extent that I would not wish to hasten something I delayed or delay something I hastened.” (Bayhaqi)

Ibn Awn said, ‘In both times of ease and difficulty be content with Allah’s decree,  it will decrease your distress and serve you better in your pursuit of the Hereafter. Know that the servant will never attain the reality of contentment until his contentment at times of poverty and tribulation is the same as his contentment at times of ease and affluence. How can you go to Allah to adjudge your affair and then be discontent with when you find that His ordainment does not accord with your desires?! It is well possible that, were your desire to come to fruition, you would be destroyed! When his ordainment accords your desires, you are content, and both cases arise because of your scant knowledge of the unseen. How can you go to Him for judgement when this is your condition! You have not been fair to yourself and neither have you hit the mark with regards to contentment.’

These are fine words. The meaning is that when the servant turns to Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, to aid him in a decision (istikhara) he should be content with what Allah chooses for him regardless if it conforms to his desires or not. This is because he, himself, does not know in which course the good lies and Allah, Glorious is He, is not impugned for His ordainment. It is for this reason that some Salaf, such as ibn Masud and others, would order a person who feared that he would not be able to beat a decision which opposed his desires, to add the words, ‘in all well-being,’ to his istikhara since He could choose trial for him and he not be able to bear it. (Bayhaqi)

Bakr al-Muzani narrates that a man would frequently make istikhara and as a result was tried and was unable to bear it with patience, instead sinking into despair. So Allah revealed to one of their Prophets, ‘Tell My servant that if he lacks due resolve then why does he not ask for My decision [with the words], ‘in all well-being’?’

The Legacy of the Prophet Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali p 110-118