Life presents us many challenges and unexpected surprises. One of the greatest resources we have for successfully surmounting those challenges and surprises is patience. What is patience? It is restraining oneself, in light of sound intellect and the divine law, from responding in a way that might ordinarily seem justified in a particular situation. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya mentions three basic manifestations of patience:

“Patience involved with implementing the divine orders and acts of obedience until they are conveyed; patience involved in avoiding the prohibitions and acts that conflict with the divine law in order that one does not perpetrate them; and patience involved with bearing the hardships and disasters that unfold with the divine decree in order that one does not become angered by them.”

Patience is indeed a virtue as it is the key to many of the objectives set forth for us in the divine law. It is one of the keys to divine assistance. Allah mentions in the Qur’an, “Seek the Help of Allah with patience and prayer…” (2:45) It is a key to leadership. Allah says, “We made from them leaders who guided by our command after they had patiently persevered and were absolutely certain concerning our signs.” (33:24) He mentions that one of the qualities of those who escape the general condition of loss that afflicts people attempting to lead lives divorced from divine guidance is that they “counsel each other towards patience.” (103:3)

One of the things that provide us with a clear indication of the value of patience is that its possessors will be given their reward from Allah in the Hereafter with no numerical limitations. Allah says in that regard, “Say, O my believing servants! Fear your Lord. Those who do good in this world will have good. Truly spacious is Allah’s earth. Rather, the patient ones will be given their recompense with no numerical limitations.” (39:10)

Imam Zaid Shakir

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