Patience: Solution for Life’s Sorrows - Part I

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Patience: Solution for Life’s Sorrows

Imaam ’Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Hasan (d.1285H)

The Virtues of Patience:

Imaam Ahmad (d.241H) said, “Allaah has mentioned sabr (patient perseverance) in over ninety places in His Book.” [2]

And there occurs in the authentic hadeeth, “Sabr (patient perseverance) is light.” [3] The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) also said, “No o­ne has been given anything more excellent and more comprehensive than sabr.” [4]

’Umar - radiyallaahu ’anhu – said, “We considered the best part of our lives to be that in which there was sabr.” [5]

’Alee - radiyallaahu ’anhu – said, “Indeed sabr is from eemaan (faith). Its position is like that of the head with respect to the rest of the body.” Then he raised his voice and said, “Verily, there is no eemaan (faith) for the o­ne who has no sabr.” [6]

The Meaning of Patience:

The word sabr (in the Arabic language) is from sabara - to be patient and to persevere, and it indicates to holding back and restraining o­neself. (In the Shaee’ah sense) it implies: restraining the soul from being agitated; restraining the tongue from complaining and restraining the hands from slapping the cheeks, tearing the clothes and doing other similar actions. This has been mentioned by Ibnul-Qayyim (d.750H). [7]

And know that sabr (patient perseverance) is of three kinds:

[i] sabr whilst (fulfilling) the orders of Allaah,
[ii] sabr whilst (abandoning and keeping away) from the prohibitions of Allaah, and
[iii] sabr with the Decree of Allaah with respect to afflictions and difficulties.

Guidance for the Hearts:

Allaah - the Most High - says: “And whosoever believes in Allaah, He guides his heart aright. And Allaah has full knowledge over everything.” [8]

And this aayah begins with, “No affliction occurs, except by the permission of Allaah.” About this Ibn ’Abbaas said, “By the command of Allaah - meaning: by His Will and His Power.” [9]

So the meaning of this aayah is: No affliction occurs except by His Mashee‘ah (Will), His Iraadah (Desire) and His Hikmah (Wisdom) - as Allaah says: “No affliction occurs upon the earth, nor in yourselves, except that it is written before We bring it into existence. Indeed, this is easy for Allaah.” [10] And Allaah says, “Give glad-tidings to those who have sabr. Those who - when afflicted with a affliction - say: Indeed, we belong to Allaah and to Him shall we return. They are those o­n whom are the blessings from their Lord and His mercy. They are the o­nes who are guided.” [11]

And Allaah’s saying, “And whosoever believes in Allaah, He guides his heart aright.” Means, “Whosoever - when afflicted with a affliction - knows it is by the Decree of Allaah and His Power, and thus patiently submits to it, then Allaah rewards such a person by guiding their heart aright. So this is the root cause of all happiness, and the foundation of excellence in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allaah promises such a person (a reward) for what He has taken from them.” [12] And Allaah’s saying: “And Allaah has full knowledge over everything,” is a reminder that such a affliction is by His Knowledge which necessitates His Wisdom, which obligates sabr and being contented with His Decree.

Aboo Dhibyaan said: We were with ’Alqamah [13] and this aayah was recited to him, “And whosoever believes in Allaah, He guides his heart aright.” So he said, “It is the man who - when afflicted with an affliction - knows it is from Allaah, so he is pleased with it and submits to it.” [14]

In the above narration is a proof that actions are a part of eemaan (faith).

Sa’eed Ibn Jubayr (d.104H) said about, “And whosoever believes in Allaah, He guides his heart aright.” He said, “That (at the time of a affliction) a person says: Indeed, to Allaah we belong and to Him shall we return.”

In the above aayah is an explanation that having sabr is the cause for the heart’s guidance; this being the reward for the saabir (the o­ne having patience).

Complaining against the Decree of Allaah:

The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Two characteristics of the people are from disbelief: attack o­n o­ne’s genealogy and bewailing the deceased.” [15] Meaning: that these two characteristics are actions of kufr (disbelief), since these are actions of jaahiliyyah (pre-Islaamic ignorance) which continue to remain in people. And no o­ne will remain safe from them, except for the o­ne to whom Allaah grants safety, and the o­ne to whom Allaah grants knowledge and eemaan (faith).

However - it should be known - that whosoever has within him a branch of kufr (disbelief), then it does not cause the person to become a kaafir (disbeliever) with absolute kufr; just as a person who has within him a branch of eemaan (faith), is not called a mu‘min (believer) with absolute eemaan . Indeed, there is a difference between the word kufr having the definite article attached to it (i.e. al-kufr) and the word kufr without the definite article - as occurs in the saying of the Prophet, “There is nothing between a servant and between al-kufr and ash-shirk, except abandoning the Prayer.” [16]

The saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), “Attack o­n o­ne’s geneology,” means: finding faults and defects. Entering into this also is a person’s false denial of another man’s genealogy by saying, “This is not the son of such and such,” and the person knew that this denial was false.

And his saying, “And bewailing the dead.” means: raising the voice in lamentation and wailing and in enumerating the virtues of the deceased. All of this is a form of complaining against the Decree of Allaah and is against having sabr - such as the saying of the o­ne bewailing: “He was my close friend,” or “he was my aid and supporter.”

So in the above hadeeth is a proof for the obligation of having sabr, and a proof that there is a type of kufr (disbelief) which does not cause its doer to become a kaafir.

Tender Hearts and Compassionate Tears:

The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “He is not o­ne of us who strikes the cheeks, tears the clothes and calls with the call of jaahiliyyah (pre-Islaamic ignorance).” [17] This is o­ne of those textual threats related in the Revelation. It is related from Sufyaan ath-Thawree and Imaam Ahmad that they disliked explaining the meaning of such threats, so that people would have fear of committing such actions and would remain far away from them. This narration is a proof that the actions mentioned are against complete eemaan (faith).

Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar (d.852H) whilst explaining the saying, “Whosoever strikes the cheeks,” said, “The cheeks have been particularised since that is the most common place of striking. However, striking any other part of the face is just the same.” [18]

The saying of the Prophet, “Tearing the clothes,” implies: tearing open the clothes from the chest. This was the practice of the people of jaahiliyyah (pre-Islaamic ignorance) as an expression of grieving for the deceased.

Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) said about, “And calls with the call of jaahiliyyah,” “It means to wail over the deceased.” [19]

Ibnul-Qayyim - rahimahullaah – said, “Included in calling with the call of jaahiliyyah is calling to tribalism, partisanship and party-spirit; being zealous and bigoted towards o­ne’s madhhab (school of thought), party, or Shaykh; giving precedence to o­ne over the other and calling to this; and forming alliances and enmity based upon this. All of this is from the calls of jaahiliyyah.”

Aboo ’Umaamah relates the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) cursed the woman who strikes her face, tears her clothes and wails over the deceased. [20]

So this is a proof that these matters are from the major sins. Also, whosoever laments lightly-without being impatient with Allaah’s Decree, nor complaining against it, and says o­nly that which is true - then such lamenting is acceptable. Just like the lamenting of Aboo Bakr [21] and Faatimah [22] (radiyallaahu ’anhumaa) when the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) died. There is a text also from Imaam Ahmad concerning this. [23]

However, this is not a proof for the prohibition of crying, since there occurs in an authentic narration: That when the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) came to know about the death of his son Ibraaheem, he said, “The eyes shed tears, the heart grieves, but we do not say except that which pleases our Lord. O Ibraaheem! It is because of you that we are grieving.” [24]

In the two Saheehs Usaamah Ibn Zayd relates: That the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) went to o­ne of his daughters, who had with her a young child that was dying. So she raised the child and placed the child in his lap, who was gasping for air. o­n seeing this, tears rolled down the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam’s) eyes. So Sa’d said: O Messenger of Allaah! What is this? So he replied, “This is mercy which Allaah puts into the hearts of His servants. And Allaah is merciful to those of His servants that show mercy to others.” [25]



[1] Edited and adapted from Fathul-Majeed li Sharh Kitaabit-Tawheed (2/603-615); Chapter: From eemaan (faith) in Allaah is to have sabr (patience) with the Decree of Allaah.

[2] Related by Ibnul-Qayyim in Madaarijus-Saalikeen (2/152).

[3] Related by Muslim (no. 223) and Ahmad (5/343), from Aboo Maalik al-Ash’aree (radiyallaahu ’anhu).

[4] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 1469) and Muslim (no. l053), from Aboo Sa’eed al-Khudree (radiyallâhu ’anhu).

[5] Related by al-Bukhaaree (1 l/303) in ta’leeq form, and it has been related in connected form by Imaam Ahmad in az-Zuhd with a Saheeh isnaad - as al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar mentioned in Fathul-Baaree (11/303).

[6] Related by al-Laalikaa‘ee in Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah (no. 1659), al-Bayhaqee in Shu’abul-Eemaan and Abee Shaybaan in Kitaabul-Eemaan (no. 130), with a slightly different wording.

[7] Madaarijus-Saalikeen (2/156) of Ibnul-Qayyim.

[8] Sooratut-Taghaabun [64:11]

[9] Tasfeer Qur‘aanul-’Adheem (2/164) of Ibn Katheer

[10] Sooratul-Hadeed [57:22]

[11] Sooratul-Baqarah [2:155-157]

[12] Tasfeer Qur‘aanul-’Adheem (8/163)

[13] Related by Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree in Jaami’ul-Bayaan ’an Ta‘weelil-Qur‘aan (28/123), ’Abdur-Razzaaq in his Tafseer (3/95) and also as-Suyootee in ad-Durrul-Manthoor (8/183). Its like is also related by al-Bukhaaree in ta’leeq form (8/652) from Ibn Mas’ood.

[14] Tahdheebut-Tahdbeeb (7/276) of Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalaanee

[15] Related by Muslim (no. 67) and Ahmad (2/377), from Aboo Hurayrah (radiyallaahu ’anhu).

[16] Related by Muslim (no. 82), Aboo Daawood (no. 4679) and at-Tirmidhee (no. 2621), from Jaabir Ibn ’Abdullaah (radiyallaahu ’anhu).

[17] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 1294) and Muslim (no. 103), from Ibn Mas’ood (radiyallaahu ’anhu).

[18] Fathul-Baaree (3/164) of Ibn Hajar.

[19] Iqtidaa‘us-Siraatil-Mustaqeem (l/204) of Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah.

[20] Saheeh: Related by Ibn Maajah (no. 1584) and also Ibn Hibbaan (no. 737). Al-Bawseeree authenticated it in Masaabeehuz-Zajaajah (1/521).

[21] Related by Ahmad (6/31), from ’Aa‘ishah (radiyallaahu ’anhaa).

[22] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 4462) and Ibn Maajah (no. 1629-1630), from Anas (radiyallaahu ’anhu).

[23] As az-Zarkashee mentions in Sharh Mukhtasarul-Kharqee (2/356).

[24] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 1303) and Muslim (no. 2315), from Anas and Asmaa‘ Bint Yazeed (radiyallaahu ’anhumaa).

[25] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 1283) and Muslim (no. 923).

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