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    Learning to be Patient
    Posted on Friday, February 15 @ 03:21:24 EST by admin

    General Topics

    Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz al-Muqbil

    Habit has a tremendous influence on our behavior. The Prophet (peace be upon him) indicated this to us when he said: “Goodness is a habit.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah (221)]

    Certainly, we face a considerable amount of difficulty whenever we try to impose upon ourselves a behavioral norm of that we had formerly been unaccustomed to. However, if we persist at it for a period of time, and seek the help of our Lord, we find to our delight that we can make significant achievements.

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that persistence pays off when he said: “Whoever exercises patience, then Allah will make him patient.”

    Nevertheless, there can be no avoiding the fact that we find such an effort daunting. Some people feel that it is virtually impossible. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said on another occasion: “Forbearance is only achieved through practicing forbearance.” Forbearance and patience are two sides of the same coin.

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) then went on to give an example from normal, everyday experience, saying: “Knowledge is only achieved through learning.” This is an observable fact that no one can question, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) used this obvious example to illustrate to us in the clearest terms how we must go about acquiring patience. It all goes back to repeated practice and persistence. We need to make patience a habit.

    If we think about it, every year, we are given a practical exercise in patience in the month of Ramadan. Indeed, prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) referred to it as “the month of patience.”

    Ramadan conditions us and trains us to be patient in various aspects of our daily lives. If we happen to wake up late in the morning on a day in Ramadan and miss our pre-fast meal, we cannot even think like we normally would of having breakfast, no matter how hungry we might feel.

    Consider what a habitual smoker achieves in the month of Ramadan. Normally, he would not give his smoking on the following day a second thought. However, on the eve of the first day of Ramadan, he is already busy conditioning his mind to the fact that tomorrow he will not be able to smoke all the way from dawn up until sunset.

    And this is not just for a single day. It is for the whole month. He will change his smoking habits for 29 to 30 days, even though he will go about for the rest of the year making excuses to people whenever he lights up as to why he cannot keep away from cigarettes. He will lament how he has tried to quit so many times and has always failed.

    In spite of all this, we can be certain that had the fast Ramadan been made obligatory upon us for two months instead of one, he would have gone without smoking during the daylight hours for those two months straight. This means that the matter is and always has been for him a question of willpower on the one hand, and force of habit on the other.

    One way we can accustom ourselves to the exercise of patience is to read about the lives of people who were noted for their patience. For instance, we can read about the life of the great scholar Ahmad b. Hanbal, about his imprisonment and torture due to his insistence that the Qur’ân was not created. He exhibited the utmost patience throughout his persecution and bore repeated floggings at a time in his life when his body was already weary and his bones had grown brittle with age.

    We can also strengthen our resolve through contemplation. We also need to think of all the positive things in our lives at the times when we are stricken with what tries our patience.

    There is a moving anecdote of a man who was blind and who had lost both of his hands and feet. Another man saw him and noticed that his tongue was always busy with the remembrance of Allah. The man grew irritated by this and, turning to the blind man, said: “What do you have to be thankful for, when you are in the state that you are in – blind and without hands or feet?”

    The blind man replied: “I thank Him that I still have a tongue with which to remember Him.”

    When we remind ourselves of what rewards Allah has in store for those who are patient, it becomes easier for us to achieve the fortitude that we need. It can bring us to the point where patience becomes our habit.

    Allah says: “We shall sure test you with something of fear and hunger and with loss in goods, in lives, and in the fruits of our labor, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere – who say when afflicted with calamity: To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. They are the ones on whom descend blessings from their Lord and mercy, and they are the ones who are guided. ” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 155-157]

    Allah says: “Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 10]

    May Allah bless us to be in the company of the patient.

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