Patience is binding on a believer

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I The Sunday Guardian I March 15, 2015

The literal meaning of sabr, the Arabic word for patience, is "to stop". A life of faith is a principled one. A believer lives for a certain purpose. He does not take any step as an emotionally-driven reaction. When faced with any situation, he stops and thinks about what response he should make that is in accordance with his principles and purpose in life, distinguishing this clearly from responses that militate against his principles and purpose. In this way, he exercises sabr or patience.

In other words, impatience is reflected in a hasty response to a situation, while a considered, well-thought-out response is what patience is about.

Patience is connected with every aspect of our lives. Suppose you feel overwhelmed by a certain desire. You choose not to set about fulfilling the desire as soon as it emerges. You control the desire and think about it and then do what divine law demands of you in that situation. This is exercising patience.

Suppose someone has caused you trouble. You feel overwhelmed by the desire for revenge. But you stop yourself and then do what your faith wants you to do. This is exercising patience.

Suppose that while doing your work, you face certain hurdles. You choose not to create a furore or fight the situation. Instead, you reflect on the matter in the light of the guidance of the Quran and the Prophet's practice, and then take steps that these sources lay down for this sort of situation. You make yourself do what the Quran and the Prophet's practice want you to do, not what you might personally otherwise like. This is exercising patience.

Patience is binding on a believer, and is a major principle of his or her life. If a person lacks patience, it is open to doubt whether he has had a realisation of faith.