Monday, August 18, 2014

Definition & Different Names of 'Sabr' (patience) in Different Situations: Ibn Qayyim

Patience, or patient perseverance, is obligatory, according to the consensus of the scholars, and it is half of faith (imân), the other half of which is gratitude (shukr).

Patience is mentioned in the Qur’ân around ninety times. The relation of patience to imân is like the relation of the head to the body, and the one who has no patience has no imân. 

Abû Sa’îd al-Khudrî (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “No-one can be given a better and more abundant gift than patience.” (Bukhârî and Muslim)

‘Alî ibn Abî Tâlib (RA) said: “The relation of patience to îmân is like the relation of the head to the body. If the head is chopped off, the body becomes useless.” Then he raised his voice and said: “Certainly, the one who has no patience has no îmân, and patience is like a riding-beast that never gets tired.”

The word 'Sabr':

Sabr is an Arabic word which comes from a root meaning to detain, refrain and stop. In the spiritual sense, patience means to stop ourselves from despairing and panicking, to stop our tongues from complaining, and to stop our hands from striking our faces and tearing our clothes at times of grief and stress.

How the scholars of the Salaf defined patience:

Some scholars have defined patience as a good human characteristic or a positive psychological attitude, by virtue of which we refrain from doing that which is not good.
Human beings cannot live a proper, healthy life without patience.
‘Alî ibn Abî Tâlib said: “Patience means to seek Allâh’s help.”
Abû ‘Uthmân said: “the one who has patience is the one who trained himself to handle difficulties.”
‘Amr ibn ‘Uthmân al-Makkî said: “Patience means to keep close to Allâh and to accept calmly the trials He sends, without complaining or feeling sad.”
Al-Khawwas said: “Patience means to adhere to the rules of the Qur’ân and Sunnah.”
Abû Muhammad al-Harirî said: “Patience means not seeing any difference between times of ease and times of hardship, and being content at all times.”
Another scholar said: “Patience means to refrain from complaining.”

Further definition of patience:
A scholar said: “To have patience means that one’s common sense and religious motives are stronger than one’s whims and desires.” 
It is natural for people to have an inclination towards their desires, but common sense and the religious motive should limit that inclination. These two forces are at war: sometimes reason and religion win, and sometimes whims and desires prevail. The battlefield is the heart of man.

Different names of 'Sabr' (patience) in different situations:

Patience has many other names, according to the situation. 
1. If patience consists of restraining sexual desire, it is called honour, the opposite of which is adultery and promiscuity. 
2. If it consists of controlling one’s stomach, it is called self-control, the opposite of which is greed. 
3. It if consists of keeping quiet about that which is not fit to disclose, it is called discretion, the opposite of which is disclosing secrets, lying, slander or libel. 
4. If it consists of being content with what is sufficient for one’s needs, it is called abstemiousness (Zuhd), the opposite of which is covetousness (Tam'a). 
5. If it consists of controlling one’s anger, then it is called forbearance, the opposite of which is impulsiveness and hasty reaction. 
6. If it consists of refraining from haste, then it called gracefulness and steadiness, the opposite of which is to be hotheaded. 
7. If it consists of refraining from running away (from battle-field), then it is called courage, the opposite of which is cowardice. 
8. If it consists of refraining from taking revenge, then it is called forgiveness, the opposite of which is revenge. 
9. If it consists of refraining from being stingy, then it is called generosity, the opposite of which is miserliness (buql). 
10. If it consists of refraining from being lazy and helpless, then it is called dynamism and initiative. 
11. If it consists of refraining from blaming and accusing other people, then it is called chivalry (muru’ah literally “manliness”).

Different names may be applied to patience in different situations, but all are covered by the idea of patience (Sabr). This shows that Islâm in its totality is based on patience.

What is Beautiful patience (sabrun jamîl)?: 

Sabrun jamîl refers to patience with no complaint to other people. [The word Beautiful patience (sabr jamîl) is used in Surah Yûsuf 12:83]

Mujâhid said: “Beautiful patience is patience without any panic.” 
‘Amr ibn Qays said: “Beautiful patience means to be content with adversity and to surrender to the will of Allâh.”
Yûnus ibn Yazîd said: I asked Rabî‘ah ibn ‘Abdu’l-Rahmân: “What is the ultimate of patience?” He said: “To be outwardly the same at the time of affliction as one was the day before it struck.” (This does not mean that a person does not or should not feel pain or anguish; patience in this instance means that one refrains from panicking and complaining.)
Commenting on the meaning of beautiful patience, Qiyas ibn al-Hajjâj said: “The person who is suffering from some affliction should behave in such a way that nobody is able to distinguish him from others.”

Extracts from: 'Patience and Gratitude' By Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah
An abridgement of his original work entitled, “Uddat as-Sâbireen wa Dhâkirat ash-Shâkireen”

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