One of the salaf said: “Believers and unbelievers alike may have patience at a time of adversity, but only people of strong faith can have patience at a time of ease.”
Allah has warned against the fitnah of wealth, wives and children:
“O you who believe! Let not your riches or children divert you from remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is their own.”
(Surah Munafiqun :9)
“O you who believe! Truly among your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them!”
(Surah at-Taghabun :14)
The enmity that is referred to here is not the hatred that results from conflict, but that which results from love and care, that might prevent parents from religious duties such as hijrah, seeking knowledge and giving sadaqah. At-Tirmidhi narrated from Ibn Abbas (R.A) that the ayah (64:14) refers to some men from Makkah who embraced Islam and wanted to migrate to join the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, in Madinah, but their wives and children prevented them from doing so.
The hadith, “Children are the cause of grief, cowardice, ignorance and miserliness” (Reported by al-Tabarani) reflects how much we can be held back in our pursuit of perfection. Once, the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, was delivering a khutbah, when he saw Hasan and Hussein walking and stumbling so he interrupted his speech and went to pick them up, and said, “Indeed Allah has spoken the truth when He said: ‘… among your wives and you children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves.’ I saw these two little boys stumbling and I did not have patience to continue my khutbah so I stopped and picked them up.” The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, did so because of his love for children, and in this way he set an example for his Ummah to show kindness and mercy towards children.
The reason why it is so difficult to exercise patience at a time of ease is because we have a choice regarding how to behave. A hungry person has better patience when he has no access to food, and when food becomes available, his patience weakens. Similarly, it’s easier to control one’s desires when the object of desire is not around.
PATIENCE IN WORSHIP:
As human beings, we suffer from a natural aversion to carrying out acts of worship, like salah, due to our inherent laziness. If we are hardhearted and perform many wrong actions, thinking too much of physical pleasure and mixing with people who do not remember Allah, then we can barely perform our prayers, and if we do pray, we do so absent-mindedly and hurriedly.
We need patience in carrying out an act of worship. Before we start an act of worship, we should make sure our intentions are correct. We should check our sincerity and avoid showing off. When we are performing an act of worship, we should strive to perfect it, and keep our intention pure and our mind focussed on the purpose of our action, namely to please Allah. After completing an act of worship, we should abstain from anything that could corrupt it. Allah has told us:
“O you who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury”
(Surah al-Baqarah :264)
We should exercise patience in refraining from feeling proud of our performance, as this is more damaging than committing many other more visible wrong actions. Similarly, we should always be discreet and refrain from telling others about our acts of worship.
May Allah facilitate us in cultivating patience in all it aspects with respect to our worship of Him.
PATIENCE IN ADVERSITY:
Trials such as the death of a loved one, sickness, loss of wealth etc, fall into two types: adversity beyond one’s control, and adversity caused by the actions of another human being, such as slander, physical abuse etc. In facing situations like this that are beyond our control, we may have one of the following reactions:
1. Feeling helpless and discontented, panicking and complaining.
2. Responding with patience, either for the sake of Allah or as a sign of human strength.
3. Accepting and being contented with the situation. This is actually of a higher status than patience.
4. Accepting the situation with thanks and gratitude. This is even higher than acceptance, because in this case a person sees adversity as a blessing and thanks Allah for putting them through it.
Adversity and problems that befall a person at the hands of others may be faced in any of the following ways:
1. One may choose to forgive and forget.
2. One may decide not to take revenge.
3. One may accept the decree (qada’ wa qadr), whilst recognising that the one who harmed him was a wrong-doer, yet the One who decreed that this harm should reach him at the hands of another is not a wrong-doer.
4. One may proceed to treat well the person who treated them badly. This attitude has many advantages and benefits, which nobody can know in their entirety except Allah.
We should realise that the harm caused by people is like the heat and the cold: there is no way to prevent it happening and the one who complains about heat and cold betrays a lack of wisdom. Everything happens by the decree of Allah, and we should show patience in dealing with adversity in order to receive the reward of Allah.
The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
“Strange is the affair of the believer. Verily, all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks Allah and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the believer.”[Recorded in Muslim]