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Practice of Patience

THERE come moments in our lives when we
feel completely hopeless and helpless. But
the Quran shows us the technique to
manage such personal states of despair.
The Holy Book has termed this technique
sabr or patience. Invariably, God expects
human beings not to be impatient. When
faced with turmoil and pain, He insists that
we should seek help from prayer and
patience. As it is mentioned in the Quran,
the Almighty is with those who hold on to
the practice of patience. Those who practice
sabr become satisfied.
Patience can be of multiple types, but two
types are very significant. The first is
concerned with the physical and outward
dimension of our existence. It may be
connected with some physical illness, some
financial and monetary crunch or some
other material difficulties being faced by a
The Quran has narrated the incident of
Prophet Ayub, wherein he was suffering
from an incurable physical illness. The Holy
Book has lauded the patience of the prophet,
and declared him as one of the “men of
purity and patience”, who achieve proximity
to God through their acts of piety and
In his acute physical state of pain and
suffering, the prophet Ayub cried out to God
for His help and mercy. The Almighty
communicated to Ayub that he should hit
the earth below his feet, and that he would
find water pure and curative in nature
gushing forth in the form of a spring. Ayub
bathed in that healing, therapeutic water and
was cured of his illness.
The second form of patience is connected to
the emotional and psychological suffering of
a person. It may be caused by several
intangible sources within the life of a
person. One significant cause of emotional
depression is betrayal. When a person is
betrayed by one’s friend, relative, or co-
worker, one is shattered and cannot find a
way forward. One experiences an inner
darkness. One feels abandoned and lost.
One’s self-confidence is badly shaken due to
the betrayal by near and dear ones.
Backbiting is another prevalent source of
psychological suffering. It becomes more
painful when backbiting becomes a favoured
practice, and people damage each other
emotionally by indulging in backbiting. The
Quran has symbolically compared backbiting
to “eating the flesh of one’s brother” to
indicate the severity of this moral defect.
The backbiter creates psychological pain
and suffering in families, in organisations
and in societies. Backbiting leads to a sheer
waste of energy. Valuable time is wasted by
the backbiter, which could have been utilised
in constructive pursuits.
This clearly shows that backbiters are in
need of professional help from clinical
psychologists so that they can experience
true happiness and satisfaction and get rid
of their destructive habit.
Hypocrites (munafiqun, in the language of
the Quran) also cause a lot of disruption
and pain in society. Instead of bringing
people together and working to create
harmony, hypocrites perpetually create
divides. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
has said that a hypocrite is recognised by
his habitual lying and untrustworthiness.
The hallmark of a hypocrite is the creation of
doubts and the divisive use of language. By
using his or her eloquence or scepticism, a
hypocrite will create disharmony and chaos
in the social order. The masked activity of
the hypocrite unleashes negative forces in
collective and organisational settings. This
negativity causes despair and despondency
amongst the members of society, and hence
leads to their eventual collective failure.
Those who are two-faced, in fact, have no
real face.
Yet by cultivating the habit of patience, one
can manage emotional stress and overcome
physical suffering. Patience can also help an
individual deal with the moral ills identified
in this article. Patience is cultivated by
building a thorough and committed
personality, which helps one forgive and
overlook weaknesses in others.
Such a person is open to learning and
understands behaviour in different contexts.
He or she is candid, generous and forgiving.
Forgiveness is the key which opens the door
to the city of patience.
In his famed book Kashf al Mahjub, Syed Ali
Hujveri has reported an interesting incident
in this regard involving the mystic Junaid
One night when Junaid was busy offering
his midnight prayer, a burglar broke into his
house and stole some cloth. Junaid became
aware of the presence of the thief, but did
not intervene. The thief fled from the house.
The next morning, the thief was selling the
same cloth in the market when Junaid
approached him and insisted on buying
back his stolen cloth. The thief recognised
the mystic and felt repentant for his act of
stealing. He sought the forgiveness of the
great mystic. He was forgiven and thereafter,
the thief joined Junaid’s circle and led a life
of purity and patience.
The writer is a social scientist with an interest
in religion.

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