By Ahmad Raza
31 January, 2014
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 person.
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 patience.
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 Baghdadi.
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.
Ahmad Raza is a social scientist with an interest in religion.