By Sadia Dehlvi
The Quran defines patience as one of the paths that lead people from darkness to light. The holy book tells stories from the lives of the Prophets, all of whom demonstrated the highest degree of patience. Faced with the severest of calamities, they never deviated from their devotion to God who always tests the faithful. “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere”. (2:155)
Prophet Mohammad said, “The most severe of people to be put to trial are the Prophets, the righteous and the likes of them. Each human being is put to trial according to the degree of his faith, the stronger the faith the higher the affliction”.
Prophet Ayub (Job) is someone whose name has become synonymous with patience. He possessed all the adornments of this world including good health, abundant wealth and a large family. Suddenly he became infected with a terrible skin disease where worms were eating into his flesh and the body was covered with ugly sores. Except for his heart and tongue, with which he remembered his Lord, no part or organ of his body was spared of the disease. The fear of infection caused his close friends and family to force him out of the village, with just his wife attending to his needs. She worked in people’s home to raise money, but then people began to stay away from her as well. Narrations inform that he would encourage the worms to eat from his flesh and thanked God for creating them.
As Job’s condition worsened, his wife gave up on him and began to doubt God’s love for him. Then, Job prayed and invoked God’s mercy. Allah commanded him to strike the ground with his foot, and wash and drink from the spring of water that would surface, so he may heal completely. The Quran says, “So we listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him, and we restored his people to him, and doubled their number — as a Grace from ourselves, and a thing for commemoration, for all who serve us”. (21:84)
In the Quran, Allah constantly reminds us to seek help in patience and prayer. “O you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere” (2:153). He informs that this is not an easy task, but reaffirms that no one is better in speech than those who call to Allah. “It is indeed hard except for those who are humble” (2:45).
God then tells us to repel evil with good, so that it rids the other’s heart of animosity. Prophet Mohammad is the exemplar, the most patient of all. He remained patient with his worst enemies. Once when informed of how someone spoke against him, the Messenger stated, “They did similar harm to my brother Moses, but he remained patient”. Amongst the miracles of Prophet Mohammad was that he converted his adversaries into friends. There were 13 assassination attempts on his life, but he remained patient, and did not seek revenge. He even forgave the woman at Khaybar who attempted to kill him by serving poisoned food.
Prophet Mohammad famously said, “Patience is half of imaan, faith”. Being patient is an act of will and requires courage. He said that restraint must be shown when calamity first strikes. Patience requires putting the other person before oneself, and it is people with these qualities who attain a high spiritual rank with God. In the Quran, God says he does not change the condition of the people unless they alleviate themselves. If we use divine principles and gain dutiful awareness of God, he assures us of victory. If reward is not visible in this world, then it will be awarded in the hereafter.
All archetypes of people are in the Quran, each of us can find ourselves in the holy book. That’s why the Quran is there, so we may change ourselves and truly submit to the Lord.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Deccan Chronicle