By Mariyah Aseri, adapted from an article by Chaimaa Elazrak
“Whoever persists in being patient, God will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience.” (Al-Bukhari)
Sabr is an Arabic word which translates as “Patience”. But Sabr means much more than just patience. Sabr is endurance, forbearance, steadfastness & perseverance. Sabr is something we often ask Allah for, especially when we face hardships in life. We’re frequently reminded in the Quran of the virtues and beauty of sabr - of “صبر جميل” a beautiful patience. But is patience really beautiful? How can patience be beautiful when the very essence of patience entails enduring tough times?
The beauty of patience lies within enduring calamities whilst striving to normalise your life and carry on as if things are okay. To live life whilst being beautifully patient is a treasure. It’s a characteristic embodied by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions, and one that all the prophets had held very closely. Had it not been for their beautiful patience, they would never have been victorious.
Sabr and beautiful patience does NOT mean suffering in silence. Enduring whilst failing to try and seek help for your situation is not what beautiful patience is. We often hear of people living in horrible circumstances being told to simply ‘have sabr and carry on’. To be patient and carry on asking Allah for a way out. And whilst we must never stop asking Allah for guidance, He (swt) has gifted us with the ability to act. Islam is not a passive religion. Allah does not want us to be passive people. ‘He (swt) does not change a condition of people without effort from the people first’.
The Beauty of Sabr
Sabr is when, regardless of how harsh life gets, you remember wholeheartedly that Allah has beautiful things in store for you. Sabr is maintaining composure and not compromising your morals, regardless of how horrible you feel internally, you never inflict pain on others or let this affect how you treat others. The final verses of Surah Al-Baqarah state:
“Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can endure”
This may be questioned by us when we’re tested. We may feel that nothing is as traumatic or difficult as our situation, or that nothing can compare to it. But Allah truly tests His servants according to what they can endure – He always gives the right pressure. For example, someone enduring cancer may have never been able to endure losing a loved one in a car accident. Likewise, someone battling the horrible consequences of losing their loved one in an accident may have never been able to endure dealing with a terminal illness. Both of these trials are equally as difficult, tough and extremely testing, but Allah knows the exact limits of each and every one of us and will only give us what we can take. After all, ‘He is closer to us than our very own jugular vein.’
Most of our lives are not ones of pure bliss – after all, this is the Dunya. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, told us that the “dunya is a prison to the believer”. May our trials and tribulations be a source through which we can exercise Sabr and pave the way for the expiation of our sins.
‘It’s not easy to wake up every day thinking positively.’
Sabr is tough. Even the prophets cried out “when will the help of Allah be near?” Even the prophets got tired of their afflictions, to which Allah replied to them “help is near”. Sometimes, we truly give up on the power of dua. Or we hastily make a dua and it’s merely being said but not from the heart. This can happen when we endure a trial for a lengthy period of time, and it feels like nothing will ever improve our situation. Or that we’ll have to endure it for the rest of our life. But it’s important to never let our hearts harden. Never give up on Allah, never let go of His rope. Never lose hope that one day, your pain will be alleviated. One of Shaytan’s tricks is to tell you that Allah swt is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers and of course, his intention is to make you internalise this and eventually give up on prayers.
However, there so much tranquillity and beauty in making dua. In begging Allah for relief, for redemption, in asking Him to take away our pain. We’ve all felt the sweetness of being truly present in the moment when making dua to Allah, and it’s a very uplifting one. May it come back, may we feel it again. Sabr is to keep on going. To keep on enduring, to know that being strong is the only option, and that you have the strength in you to keep going, because if you didn’t Allah wouldn’t have tested you in this way.
Sabr is to drag yourself to your prayers even when you truly can’t be bothered to pray. Sabr is to think well of Allah during hardships. Sabr is to try to ignore that terrible thought from Shaytan that tells you that nothing will ever help your situation, that your life will always be at a negative standstill. That you aren’t good enough, that you’ll never graduate or find a job you love, that you’ll never get over a trauma in your life, that you’ll be alone forever, that you’ll never find true happiness. These are all some examples of trials we have to deal with at one point in their lives. No one is perfect, and it’s okay to break.
But once you fall, know that you the strength and emotional endurance to pick yourself right back again. And you will fall, many times. You will fall in your everyday life from dealing with your job, your health, your family – it’s never-ending. But it’s essential to keep going, to have faith that your struggle hasn’t gone unnoticed, and there is a reward for you at the end InshaAllah. Sabr is beautiful because Sabr is worth all the good that comes with it. And remember, Sabr is to always be kinder than how you feel, because Allah knows what you’re going through and how much more strength it takes to be calm or understanding when you yourself are struggling. That’s why humans are the best of creation, and always know that you are a precious being loved by Allah swt.