Meaning of Sabr (Patience)
The dictionary meaning of the term “Sabr” is “To prevent and to subdue or arrest”. Thus patience means to restrain the soul from worry, control the tongue from complaining and restrain parts of the body from striking the face, tearing the clothes, and so on.
What Do Scholars Say About Patience?
Amr bin Uthman al-Makki said: “Patience is to remain steadfast with Allah and accept any trial from Him with composure and generosity”
Ali bin Talib stated that “Patience is a mount that never stumbles.”
Various Names of Patience
When patience is applied to the control of one’s excesses in life it is called Zuhd (Abstinence), and its opposite is Greed.
If it is applied to describe the contentment of what is enough of the worldly materials, it is known as contentment (Qana’ah). It is also the opposite of Greed.
Refraining from acting in anger is called forbearance (Hilm), its opposite being recklessness.
Not acting in haste and hurry is called dignity and steadiness, and the opposite is foolishness and fickleness.
Patience According To a Person’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Ability
The cause of religion with respect to the motive of desire has three conditions:
1). The cause of religion is dominant; it overpowers the cause of desire and subdues it. This can be achieved only by constant perseverance. Those who reach this stage are successful in the world and Hereafter. Allah SWT says
“Do not fear nor grieve, but receive the good tidings of the garden (of bliss) which you were promised. We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter”(41: 30, 31)
2). Power and dominance are the motives of desire that overpower the incentive of religion. A person who submits to the devil and his forces will be dragged in the direction where they shall be left with only two options.
- To join the forces of the devil and become a member of his group, is the condition of a weak and incapable person.
- To make the devil subordinate to himself is a condition of the strong evildoer who is promoting his innovation and evildoing by recruiting followers.
3). The third stage in the conflict between the causes of religion and desire is the alternating domination by both parties. The occasions for success for the religious side also vary in number. This is true for most believers who mix righteous deeds with bad ones. The result of these three conditions on the Day of Judgment will be in line with the conditions here in the world. Hence some will enter paradise and some will go to Hell and not enter Paradise, and a third group will enter hell and then will be allowed to enter paradise.
Kinds of Patience
1). Patience in carrying out religious commandments and good deeds.
2). Patience while restraining from committing violations and prohibited deeds.
3). Patience in remaining firm and steadfast to the divine decrees and fate, by not showing any annoyance.
Categories of Patience and Their Conditions
Patience is of two kinds: physical and mental. Each one of them is either optional or obligatory and can be divided into four categories:
- The first is physical and obligatory: undertaking voluntary actions which are difficult.
- The second is physical and obligatory: enduring the pain of beating, illness, wound, cold, heat etc.
- Third is psychological and optional: To restrain oneself from doing what is not good religiously and rationally.
- Fourth is psychological and obligatory: restraining the soul forcibly from what it loves when there is a barrier to achieving it.
Patience can be divided into five categories:
- Obligatory: Patience in resisting what is prohibited, patience in carrying out obligatory deeds, patience in tribulation over which a person is helpless, such as illness, poverty, etc.
- Desirable: To restrain one’s self from worrying over unpleasant matters, to remain constant in doing desirable deeds, and to restrain from retaliating when one faces an aggressor or other acts of aggression.
- Forbidden: Consists of refraining from food and drink until death. It also applies to refusing to eat dead meat, blood, or meat of swine when there is danger of starvation.
- Reprehensible: To resist oneself from food, drink, dress, and sexual intercourse to the extent of causing harm to the body. To restrain the self from doing what is recommended.
- Permissible: To restrain from anything that has indifferent consequences of both; doing and avoiding.