The Virtues of Patience

Imâm Ahmad (d.241H) said:
“Allâh has mentioned sabr (patient perseverance) in over ninety places in His Book.” [2]
And there occurs in the authentic hadîth: “Sabr (patient perseverance) is light.” [3] The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam also said: “No one has been given anything more excellent and more comprehensive than sabr.”[4]
’Umar - radiallâhu ’anhu - said:
“We considered the best part of our lives to be that in which there was sabr.”[5]
’Alî - radiallâhu ’anhu - said:
“Indeed sabr is from îmân (faith). Its position is like that of the head with respect to the rest of the body.” Then he raised his voice and said: “Verily, there is no îmân (faith) for the one who has no sabr.”[6]
The Meaning of Patience

The word sabr (in the Arabic ********) is from sabara - to be patient and to persevere, and it indicates to holding back and restraining oneself. (In the Sharî’ah sense) it implies: restraining the soul from being agitated; restraining the tongue from complaining and restraining the hands from slapping the cheeks, tearing the clothes and doing other similar actions. This has been mentioned by Ibn al-Qayyim (d.750H). [7]
And know that sabr (patient perseverance) is of three kinds: [i] sabr whilst (fulfilling) the orders of Allâh, [ii] sabr whilst (abandoning and keeping away) from the prohibitions of Allâh, and [iii] sabrwith the Decree of Allâh with respect to afflictions and difficulties.
Guidance for the Hearts

Allâh - the Most High - says: “And whosoever believes in Allâh, He guides his heart aright. And Allâh has full knowledge over everything.” [8]
And this âyah begins with: “No affliction occurs, except by the permission of Allâh.” About this Ibn ’Abbâs said: “By the command of Allâh - meaning: by His Will and His Power.” [9]
So the meaning of this âyah is: No affliction occurs except by His Mashiyyah (Will), His Irâdâh(Desire) and His Hikmah (Wisdom) - as Allâh says: “No affliction occurs upon the earth, nor in yourselves, except that it is written before We bring it into existence. Indeed, this is easy for Allâh.” [10] And Allâh says: “Give glad-tidings to those who have sabr. Those who - when afflicted with a affliction - say: Indeed, we belong to Allâh and to Him shall we return. They are those on whom are the blessings from their Lord and His mercy. They are the ones who are guided.” [11]
And Allâh’s saying: “And whosoever believes in Allâh, He guides his heart aright.”“And AIlâh has full knowledge over everything.” is a reminder that such a affliction is by His Knowledge which necessitates His Wisdom, which obligates sabr and being *******ed with His Decree. means: “Whosoever - when afflicted with a affliction - knows it is by the Decree of Allâh and His Power, and thus patiently submits to it, then Allâh rewards such a person by guiding their heart aright. So this is the root cause of all happiness, and the foundation of excellence in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allâh promises such a person (a reward) for what He has taken from them.” [12] And Allâh’s saying:
Abû Dhibyân said: We were with ’Alqamah [13] and this âyah was recited to him: “And whosoever believes in Allâh, He guides his heart aright.” So he said: “It is the man who - when afflicted with an affliction - knows it is from Allâh, so he is pleased with it and submits to it.” [14]
In the above narration is a proof that actions are a part of îmân
Sa’îd ibn Jubayr (d.104H) said about: “And whosoever believes in Allâh, He guides his heart aright.” He said: “That (at the time of a affliction) a person says: Indeed, to Allâh we belong and to Him shall we return.”
In the above âyah is an explanation that having sabr is the cause for the heart’s guidance; this being the reward for the sâbir (the one having patience).
Complaining against the Decree of Allâh

The Prophet sallallâhu ’alaybi wa sallam said: “Two characteristics of the people are from disbelief: attack on one’s genealogy and bewailing the deceased.” [15] Meaning: that these two characteristics are actions ofkufr (disbelief), since these are actions of jâhiliyyahîmân (faith). (pre-Islâmic ignorance) which continue to remain in people. And no one will remain safe from them, except for the one to whom Allâh grants safety, and the one to whom Allâh grants knowledge and
However - it should be known - that whosoever has within him a branch of kufr (disbelief), then it does not cause the person to become a kâfir (disbeliever) with absolute kufr; just as a person who has within him a branch of îmân (faith), is not called a mu‘min (believer) with absolute îmân . Indeed , there is a difference between the word kufr having the definite article attached to it (i.e. al-kufr) and the word kufr without the definite article - as occurs in the saying of the Prophet: There is nothing between a servant and between al-kufr and ash-shirk, except abandoning the Prayer.” [16]
The saying of the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam: “Attack on one’s geneology,” means: finding faults and defects. Entering into this also is a person’s false denial of another man’s genealogy by saying: “This is not the son of such and such,” and the person knew that this denial was false.
And his saying: “And bewailing the dead.” means: raising the voice in lamentation and wailing and in enumerating the virtues of the deceased. All of this is a form of complaining against the Decree of Allâh and is against having sabr - such as the saying of the one bewailing: “He was my close friend,” or “he was my aid and supporter.”
So in the above hadîth is a proof for the obligation of having sabr, and a proof that there is a type ofkufr (disbelief) which does not cause its doer to become a kâfir.
Tender Hearts and Compassionate Tears

The Prophet sallâllâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “He is not one of us who strikes the cheeks, tears the clothes and calls with the call of jâhiliyyah (pre-Islâmic ignorance).” [17] This is one of those ****ual threats related in the Revelation. It is related from Sufyân ath-Thawrî and Imâm Ahmad that they disliked explaining the meaning of such threats, so that people would have fear of committing such actions and would remain far away from them. This narration is a proof that the actions mentioned are against complete îmân (faith).
Al-Hâfidh Ibn Hajar (d.852H) whilst explaining the saying “Whosoever strikes the cheeks,” said: “The cheeks have been particularised since that is the most common place of striking. However, striking any other part of the face is just the same.” [18]
The saying of the Prophet: “Tearing the clothes,” implies: tearing open the clothes from the chest. This was the practice of the people of jâhiliyyah (pre-Islâmic ignorance) as an expression of grieving for the deceased.
Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) said about: “And calls with the call of
: “It means to wail over the deceased.” [19]
Ibn al-Qayyim - rahimahullâh - said:
“Included in calling with the call of jâhiliyyah is calling to tribalism, partisanship and party-spirit; being zealous and bigoted towards one’s madhhab (school of thought), party, or Shaykh; giving precedence to one over the other and calling to this; and forming alliances and enmity ****d upon this. All of this is from the calls of jâhiliyyah.”
Abû Umâmah relates the the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam cursed the woman who strikes her face, tears her clothes and wails over the deceased. [20]
So this is a proof that these matters are from the major sins. Also, whosoever laments lightly-without being impatient with Allâh’s Decree, nor complaining against it, and says only that which is true - then such lamenting is acceptable. Just like the lamenting of Abû Bakr [21] and Fâtimah [22]radiallâhu ’anhumâ when the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam died. There is a **** also from Imâm Ahmad concerning this. [23]
However, this is not a proof for the prohibition of crying, since there occurs in an authentic narration: That when the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam came to know about the death of his son Ibrâhîm, he said: “The eyes shed tears, the heart grieves, but we do not say except that which pleases our Lord. O Ibrâhîm! It is because of you that we are grieving.” [24]
In the two Sahîhs Usâmah bin Zayd relates: That the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallamwent to one of his daughters, who had with her a young child that was dying. So she raised the child and placed the child in his lap, who was gasping for air. On seeing this, tears rolled down the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam’s eyes. So Sa’d said: O Messenger of Allâh! What is this? So he replied: “This is mercy which Allâh puts into the hearts of His servants. And Allâh is merciful to those of His servants that show mercy to others.” [25]
Trials Faced by the Believers

The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “Whenever Allâh intends to do good to a servant, He hastens to punish him in this world. And whenever Allâh intends evil for a servant, He postpones the punishment until the Day of Judgement.” [26]
His saying: “Whenever Allâh intends to do good to a servant, He hastens to punish him in this world.” means: that he is punished by being inflicted with afflictions and difficulties due to the sins he has committed, due to which he is cleansed from them all, and in the Hereafter he has no sins to account for.
Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“The occurrence of afflictions are actually a form of blessing, since they are an expiation for sins committed and they call for a person to have sabr - for which he is duly rewarded. Likewise they cause the person to turn to Allâh in repentance, being humble and submissive before Him, whilst at the same time turning away from hoping in any of the creation. There are - besides these - other great advan***es.
Thus, those afflictions which befall a person are actually the cause of Allâh wiping away his sins, and this is one of the greatest blessings. So the occurrence of afflictions are a source of mercy and bounty, providing such a person does not enter into that which is a cause for even greater disobedience than before. For this affliction will then become a cause of great evil to the person’sDîn. Indeed, there are people who - when afflicted with a trial or a affliction; such as poverty, illness or starvation - causes hypocrisy to sprout in them, or causes their hearts to become diseased, or it causes them to fall into ingratitude and disbelief, or to abandon certain obligations or commit certain prohibited acts - all of which is extremely harmful to one’s Dîn. So to remain safe from, and to be protected against such afflictions and trials, is better for a person, since the afflictions and trials - rather than being a source of blessings - becomes a source of great injury. However, if the person hadsabr and remained obedient, then such an affliction would have been the cause of mercy and blessings from Allâh - the Mighty and Majestic -which necessitates praising Him.
So whosoever is afflicted with a calamity and is provided with sabr, then this sabr is a blessing for the person and a mercy for him, since his sins are expiated due to it. Likewise his Lord bestows upon him praises and prayers, as Allâh - the Majestic - says: “They are those on whom are the blessings and praises from their Lord and His mercy. They are the ones who are guided.” [27] Such a person is also forgiven by his Lord for his sins, and is raised to higher ranks - all of this is due to the one who has sabr.” [28]
The saying of the Prophet: “Whenever Allâh intends evil for a servant, He postpones the punishment until the Day of Judgement.” means: such a person’s punishment is delayed until the Hereafter, where he will receive severe punishment.
Al-’Azîzî (d.1070H) said:
“Such a person is not punished in this world, so that in the Hereafter he can be punished for his sins in a way that he fully deserved.” [29]
In the above hadîth is a lesson and a reminder that one must have good expectations in Allâh and a good opinion about Him with regard to what He has decreed for a person, as Allâh - the Most High - says: “It is possible that you hate a thing and it is good for you, and love a thing and it is evil for you. Allâh knows and you do not know.” [30]
Rewards are Proportional to Afflictions

The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “Reward is directly proportional to the affliction. If Allâh loves a people, He inflicts them with a calamity. Whoever accepts it, Allâh is pleased with them, and whoever resents it, Allâh is displeased with them.” [31]
Likewise, the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “Whenever Allâh loves a people, He sends affliction upon them. So whoever is patient, is one of the patient-ones, and whoever resents it, is one of the resenters.” [32]
The meaning of the first hadîth is: the greater the affliction, the greater the reward. And it is said: Indeed, afflictions bring about a reward as well as expiating sins. This was the preferred saying of Ibn al-Qayyim that the one afflicted with a calamity is not only rewarded for it, but his sins are expiated as well. However, if this affliction was the cause of him doing certain righteous actions - such as having sabr, *******ment with the Decree of Allâh, repenting to Allâh or asking for His forgiveness - then the person will be rewarded for such actions as well. Because of this it is said that the meaning of the hadîth is: Indeed, the reward is proportional to the affliction, providing there is sabr and expectation of reward.
Similarly, in the hadîth of Sa’d: The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam was asked: Who from mankind suffers the greatest afflictions? He replied: “The Prophets, then those most like them, then those most like them. A person is afflicted with calamities in comparisons to his Dîn, so if he is firm in his Dîn, then his afflictions are strong and if he is weak in his Dîn, then his afflictions are lighter. A person is afflicted with calamities until he is left walking upon the face of this earth without any sins.” [33]
This hadîth and its like are from the proofs for Tawhîd. Since if a person knew that the Prophets and the awliyâ (the friends of Allâh) are themselves afflicted with calamities and that none can remove these afflictions from them except Allâh, then it will be known that they can bring neither benefit nor ward of harm to themselves - so how can they ward off harm for others! Thus rather than turning to the Prophets and righteous people for the removal of harm, or relief from worries and grief, one should turn directly to Allâh alone - the One who is able to accomplish this.
Attaining Tranquility

And ar-Ridâ (the pleasure of Allâh) - which occurs in the saying of the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam: “So whosoever is pleased, then Allâh is pleased with him.” - is one of the Attributes that Allâh has described Himself with in various places in His Book, such as His saying: “Their reward are Gardens of Adan, beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. Allâh is well pleased with them, as they are with Him.” [34]
The way of the Salaf (the Pious Predecessors) and those who follow them from Ahlus-Sunnahsallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam - in a way which befits His Majesty and Greatness - without tamthîl (likening Allâh to any of His creation), and without ta’tîl (divesting Allâh of His Attributes). So when Allâh - the Most High - is pleased with any one, then such a person has acquired all good and excellence and is safe from all evils. (the followers of the Sunnah) is to affirm those attributes which Allâh has affirmed for Himself, or which have been affirmed by His Messenger
Ar-Ridâ is: a servant’s surrendering his affairs to Allâh, whilst having a good opinion about Him and expecting His reward. Such a person will then experience tranquility and joy, love of Allâh and reliance upon Him.
Ibn Mas’ûd - radiallâhu anhu - said:
“Indeed Allâh - from His Justice and Fairness - made delight and tranquility the fits of yaqîn(certainty) and ridâ (pleasure). And He made grief, anxiety and worry the result of doubt and resentment.” [35]
The meaning of resentment being: “A dislike for something, with the absence of pleasure.” [36] Thus, whosoever resents what Allâh has decreed, then Allâh will resent that person; and this is sufficient as a punishment from Allâh. Also, from the above hadîth, some Scholars have deduced that ridâ (*******ment and pleasure) with the Decree of Allâh is obligatory - this being the view of Ibn ’Aqîl. However, al-Qâdî Abû Ya’lâ did not consider it to be obligatory [but rather preferable], and this was the preferred view of Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim. [37]
Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“Just as there is a specific command attached to having sabr (patience), there is, however, no such command for having ridâ (*******ment and pleasure). Rather, there is a praise and an excellence for those who have ridâ with the Decree of Allâh.” He further said: “The narration: ‘Whosoever does not have sabr with My afflictions, nor have ridâ with My Decree, has taken a Lord other than Me.’ [38] This narration is one of the Isrâ‘îliyyât and is not authentically related from the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam.” [39]
Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah also said:
“Indeed, there is a station higher than [both sabr and] ridâ, and that is to show shukr
(gratitude) to Allâh for the affliction, since this is the cause of receiving excellence and bounties.” [40]



1. Edited and adapted from Fathul-Majîd li Sharh Kitâbit-Tawhîd (2/603-615); Chapter: From îmân (faith) in Allâh is to have sabr(patience) with the Decree of Allâh.
2. Related by Ibn al-Qayyim in Madârijus-Sâlikîn (2/152).
3. Related by Muslim (no.223) and Ahmad (5/343), from Abû Mâlik al-Ash’arî radiallâhu ’anhu.
4. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.1469) and Muslim (no.l053), from Abû Sa’îd al-Khudrî radiallâhu ’anhu.
5. Related by al-Bukhârî (1 l/303) in ta’lîq form, and it has been related in connected form by Imâm Ahmad in az-Zuhd with a Sahîh isnâd - as al-Hâfidh Ibn Hajar mentioned in Fathul-Bârî (11/303).
6. Related by al-Lâlikâ‘î in Sharh Usûl I’tiqâd Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamâ’ah (no.1659), al-Bayhaqî in Sh’abul-Îmân a n d Abî S h a y b a h i n Kitâbul-Îmân (no.130), with a slightly different wording.
7 . M a dâ r i j u s-Sâ l i kî n (2/156) of Ibn al-Qayyim.
8. Sûrah at-***hâbun 64:11
9. Tasfîr Qur‘ânul-’Adhîm (g/164) of Ibn Kathîr.
10. Sûrah al-Hadîd 57:22
11. Sûrah al- Baqarah 2:155-157
12. Tasfîr Qur‘ânul-’Adhîm (8/163).
13. Related by Ibn Jarîr at-Tabarî in Jâmi’ul-Bayân ‘an Tabîlil-Qur‘ân (28/123), ’Abdur-Razzâq in his Tafsîr (3/95) and also as-Suyûtî in ad-Duwul-Manthûr (8/183). Its like is also related by al-Bukhârî in ta’lîq form (8/652) from Ibn Mas’ûd.
14. Taba’bîbut-Tabdbîb (7/276) of Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalânî.
15. Related by Muslim(no.67) and Ahmad (2/377), from Abû Hurayrah radiallâhu ’anhu.
16. Related by Muslim (no.82), Abû Dâwûd (no.4679) and at-Tirmidhî (no.2621), from Jâbir ibn ’Abdullâh radiallâhu ’anhu.
17. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.1294) and Muslim (no.103), from Ibn Mas’ûd radiallâhu ’anhu.
18. Fathul-Bârî (3/164) of Ibn Hajar.
19. Itqidâ as-Sirâtul-Mustaqîm (l/204) of Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah.
20. Sahîh: Related by Ibn Mâjah (no.1584) and also Ibn Hibbân (no.737). Al-Bawsîrî authenticated it in Masâbibuz-Zajâjah(1/521).
21. Related by Ahmad (6/31), from ’Âishah radiallâhu ’anhâ.
22. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.4462) and Ibn Mâjah (nos.1629- 1630), from Anas radiallâhu ’anhu.
23. As az-Zarkashî mentions in Sharh Mukhtasarul-Kharqî (2/356).
24. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.1303) and Muslim (no.2315), from Anas and Asmâ bint Yazîd radiallâhu ’anhumâ.
25. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.1283) and Muslim (no.923).
26. Sahîh: Related by at-Tirmidhî (no.2398) and al-Hâkim in al-Mustadrak (1/340), from Anas radiallâhu ’anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albânî in as-Sahîhah (no.1220).
27. Sûrah al-Baqarah 2:155-157
28. Abridged from Majmû’ul-Fatâwâ (10/48) of Ibn Taymiyyah.
29. As-Sirâjul-Munîr (l/88) of al-’Azîzî.
30. Sûrah al-Baqarah 2:216
31. Hasan: Related by at-Tirmidhî (no.2398) and Ibn Majâh (no.4021), from Anas radiallâhu ’anhu. It was authenticated by al-Albânî in as-Sahîhah (no.146).
32. Sahîh: Related by Ahmad (5/427), from Mahmûd ibn Lubayd radiallâhu ’anhu. It was authenticated by al-Mundharî in at-Targhîb wat-Tarhîb (4/283), al-Haythamîin Majma’uz-Zawâ‘id (2/291) and Ibn Hajar in Fathul-Bârî (10/108).
33. Sahîh: Related by Ahmad (l/172), at-Tirmidhî (no.2398) and Ibn Mâjah (no.4023). It was authenticated by al-Albânî in as-Sahîhah (no.143).
34. Sûrah al-Bayyinah 98:8
35. Related by Ibn Abî Dunyâ in Kitâbur-Ridâ (no.94) and also al-Bayhaqî in Shu’Abûl-Îmân (no.205).
36. An-Nihâyah fî Gharîbil-Hadîth (2/350) of Ibn al-Athîr.
37. Madârijus-Sâlikîn (2/171,184) of Ibn al-Qayyim.
38. Da’îf Jiddan: Related by at-Tabarânî in al-Kabîr (22/320), Ibn Hibbân in al-Majrûhîn (1.324) and al-Khatîb in at-Talkbîs(39/2) all by way of Sa’îd ibn Ziyyâd. Al-Haythamî said in al-Majma’ (7/207): “In it is Sa’îd ibn Ziyyâd who is matrûk(abandoned).” And al-Hâfidh al-‘Irâqî said in Takbrîjul-Ihyâ (3/296): “Its isnâd is weak.” And al-Manâwî said: “Da’îf Jiddan (very weak)” as occurs in ad-Da’îfah (no.505).
39. Ibn al-Qayyim related this in Madârijus-Sâlikîn (2/171).
40. Majmû’ul-Fatâwâ (11/260) of Ibn Taymiyyah.

By ’Abdur-Rahmân ibn Hasan