Importance of Patience in Sufism
What does Patience mean?
Literal meaning of patience is endurance, tolerance and self-control whereas in terminology of Islam it means to stop your innerself (nafs) from doing things that are forbidden in sharia. Allah says in Quran:
اِنَّ الۡاِنۡسَانَ خُلِقَ ہَلُوۡعًا (70:19)
Meaning: Surely, man has been created impatient and greedy. (70:19)
In aforementioned verse, Allah is expressing the nature of a common man who is impatient since birth. Wasif Ali Wasif said:
“Humans have been instructed to have patience because this world does not run according to our will. We need patience in case we do not get something that we desire or we have to face unfavourable circumstances and people.” (Dil Darya Samandar)
Patience in Quran
More than 90 times Allah has mentioned about patience in Quran, some of them are following:
- So be steadfast. Surely, Allah is with those who are steadfast. (8:46)
- And patiently endure every suffering that touches you. Verily, these are matters of great courage and high resolve. (31:17)
- O believers! Be steadfast and, in perseverance (and tenacity), toil (even harder than the enemy). (3:200)
- And those who remain steadfast, We shall certainly pay their recompense for their righteous deeds which they used to do. (16:96)
- So the steadfast will certainly be given their reward without measure. (39:10)
- And We will most certainly test you somewhat by means of fear and hunger and certain loss of wealth and lives and fruits. And, (O Beloved,) give glad tidings to those who observe patience. (They are the ones) who, when afflicted with some distress, say: ‘Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.’ (3:155,156)
It is evident in aforementioned verse that when Allah says ‘We will most certainly test you’ then it means this world is a place of trial where every human is certainly tested. It is not a place of enjoyment and pleasures where there will be no trials.
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has declared patience half of faith because of its importance in religion.
Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra) relates that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “On the day of judgement, when people who had suffered affliction will be given their reward (because they adopted patience), at that time people (who lived their lives) with ease and comfort will wish that their skin had been cut to pieces with scissors when they were in the world.”
Abdullah ibn Abbas narrates that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) once went to few of his Companions and asked: “Are you believers (momin)?” Everyone kept quiet. Umar ibn Khattab (ra) said: “O Prophet of Allah! In comforts of life we are thankful and we are patient during the times of affliction and in misfortune we submit to the will of Allah.” Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said, “I swear by Allah! You are believers (momin).”
Hazrat Suhayb (ra) narrates that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said: “The case of believers is different from others. Their every matter and situation has good hidden in it for them. However if they suffer any kind of pain and affliction, it is a Divine blessing for them.
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) once said to his Companions about present era that: “There will be days after you when being patient will be same as holding burning coal in fist. In such times, a person who adopts patience will be given reward equal to fifty people doing the same good deed.”
A man is tested according to his faith
It is narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas relates a tradition that he asked Prophet Mohammad (pbuh): “O Prophet of Allah! Who goes through the most arduous trials? He replied, ‘Prophets and then those who are close to Allah according to their ranks. A man is tested in accordance with the level he is stationed at in religion (meaning the state of his faith). If he is strong in his faith and religion then the trials are arduous. If he is weak in his faith and religion then his trials will be easy. They constantly go through trials (and are purified due to their patience upon afflictions) such that they walk through earth without a burden of a single sin’.”
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) also said:
- Patience is light.
- Patience is my cloak.
- Patience is one of the treasures of paradise.
- Patience is the key to success
Once Prophet Mohammad said to a woman, “The real patience is (to accept and submit to a calamity) right from the beginning.” It means that real patience is observed when one endures any kind of affliction or misfortune in the beginning. Saying I am patient after lamenting is not patience.
Quotes of Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra)
- Patience is such a ride which never stumbles.
- Being patient upon misfortunes is the greatest blessing of Allah.
- One who adopts patience during the times of afflictions, stays happy as if he experienced no calamity.
- Patience is when a person endures afflictions and controls his anger.
- Patience is a friend and helper in difficult times.
- Relation of patience and true faith is that of a head to a body. A body is of no use without a head.
Quotes of Saints
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says:
“Patience is a source of every virtue and safety in this world and in hereafter. Due to patience, a believer (momin) elevates to the level of submission to Divine will.” (Futuh al-Ghaib – Makala 30)
“The worldly life is like a tree of aloe of which the fruit is bitter but consequences are sweet. No man can acquire sweetness without going through bitterness of life. It means without adopting patience upon hardships of life it is impossible to attain its blessings. However, one who is patient upon trials of life, gains more blessings of the world.” (Futuh al-Ghaib – Makala 45)
“The one who observed patience, mastered it and became contented (at Divine will). Allah says, ‘People who observe patience will receive their due reward’.” (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani – Chapter-3)
“Only believer can acquire both Faqr and patience at a time. Dearest people of Allah are tested through afflictions and misfortunes, so they adopt patience. Despite suffering from trials and tribulations they are inspired to do good deeds. Then Allah sends more trials for them and they still observe patience.” (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani – Chapter-2)
“If one adopts no patience then poverty and hardships are torment for him. If one does observe patience than there is miracles and glory for him. A believer, who adopts patience, enjoys prayers and proximity of Allah and does not want to deviate from it.” (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani – Chapter-3)
Sultan Bahoo (ra) says about patience:
“The seeker should consider himself as the creation of Allah whose destiny, sustenance and status are controlled by Him and He is ever watching him. Also he should submit to what Allah orders and be happy with it. However he should know that the will of Allah is different from the will of creation. Sometimes his fate favours him and sometimes it does not. Sometimes he faces hardships and at times he enjoys pleasures. Man should understand that everything is from Allah. He should heartily accept whatever comes from Allah, show gratitude and stay happy. So that he attains closeness to Allah and on the day of judgment he rises amongst those who are enduring. As Allah says in sura al-Baqarah, ‘Certainly Allah is (always) with those who observe patience’.” (Talmeez-ur-Rehman)
“The men of invocation observe patience and are thankful to Allah. Patience and gratitude is that a seeker of Allah should be patient towards the world and abstain from its love. He should be thankful to God for granting him Faqr, which is the heritage of Prophets.” (Ain-ul-Faqr)
“Be Patient, except patience there is no way out. What else can you do except surrendering before the will of Allah.” (Kaleed-u-Tauheed Kalan)
Once, Shaikh Bashir ibn Mansur (ra) offered a long prayer. He noticed that an individual is very impressed by it. After the prayer he said to the individual, “Do not be surprised on my extended prayer. Satan offered devotion for years but you are aware of his end.”
Junayd al-Baghdadi (ra) says:
“Patience without complaining about afflictions is a sign of devotion and it is a best devotion.”
Dhul-Nun al-Misri (ra) says:
“Patience is to refrain from the things that Allah has forbidden. It is to endure every sorrow and to not worry during scarcity of livelihood.”
Imam ibn Hibban (ra) says about patience:
“Patience is root cause of every good deed. It is a base and safety of mind and wisdom. It is a seed of goodness and its outcome.”
Haris bin Asad Mahasbi (ra) says:
“There is an essence of everything. The essence of man is his intellect while the essence of intellect is patience. Patience in fact means to fight against the innerself.” (Awarif-ul-Ma’Arif)
Sahl ibn Abdullah (ra) says:
“Patience is to wait for Allah to end all sufferings.” (Awarif-ul-Ma’Arif)
Patience of Hazrat Ayyub (as)
Hazrat Ayyub (as) was righteous, humble, forbearing and a man of great patience. Allah blessed him with great wealth and many children. He performed devotions regularly. He gave food to indigents and helped them in every possible way. Satan became jealous of his way of life. So he requested in court of Allah that Hazrat Ayyub (as) is thankful beyond words because he has every blessing, great wealth and many children. If you will take every blessing from him then he will never worship you like he does now and he will never be grateful. So Allah took every blessing from him. All his children and cattle died and his wives left him. Aside from that, he contracted a vile skin disease called leprosy due to which his body started to emit unpleasant odour. Maggots also appeared in his body.
His clan left him in a deserted area far from his tribe. Regardless of so many hardships and misfortunes, his patience and gratitude never lessened. He remained absorbed in remembrance of Allah. According to traditions, time period of his sickness was 12 to 18 years long. In this long period of time, he lost his wealth, blessings and every comfort of life however he still observed patience. Ultimately, Allah cured his disease and again granted him all blessings. Allah says in Quran about patience of Hazrat Ayyub (as):
“Surely, We found him steadfast. How excellent a servant was (Ayyub [Job])! Surely, he was oft-returning (to Us) in repentance.” (38:44)
Patience of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)
Prophet Mohammad’s sacred life is also a great example of patience for us. The time he declared his Prophethood, people of Makkah who used to call him honest and trustworthy began calling him magician and crazy. Furthermore, people of Makkah tormented Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) physically and mentally in every way possible. Sometimes they lay thorns on his way and sometimes they threw garbage on him. Once they put intestine of camel on his sacred back while he was offering a prayer. Moreover, Holy Prophet (pbuh) faced complete boycott and spend 3 years besieged in Shib Abi Talib. It was a source of many afflictions for him however he responded to every hardship with patience and perseverance. As Allah said to him:
“And observe patience with what they (disbelievers) utter and turn aside from them in a fine manner.” (73:10)
Within same year his beloved wife and uncle died. Moreover, all his sons died at a very young age, still he remained patient. When Holy Prophet (pbuh) went to Ta’if for preaching, impudent youngsters threw stones at him. However, he never cursed but prayed for them. After Migration, he faced opposition from infidels and Jews in Madina. He also endured conspiracies of infidel Abdullah ibn Sa’d with patience. Therefore, Holy Prophet’s life is a great example of utmost patience for us.
Types of Patience
According to scholars there are three kinds of patience.
- Patience upon calamity
- Patience upon the hardships during worship
- Patience upon abstaining innerself (nafs) from committing sins
Patience upon calamity:
This kind includes all trials which come due to the will of Allah. Such as afflictions, misfortunes, poverty, sickness and death of someone who is dear to us etc. Humans do not have the power to change such circumstances. Therefore, in such conditions patience is to not become restless and complain. And impatience is to whine, go into despair and become uneasy. However, in present societies people sob, shout, yell and make others’ life difficult in such situations. Most of the people even develop psychological disorders and it takes them years to recover.
Patience upon the hardships during worships:
Timings of sunrise and sun fall and intensity of weather changes constantly. Condition of people also changes. During all these changes, enduring everything to carry out command of Allah, falls into the category of patience. For example, in summer fasting hours during Ramadan are longer as compared to winter. Therefore, thirst is also intense due to which people do not to fast the whole month. Likewise in winters people do not offer devotions because they have to perform ablution with cold water. On annual pilgrimage while wearing Ihram, strict restrictions and difficult situations are faced while performing the steps of Hajj because of which people avoid performing hajj. This is all because of not adopting patience. However people with courage and patience obey all commands of Allah during tough conditions just as they do under normal conditions.
Patience upon abstaining innerself (nafs) from committing sins:
Allah has made nafs a source of sensual desires. Hastiness and tendency to cross limits that Allah has set is in human nature. Human has two paths to fulfil its desires, halal and haram. The path of haram is full of sins. However this path is easy and short for the one who is engulfed in desires of nafs. And the path of halal is difficult and long for him. People with patience take the difficult and right path and after patience they achieve whatever they desire. However impatient people take the haram path due to which auspiciousness and peace disappears from their life. As in the beginning of this path there is no damage but after some time human gets involve in countless sins. In present time, adultery, usury and deception have become common due to impatience.
Path of Faqr and Patience
Importance of patience gets more relevant in the path of Faqr because it is a way of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). In this path one does not have to fulfil its desires even in halal manner but instead this path requires renouncing all the desires of innerself (nafs). Even one has to defy one’s ownself. Impatience is due to the rebellious nature of innerself (nafs) and one can get rid of it only by the contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. When Allah bestows His blessing upon a seeker of Allah, he finds the perfect spiritual guide of Sarwari Qadri order – the man of Divine Essence.
Then he contemplates Ism-e-Allah Zaat under the supervision of perfect spiritual guide due to which his inward starts to change. He also becomes a part of mission of his spiritual guide which is to spread the true teachings of Islam – Faqr. His family and friends oppose him when he spends in the way of Allah and spends most of his time on duties that his spiritual guide assigns him. In such case a seeker of Allah should adopt patience in following matters:
- Patience upon being steadfast in renouncing sensual desires
- Patience upon desires of nafs
- Patience upon greed and covetousness
- Patience upon ignorance and bad intentions of people
- Patience upon change of temperament and tricks of people
Why is patience so important?
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najid-ur-Rehman says:
“When a person adopts the path of Faqr then firstly he is mocked and afterwards frightened and intimidated. A word of advice is that these two hurdles are not as easy as described rather difficult to cross because such things are committed by one’s loved ones which completely shatters one.”
If a seeker does not adopt patience then he becomes afraid and turns away from this path. And he also deviates from the contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. Therefore Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen also says:
“In the ardent love of Allah, a person should keep moving towards the destination bravely and should not feel afraid or nervous by the difficulties encountered.”
In Quran Allah has mentioned these qualities of virtuous people that came before us:
“And how many Prophets have there been who fought in the cause of Allah! A large number of devotees of Allah (Awliya) also joined them. They did not lose heart due to hardships which afflicted them in the way of Allah and neither showed weakness nor gave in. And Allah loves those who remain steadfast.” (3:146)
Wasif Ali Wasif says about the station of Proximity:
“The station on which the seeker of world becomes weary, Believer is patient on that station. On the same station, People closest to Allah show gratitude. This station is known as the station of union with Allah. These people cross all the stations of patience and reach the station of surrender to the Divine will and then to the station of gratitude.” (Dil Darya Samandar)
Path of Faqr has so many levels that one has to cross to reach the final destination.
Types of Seeker of Allah
Sultan Bahoo (ra) has mentioned all spiritual stages of Faqr in his books. He also said that perfect spiritual guide grants the seeker of Allah these spiritual stages and ranks in the first meeting. Moreover, it is also important to mention those seekers who are anxious to cross all stages but do not acquire qualities that Sultan Bahoo (ra) has mentioned of a patient seeker of Allah. For example sincerity, ardent love, perseverance, loyalty and sacrifice etc. If such qualities are present in a seeker of Allah then perfect spiritual guide of Sarwari Qadri order helps him to accomplish all stages faster.
However there are many seekers who are not able to cross these stages faster because their desire to seek Allah is not perfect. They need some time for exoteric and esoteric training. There are also many Imperfect and pseudo seekers who turn away from this path due to hastiness. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says:
“In Faqr (Sufism), every disciple has different experiences according to their intensions, faith and desire to seek Allah as well as because of the level of certainty in this path.”
Therefore, these seekers should always move forward with patience and perseverance. Neither one should be anxious to achieve all stages faster nor should feel afraid or disappointment and deviate from the path of Faqr. Life is full of trials, where everyone whether he is a seeker of paradise or Allah, will be tested through all kinds of afflictions and misfortune. Seeker, who shows more patience on different stages, travels more easily on the path of Faqr. The quality of submission to the will of Allah will become stronger only because of adopting patience. Life of Prophets, Companions of Prophet Mohammad and Fakirs is perfect example for all of us.
May Allah grant us the ability to understand the true meaning of patience and help us to travel the path of Faqr with perseverance and protect us from misfortunes and afflictions. (Ameen)