Chapter 13. Patience Is Half Of Iman
Îmân is in two halves: half is patience (sabr) and half is gratitude (shukr). Therefore Allâh has mentioned patience and gratitude alongside one another: “Verily in this are signs for all who constantly persevere and give thanks” (Ibrâhîm 14:5; Luqmân 31:31; Sabâ’ 34:19; ash-Shurâ 42:33).
The reasons why one half of îmân is patience and the other half is gratitude are as follows:
- Îmân is a term which covers words, deeds and intentions, all of which are based on one of two things, action or abstinence. Action refers to performing a deed in accordance with the instructions of Allâh, which is the reality of gratitude. Abstinence, as in refraining from wrong action, requires patience. The whole of religion is embodied in these two things: carrying out that which Allâh has commanded, and refraining from that which Allâh has prohibited.
- Îmân is based on two pillars, yaqîn (conviction) and patience, which are referred to in the following ayah: “And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs” (as-Sajdah 32:34). It is through faith that we know the reality of Allâh’s commands and prohibitions, or reward and punishment, and it is through patience that we carry out His instructions and abstain from that which He has prohibited. A person can never come to believe in Allâh’s commands and prohibitions, and in reward and punishment, and it is through patience that we carry out His instructions and abstain from that which He has prohibited, and in reward and punishment, except through faith, and that is truly from Allâh. And we can never carry out Allâh’s instructions and abstain from that which He has prohibited except through patience. Therefore patience is half of îmân, and the other half is gratitude.
- Man has two powers, the power of doing and the power of abstaining, which control all his behaviour. So a person will do what he likes and abstain from what he dislikes. The whole of religion is doing or abstaining, carrying out the instructions of Allâh or abstaining from that which He has prohibited, neither of which can be accomplished without patience.
- The whole of religion is hope and fear, and the true believer is the one who is both hopeful and fearful. Allâh said: “…They used to call on Us with love and reverence, and humble themselves before Us” (al-Anbiyâ’ 21:90). The Prophet (SAAS) used to pray: “O Allâh, I have surrendered my soul to You, and turned my face to You. My (own) affair I commit to Allâh and I seek Your protection, in hope of You and in fear of You” (al-Bukhârî). So the believer is the one who is both hopeful and fearful, but hope and fear can only be based on the foundation of patience: fear should make the believer patient, and his hope should lead to gratitude.
- Any action done by man is either beneficial or harmful to him in this world and the next, or else it is beneficial to him in the world and harmful to him in the other. The best course for man is to do that which is beneficial to him in the Hereafter, and abstain from that which is harmful to him in the Hereafter. This is the reality of îmân: to do what is good for him, and that is gratitude; and to abstain from that which harms him, and that is patience.
- Man is always is a situation where he has to carry out an instruction of Allâh, or avoid something which Allâh has prohibited, or accept something that Allâh has decreed. In all cases, he has to face the situation with patience and gratitude. Carrying out Allâh’s instructions is gratitude, and abstaining from prohibited things and being content with the decree of Allâh constitutes patience.
- Man is constantly being pulled in two opposing directions: should he respond to the lure of this world of desires and pleasures, or should he answer the call of Allâh and the hereafter, with the eternal Paradise that Allâh has prepared for His friend (walî)? Going against the call of whims and desires is patience, and responding to the call of Allâh and the Hereafter is gratitude.
- Religion is based on two principles: determination and perseverance (patience), which are referred to in the du‘â of the Prophet (SAAS): “O Allâh, I ask You for perseverance in all my affairs, and I ask You for the determination to stay on the straight and narrow path.” 9. Religion is based on truth (haqq) and patience, which is referred to in the âyah: “…and they (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy” (al-‘Asr 103:3). Man is required to work according to the truth, both by himself and others, which is the reality of gratitude, but he cannot do that without patience, therefore patience is half of îmân. And Allâh knows best.