What would you advise me to do in order to show patience in the face of illnesses and misfortunes?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

"Worship consists in fact of two kinds, positive and negative. What is meant by the positive is obvious. As for negative worship, this is when one afflicted with misfortune or sickness perceives his own weakness and helplessness, and turning to his Compassionate Lord, seeks refuge in Him, meditates upon Him, petitions Him, and thus offers a pure form of worship that no hypocrisy can penetrate. If he endures patiently, thinks of the reward attendant on misfortune and offers thanks, then each hour that he passes will count as a whole day spent in worship. His brief life becomes very long." (Lem'alar, İkinci Lem'a)

One of the duties of worship that the Messenger of Allah performed perfectly is patience. He passed the test of patience successfully through migration, wars and so many misfortunes and problems.

Prayer is the ascension (Miraj) of the believer. Misfortunes and diseases are another ladder of ascension. A Muslim rises spiritually as he obeys every command of Allah and avoids every prohibition of His. Another form of this ascension takes place through showing patience in the face of misfortunes and illnesses. The misfortunes that hit man teach him that he is a weak slave and that he has no power to prevent any incidents from traffic accidents to floods and storms. Illnesses repeat the same thing in the inner world of man. A person who understands very well that he cannot control the incidents like external influences in his own body puts his trust in his Lord and expects the cure from Him after taking the necessary precautions for treatment. This is a great progress for the believer.

People who undergo different tests with such different manifestations throughout life will move to the land of eternity after this short world life. They will attain the origin of these shadows and they will find and taste the blessings of knowledge and love in the perfect form there.

Patience is a faculty of the spirit; it is a nice trait. A person can put up with unbearable and hard things only through patience. Perseverance, which is shown in order to defend and maintain a right, is possible only through patience. It is necessary to be patient and to get used to patience in order to fulfill Allah’s orders, to resist the illegitimate desires of the soul that are not regarded as appropriate by the mind and religion, to put up with the misfortunes that hit man and that cause great pain and agony, and to overcome them.

The mother of all virtues and the secret to be successful and attain perfection is this nice trait. The cause of all kinds of disgrace is to be impatient or not to be able to show patience as it is necessary. Patience is superior to all virtues. 

"Allah is with those who patiently persevere." (al-Baqara, 2/153, 155).

Patience leads to salvation and success. Patience is hard but its fruit is nice. The Prophet (pbuh) mentions the virtue of patience as follows:

"Patience is a light."
"He who shows patience becomes successful."
"Patience is the key to success."
"Patience is a treasure from the treasures of Paradise."
"It is good for you to show patience in the face of the things that cause you trouble."

With the following hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) emphasizes the importance of patience shown as soon as a misfortunes hits man:

"Verily, the patience is at the first stroke of a calamity." (Bukhari, Janaiz, 32)

To show patience does not mean to show consent to condemnation, helplessness, abasement, to put up with unjust transgressions and attacks that will harm human honor and to keep silent in the face of them. For, it is not permissible to show patience in the face of illegitimate things. It is necessary to feel pain and to struggle against them. It is not patience but weakness and laziness for man to put up with the evil deeds that he can overcome with his power and will and to act laxly related to his needs that he himself can meet. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prayed as follows:

"O Lord! I take refuge in you from weakness and laziness." (Bukhari, Jihad, 25)

There are some hardships that are beyond a person’s will and power. When those kinds of misfortunes hit man, it is one of the traits of a Muslim to show patience by showing consent to divine will without getting excited and complaining. As a matter of fact, God Almighty orders nice patience (sabr jamil) in the Quran. (Yusuf, 12/18). The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Sabr jamil is the patience in which there is no complaint." In fact, it is of no use and unnecessary to show patience when one can do something and to show impatience when one cannot do anything.

Patience, which is mentioned in more than seventy verses in the Quran, means to adapt to the obligatory cases that are contrary to human nature and to resist hardships. The purpose of patience is not to feel uneasy in the face of unexpected events, not to panic and to endure. Allah states that he will reward those who show patience endlessly and praises them.

Believers are usually hit by the oppression and evil deeds of Allah’s enemies just because they believe; they are tortured and they have to fight against the enemies. In such cases, patience is the source of power and guard of belief. When Pharaoh wanted to torture those who believed in Hz. Musa, they prayed as follows:

"O Lord! Pour out on us patience and constancy, and take our souls unto thee as Muslims (who bow to thy will)." (al-A'raf, 7/126)

It is known how the Prophet (pbuh) and the first Muslims showed patience and endured when they were tortured and oppressed.

The aspects of the deeds of worship that are regarded as hard by the soul will be relieved by patience. Thus, we will perform five daily prayers easily and perform fasting on hot summer days. The other deeds of worship and ethical deeds are like that too. The following verses indicate this issue:

"But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs." (ash-Shura, 42/43);

"And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle)." (Muhammad, 47/31).

Man often obeys his soul; he finds it hard to obey Allah’s orders and to avoid His prohibitions; he tries to satisfy the bad desires of his soul that it likes; he avoids good deeds and virtues. For instance, he finds it easier to spend his money for his pleasures and entertainment than giving it to a poor person. Playing football is more interesting for a boy than studying. Walking around is preferred to working and earning money.  

In such cases, it is a nice deed for man to choose the good and useful one and to try to do it with patience and perseverance though he finds it hard.

Besides, man can experience welfare or poverty in his life; he can become ill after being healthy; he can be hit by misfortunes like flood, earthquake and fire; the greatest support for him at those times is patience. Doing something contrary can lead him to disobedience and ingratitude to Allah. God Almighty states the following regarding the issue:

"Behold, he that is righteous and patient,- never will Allah suffer the reward to be lost, of those who do right." (Yusuf, 12/90).

Prophets are the greatest models of patience. We should ask Allah to include us among His slaves who "are firmly patient and constant,- grateful and appreciative". (Ibrahim, 14/5)

Patience leads to salvation. Patience is the source of belief and worship, wisdom and knowledge, in short, all virtues. A patient person is a good person. Allah states that those have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy will attain salvation. (al-Asr, 103/1-3)

The Prophet (pbuh) states the following:

"Whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and more encompassing than patience." (Tirmidhi, Birr, 76)

"It is very useful for you to show patience in the face of something that you do not like." (Ahmed b. Hanbal, Musnad, I/307)

God Almighty also states the following:

"Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere." (al-Baqara, 2/ 155)

We learn from the verse above and similar ones that Allah tests man through various misfortunes and that those who patiently persevere pass this test.

All hardships are tackled and all obstacles are overcome by patience.

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) states the following:

"Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, he thanks Allah and thus it is good for him, and if he is harmed, he shows patience and thus it is good for him." (Riyadus-Salihin, I/54)

Patience, which we believe to be definitely very good for us, is a common trait of prophets. All of the prophets underwent various hardships, were tortured, deported and imprisoned by kings but they always showed patience.

There are many verses mentioning the patience of prophets in the Quran. The life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is full of examples of patience. Therefore, what every Muslim needs to do is to ask patience from Allah and to be patient by thinking that salvation is in patience.

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