As-Sabr (patience) by Sheikh 'Ata bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah
“And seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with As-Sabirin. And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, "They are dead.'' Nay, they are living, but you do not sense (that). And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin Those who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'' They are those on whom are the Salawat (blessings) from their Lord, and mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.” [al-baqarah: 153-157]
Allah the Glorified explains in these verses the following:
1. After teaching us that Allah the Glorified sent from us messengers, reciting to us the signs of Allah, purifying us from idolatry, teaching us all that is incumbent upon us from beliefs and rules for us to live according to and for us to remember Allah and for us to invite to Islam.
After that, Allah the Glorified ordered us to seek help with sabr (patience and steadfastness) and prayer.
The explicit meaning (mantooq) in these verses indicates that the da’wah to Islam and practicing the Islamic Shari’ah is a heavy matter and contains hardship. So it is upon the Muslim to remain resolutely steadfast when faced with what comes to him during that. He carries during that two provisions that Allah the Glorified has explained: As-Sabr and Prayer.
2. Then Allah the Glorified mentioned types of affliction that afflict people whilst living according to Islam and carrying the da’wah to it. Allah also mentioned what is prepared for the sabireen because of that; the steadfast on the truth; those who, when met with a trial, say “inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon” ("Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.''). The following are types of affliction mentioned by Allah and what is prepared of goodness for those who are worthy:
a) Being killed in the way of Allah. This means that a person is killed while fighting the enemy of Allah to raise His word high, going forward, not deserting, steadfast in the theatre of battle. Such a person is living with Allah, although the rest of people don’t sense it, because he is absent; yet he is alive living a pure good life. “Whoever fights to raise Allah’s word high, advancing not deserting, he is in the way of Allah” (narrated by an-Nisaa’I, Ahmad and ad-Darami). “The souls of the martyrs are inside green birds and move about in Paradise wherever they wish.” (Narrated by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, ad-Darami and ibn Majah).
b) Afflicted with something of fear, hunger and reduction in wealth, their selves and fruits. This is affliction of various types, so whichever of them afflicts a believer, then this is a trial: Fear, lack of security, poverty, hunger, reduction of wealth by losing it, reduction in their selves through illness or dying, or diminishing of fruits due to disease.
Allah mentioned (بِشَيْءٍ) ‘with something’, i.e. however was that affliction, small or big, then it is a trial and sabr (patience and steadfastness) in it has a great reward. “The Prophet (saw) would say ‘inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon’ when the lamp died down, so it was said to him about that, so he (saw) said ‘whatever harms a believer is an affliction, and for him is a reward’“ [ad-Dar al-Manthoor 2/380, Tafseer al-Baydawi 1/125]
In the agreed upon hadith “There is no Muslim is pricked by a thorn or what is worse, except Allah raises him up a level and puts aside a mistake”
c) Allah the Glorified explained that when the believer shows sabr during a trial and says ‘inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon’, then there is for him a great reward “Salawat (blessings) from their Lord, and mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.” How good is this great reward!! Allah’s pleasure, His mercy and guidance. Not only that, but for them is much good in this life as well.
Muslim reported that Umm Salmah said “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) saying ‘There is no Muslim afflicted by an affliction who says ‘lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon, allahumma ajjirni fi musibati wakhlaf li khairan minha’, except that Allah most High rewards him for his affliction and follows it with something better than it.’ She said ‘When Abu Salmah passed away I said as the Messenger of Allah (saw) had ordered me, so Allah most High sent a better successor to me, the Messenger of Allah (saw).” (al-Bukhari, at-Tirmidhi, Muslim and Abu Dawud)
3. Allah has ordered us to seek help with patience and prayer in carrying Islam, the da’awah and being firm on the truth. It has been authenticated that the Messenger (saw), if he was something was important to him, would retreat to the prayer. It is the consolation/
Allah mentioned sabr before prayer, exposing the importance of sabr. Prayer is a relationship between the worshipper and his Lord. Sabr is a relationship between the worshipper and his Lord, and with himself and with the people. It is the measure of stability at the time of strain, calamities and difficulties.
It is necessary for us to pause here to reflect upon as-Sabr, to remove the confusion existing with some of the Muslims around its meaning and reality.
Some people suppose that if a man withdraws in himself, becoming introverted and separate from the people, leaving the munkar and its people, seeing the sanctities violated, Allah’s limits unemployed, jihad cancelled, and he does not take a stand towards that, rather he is distant from it, leaving forbidding the munkar, some people suppose that such a man is a patient man (saabir).
Or as-Sabr is understood to be defending oneself against harm and avoiding objection that gets the enemies of Allah to pursue him, so he does not dare to say a word of truth or do an action that pleases Allah, rather he remains silent, crouching in a corner, saying of himself that he is patient (saabir).
This is not the sabr that Allah has prepared for its people Jannaat an-Naeem (gardens of luxury)
﴿إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّـبِرُونَ أَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ﴾
“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” [az-Zumar: 10].
Rather this is actual disability that the Messenger (saw) used to seek refuge from: “I seek refuge in Allah from the disability, laziness, cowardliness, stinginess, distress, sadness, being overcome with debt and dominance of men.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Truly, as-Sabr is to say the truth and to do what is true, bearing the resultant harm in the way of Allah, without diverting, weakening or yielding.
As-Sabr is what Allah ranked made the consequence of taqwa with his saying
﴿إِنَّهُ مَنْ يَتَّقِ وَيَصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ﴾
“He who has Taqwa, and is patient, then surely, Allah makes not the reward of the gooddoers to be lost.” [Yousuf:90]
As-Sabr is what The Most Glorified associated with the mujahideen
﴿وَكَأَيِّنْ مِنْ نَبِيٍّ قَاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِبِّيُّونَ كَثِيرٌ فَمَا وَهَنُوا لِمَا أَصَابَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَمَا ضَعُفُوا وَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِينَ﴾
“And many a Prophet fought and along with him large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allâh's Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allâh loves As-Sâbirin.” [Aal-‘Imraan:14
It is the steadfastness at the affliction and the judgement; it leads to firmness, not to trembling; it leads to holding onto the Book, not to abandoning it with the excuse of the oppressiveness of the wounded. It is the steadfastness which increases one’s closeness to his Lord, not distance from Him
﴿فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ﴾
“But he cried through the darkness : Lâ ilâha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You) Glorified are You. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.” [al-Anbia: 87]
It is the steadfastness that sharpens one’s zeal, and brings closer the path to Paradise, the sabr of Bilal, Khubab and the family of Yasir; “Have Sabr, O family of Yasir, your appointment is with Jannah!”
The sabr of Khubaib and Zayd; “By Allah, it is not preferable to me that Muhammad is now in the place he is and is harmed by a thorn and for me to be sitting with my family.” [said in reply to his enemies while he was being threatened with torture asking ‘would you not prefer that Muhammad was in your place now?’]
The sabr of those who hold back the hand of the oppressed without fearing the blame of the blamer “No, by Allah, you will hold back the hand of the oppressor, steer him to the truth and restrict him to the truth, or Allah will beat your heats together and blame you as He blamed the children of Israeel.”
The sabr of the blessed marked family (i.e. having signs of their ablution and prayer on the last day), the companions of the Prophet of Allah (saw) the honest and truthful…
The sabr of the people of the written boycott (i.e. Bani Hashim), the boycotted of the mountain passes, the ones who migrated to Abyssinia and those persecuted for their saying ‘our Lord is Allah.’
The sabr of the Muhajirin and the Ansar in their jihad against the people of idolatry, the Persians and the Romans.
The sabr of the captives, ‘Abdullah bin Abi Hadhafah’s troop.
The sabr of the true, believing mujahideen.
The sabr for you to forbid the munkar and enjoin the ma’roof, not weakening in front of harm in the way of Allah.
The sabr for you to be a soldier in the army of the Muslims advancing to fight the enemies of Allah.
The sabr for you to be the substantiation of The Most High’s statement:
﴿لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ
“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you and from those who ascribe partners to Allâh; but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqûn then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs.” [Aal-‘Imaran: 186]
And His statement:
“And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard and As-Sabirûn, and We shall test your facts” [Muhammad: 31]
And His statement:
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin Those who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'' They are those on whom are the Salawat (blessings) from their Lord, and mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones” [al-Baqara:153-
An extract published in a previous edition of Al-Waie magazine taken from the book: ‘Tayseer fi Usooli-tafseer’