Patience and Gratitude
Suhaib Ashraf Bhat
Allah swt has made patience like a horse that never gets tired, an army that can never be defeated and a strong fortress that can never be breached. Patience and victory are twin brothers, for victory comes with patience, relief comes with distress and ease comes with hardship. Patience is of more help to the one who has it than men, as it helps without any need for equipment or numbers and its relationship to victory is like that of the head to the body. The degree of difficulty in abstaining from some things depends on the strength of one’s motive and one’s ability to do the action in question. Whoever has no motive to kill, or steal, or drink alcohol, or whatever, and at the same time in not able to do it, will find it very easy to exercise patience in abstaining from those things. Whoever has a strong motive to commit a wrong action and has the means to do so, will face great difficulty in exercising enough patience to abstain. There it is very difficult for a ruler to refrain from committing injustice and oppression , and it is difficult for a young man to refrain from fornication, and it is difficult for a rich man to refrain from pursuing physical desires and pleasures.
The Prophet Salalahualihiwasalam is reported to have said: “Allah swt will commend a young man who never behaved in an ignorant way” (Ahmad). In another hadith, he referred to those who will be shaded in the shade of Allah swt’s throne for their perfect patience – such as the patience of an absolute ruler in being just in all situations, regardless of his own feelings, and the patience of a young man in worshipping and obeying Allah swt and suppressing his own whims and desires, and the patience of the man who gives sadaqah in keeping his sadaqah secret, and the patience of a man who resists the temptation of a woman of beauty and high status, and the patience of two men who meet for the sake of Allah swt and part for the sake of Allah swt, in keeping their relationship for the sake of Allah swt, and the patience of one who weeps out of fear of Allah swt, in keeping that secret and not telling others about it. All of these are among the most difficult types of patience. Therefore the punishment of an old man who commits adultery, a king who tells lies and a poor man who is arrogant is more severe, because it is easy for them to keep away from such wrong actions, and does not require much in the way of patience. Their attitude indicates that they are wilfully rebelling against Allah swt.
In the Qur’aan, Allah swt has guaranteed those who are patient that He will give them reward without measure. He tells them that He is with them by guiding and supporting them and granting them a clear victory. Allah swt says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Surely, Allah swt is with those who are As‑Saabiroon (the patient)”
Allah swt has made leadership in terms of religion conditional upon patience and certain faith, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And We made from among them (Children of Israel), leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, when they were patient and used to believe with certainty in Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.)”
Allah swt tells us that patience is better for those who are patient, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As‑Saabiroon (the patient)”
Allah swt tells us if we are patient and pious, the plot of the enemy cannot do any harm, even if he is powerful, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“But if you remain patient and become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious), not the least harm will their cunning do to you. Surely, Allah swt surrounds all that they do”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:120]
(gratitude, gratefulness, thankfulness) is defined with respect to ni’mah (blessing, bounty). It is a feeling in a beneficiary regarding a benefactor who has bestowed some good, fortune, or favour upon him. The essence of gratitude is the realisation and acknowledgement that ‘I owe this bounty to so-and-so, and it was because of him that I received this benefit.’ The Qur’an says:
“Whatever blessing you have is from Allah (16:53).”
For this reason, it instructs us to be grateful to Him for His bounties
Allah swt tells us: “Then remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject Me” (al-Baqarah 2:152). And He has told us that only those who are grateful to Him truly worship Him: “and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship” (al-Baqarah 2:172)Allah has mentioned gratitude alongside imaan, and has made it clear that He gains nothing from punishing His people if they give thanks to Him and believe in Him: “What can Allah gain by your punishment, if you are grateful and you believe?.” (an-Nisâ’ 4:147)In other words: if you carry out the duties for which you were created, namely gratitude and Imaan, why should Allah punish you? Allah has divided people into two categories, the people of gratitude (shukr) and the people of ingratitude (kufr). The thing most disliked by Him is kufr and the people of kufr, the thing most liked by Him is gratitude and the people of gratitude: “We showed him (i.e. man) the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).”(al-Insan 76:3)
In the battle between reason/religion and whims/desires, we have the following “weapons” at our disposal:1. We should remember the glory and greatness of Allah swt, and feel that He is too great to be sinned against as He is all-seeing and all-hearing. Whoever thinks of the greatness of Allah swt will never be at ease in committing wrong actions.2. If we claim to love Allah swt, then we should not disobey Him, because of that love. A person should be obedient to the One he claims to love. Those who refrain from committing wrong action out of their love for Allah swt are of the highest status in His sight, as are those who worship Him out of love for Him. There is great difference between the one who obeys Allah swt and abstains from wrong action out of love, and the one who does so out of fear of punishment.3. We should think of the blessings and favours of Allah swt, as a decent and noble person would never act against the one who has been treating him kindly. Only base and ignoble people do such a thing. If we think of the blessings and favours of Allah swt, we will realise that we should not respond by doing against His commands and committing wrong action.4. We should think of the wrath and punishment of Allah swt, as He will be angry with the person who persists in committing wrong action. Nothing can stand in the way of the consequences of His anger, least of all this weak slave of His.5. We should think of what the person who commits wrong action has to lose, in this world and the next. It should be sufficient to think of the loss of Imaan (faith), of which the smallest amount is worth much more than everything in this world. How can anyone be willing to lose his Imaan in return for some brief moment of pleasure the consequences of which might last forever? In a sahih hadith, the Prophet Salalahualihiwasalam said: “No adulterer is a believer at the time of when he is committing adultery.” Commenting on this hadith, one of the Sahabah said: “His Imaan will be dragged out of him until it goes over his head like a cloud. If he repents, then his Imaan will return to him.”
The reward of gratitude is unlimited: “If you are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you…” (Ibrahim 14:7) In contrast, other rewards and divine favours are conditional upon His will, for example, relief from poverty: “but if you fear poverty, soon will Allah swt enrich you, if He wills.” (at-Tawbah 9:28)
Patience and gratitude are the fruits and implications of this same belief that differ due to a believer’s circumstances. For this reason – according to several hadiths – the reward of one who is grateful and benevolent in health, wealth, and comfort is the same as the reward of one who is patient in affliction, poverty, and fasting.
The writer can be emailed at: Suhaibbhatt85@gmail.com