By Abu Muslim Kamran Khan
Sabr wa Shukr, Patience and Gratitude – The two wings of īmān. The first wing being patience. With great patience comes great reward. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) said: “…The greatest quality a believer can be given is patience.” [Muslim]
Allāh (subhanahu wa taala) 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. It helps without any need for equipment or numbers and its relationship to victory is like that of the head to the body.
Patience is a gift bestowed upon someone by Allāh (aza wajal). All the prophets of the past (alayhum salam) had patience of the highest degree. Nuh (alayhi salam) was patient for nine hundred and fifty years! He was constantly calling the people to Allāh but they would not listen, instead they put their hands over their ears and mocked him. Musa (alayhi salam) was patient when giving da‘wah to Firawn, but he would not listen, instead he continued to persecute the people and deny the signs of his Lord. Ibrahim (alayhi salam) was patient when he was urging his father to stop worshipping the idols yet he would not listen, instead Ibrahim (alayhi salam) was thrown into the fire. Muhammed (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) was patient when he warned his people from the fire and called them to Islam yet they denied him and accused him of being a madman.
And who can forget the story of Yusuf (alayhi salam), the story of patience. Yusuf (alayhi salam) was patient throughout his life. From the time he had his dream, to the time he was thrown into prison, even when he had acquired a position of high authority and power, he still had patience to forgive his brothers. His father, Yaqub (alayhi salam) was a shining example of patience; when he heard that his son Yusuf was killed, he hade hope in Allāh that he was still alive and said “patience is most befitting” for him.
Patience is a quality of the prophets (alayhum salam). Allāh (aza wajal) blessed them with patience as He knew they would require it for their mission. In the same manner, patience is something we all require in life. We will all be tested in various ways, be it through death of a loved one or even a loss of wealth, however, the key to passing these tests is through patience. Allāh (aza wajal) has told us we will be tested and He (aza wajal) has told us how to overcome the test.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says in Surah Baqarah, verse 155: “Be sure that 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…”
If we know that whatever befalls us was never meant to miss us and we are patient throughout, then this will allow us to deal with the test. It is important during these times not to lose hope, but rather to exercise sabr or patience.
Not only will it help us to overcome the matter but with great patience, comes great reward.
In the verses following the previous āyah, Allāh (aza wajal) has given three glad tidings to those who are patient; they are blessed, they receive His mercy and they are the guided ones.
“..They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones”
The greatest encouragement for us to be patient, on top of the many rewards mentioned by Allāh and on top of the other great virtues is the fact that Allāh (subhanahu wa taala) loves those who are patient.
Allāh (aza wajal) says in Surah ale Imraan, verse 146: “…And Allāh loves the patient.”
The other wing of īmān is shukr, giving thanks to Allāh. Whenever someone performs an act of kindness towards you or gives you something, we show them thanks. Even when we ourselves, do an act of goodness to someone it gives contentment to know it is appreciated by them. The one who is most deserving of praise and thanks is the lord of the worlds, Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla).
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says in Surah Baqarah, verse 152: “..Then remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject Me.”
There is no human or creature in this land who has nothing to thank Allāh for. Even if we feel our life has been nothing but calamity upon calamity, we should be thankful that Allāh (aza wajal) has given us eyesight to see and ears to hear with. Furthermore, even if we have no eyesight or hearing, we should thank Allāh for our limbs and other senses and for giving us life, for giving us Islam, giving us a chance to worship the One that deserves to be worshipped alone.
Allāh (subhanahu wa ta'la) says repeatedly in Surah Rahman:”Then which of your Lord's favours will you deny?”
The reward for gratitude to Allāh (aza wajal) is unlimited. The mercy of Allāh (subhanahu wa taa'la) is so incredible that by being thankful for the favours he bestowed upon us, Allāh (aza wajal) will give us even more favours. How cool is that?
Allāh (aza wajal) says in Surah Ibrahim, verse 7:
“ …If you are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you…”
Now the question that arises is, how can we be thankful to Him? Worshipping Allāh alone the way He should be worshipped according to the sunnah of the messenger of Allāh (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) is being thankful to Allāh. Praising Allāh night and day is also being thankful to Him . We are thankful to Allāh in both actions and words. Our prayer five times a day, our journey of Hajj, our limbs moving for His sake alone is our gratitude to Him.
Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) said in his book, Madaarij al-Saalikeen (2/246): ”His gratitude should fulfil all the necessary conditions, which are gratitude of the heart, gratitude of the tongue and gratitude of the physical faculties.
Gratitude may be in the heart, in submission and humility; on the tongue, in praise and acknowledgement; and in the physical faculties, by means of obedience and submission.”
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says in Surah Baqarah, verse 172: “… and be grateful to Allāh, if it is Him you worship”
The importance of shukr to Allāh is highlighted in the word with the opposite meaning: kufr. Kufr is to be ungrateful and kufr is also disbelief. Allāh (aza wajal) does not require for us to be greatful to him neither is he in need for us to worship him. By worshipping Allāh (aza wajal) and being grateful to him, we are only doing ourselves a favour. Having shukr only increases our blessings and having kufr only makes us at loss.
And Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says in Surah Zumar, verse 7: “If you reject (Allāh), truly Allāh has no need of you; but He likes not ingratitude from His slaves: if you are grateful, He is pleased with you…”
Shaykh Salih al Munnajid said:
In order to be grateful to your Lord for the blessings that He has bestowed upon you, you must acknowledge in your heart that the giver of these blessings and the bestower is Allāh, may He be exalted. So you venerate Him, attribute it to Him, and you acknowledge that with your tongue. So you give thanks to Him after waking from sleep for having been given new life, and after eating and drinking for having provided you with them and bestowed them upon you, and so on with every blessing that you see in your life.”
You give thanks with your physical faculties by not letting them see or hear any sin or evil, such as singing or gossip; you do not walk with your feet to haram places; you do not use your hands to commit evil, or writing haram contracts, or making or doing anything haram. Giving thanks with the physical faculties for blessings also includes using them to obey Allāh, by reading Qur'an and books of knowledge, listening to beneficial and useful things, and so on with all the faculties which you should use in various kinds of obedience and worship.
Remember that gratitude for blessings is a blessing which needs to be given thanks for, so that one will continue to enjoy the blessings of his Lord, thanking his Lord for those blessings and praising Him for helping him to be among those who give thanks.
The best life is attained by the blessed through patience, and they rise to the highest degrees through their gratitude. So they fly on the wings of patience and gratitude to gardens of delight (i.e., Paradise). That is the bounty of Allāh that He bestows upon whomsoever He will, and Allāh is the Owner of Great Bounty.
Allāh (subhanahu wa taala) says in Surah Nahl, verse 18: “And if you would count the Favours of Allāh, never could you be able to count them…”