By Abu Muslim Kamran Khan

Sabr wa Shukr, Patience and Gratitude – The two wings of iman. 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]

Allah (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 Allah (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 Allah 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 Allah that he was still alive and said “patience is most befitting” for him.

Patience is a quality of the prophets (alayhum salam). Allah (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. Allah (aza wajal) has told us we will be tested and He (aza wajal) has told us how to overcome the test.

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) 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 ayah, Allah (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 Allah and on top of the other great virtues is the fact that Allah (subhanahu wa taala) loves those who are patient.

Allah (aza wajal) says in Surah ale Imraan, verse 146: “…And Allah loves the patient.”

The other wing of iman is shukr, giving thanks to Allah. 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, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) 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 Allah for. Even if we feel our life has been nothing but calamity upon calamity, we should be thankful that Allah (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 Allah 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.

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'la) says repeatedly in Surah Rahman:”Then which of your Lord's favours will you deny?”

The reward for gratitude to Allah (aza wajal) is unlimited. The mercy of Allah (subhanahu wa taa'la) is so incredible that by being thankful for the favours he bestowed upon us, Allah (aza wajal) will give us even more favours. How cool is that?

Allah (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 Allah alone the way He should be worshipped according to the sunnah of the messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) is being thankful to Allah. Praising Allah night and day is also being thankful to Him . We are thankful to Allah 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.”

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says in Surah Baqarah, verse 172: “… and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship”

The importance of shukr to Allah is highlighted in the word with the opposite meaning: kufr. Kufr is to be ungrateful and kufr is also disbelief. Allah (aza wajal) does not require for us to be greatful to him neither is he in need for us to worship him. By worshipping Allah (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 Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says in Surah Zumar, verse 7: “If you reject (Allah), truly Allah 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 Allah, 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 Allah, 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 Allah that He bestows upon whomsoever He will, and Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

Allah (subhanahu wa taala) says in Surah Nahl, verse 18: “And if you would count the Favours of Allah, never could you be able to count them…”

5 Responses

  1. Farhan

    I am currently going through an issue that has required patience.

    Basically, a bee has been stinging me for 7 years (Bee-sting is my euphemism for what it actually is, I do not wish to mention and it is not important). At first, I would just get angry, angry at the situation, why can’t I fix it, ultimately angry at Allah. Then slowly I started to understand why this would occur, but the pain would blind my reasoning. Even though my mind knew what was right, my heart could not accept the Qadr of Allah. Then this last time, only a few weeks ago, the bee stung me for what is likely to be the last time. Though it really really really hurt, I held myself together enough to accept the Qadr. I suppose this would be me actually practicing patience?

    Patience isn’t easy, it was like holding onto a hot coal.

    But, then a new feeling came about. Not really good or bad, just very odd. When a problem faces you, one usually works towards changing it. But if you can do nothing about it, and you just have to accept it, there is a certain feeling of “I have been defeated” that accompanies it. And considering how much of a life-changing event this would have been and that I was building my life around it, I now feel like I have no purpose to life. That sounds very depressing, and it is, but I don’t mean that in a suicidal sense. I mean it in the sense that there is nothing that I’m building up to, working towards. Its just work, home, masjid, sleep, eat, a few one-off projects here and there, repeat. But, where does it end? To what goal? What am I building up to?

    People who have not experienced this probably will not understand. It was a consciousness raising experience. One of my wise friends explained it as wiping away all previous intentions, you must be keenly aware of your intentions now and can’t be ghaafil. Maybe. Its like a fish that crawls out of the water to see that there is a world beyond his own. Its hard to breathe, but he can’t just go back to the seas and forget about it.

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    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      dear brother Farhan:
      May Allah reward for your patience and increase you in gratitude and replace your grief and hardship with contentment and ease..ameen..

      alhamdulillah for everything, at times of difficulty, we also need to remember those who are in much more difficult situations with much harder trials and tribulations, it can help keep us more patient.

      i can never forget reading about imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal on his deathbed in the agonies of the last minutes of his life (rahimahullah), his son, Abdullah was asking him, “matta raha ya abati” when will the rest and ease come? (after seeing his father suffer his life from imprisonment, torture, persecution, poverty, etc.), do you know how he responded at that difficult time? Imam Ahmad (ra) said, the relaxation and ease will come after our first steps into Jannah.. we pin our major hopes and aspirations in the eternal bliss which Allah ta`ala has prepared for us….

      wallahu t`ala a`laam..

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  2. Sidiq

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    Nicely constructed post. I enjoyed reading it and I hope to continue reading your contributions. It seems as if you learnt early on in your post that a massive block of text would put a strain on the reader barakallah feek :).

    Patience and iman are linked, it only lives off true iman, may Allah make us all of those who are Mu’mineen and grant us the status of Muqarrabeen in the hereafter. An interesting statement by Ya’qub: never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve

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    • Abu Muslim

      walaykum salaam. barakAllahu feek for your kind comments. You’re right, true imaan will only produce patience. Ameen to your dua.

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  3. Anon

    Asa,

    Excellent article mA.

    What happens if you fail a test Allah gave you? Your true colours were shown – panic, despair, hopelessness, lack of faith, awful thoughts. You read all these ayat about how tests distinguish believers, how trials reveal true devotion to Allah etc. So what happens if you fail the test – and everybody around you saw that you failed it when you were the strong one full of iman. What happens?

    Ws.

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