Sabr (patience) enjoys a top privilege in Islam. The Qur’an mentions it about 80-90 times in different styles. In Kitabul Ilm of Sahih Bukhari, Ibn Masood (may Allah be pleased with hijm) is quoted as saying, “As Sabru Nisful Emaan”, while yaqeen (certainty) is complete emaan. Scholars explain this term “as-Sabru nisful emaan” by saying that half of Islamic commandments are based on Sabr! If a believer observes patience, he can implement 50 percent of Shariah, and if he is impatient, he may fail to implement a large number of commandments.
“Our Lord! Pour on us Sabr and make our feet firm (in the battle) and help us against those who reject the faith.”
How can you be firm without Sabr?
In the battle, you loose your men, you face injury, you fear being killed, yet, you continue being there because it is Sabr, which makes you firm. That is why in the aforementioned dua, Allah is teaching us to ask Him to “Pour” sabr upon us.
The magicians who accepted Islam after their magic was over powered by Moosa’s miracle requested Allah to “Pour out Sabr” when death was close upon them. Those who desire the help of Allah are also told in this verse and other verses of Surah Bakarah to seek the help of Allah through Sabr and Salah.
Sabr is a source of strength:
It gives immense psychological strength. Recall the situation when our Prophetand Abu Bakr were in the cave and the enemies were so close to them that they just had to look at their own toes to spot the two men! Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) feared but Rasullulah reassured him. Verse number 40 in Surah Toubah was revealed to commemorae the confidence of the Prophet in Allah . This was an immense display of Sabr.
Thousands of years ago, another Prophet was rewarded for his sabr when he stood on the bank of a sea with no way to escape when his enemies were within his sight. It was here when Prophet Moosa was questioned by his men who were afraid, but Moosa showed immense patience and rejected their fear by saying,
Who is Allah With?
The Qur’an says in multiple places that Allah is with those who show patience. Moosa showed patience and Prophet Mohammed showed patience, so Allah justified their confidence in Him and helped them because He is with those who are patient.
The Qur’an testifies with the example of Bani Israel’s victory that sabr is one of the main qualities that turns an entire nation from a weak society to a power packed community. This is what Moosa said to his people,
“Pray for help from Allah and bear with patience, for, the earth belongs to Allah to give heritage to such of His servants as He pleases.” (Surah al-Ar’af 7:128)
“It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you inheritors in the earth…”(Surah al-Ar’af 7:129)
Even though the Bani Israel were rebellious and sinful, they had people who showed extreme patience and that is why Allah appointed leaders from amongst them, giving them guidance till they persevered with sabr and continued to have faith. 1 Allah gave them political leadership and religious leadership as well. Out of the 25 Prophets mentioned by name in the Qur’an, a large number of them were from Bani Israel. Prophets like Dawood and Suleman were Kings as well. The Bani Israel turned into a super power of their time when Prophet Dawood routed the Palestinians and King Suleman was feared by many rulers of his time. Sabr is a quality that transforms not only an individual but an entire community into a strong nation.
How Long Can We Forebear? The Sabr Stamina…
Islam is the only religion or a way of life that structures a positive thinking even during hard times. It presents examples of people who went through harder times than we can imagine. When the Prophetreturned from the battle of Khandaq, it was a tiring day but before he could rest, Jibrael came with an unsheathed sword and said “Over to Banu Kuraiza.” The Prophet picked up his sword and announced the battle of Banu Kuraiz, there was no resting period. There were challenges to be faced, one after the other.
“O You who have believed ! Be patient and have patience…”
The advice to be patient is accompanied by the advice to continue having patience.
The Qur’an directs the time limit of sabr in Surah al Baqarah, verse 214, where Allah says:
“Do you guess that you will be entering paradise without passing through the way those before you passed through? They were rattled by hardships, poverty, adversity till such an extent that even the Messenger and those with him cried out “Mata Nasrullah”? When is the Help of Allah arriving?”
The same verse assures, “Indeed the help of Allah is near….” so seek strength through patience and know that your reward lies with Allah!
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- Surah as-Sajdah 32:24 ↩