THE QUR'ANIC DEFINITION OF PATIENCE
O you who believe, seek help in steadfastness and prayer.
Allah is with the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 153)
Allah, Who has defined the best way of life for people and the most appropriate
moral conduct for their nature, announces in "We
send down in the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers"
(Surat al-Isra', 82) that patience is a mercy for the faithful.
People can gain Allah's approval and love by fully applying the Qur'an's
truths in their lives. Allah requires the faithful to adhere to the Qur'an's
morality as long as they are alive, without showing any weakness. To carry
out this task successfully, the faithful must acquire the supreme characteristic
of patience, which is the result of faith. Those who learn the secret
of patience can demonstrate the required steadfastness in every act and
Attaining this secret is extremely easy. Allah manifests His attribute
"Al-Sabur" (The Patient) on those who believe in Him and helps perfect
the determination in their hearts.
The real source of this lifelong true patience is the believers' faith
in Allah. They know that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge,
that everything occurs only with His permission, and that He hides thousands
of blessings and benefits behind all events. In addition, they do not
forget that Allah is the Friend, Guardian, and Helper of the faithful.
Thus, although it may not seem so at first glance, all events are arranged
to somehow benefit the believers. For this reason, patience is not a moral
characteristic that makes life difficult for the faithful; rather, it
is a form of worship that they accept wholeheartedly and with joy. Here
is one point of difference between true patience and the view of patience
as commonly understood in society.
Many people do not know the true meaning of patience, how truly patient
people are required to behave, or how important this is in Allah's sight.
They regard patience more as holding up one's head when faced with difficulties
and problems, either overcoming or enduring them. Thus, they consider
patience as the ability to withstand something, up to a certain point,
and that an occasional loss of patience is quite normal. Moreover, according
to this non-Qur'anic understanding, it is utterly futile to show patience
in a matter from which no concrete benefit can be derived. And so when
faced with such a situation, they give way to frustration and believe
that being patient is useless.
The Qur'anic concept of true patience is quite different from this understanding
of endurance. In the first place, people experience patience as the instruction
of Allah and so can neither exhaust nor lose it. They carry out this form
of worship joyfully and fervently and expect no concrete benefit in exchange
for it, because they are patient solely to earn Allah's approval. What
matters for them is the knowledge that they will earn His approval with
their superior morality. For them, such a reward is enough.
Furthermore, the patience recommended by the Qur'an is not a moral characteristic
employed only in times of hardship. True patience is shown in fully applying
all of the Qur'an's teachings, in being scrupulous in guarding against
all behavior that Allah warns against, and in being determined to live
according to the Qur'an's morality as long as one is alive and with no
thought of deviating from it, regardless of circumstances.
In "But, in your Lord's sight, right actions that
are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope" (Surat
al-Kahf, 46), Allah points out that proper behavior carried on
with determination is regarded with approval and invites the faithful
to be patient under all circumstances.