WHEN THE FAITHFUL SHOW PATIENCE
Except for those who are steadfast and do right actions.
They will receive forgiveness and a large reward. (Surah Hud, 11)
So far, we have described the Qur'anic understanding of patience and
have highlighted how it differs from the understanding held by those who
are far from religion. In this section, we will explain what believers
are patient with by comparing their behavior with the impatience of the
However, before going into detail on this matter, we should be aware
of the fact that Allah tests His servants by sending troubles to them
at a time of His choosing. This may be a momentary or a long-term test,
but one thing is certain: In the afterlife, regardless of what they faced
while in this world, the finest life is the one lived by those who are
faithful to Allah. Allah announces this in the following verse:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer,
We will give them a good life and recompense them according to the best
of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 97)
The faithful are patient when Allah tests them and, as a result, receive
His help in their effort to overcome these problems. He eases the believers'
tasks and helps them, as follows:
Allah will certainly help those who help Him-Allah is
All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat al-Hajj, 40)
In the coming pages, we will analyze the principal circumstances during
which the faithful, with Allah's support, exhibit patience.
Following their consciences
Allah created each person with a conscience to let him or her know what
is right and wrong in all situations. This conscience calls upon people
to think in the manner that pleases Allah and behave in the manner that
will earn His approval. Every person also has a lower self that urges
them to follow their whims and desires. However, believers always display
a sure determination to ignore their lower selves by listening only to
their consciences, even if their lower self calls them to something that
appears more attractive and more appealing.
Throughout their lives, the faithful make this judgment call and then
select the most correct attitude. In daily life, this can mean ignoring
the lower self's urging to behave selfishly by following the conscience's
advice to be self-sacrificing. In the case of finishing an important task
or when faced with many things at the same time, it may require a person
to assist somebody who needs even more help at that specific time. Or
it may require the faithful to share something that they need with someone
who needs it even more, or even to give it to that person. Those who obey
their conscience exhibits good behavior without hesitation. In other words,
they do whatever they can to help others who need assistance. The Qur'an
gives an example of this morality, as follows:
Those who were already settled in the abode and in faith,
before they came, love those who emigrated to them. They do not find in
their hearts any need for what they have been given, and prefer them [the
emigrants] to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. Those people
who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves are successful.
(Surat al-Hashr, 9)
This behavior of the faithful, as depicted in the Qur'an, is the result
of the extreme patience they display while following their consciences.
Ignoring Satan's wiles
When Allah created Prophet Adam (as), He required all angels to prostrate
to him. However, Iblis rebelled against Allah's order and refused to do
Faced with Satan's rebellion, Allah cast him out of Paradise and declared
him cursed until the end of time. But Satan demanded that Allah allow
him to tempt people to loose themselves in the allures of this world until
the Day of Judgment, when they would be resurrected. Allah granted this,
but also declared that Satan would have no power over His faithful servants:
He [Satan] said: "My Lord, because You misled me, I will
make things on Earth seem good to them, and I will mislead them all, every
one of them, except those of Your servants among them who are sincere."
He [Allah] said: "This is a Straight Path to Me. You have no authority
over any of My servants, except for the misguided who follow you." (Surat
As can be seen, after Adam (as) was created, Satan began working to tempt
people to stray from Allah's path. Thus, the faithful are responsible
for showing patience by their continual awareness of the traps that Satan
sets for them and their refusal to yield to his whispering.
Satan approaches all people with a variety of illusions
and deceits. People may encounter his plots quite often in their daily
lives, for Satan meets them in unexpected places. He provides them with
false hopes and fears, all of which are designed to lead people into heedlessness,
idleness, and postponing good works. For example, those who are trying
to help the poor for Allah's approval may face such suggestions as: "If
you spend what you have, later on you will have problems." Or, Satan may
try to make people forget a task that will benefit Islam and the Muslims.
However, they must not forget that "Satan's scheming is always feeble."
(Surat an-Nisa', 76).
Satan cannot influence those who display patience in maintaining their
faith in our Lord, because Allah has declared that Satan can deceive and
divert only those who rebel against Allah, as he himself did. In "If
an evil impulse from Satan provokes you, seek refuge in Allah. He is All-Hearing,
All-Seeing" (Surat al-A'raf, 200), Allah calls on the faithful
to take refuge in Him from Satan's wiles and deceptions.
The faithful who follow this advice spend their lives fighting Satan's
games and tricks, for they understand that just as Satan's whispering
is a full-time job designed to lead people to Hell, it is their full-time
job to resist his whispering. If they feel any hesitation or slackness
about doing something that will bring good, they take refuge in Allah
and concentrate on the task with great enthusiasm. Such an understanding
is mentioned in the following verse:
As for those who believe, when they are bothered by visitors
from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly. (Surat al-A'raf,
Heeding Allah's advice, "O you who believe, seek
help in steadfastness and prayer. Allah is with the steadfast" (Surat
al-Baqara, 153), in order to guard themselves against Satan, they
ask for our Lord's help and set their faces against Satan's deceptions,
Say: "My Lord, I seek refuge with You from the
goadings of the devils, and I seek refuge with You, my Lord, from their
presence." (Surat al-Mu'minun, 97-98)
Unceasing adherence to a steadfast morality
Allah has placed upon everybody the responsibility for heeding the Qur'an
and living out its superior morality. Thus, on the Day of Judgment people
will be asked if they have followed the Qur'an's morality or not. Everyone
who has ever lived, and who will ever live, has been advised of this truth
and invited to conform to the morality that pleases Allah. But the only
people who heed this call are those who have faith.
In those communities that are far from religion, some people may live
out certain aspects of the Qur'an's morality, such as being self-sacrificing,
kindhearted, merciful, just, and benevolent. But no matter how moral they
claim to be, there will be moments when they display impatience. For example,
a person may be late for an important business meeting for a variety of
reasons, and then get caught in a traffic jam while trying to reach the
meeting place. He might not be able to call his office in time to let
them know that he will be late, and he might have missed the meeting by
the time he finally arrives. Thus he might respond angrily or just glare
and remain silent if someone else asks him a question at that very time.
Even though the person in question might consider himself helpful and
understanding, in such circumstances he shows that this is not the case
all the time by saying that "his patience has run out."
People who do not live the Qur'an's morality are often plunged into unnecessary
anger when confronted with certain events. For example, a secretary may
forget to send a very important message, a child may break the most valuable
object in the house, a wife may have an accident with the car that her
husband has been making payments on for years, or a relative may visit
at an inconvenient time, and so on. These are common occurrences, and
those who do not display the Qur'an's morality might slip into rather
unpleasant behavior. The reason for such behavior is their inability to
show patience in living by the values that Allah prescribed.
Only those who possess the superior morality portrayed in the Qur'an
can always display true patience. Their most important characteristic
is the unchanging nature of their behavior. For example, one might have
a very strong temper, but upon learning that Allah refers to believers
as "those who control their rage and pardon other
people" (Surah Al 'Imran, 134), he or she exhibits forgiving behavior
even when faced with an event that normally might cause them to become
angry. Whatever may happen, believers continue to speak pleasantly, remain
tolerant, control their anger, and show other fine moral characteristics
taught by the Qur'an.
In short, what makes the believers' character superior
is their consistency and patience at all times, both of which enable them
to live by their high morality. The faithful try to display consistency
as long as they are alive not only in pardoning other people but also
in displaying self-sacrifice, humility, compassion, kindheartedness, tolerance,
justice, love, and respect, and by exercising their free will, because
Allah tells the faithful to be consistent in their worship: "He is Lord
of the heavens and Earth and everything in between them, so worship Him
and persevere in His worship" (Surah Maryam, 65).
Another command of Allah is to answer evil with good. The Qur'an tells
the faithful to distance themselves from evil as best they can by remaining
patient, as follows:
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel
the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and
someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. None will obtain it but
those who are truly steadfast. None will obtain it but those who have
great good fortune. (Surah Fussilat, 34-35)
As a result of this patience and determination shown by the faithful,
Allah gives them the finest reward for what they have done, and allows
them to enter Paradise. He gives this news in the following verse:
What is with you runs out, but what is with Allah
goes on forever. Those who were steadfast will be recompensed according
to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 96)
Fearing nothing but Allah
People who have not grasped Allah's power and greatness are vulnerable
to innumerable fears, among them the fear of other people, the dark, or
certain numbers or colors, believing that they have an independent power
of their own.
Meanwhile, the faithful know that only Allah has power and that nobody
can harm or help anybody else without His permission. They are aware of
the fact that no people or creatures can have power that is independent
of Allah, and that everything owes its existence to Him. If they encounter
some harm, they believe wholeheartedly that only our Lord can remove it.
Allah tells the faithful to fear nothing but Him, as follows:
It was only Satan frightening you through his friends.
But do not fear them-fear Me, if you are believers. (Surah Al 'Imran,
Due to their firm belief and trust in Him, the faithful experience no
sadness or depression when confronted with frightening or intimidating
events. Oppression or limitations do not cause them to swerve in their
devotion to Him and their striving to earn His approval. The Qur'an explains
this attribute, as follows:
Those to whom people said: "The people have gathered
against you, so fear them." But that merely increased their faith, and
they said: "Allah is enough for us, and [He is] the Best of Guardians."
(Surah Al 'Imran, 173)
As this verse indicates, even if the faithful are faced with pressure,
they fear only Allah and show their patience by not abandoning their faith.
Allah has declared that He will test His servants with fear to separate
the true believers from those who have weak-or no-faith. In exchange for
this, He gives the following good news to those who remain patient in
We will test you with a certain amount of fear
and hunger and the loss of wealth, life, and fruits. But give good news
to the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 155)
When faced with property damage
Allah has decorated the life of this world with many beautiful things
and has created an environment from which people can derive pleasure.
They are required to use the blessings showered on them in the best possible
way, without becoming passionately attached to them. They realize that
whatever people acquire here will remain here, and that they will have
to account for their use of these blessings in our Lord's presence on
the Day of Judgment. Those who understand that everything is a gift from
Allah and show gratitude to Him will be rewarded, while those who forget
the Day of Judgment, and so try to seize these blessings for themselves
with greed, will suffer disappointment.
In the Qur'an, Allah lists some of the many blessings that He has granted
to people, as follows:
To mankind, the love of worldly appetites is painted
in glowing colors: women and children, heaped-up mounds of gold and silver,
horses with fine markings, and livestock and fertile farmland. All that
is merely the enjoyment of the life of this world. The best homecoming
is in the presence of Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran, 14)
The faithful use these blessings in the best possible way, but at no
time become addicted to them. They know that, as with everything else
in the world, possessions and goods are part of the environment created
to test them. Knowing that the blessings of this world are transient and
that the home of the real blessings, none of which will ever be lost,
is the afterlife, they have no worldly ambitions.
Since they feel neither ambition nor passion for worldly goods, they
show patience whether times are good or bad. When they lose their property
or it is damaged, they do not sink into sorrow or worry. If they obtain
a large amount of property by working for years and then lose it all in
a day, they know that Allah is testing their faith and patience. Therefore,
they do not become distraught if their houses, orchards, or gardens are
destroyed, or if their businesses end up going bankrupt. Despite all of
these trials, they live in the comfort provided by the knowledge that
Allah will ease their burdens, clear their way, conclude matters to their
benefit, and reward their patience with better things in the afterlife.
People who are passionately attached to this life cannot stand it when
their hard-earned property suffers any loss or damage, and so display
rebellious behavior. Forgetting that Allah is the true owner of all property
and that He can give more than He has taken away, if He so wills, they
cannot see any good in such an event and so cannot show any patience.
As Allah tells us in "We will test you loss of
wealth and life" (Surah Al 'Imran: 186), such tests reveal the
difference between the faithful who show patience for the sake of Allah
and those who pursue property and forget about the afterlife. The faithful
do not grieve when they lose their property, for their only intention
is to use everything they possess physically and spiritually to earn Allah's
approval. In other words, they have already devoted these possessions
to Allah. In return for their devotion, they receive the following reward:
Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their wealth in
return for the Garden . . .
. . . Rejoice, then, in the bargain you have made.
That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba, 111)
Facing hunger or poverty
In addition to testing people with fear, a loss of property or their
business, or illness and other things, Allah may also test them with poverty
However, it should be realized that Allah creates a different test for
every person. For this reason, not everyone will face all of these tests
in the same way and under the same conditions. In fact, Allah creates
the secret of the test by sending the same test to people in a wide variety
of forms and in unexpected ways. Those who have true faith and devotion
are prepared to face these difficulties in all of their forms by relying
on the power of their faith and their submission to Allah.
In such situations, the unbelievers' behavior is far from resignation.
They forget that only Allah gives the countless blessings that they encounter
in this world, and so they show Him no gratitude. In fact, if even one
blessing is removed, they rebel against Allah and show ingratitude. In
communities that are far from religion, one can find such examples on
a regular basis. Rich people who become poor lose many blessings that
Allah has bestowed upon them in the past. Ignoring the fact that their
houses, cars, clothes, foods, and drinks were Allah's gifts to them, they
believe that all such things belonged to them alone. Unable to learn the
intended lesson and ask Allah to grant new blessings, they do not put
their trust in Allah and thus turn a beneficial test against themselves.
On the other hand, those who are aware of these truths
and show steadfast patience, who remain pleased with our Lord when rich
or poor, hungry or fed, will be rewarded with Allah's mercy. Allah proclaims
the good news that those faithful people who are grateful to Him will
have their blessings increased: "And when your Lord announced: 'If you
are grateful, I will certainly give you increase. But if you are ungrateful,
My punishment is severe'" (Surah Ibrahim, 7).
The Qur'an also informs the faithful who are tested by hunger and poverty,
Or did you suppose that you would enter Paradise without
facing the same as those who came before you? Poverty and illness afflicted
them, and they were shaken to the point that the Messenger and those who
believed with him said: "When is Allah's help coming?" Be assured that
Allah's help is very near. (Surat al-Baqara, 214)
Allah tells us that these people were afflicted with poverty and illness
and sought refuge in His help. We must always remember that He gives the
good news that for those who are patient and meet such a test with good
behavior, whatever the circumstances, His help is very near at hand. We
know this because He promises that while testing the faithful, He will
ease their burden. This situation, as proclaimed in "For truly with hardship
comes ease" (Surat al-Inshirah, 5), ensures that the faithful are pleased
with what Allah has given, and that they will continue to show patience
even in their darkest hours.
In the following hadith, our Prophet (saas) advises believers to be patient
and trust Allah:
"Be mindful of Allah, [for] you will find Him before you. Get to know
Allah in prosperity, and He will know you in adversity. Know that what
has passed you by was not going to befall you, and that what has befallen
you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience,
relief with affliction, and ease with hardship." (Tirmidhi)
We can see some of the finest examples of such behavior among the Prophet's
(saas) Companions. In order to win Allah's approval, they remained patient
on His path despite thirst, poverty, and intolerable hunger, and continued
to struggle along with our Prophet (saas). Allah mentions the reward that
they would receive in exchange for their superior morality, which they
displayed by remaining patient in the face of exhaustion, as well as the
hunger and thirst they experienced in their sweltering desert surroundings,
It was not for people of Madina, and the desert Arabs
around them, to remain behind the Messenger of Allah or to prefer themselves
to him. That is because no thirst or weariness or hunger will afflict
them in the Way of Allah, nor will they take a single step to infuriate
the unbelievers, nor to secure any gain from the enemy, without a right
action being written down for them because of it. Allah does not let the
wage of the good-doers go to waste. (Surat at-Tawba, 120)
As we can see, Allah announces that the patience
displayed by the faithful who are being tested will be rewarded, and that
none of their good acts will be overlooked, on the Day of Judgment. He
also proclaims His mercy toward the faithful by describing them as those
"who [He] has preserved them from hunger and secured them from fear" (Surah
When struck with illness
In societies characterized by the lack of Qur'anic morality, it is considered
quite normal that people's behavior will change according to circumstances.
They will exhibit good behavior when they can meet all of their physical
and spiritual needs easily and ensure their own comfort, but will change
completely when faced with any problem that may endanger their comfort.
They cannot meet even a temporary affliction with patience. This becomes
very clear in the case of illness.
How people behave during times of illness, hunger, exhaustion,
and similar events are clear indications as to whether they do-or do not-possess
sound morality. Given this fact, difficult times are very valuable opportunities
for people to prove their faith in, devotion to, and trust in our Lord.
Allah states that among the conditions for true morality and true goodness
is showing correct behavior by being patient in times of trouble and sickness
(Surat al-Baqara, 177).
When faced with such a problem as illness, what enables
the faithful to behave steadfastly and with patience is their deep attachment
to and faith in Allah. Prophet Ibrahim (as) expressed this truth by saying
"and when I am ill, He heals me" (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 80).
Like Prophet Ibrahim (as), believers also know that Allah creates both
the illness and the cure, and so they are not seized with despair when
they fall ill. On the contrary, they are grateful to our Lord for those
years in which He allowed them to live in health. Understanding that a
healthy life is only one of Allah's many gifts to them, they continue
to behave gratefully even when they are ill.
They also continue to be extremely grateful and steadfast in cases of
accident and injury. They hope that after they enter Paradise, Allah will
re-create them in such a fine form that it cannot be compared with their
worldly bodies. This is their hoped-for reward for their steadfast patience
when confronted with various difficulties. For this reason they do not
forget that whatever they have suffered here will entitle them to a great
recompense in the afterlife.
Those who are precluded from having faith, due to their attachment to
the world, cannot show patience in the face of such events and so sink
into great hopelessness and grief. For example, those with crippled limbs
say that they would rather die than live with such a body; some even try
to commit suicide. Believing that this life is the only one that they
have, they think that living with certain defects and deficiencies makes
life meaningless. Even if they do not try to commit suicide, they develop
a very unpleasant personality and try to create problems for those around
them. Whether they accept their situation or not, there is no way that
they can avert such an event. If they put their trust in Allah, however,
they may hope that He will allow them to be reborn in Paradise with a
brand new body that is flawless, imperishable, and cannot be damaged.
But if they do not trust in Allah, their present life and their future
life in the Hereafter will be destroyed, for their ignorance will cause
them to rebel against Allah and be "rewarded" with Hell.
The behavior of those who live the Qur'an's morality is completely different.
When they are injured, lose an organ, or experience a similar disaster,
their behavior does not change. Knowing that they are being tested and
that the end result will be positive, they remain patient and do their
best to earn Allah's approval. Even if they can no longer make any physical
effort to realize this goal, they try to develop ideas that can benefit
people and remind them of the Hereafter.
Those who turn away from Allah when they become ill or when they are
injured are not aware of their great error, for only Allah can heal them
or rescue them from their illness. Doctors, medicines, and treatments
can be provided only with Allah's permission. Understanding this, the
faithful face their illness with patience and patiently ask Him for a
cure. They also make the best possible use of doctors, medicines, and
treatments, and always remember that these will be of benefit only if
Allah wills it.
The Qur'an gives the example of Prophet Ayyub (as), who always sought
refuge in Allah when faced with illness. Allah praises his morality, as
follows: "We found him steadfast. What an excellent
servant! He truly turned to his Lord" (Surah Sad, 44). His patience
and devotion to Allah are described, as follows:
And Ayyub, when he called out to his Lord, [said]: "Great
harm has afflicted me, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful."
We responded to him and removed from him the harm that was afflicting
him, restored his family to him and the same again with them, as a mercy
direct from Us and a Reminder to all worshippers. (Surat al-Anbiya', 83-84)
The superior morality shown by Prophet Ayyub (as) when he was faced with
this situation can be understood from his sincere prayer to Allah. When
he was in trouble and sick, he turned to Allah with steadfastness and
patience, knowing that only He can achieve anything and without forgetting
that he is subject to Allah's mercy and compassion.
As we can see in these and all other cases, Allah helps those who are
patient. One verse expresses this assistance, as follows:
And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast.
(Surat al-Anfal, 46)
When facing injustice
Those who do not follow the Qur'an's morality cannot exercise true justice,
because they do not consider that they will have to account for all of
their actions in the afterlife, and so feel no need to be scrupulous in
this matter. Since they follow their earthly desires rather than their
consciences, they make impulsive, instead of rational, decisions. When
they become angry, they immediately succumb to their anger and seek revenge.
When a situation threatens their advantages, they do not hesitate to behave
unjustly to protect their own interests. Such acts fill the newspapers
and the television newscasts. Someone attacks his boss when he is fired,
slanders somebody who has interfered with her business, spreads malicious
gossip about his fiancée who broke up with him, or responds to a person
who threatens her with even worse threats. We meet such people all the
time. They respond to a bad act or an injustice in the same manner and
violate the morality called for by the Qur'an. Indeed, sometimes people
may even try to kill those who have interfered with their interests.
The faithful may be subjected to the unjust behavior of such people as
part of their lifelong test. Unlike those given as examples above, they
do not respond to injustice with injustice or to wrongdoing with more
wrongdoing. But this does not mean that they stand by idly and do nothing
to fight such injustice. However, rather than making rash decisions and
jumping to conclusions, they act at all times in a well-balanced manner
that comes from their trust in Allah.
Their patience and steadfastness in such cases springs from their awareness
that Allah controls everything and possesses eternal justice. Allah tells
us that on the Day of Judgment, everybody will have to account for what
they did while in this world, and that no injustice will be done to them.
Hence, those who committed injustice thoughtlessly or behaved in an unfair
manner will receive their "reward" on that day. Allah's eternal justice
is described, as follows:
We will set up the Just Balance on the Day of Rising,
and no one will be wronged in any way. Even if it is no more than the
weight of a grain of a mustard-seed, We will produce it. We are sufficient
as a Reckoner. (Surat al-Anbiya', 47)
There are only grounds against those who wrong people
and act as tyrants in the land without any right to do so. Such people
will have a painful punishment. (Surat ash-Shura, 42)
Have fear of a Day when you will be returned to Allah.
Then every self will be paid in full for what it earned. They will not
be wronged. (Surat al-Baqara, 281)
Thus the faithful who know this law of Allah are patient in the face
of injustice, thanks to the serenity that they have inside themselves.
In the following verse, Allah promises that in exchange for this patience,
He will bring help:
Allah will certainly help those who help Him-Allah is
All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat al-Hajj, 40)
The Qur'an relates that Prophet Yusuf (as) faced many injustices throughout
his life, but that because of his devotion and patience, Allah helped
him and gave him strength. All that happened to him from his childhood
onward was designed to test his patience and that of his father, Prophet
Ya`qub (as). First, Prophet Yusuf (as) was thrown into a well by his jealous
brothers. After this, a passing caravan found him and took him to Egypt,
were he was sold as a slave. The Qur'an speaks of Prophet Ya`qub's (as)
patience when confronted with this event, and of his request to Allah
for help against this plot:
They then produced his shirt with false blood on it.
He [Ya`qub] said: "It is merely that your lower selves have suggested
something to you which you did, but beauty lies in showing steadfastness.
Allah alone is my Help in the face of the event you describe." (Surah
In addition to this, Prophet Yusuf (as) was slandered by the wife of
his master, the Egyptian vizier. Even though his innocence was perfectly
clear, Prophet Yusuf (as) was thrown into prison, where he remained unjustly
imprisoned for many years. However, he never forgot that Allah was testing
him and so took refuge in Him, asked for His help, and exhibited outstanding
patience. He did not forget that Allah will eventually confound the schemes
of the unbelievers and that the faithful will be successful. In return
for his steadfast devotion and patience, Allah gave him blessings that
would please him both in this world and in the afterlife:
The king said: "Bring him to me straight away, so that
I may draw him very close to me." When he had spoken with him, he [the
king] declared: "Today you are trusted, established in our sight." He
[Yusuf] said: "Entrust the treasures of the land to me, for in truth I
am a knowing guardian." Thus We established Yusuf in the land so that
he could live in any place he pleased. We grant Our grace to anyone We
will, and do not allow to go to waste the wage of any people who do good.
But the wages of the Hereafter are the best for people who believe and
have done their duty. (Surah Yusuf, 54-57)
Years after these events, Allah brought Prophet Yusuf (as) face-to-face
with his treacherous brothers. He stated his faith in Allah, despite the
injustice that he had suffered, and the compassion that Allah showed him,
They asked: "Are you Yusuf?" He said: "I am indeed Yusuf,
and this here is my brother. Allah has acted graciously to us. As for
those who do their duty and are steadfast, Allah does not allow to go
to waste the wage of any people who do good." (Surah Yusuf, 90)
All of this material related in the Qur'an about Prophet Yusuf (as) is
an important example of the ultimate hidden causes that can be revealed
by patience, because the help that Allah gave to him is equally available
for those who are faithful. Allah thwarts the plots devised for the faithful
and responds to the injustices committed against them.
Encountering slander and hurtful words
Allah says that among the tests believers may face are troubling statements
made by the unbelievers, as follows:
You will hear many abusive words from those given the
Book before you, and from those who are unbelievers. But if you are steadfast
and guard against evil, that is the most resolute course to take. (Surah
Al 'Imran, 186)
All Prophets throughout history have met with slander and accusations
from the peoples to whom they were sent. In particular, the leaders of
these people who deny faith take the lead in such behavior and try to
incite the unbelievers against the believers. The most important reason
for this is that the true religion offers a moral code that may deprive
them of some worldly advantages that they obtained by unjust means. Since
they hold a superior position in their communities in terms of wealth,
rank, and status, they can easily exploit their people and convince them
that injustice and wrongdoing are reasonable.
The Qur'an's morality requires people to be honest, just, and helpful
toward the poor. Thus, because these leaders regard this characteristic
of the faith as a danger to their worldly interests, they attempt to blacken
the reputation of the faithful who attempt to spread religious morality
and thereby make them unsuccessful.
We can see one of the clearest examples of this in the behavior of Pharaoh,
who enslaved and abused the children of Israel. Allah sent Prophet Musa
(as) as a savior to these people, who were exploited and forced to work
in very arduous conditions. Pharaoh, observing that the true religion
instructed him to behave justly, mercifully, and with a good conscience
toward the children of Israel, tried to discredit Prophet Musa (as) and
his followers in the people's eyes. By doing this, he thought that nobody
would respect the religion preached by Prophet Musa (as) and that a danger
to his own interests would thereby be averted. He also hoped that such
slander would destroy the believers' morale and that they might abandon
their efforts to spread the faith. The Qur'an relates some of these slanders,
We sent Musa with Our Signs and clear authority to Pharaoh,
Haman, and Qarun. But they said: "A lying magician." (Surat al-Mu'min,
But he turned away with his forces, saying: "A magician
or a madman!" (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 39)
What Pharaoh and his circle said to Prophet Musa (as) was not unique
to them, for all Prophets and Messengers whom Allah sent to teach His
religion face the same accusations of lying and sorcery, being madmen
or poets, or seeking profit for themselves. The fact that the faithful
always have the same insulting words thrown at them, regardless of time
or place, is not coincidental. On the contrary, these are tests that Allah
created to observe their patience and steadfastness.
The Qur'an tells us of such situations, as follows:
Equally, no Messenger came to those before them without
their saying: "A magician or a madman!" (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 52)
Allah tells us that such insults were hurled at Prophet Muhammad (saas)
and his Companions:
When they are told: "Believe in the way that the people
believe," they exclaim: "What! Are we to believe in the way that fools
believe?" No indeed! They are the fools, but they do not know it. (Surat
The ruling circle of those of his people who did not
believe said: "We do not see you as anything but a human being like ourselves.
We do not see anyone following you but the lowest of us, unthinkingly.
We do not see you as superior to us. On the contrary, we consider you
to be liars." (Surah Hud, 27)
They say: "You, to whom the Reminder [the Qur'an] has
been sent down, are clearly mad." (Surat al-Hijr, 6)
They are surprised that a warner should come to them
from among themselves. The unbelievers say: "This is a lying magician."
(Surah Sad, 4)
When they were told, "There is no god but Allah," they
were arrogant. They said, "Are we to forsake our gods for a mad poet?"
(Surat as-Saffat, 35-36)
Faced with all of these slanders, Allah's Prophets and pious servants
behaved with outstanding patience, took refuge in Him, and asked for His
help. The Qur'an gives the following example of this:
Say: "Lord, judge with truth! Our Lord is the All-Merciful,
the One Whose help is sought in the face of what you describe." (Surat
In the Qur'an, Allah responds to the behavior of the unbelievers who
seek to abuse the Prophets, as follows:
Remind them then! For, by the blessing of your Lord,
you are neither a soothsayer nor a madman. (Surat at-Tur, 29)
Do not obey the unbelievers and hypocrites, and disregard
their abuse of you. Put your trust in Allah. Allah suffices as a Protector.
(Surat al-Ahzab, 48)
As stated above, Allah points out that He expects the faithful to live
by the Qur'an's morality regardless of what difficulties they may encounter,
and to keep advising and reminding people about the faith. Thus, the faithful
ignore all such behavior and move forward with devotion, patience, and
true knowledge. In fact, without knowing it, the unbelievers' behavior
only strengthens the believers' faith and increases the joy and excitement
they feel about their religion.
Proclaiming their religion
In the Qur'an, Allah informs us of the Prophets' life-long patience in
order to show us how to live a life of superior morality. This is a great
blessing for those who believe and seek the road to Him.
During their lives, the Prophets informed their household members and
relatives, as well as the people at large, about Allah's religion. While
inviting people to the true faith, every Prophet gained a number of enemies
and suffered from their verbal and physical assaults. But such assaults
could not weaken them; rather, they passed their whole lives showing patience
and determination in preaching Allah's religion.
One of these Messengers was Prophet Ibrahim (as). Throughout his life,
he was tested by various incidents that demanded patience. Despite all
of the unfavorable incidents that Allah set before him, he always displayed
devotion, submission, and great patience. For example, his people, who
worshipped stone idols, tried to burn him alive for inviting them to the
true faith and Allah, the One. The Qur'an recounts this test, as follows:
They said: "We heard a young man mentioning them. They
call him Ibrahim." They said: "Bring him before the people's eyes so they
can be witnesses." (Surat al-Anbiya', 60-61)
They said: "Build a pyre for him and fling him into the
blaze!" They tried to outwit him, but We made them the lowest. He said:
"I am going toward my Lord; He will be my guide." (Surat as-Saffat, 97-99)
As stated above, Prophet Ibrahim's (as) tribe wanted to cast him into
the fire. However, in exchange for his display of patience and devotion,
Allah protected him by ordering the fire to become "coolness and peace
for him," as follows:
We said: "Fire, be coolness and peace for Ibrahim!" They
desired to trap him, but We made them the losers. (Surat al-Anbiya', 69-70)
This incident is a help to Allah's servants who are patient and steadfast
for Him, and it is one of the finest examples of what great blessings
our Lord can grant to Muslims in return for their patience.
Prophet Ibrahim's (as) life story contains many other examples of patience
and devotion, for he continued to announce Allah's existence and invite
people to embrace the true faith until the end of his life. Even though
no member of his tribe responded to his call, Prophet Ibrahim (as) never
abandoned his mission and thereby showed great patience. He obeyed Allah's
instructions in this matter and, while showing great effort and determination,
continued to summon people to the faith. We can see his sincerity in the
Remember when he said to his father: "Father, why do
you worship that which can neither hear nor see and is of no use to you
at all? Father, knowledge that never reached you has come to me, so follow
me and I will guide you to the right path. Father, do not worship Satan.
Satan was disobedient to the All-Merciful. Father, I am afraid that a
punishment from the All-Merciful will afflict you, and turn you into a
comrade of Satan." He said: "Do you forsake my gods, Ibrahim? If you do
not stop, I will stone you. Keep away from me for a good long time." (Surah
Another Prophet who made a patient and determined effort to explain Allah's
religion to his people was Prophet Nuh (as). He approached his people
in many different ways, but could not make them believe. Even though his
people rejected him and put a great deal of pressure on him to make him
stop preaching Allah's religion, all of their efforts failed, for he remained
patient and put all of his trust in Allah. The Qur'an proclaims his outstanding
patience while communicating Allah's religion, as follows:
Before them, the people of Nuh denied the truth. They
denied Our servant, saying: "He is madman," and he was driven away with
jeers. (Surat al-Qamar, 9)
He said: "My Lord, I have called my people night and
day, but my calling has only made them more evasive. Indeed, every time
I called them to Your forgiveness, they put their fingers in their ears,
wrapped themselves up in their clothes, and were overweeningly arrogant.
Then I called them openly. Then I addressed them publicly and privately."
(Surah Nuh, 5-9)
Certainly these examples can teach a lesson to all Muslims today. By
sending the Qur'an to inform us of these events, Allah instructs us never
to abandon our patience and always to follow the Prophets' examples of
So be steadfast as the Messengers, with firm resolve,
were also steadfast. (Surat al-Ahqaf, 35)
Just as among the tribes of old, it is possible that now and in the future
believers will encounter similar situations and people who know nothing
of religion, deny the faith, and have only a limited ability to comprehend
it. In every age there may be people who deny Allah's existence and the
afterlife. Muslims are required to explain to all people His existence
and the truth of creation without becoming tired of doing so. They may
encounter people who say: "I'm an atheist and so reject Allah's existence,"
feigning ignorance of all of the truths or scientific proofs that have
been explained to them. Or some people may be unable to save themselves
from the negative effects of the surrounding ignorant society and thus
find it hard to understand the truths that are explained to them. In such
a situation, being steadfast in preaching religion by trying every method,
like Prophet Nuh (as), and taking all kinds of risks, like Prophet Ibrahim
(as), are very important forms of worship, because strong patience in
explaining the faith may help some people see the light and be saved in
Believers undertake this important service with the sole intention of
helping to improve the afterlife of those around them, and they carry
it out with great patience and no expectation of reward in this world.
Of course, Muslims will not go unrewarded for this sincere effort in this
world or the next, which they undertake regardless of the real or potential
obstacles. Even if their efforts do not cause one person to embrace the
faith, Allah will give them beauty and serenity in this world and great
rewards in the afterlife.