Observing Sabr: Is there really an alternative?

Islam Contributor

Patience or Sabr is generally known to be a person’s ability in enduring situations which are tedious without being exasperated. Islamically, it’s this and many more beautiful virtues yet to be tapped by most of us. There is no faith without patience, just like there is no head without a body. Literally, observing Sabr is to hold one’s self back from anxiety and anger, to hold one’s tongue from complaint and to hold one’s body from disgraceful movements. These three organs mentioned are the fastest routes that can lead one to the disobedience of Allah, so one needs to guard them by observing Sabr.

From the virtues of patience includes it’s observation in and of itself and the fact that there is absolutely no loss for an individual who observes patience.

Allah says (amongst other verses which highlight this virtue ):

“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirun (the patient)” (Quran2:153)

Reality of observing Sabr

The reality of living and breathing Sabr is realized when one has a choice or not . Let’s take the two situations out of Prophet Yusuf (as)’s circumstances. One is when his brothers threw him into the well and the other is when the king’s wife seduced him. One scenario paints him in a situation where he has no alternative and the other paints him in a situation where he can always choose to fall into the presented sin.

He observes Sabr in both occasions, the former seeming to be a greater test of his sabr and the latter seeming the hardest . Why so? Because he had a choice but he chose wisely and herein lies the sweetness of sabr. Allah says :

“And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi’un (true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much of His punishment and believe in His Promise and His Warnings” (Quran 2:45.

Observing patience is virtuous due to the fact that Allah:

  • has prohibited its opposite;
  • praised those who possess it;
  • loves those who are patient;
  • promised them His company;
  • confirms the reward for patience without reckoning and good news for those who are patient;
  • guaranteed victory for those who are patient; amongst others.

One can observe patience in three ways – patience by God , patience for God and patience with God. Observing patience by God is seeking God’s help and seeing God as the source of patience , it is not by one’s power but by the power of God as Allah says :

“And endure you patiently (O Muhammad pbuh), your patience is not but from Allah”(Quran 16:127)

Motive behind observing patience

Patience for God, when observed, means the motivation of one’s patience must be the love of God. The will to seek His Face and His nearness to Him. Not to show off one’s self control in order to gain admiration or any other reason. Seeking patience with God implies one’s effort with God’s religious decrees and requirements. It is to make one’s self attached to the things that God commands and loves. This is the hardest and most demanding type of patience that one can observe and this is what most believers strive for . So even in the face of adversities, one remains calm and doesn’t even show his afflictions . According to some scholars of the past, when asked about patience, they reply with some of its profound characteristics such as :

  • able swallow bitterness without frowning;
  • to encounter affliction with chivalry;
  • to be erased in the affliction without any display of complaint;
  • the habituation of the ego in attacking adversities;
  • withstanding a calamity with a good attitude like in the state of well-being;
  • to stand fast with the commands of the book and the sunnah;

Are you facing some form of difficulty or in some form of affliction? It’s time to tap into the realities of observing Sabr. Although easier said than done, its fruit is sweeter than honey. Allah bless you and grant you ease, Ameen.


(Written by freelance writer Zainab Sulaimon)