Critical discussion over Pakistani dramatization with a friend turned to a heated debate. Undoubting the status and reward associated with patience from religious frame of reference, I had a contradictory standpoint from her in the discourse.
Stop bugging me you both, A day passed already, another friend yelled. And after a “friendly” humiliation, negotiations led to a peaceful settlement.
When a conversation turns inflammatory, it’s best to walk away. But here I lose command over my emotions, get impatient and simple conversations sometimes escalate. My friends started yearning for the word limit on Whats app, thinking of it the best thing that could’ve ever happened to them. Just kidding. But there is a certain kernel of truth within what I narrated.
Well I’m not always this annoying, just doing extra effort that day because of some underlying emotions.
Patience is a virtue and a key to happy life. Islam praised the virtue of patience and now even some science backed benefits stresses a need to cultivate more patience in our lives. It is linked to good health, making more progress towards our goals, and off course having healthy relationships. It actually help us to survive because it enables us to do good deed while wait for other to reciprocate and not demanding immediate compensation that would definitely lead to conflict instead of cooperation.
“Oh God, hold on, there’s something different” probably your thinking right now.
But I am definitely not up to teach a lesson of patience as I myself not a paragon of virtue. Even I am also trying to learn to be patient with my crazy mind and calmly accept things as they are. It’s well worth the effort of treating myself with compassion. It feels good. But to practice patience, one must strike a note of caution. What does the attitude of patience imply?
Word “Patience” is either being misunderstood or used for one’s own dominant interest. It’s not being quite & helpless in the phase of hard moments or living in those moments even if they seems like hell and wait for a long period of time without finding any change. Rather curb your impulses and fight hard to change a particular situation.
Let me explain at the very beginning. Many of you might have never heard before the distinction between active and passive patience. Delve into the latter first, it refers to being inactive and given up control. Digging the soil, sowing the seeds and do nothing. If rain could do your job and the ground would have sufficient nutrients, it’s all well and good. In other words, it is simply a justification of hazardous situation as opposed to even acknowledging a problem. On the contrary, active patience indicates the idea of letting things happen in their time and still being engaged in their happening. It is practice, or doing what you can until you can do what you can’t. Fill your beds of soil, check on the nutrients, irrigate and fertilize if needed and then wait with calmness. You probably have thought of these ways many a time yet not conscious of the fine line between the two which is the basis of adherence to a trivial untruth.
It is one of the greatest ironies that the context of many Islamic teaching have been contorted. We’ve been taught to practice patience that would help us navigate hard times but the plight begins when patience has gotten a bad rap for the wrong reasons of passivity and resignation, little sight of which becomes evident on one’s “Big day” when a serious religious and legal document have been given a least importance by the families concerned. Marrying couple haven’t been informed about their Sharia dictated rights and even clerics, while helping her for paving way towards high rewards, scratch out the portion that protect the girl’s rights and privileges and their application into Jannah has been accepted.
Dr. Zainab Alwani is the founding director of Islamic studies program at Howard University. She has been a researcher in the area of Family and women’s issues in Islam for 20 years. Her first published work provide an Islamic framework on Domestic violence named as “What Islam says about domestic violence: A guide for helping Muslim families “Which she jointly written along with Salma Abugidheri, licensed profession counselor provided counseling to Muslim families in northern Virginia for over ten years. Theology of patience had been a part of their discussions with survivors of domestic violence, Women who were enduring the occasional beatings and insults from their husbands were wondering that God will be more pleased with them if they remain silent at homes as patience is a virtue of the believers. Sana was also one among them. Her Imam helped her to understand that literal meaning of having patience is an active stance. She was responsible for seeking safety for herself while she was being patient by accepting her situation and continue to worship God. Moreover, he also told her that by getting legal intervention she would be providing her husband a chance to become a better Muslim as he would be ordered to take medical help or counseling for anger management by the court.
I’m quickly veering back to brass tacks. Islamic teachings associate patience with fighting and endurance which high lighten its active nature. Example of Imam Hussain (A.S) indicates actively tackling life difficulties with patience, required to resist temptation or what is forbidden and not fatalistic resignation to our problems.
“Those who are silent when others are oppressed are guilty of oppression themselves.” — Imam Hussein (AS)
It is an active striving to resist and overcoming oppression and persecution with praying and active patience.
“Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (Quran 16:125).
In calling people to faith, Dialogue is the first and best way to resolve any conflict for convincing the other with the best of intention and be conducted in good manner without violence and harshness. In the context of patience, it defines the aspect of determination and it applies to all situations of life for seeking all the possible remedies to rebuild a relationship. Even not advising the evildoer (i.e. husband, wife, brother, sister or else) is a sin. Moreover, you can also involve an arbiter. In case of family conflicts they could be either your family members or an independent marriage counselor. And if all attempts may fail, you can part ways instead of transgressing the command of God.
“And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong: and know that God is strict in punishment.” (Quran 8:25).
Any violence and coercion is considered to be oppression and unacceptable in Islam. Mankind are ordered to stand against the oppressor and stand by the oppressed. Do not confuse the theology of patience with passivity and complacent. Being patient is being active and determined towards your goal for good, Seek Allah’s help and try to clean the mess around you to give your generations a better planet to live in.