We’ve all heard the word ‘sabr’ many times. We need to know what it means and we need to know what the Quran says about sabr; we need to know what is required of us as Muslims when it comes to the term sabr.
Some translate it as patience, but patience is only a very small part of sabr. It’s surprising how many people don’t realize the extent of this word. It includes forbearance, it includes endurance, it includes steadfastness, it includes perseverance, and it includes restraints.
More Than a Meaning
All these terms together make the one word ‘sabr’ in the Arabic language. Allah created us, He brought us into existence, He put us onto this earth in order to test us. The reason why we are here is to pass the test that Allah decided to put us through by the mere fact that He created us.
We need to be conscious of this at every moment of our life. Every minute is a test from Allah. We need to pass it and we need to protect ourselves from failure. Allah warns us, He reminds us, and He continues to remind us. He asks us to seek assistance through being patient, practicing restraint, having forbearance, persevering and so on.
Allah says to seek assistance through sabr, through bearing patience, through restraining ourselves, and through prayer.
And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].(Quran 2:45)
It is really difficult to do this except for those who are pious, those who are humble, those who will adopt the laws of Allah wholeheartedly. For them, it will be easy to engage in sabr. Allah tells us:
O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.(2:153)
At the end of chapter 3, Allah says:
O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.(3:200)
3 Types of Patience
Let us look at the types of patience we have. There are three major types of sabr that we are as Muslims taught.
1- The endurance required in order to fulfill the commands of Allah.
2- The restraint required in order to abstain from the prohibitions of Allah
3- The acceptance of the decree of the Almighty when calamity comes in our direction.
Patience in Worship
A lot of people think that only the third type is known as patience, like when something happens they say, “bear patience.”
The reality is that in order to read prayer, you need a lot of patience, you need really to endure the cold water, or you need to give up your sleep… In order to abstain from backbiting, you need to restrain yourself. And in order to accept the decree of Allah and be happy with what Allah has decreed you need patience.
Patience with the Decree of Allah
Islam is the only religion that makes it necessary as a condition of belief that you need to declare that: “I bear witness and firmly believe that good and bad fate is from the Almighty. His decree is final and I’m happy with it, and I will not compete with it.”
We believe that good and bad fate comes from the Almighty.
So Islam helps us to live because this whole life is a test. Allah promises us that he will test us, and we already in advance, we have declared that we will never compete with the decree of the Almighty.. we believe that He is in command. We will play our role and we leave the rest in the hands of the Almighty. Whatever He decides to do, we will surrender to it.
May Allah never make us from those who question His decree, His power, and His independence, and the fact that He is in supreme control.