Do you know any alternative to patience?

August 15th, 2011 @   -  No Comments

Patience does not mean waiting and doing nothing. Patience means accepting the things we cannot change, and doing our best to change the things we can, while understanding that the results we want may take some time to come. The source of patience is our faith and our submission to our Lord. Therefore, patience is the practical expression of faith.

The benefit of patience is great. It includes being forgiving, receiving God’s mercy, and blessings, and getting rewarded beyond our expectations, “Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” (Quran 39:10).

When we are armed with patience, we earn the company of God which gives us the strength to overcome hardships and tribulations. “And be patient. Surely, God is with those who are patient.” (Quran 8:46).

By showing patience, we reinforce the importance of focusing on the long-term outcomes.  By contrast, impatience leads to anger, stress and long-term frustration. Furthermore, impatience cannot change fate nor help us get back what we have missed or lost.

The prophet (PBUH) demonstrated extraordinary patience and taught his companions to be patient because it would bring them victory in the long-term. This is illustrated in an incident when one of his companions complained to him during the difficult and harsh years in Mecca, “Wouldn’t you find us ways and means for victory? Wouldn’t you pray to God for us? The prophet (PBUH) replied, “…, I swear by God that our Mission will be so accomplished that people would ride from Sana’a to Hadhramout  (these two locations are in Yemen) with nothing to fear but God, so safe that even the wolves would go with the sheep, but you aren’t patient.”

How can we develop patience and lead with patience? The following actions can help:

Learn how to wait patiently – Good things take time

What do you think of a farmer who planted his seeds and few days later he was out in the field complaining, “Why don’t I have a harvest? A sane farmer knows that seeds do not instantly grow once he plants them. He has to nurture them and wait through the growing season for the plants to take root, bloom and develop fruit.  Similarly, many things like nurturing relationships; learning, educating and developing others take time and require a great deal of patience. When we try to take a short-cut and get these things quickly, we end up frustrated and spinning our wheels. Unfortunately, this fast food era and fast-paced life are increasingly hiding this truth. The prophet (PBUH) said, “The best type of worship is to wait patiently for a happy outcome.” (At-tirmidhi).

Accept the things you cannot change – Believe in preordainment

What else could afarmer do if he did well what he was supposed to do but his field was stricken by drought and all his harvest was destroyed? Getting upset and cursing the weather would not help the farmer get back his harvest. The farmer has no choice but to believe in preordainment. Whatever God has decreed must certainly take place. In times of hardship and adversity, we need simply to accept what happened. Exploding with anger, complaining and reluctantly adapting to the situation are signs of impatience. As a result, we would be unnecessarily stressed and miss the reward of patience.

Expect things to get better – For every dark night, there is a brighter day

When calamities strike, things will certainly get better. Difficulties and hardship never last.  “Verily, with hardship, there is relief.” (Quran 94:6). In his book Think and Grow Rich,   Napoleon Hill wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”  Experiencing adversity can also be a wakeup call to remember our Lord and make us turn humbly toward Him. Adversity humbles people.

Exercise patience with others

One of the hardest habits to develop is to learn to be patient with people. To develop this habit, you need to make a conscious choice to be patient with the people around you. This can be done by:

  • Accepting the fact that people are not perfect and may have different values and aspirations
  • Focusing on the positive in them
  • Forgiving their shortcomings
  • Admitting your mistakes and sincerely apologizing if you wrong them

The highest form of patience with people is to endure their harm. The prophet (PBUH) said, “He who mixes with people and endures their harm is better than he who does not mix with people nor endure their harm.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Seek help through prayers

Whenever the prophet (PBUH) was afflicted with adversity, he would say, “O Billal, give us comfort and call for prayer.” Allah (SWT) also said, “…Seek help through patience and prayer.” (Quran 2:45). Resorting to patience and prayer makes difficulties look smaller and easier, and helps remove the hardship.

Appreciate the gift of patience

“Whoever avoids asking others and is content with what he has, God will make him sufficient; and whoever depends on himself, God will enrich him; and whoever patiently perseveres, God will grant him the ability to be patient. No one was given a gift better or more encompassing than the gift of patience.” (Al Bulkhari and Muslim)

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