[These are my notes taken from “Patience and Gratitude: An Abridged translation of Uddat As-Sabirin Wa Dhakhirat Ash-Shakirin by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah” translated by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab. So I hereby give you the summary of a summary. 🙂 ]

Sabr – Patience

What is patience?

Sabr (the Arabic word for patience) originally means: to refrain, detain and stop. Spiritually, this means to stop ourselves despairing and panicking, to stop our tongues from complaining and to stop our hands from striking and tearing clothes at times of grief and stress.

Abu Uthman said: The one who has patience is the one who has trained himself to handle difficulties.

 Is it better to have patience at a time of difficulty or to be in a situation which does not require patience?

Some scholars define patience as not seeing or making any difference between times of hardship and ease. Ibn al-Qayyim disagrees, because:

~ This is too difficult.

~ We are not told to be this way.

~ We were made to feel the difference – it is part of our nature.

~ Having an easy time is better than having a hard time.

His evidence is that the Prophet (May Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him) said in a supplication (Dua): “If You are not angry with me, then I do not care what happens to me, but still I would rather have Your blessings and favour.” Therefore, it is acceptable to differntiate between hardship and ease.


There are two types of complaint:

1)    To Allah: this does not contradict patience.

– e.g.: the words of Ya’qub (Jacob):

[I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah.] (Surah Yusuf :86).

– And the words of Ayyub (Job):


[And (remember) Ayyub when he cried to his Lord, “truly distress has seized me”…] (Surah Al-Anbiya’ :83).

2)    To people: this contradicts patience.

– Through words, actions, behaviour and looks

– N.B.: this is different from seeking advice, which is when you confide in a trusted person who you believe has more knowledge and may help you overcome your difficulties. Complaining is simply bemoaning something in your life to anyone/everyone without seeking to actively improve your condition.

Types of Patience:

Psychologically speaking, we have two opposing forces: a driving force and a restraining force. Patience uses both: it drives a person to good and restrains them from bad.

Different people have different levels of patience for different aspects of the religion (deen):

1)    Strong iman (faith) and patience driving them to perform Ibadah (worship), but weak faith and patience in stopping them from evil.

~ e.g.: Someone who spends all night in prayer, but cannot lower his/ her gaze. (Yup. Lots of long bearded brothers S.T.A.R.E. It’s like dude!)

2)    Weak faith and patience in driving them to worship, but strong faith and patience stopping them from evil.

~e.g.: Someone who does not practice their faith, but lowers their gaze.

3)    Weak both ways. (Few people are like this – phew!)

4)    Strong both ways. These are the best people.

Most people lack patience in one of the aspects only.

In terms of staying away from our desires (like sleeping when it’s time to get up and perform the fajr (dawn) prayer), patience is three types:

1)    Religion is the biggest motive and desires are controlled and defeated. This is achieved through consistent patience.

2)    Desires win out. Total surrender to Satan, with the simple reason being that they ran out of patience; they failed to outlast him.

~ This is characterised in the Hadith of the prophet: “The helpless man is the one who follows his whims and desires, and indulges in wishful thinking.”

~ Different forms include: those who hate Islam, those caught up in worldly interest, hypocrites who try to gain from everything, those who say that they want to be better but that its too hard, those who say that God is the All Merciful All Forgiving (true) as if they have to give Him something to forgive(!?)…

~ A key feature in these people is that their desires control their reason, so their reason finds ways to meet their desires.  (Been there, done that, unfortunately. But, really, my excuses/reasons are epic. 🙂 )

3)    A Raging war between the two. This is the situation of the majority of the ummah. Sometimes the religion wins, sometimes the desires take over. And I don’t know about you, but for me it really feels like an active battleground. (I was going to go deeper on the war metaphor, but decided it was probably best avoided on an Islamic blog, given the current climate and all. :/ )

What are your strength and weaknesses when it comes to patience? And which category do you fall in with regards to the 4 levels of patience in religion?

I read through that list and got thoroughly depressed because really I think I’m weak both ways, it depends on the scenario, I guess. Although having said that, I find it easier to not do haram than I do in doing good deeds. So I guess that makes me a level 2? And personally, I have a terrible habit of complaining. To everyone.