Translated from Persian with annotations and an introduction
By: Sayyid Hussein Alamdar
Edited By: Sayyid Ali Shahbaz
Publishers: ANSARIYAN PUBLICATIONS
P.0. Box 37185/187
QUM / Islamic Republic of Iran
(In difference to the printed original the Internet-Version does not
include Persian and Arabic writings of some original verses)
1. Discourse on Patience:
Common Understanding of Patience
Overall Views About Patience
Summary of the Meanings of Patience
II. Importance of Patience in the Light of
III. Patience in Islamic Codices:
IV. The Fields of Patience:
Patience in Performance of Obligations (Obedience)
Examples of Patience in Obedience in the Lives of the Infallible Imams (p.b.u.t.)
Review of the Holy Qur'an
Patience Against Sin
The Importance of Patience Against Sin
V. Historical Examples:
Some Other Examples of Patience Against Sin
Review of Some Narrations
Patience Against Unpleasant Events
Patience Against Optional Tragedies
Ways for Encouraging this Branch of Patience
VI. The Advantages and Effects of Patience:
Permanence and Victory
Psychological Traces of Patience in the Lives of Individuals
The Birth of an Invincible Spirit
Appearance of Righteous Virtues Within
More Attention and Reliance upon Allah
One of the most brilliant, gifted and worthy sons of Islam of our age
-- a great scholar, thinker, philosopher, jurisprudent, writer of great erudition and
penetration, the defender of the honour of Islam during the deposed Pahlavi
the best pupil and the outcome of the entire life of Imam Khomeini (may his soul rest in
peace) -- Ayatollah Shaikh Murtaza Mutahhari (who was martyred on May 1, 1979 by the
Terrorist Furqan group in Tehran) had said regarding the need of publishing suitable
Islamic literature as follows:
"We are the responsible people, we have not produced sufficient
literature in various aspects of Islam in current languages. Had we, therefore, made
available the pure and sweet waters in abundance, people would not have contented
themselves with polluted waters."
Keeping the above in mind, I have tried to translate the present
Discourse on Patience (Guftari dar bab-e-sabr) by Ayatollah Sayyid Ali
Khamenei from Persian into English, as my insignificant contribution to produce a
tiny drop of pure and sweet water.
In order to defend the Islamic Community against the cultural onslaught
of the enemies of Islam, and in order to achieve political and cultural unity for
there is a critical need to design a coat of arms prepared by suitable Islamic
so that Muslims can equip themselves and their children with this armour of Islamic
culture. As the writer of this book Ayatollah Khamenei has stated:
"An indifferent, unaware believer could be compared to a soldier
in the battlefield, who is fighting naked without wearing armour. Such an ill-equipped
soldier is most likely to be killed or disappear from the scene during the very first
But an aware, conscientious, and knowledgeable Muslim with Islamic
ideology could be compared to a soldier, who is fully clad in armour from head to foot and
is fully equipped with all the required armaments. Obviously, for the enemy to defeat such
a well equipped soldier is a relatively difficult task." 
The war between total belief and total blasphemy is going on fiercely
on all fronts namely; militarily, economically and culturally. The most severe among the
three is the cultural onslaught being waged by the enemies. This cultural battle is most
crucial, because once people are deprived of their ideology and culture, then the enemy
becomes victorious without firing a single bullet and without waging a single military
The Islamic "Andalusia" (modern Spain), was snatched away
from the Muslims by using this tactic. We must wake up before history repeats
enemy has already intruded within the privacy of the four walls of our dwellings. Even the
so-called cartoon video films for children and the paper wrappings inside chewing gum
packages are not immune, and intermingled with their satanic sexual onslaught, without
mentioning the other horrible means at their disposal.
We Muslims are quite well aware of the power and richness of our
ideology. Even our enemies are fully aware of its revolutionary dynamic force. In a famous
sermon in his book Path of Eloquence (Nahj-ul-Balagha), the Commander of the
Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) speaks about this ideology as follows:
"Have you fully realised what Islam is? It is a religion founded
on truth. It is such a fountainhead of learning that from it flow out several streams of
wisdom and knowledge. It is such a lamp that from it several lamps will be
lighted. It is
a tall beacon lighting the path to Allah. It is a set of principles and beliefs which will
satisfy every seeker of truth and reality.
Know you all that Allah has made Islam the most sublime path towards
His Supreme Pleasure and the highest standard of His Worship and Obedience. He has
favoured it with noble precepts, exalted principles, undoubtable arguments,
unchallengeable supremacy and undeniable wisdom.
It is up to you to maintain the eminence and dignity granted to it by
the Lord, to follow it sincerely, to do justice to its articles of faith and belief, to
implicitly obey its tenets and orders, and to give it the proper place in your
Well, we have in our possession such a rich ideology, the Holy
Qur'an, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (may the peace of Allah be upon him and his
progeny), but it is just a matter of its implementation in our daily lives and its
execution in Islamic countries. Sometimes it happens that a society possesses theoretical
knowledge and ingeniousness, but nevertheless the circumstances are such that its
practical application is not possible.
Fortunately, with the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11,
1979 (Bahman 22, 1358), under the enlightened leadership of that divine iron-willed man
blessed with foresight, whose very name and whose very word inspire the hearts of Muslims,
the idol-breaker, the holder of the highest esteem, the dearest of the sons of Islam and a
rare, gifted genius, Imam Ayatollah ul-Uzma Ruhullah al-Musavi Khomeini (may his soul rest
in peace), the task of the implementation of this ideology was accomplished.
So far the Islamic Flag stating "There is no god but Allah"
is flying high over the skies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it awakens the giant
one-billion-strong Islamic Community, pumping fresh blood into their veins and
The existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the present situation could be compared
to the motor of an automobile, which is currently providing the required energy for the
motion of the Islamic World.
In this regard, I would like to share with the readers the reflections
of Nouruddin Shireen, a Turkish writer whose interview was published recently in the
Turkish newspaper "ALAMDAR", upon his return from a recent trip to the
devastated, oppressed and aggressed Islamic country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He writes as
"As far as helping Bosnia by other governments was
there was only one single government and that was the Islamic Republic of Iran. In
principle, it should be mentioned that the goal of Imam Khomeini and his holy struggle was
to free all Muslims and to accomplish freedom and independence for the entire Islamic
Community. He stood for the defence of oppressed Muslims all over the world. Till the
Islamic Republic of Iran exists (inshaallah), the Muslims of the world will never
remain without defence and support.
Praise to Allah, that today one leader -with honour and dignity is
following the holy path of Imam Khomeini. May Allah prolong the shadow of this leader upon
the heads of Muslims of the world. The existence of Ayatollah Khamenei is a ray of
hope and Messing for all Muslims throughout the world. I witnessed this reality in Bosnia
with my own eyes. Every time I encountered the picture of Imam Khomeini at some homes and
shops, the intense emotion and love shown by the Bosnian Muslim people for Imam was
something comparable to children who have been separated from their father."
Unfortunately, pains and tragedies have befallen the Islamic
which if they had fallen on a bright day, would have turned it into a dark night. There is
Palestine, where, day and night we see how Zionist soldiers are hunting bare-handed and
helpless children, and how insolently under the very eyes of television cameras are
breaking their bones inside the torture chambers in Zionist prisons. On February 25 of
this year, we saw the most cold-blooded butchering and wounding of hundreds of
fasting Muslims while in the state of prostration, offering their Friday prayer during the
holy month of Ramadhan, inside the Shrine of Prophet Abraham (p.b.u.h.) in the city of
al-Khalil committed by savage Zionists.
There is Islamic Algeria, where democracy was beheaded in broad
daylight while the whole civilised world watched. The land of Jame' al-Azhar or
Egypt, where, every day Muslims are being sentenced to death for just being Muslims, and for
demanding an Islamic Government.
There is also Bosnia, where the most savage and horrible systematic
genocide is being carried out for more than three years in so-called civilised and modern
Europe, showing the impotence of International Organisations in this regard. Barbaric acts
such as forcing a Muslim Imam of a mosque to drink the blood of his son, the live burial
of a young man while his would-be bride watches, the chemical bombing of the besieged city
of Gorazde and the killing of thousands of its defenceless Muslim defenders, and the
numerous shameful deeds of raping women and young girls, and crimes which were not
committed by even the most notorious of the Nazis in Germany.
The modern and civilised world cries for the rights of dogs,
cats, fish, bears, and other animals all over the world, but for crimes committed against
Muslims, there is no crying, no tears, and no rights are considered to have been
violated. Nevertheless, this present state of the world awakens and tests Muslims. The sun of hope
is slowly rising on the Islamic World, and there is absolutely no doubt that if we could
become united and preserve our steadfastness, the future belongs to Islam. We, in the
Islamic Republic of Iran, sincerely aspire for unity and our hearts bleed for all of our
brothers and sisters as the Prophet (may peace be upon him and his holy progeny)
"Truly the believers in their acts of co-operation and mutual aid
are like the head to the body; should it complain, the rest of the body rallies to it in
This philosophy had been elegantly described by the late Ayatollah
Sayyid Mahmoud Taleqani, in his sermon, on the occasion of first "Qods Day" on
August 17, 1979 (Ramadhan 23, 1399) in Tehran, as follows:
"All Muslims, wherever they may be, in their co-operative
relationships with each other, their acts of compassion toward each other are like the
head to a body when it feels pain and complains. Whenever a member of the human body feels
pain, its complaint is brought to the command centres by means of the nerves, afterwards
to reach the other members. This afflicted member becomes like the head; all thought and
attention, one's eyes and ears, attend it until it is taken care of.
Why? Because if it is not taken care of, all the members will become
paralysed. The Muslims of the world must know that they are all members of a single
they must not suppose that by remaining indifferent to the lot of other Muslims they can
preserve themselves from the painful calamities that are besetting them."
This translation coincides with the tragic news of the chemical bombing
of the besieged city of Gorazde in Bosnia-Herzagovina and the heroic defence and
resistance offered by its defenders, despite the unmanly withdrawal of the so-called
peace-keeping forces of the United Nations.
I dedicate this translation work to the lofty spirits of the Martyrs of
this besieged city. As far as the brave and heroic Muslim defenders of Bosnia-Herzegovina
and all oppressed Muslims throughout the Islamic world are concerned, 1 give them the glad
tidings that victory is near (Inshaallah), and 1 invite their attention to the
following sermon of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.):
"When Allah witnessed their patience in resisting the tortures and
hardships, which were inflicted upon them, because of their love for Him and following the
path of truth. He opened over them gates of divine assistance in the midst of those
difficult bottlenecks of misfortunes. The deprived of yesterday, `fter that found
themselves as rulers and governors. Their glory, fame, prestige, reached to a point, which
had never been imagined by them in their best of dreams." 
Further, Allah has clearly reminded us that Islam is the greatest
source of power and it can do wonders, that the power of faith is far mightier than that
of the superpowers. There is a saying of Imam Khomeini: "It is our duty to struggle
in this fashion, and the result is with Allah". In the words of the Holy
Quran, Allah has promised us the result as follows:
Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous
deeds, that He will, of a surety grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He
granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion -- the
one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in
which they (lived), to one of security and peace.
They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. If any do
reject faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. So establish regular prayer and
give regular charity; and obey the apostle; that ye may receive mercy. Never think thou
that the unbelievers are going to frustrate (Allah's plan) on earth: their abode is the
Fire, -- and it is indeed an evil refuge!' 
I have tried to be loyal to the Persian text to the best of my ability.
The notes added by the translator have been indicated by (Tr.) and those by the editor by
(Ed.). I am sincerely indebted to Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, the learned scholar and
jurisprudent from the Religious Learning Centre of Qum for his kind guidance and
encouragement. I offer my sincere appreciation to Dr. Ali Naqi Baqershahi, for his
encouragement and providing the Biography of Ayatollah Khamenei, Sayyid Ali Shahbaz
for Editing, and Hojjat-ul-Islam Sayyid Mohammad Taqi Hakim and Mrs. Saddigheh (Debra Ann)
Bush, for proof reading. I am also indebted to my wife Fatima Razavi and children for
being patient with me while completing this work during the New Year vacation. Sincere
thanks are also due to Mr. Ansariyan for his encouragement for publishing this book. Also,
I wish to thank all of my friends at Iran Water and Power Development Company who have
contributed to the realisation of this translation, especially Mr. Reza Hadadian, Mr.
Asghar Mesmarian and Mr. Ali Reza Nouri. I apologise to my readers for possible errors,
and omissions and welcome their suggestions and comments.
Sayyid Hussein Alamdar
April 13, 1994
1 Ziqadeh 1414
 Islamic Movements in Twentieth Century by Ayatollah Motahhari.
 Discourse on Patience by Ayatollah Khamenei
 Sermon of Imam Ali (a.s.) Path of Eloquence (Nahj-ul-Balagha Sermon No. 203).
 Jomhuri Islami P. 13 - Jan 29, 1994.
 Society and Economics in Islam by Ayatollah Taleqani.
 Sermon of Imam Ali (a.s.) Path of Eloquence (Nahj-ul-Balagha Sermon No. 234).
 The Holy Qur'an (24: 55-57).
Discourse on Patience
CHAPTER - I
Patience is considered to be one of the best-known terms in Islam. In
Islamic literature, this phrase occurs with frequency in proportion to different occasions
and in various fields, with a tone of encouragement, discussion of rewards, and praise and
explanation about its importance. It is therefore natural that Muslims become familiar
with its meaning, understand this special phrase, and try to breed this quality within
themselves to the best of their ability.
Unfortunately, alteration or tampering, which is a very common calamity
especially for Islamic phrases, has not left this term untouched, and it could be said
that upto a large extent its form, matter, and substance have been completely
Common Understanding of Patience
Normally, patience is defined as tolerant of unpleasant circumstances.
This definition, the way it is to a larger extent is intermingled with ambiguities,
justifications, opposing statements, and conflicts. For an oppressed and vacuous society
steeped in corruption and decadence, patience as defined above will become the biggest
tool and pattern for oppressors and corrupters for maintaining the status quo, by keeping
the society in a state of backwardness.
When poor and backward nations exposed to all kinds of problems and
misery, or oppressed masses crushed under brute oppression, or societies faced with moral
corruption, poverty and human suffering, or any individual or group trapped in a cesspool
Of rnisfortune and calamities are told to be patient, the first result will be the taking
of that bitter and fatal dose, i.e. to suffer with, and not to overthrow the existing
state of oppression.
Not only will they not mobilize themselves to overthrow the existing
undesirable state of oppression, but on the contrary, keeping in mind the supposed rewards
for remaining indifferent and naive they would feel happy and content to the extent that
they would regard such behaviour as tantamount to accomplishment of a grand victory. It is
obvious that the prevalence of such a mentality in that society, upto a large extent, will
be to the advantage of the class of exploiters and oppressors, and to the further
detriment of the deprived and oppressed masses.
Unfortunately, this wrong interpretation together with its disastrous
results presently constitutes the sorry state of affairs in Islamic societies. Any other
interpretation for free and unprejudiced minds is quite logical and acceptable. But for
those accustomed to its false interpretation, even serious endeavours and fruitful
results. When detailed studies of verses of the Holy Quran and narrations
(hadith) about patience are conducted, grief and surprise for this deviation becomes
Overall Views About Patience
If the meanings of patience are interpreted in the light of the clear,
explicit, and definite verses of the Holy Quran as well as in accordance with
the authentic traditions reported from the infallible Imams (may peace be upon them), then
the result derived would be completely opposite to the current common understanding of the
The above interpretation transforms patience into a lever capable of
removing with ease, the heaviest obstacles and solving the biggest problems with one
hundred percent positive results. Thus, for an unfortunate society, patience is the key to
prosperity and blessings, while on the other hand it will be a strong obstacle to be
reckoned with for troublemakers and mischiefmongers.
In order to appreciate exactly the true meanings of patience and its
relevant fields, the best methodology is to resort to the Holy Quran and authentic
traditions. A thorough investigation would enable us to reach a clear and decisive
judgement. More than seventy verses of the Holy Quran, deal with patience,
glorifying the term and praising those who possess this virtue. The Holy Quran describes
in detail possess this virtue. The Holy Quran describes in detail the
relevant results derived, and the circumstances where one could count on this
For the present discussion, we will not resort to the verses of the Holy
Quran regarding patience, rather it will suffice our discussion to review the
authentic traditions, and accordingly, derive inferences and conclusions because of the
following reasons. Firstly, precise and detailed interpretation of the verses of the Holy
Quran regarding patience would mean a wide discussion, which requires a lot of
patience, energy and time. (Footnote: A point in contrast to those who have totally
disregarded the Holy Qur'an for understanding the principles and branches of Islam,
and depend upon traditions, however weak, as the only source of religion). Secondly, to
try to compensate for the negligence shown towards the traditions which were narrated by
the infallible Imams (may peace be upon them), our discussion will be based on traditions.
The absence of the use of traditions is clearly felt in current Islamic research and
currently published Islamic literature.
Summary of the Meanings of Patience
On the basis of traditions, patience is defined as the resistance shown
by man on the road towards perfection against mischief, corruption and degradation. Which
can be compared to the example of a mountaineer who, in order to reach the peak, has
to face internal as well as external obstacles or barriers. The internal obstacles are
within his inner self, while the external ones are outside beyond his control. Each of
them in their own ways interfere with his climbing efforts. Internal obstacles such as the
love for comfort, as well as fear, despair, and different types of similar passions, try
to stop him while the feeling of indecisiveness in many forms tries to kill his
determination for climbing. On the other hand, external barriers such as stones, rocks,
wolves, thieves, and thorns etc. retard his progress.
Someone who is faced with these kinds of barriers will have the options
to either drop his journey on this road which is full of dangers and hardships, or to go
ahead by offering resistance against them and overcoming each barrier with his power of
determination. The second case is defined as patience.
During his limited span of life in this world, the human being between
his birth and death is a traveller on the road towards the final destination. He has been
fundamentally created to endeavour as much as possible to bring himself close to the final
destination. All the duties and responsibilities which have been assigned to man's
shoulders are the necessary means and ways to bring him closer to that target. The primary
aim of the divine religions and the great prophets was to build an Islamic society
providing a suitable field in which human beings could travel, ultimately reaching their
In a nutshell, that aim could be defined as the striving for perfection
and exaltation of human beings. In other words, it is the opening of the fountainheads of
talents of his innerself. His acquiring of superior and noble characteristics overrides
animalistic characteristics or lower qualities.
Of course, this path is a difficult one full of troubles and plenty of
barriers. Each of these barriers alone is sufficient to deter the climber from continuing
his journey towards the peak of perfection and exaltedness. The inner negative forces
(inside the climber) of unweighed evil passions, coupled with the external forces such as
the troublesome state of affairs of the real world, produce a series of obstacles of
thorns, rocks, etc., in his path.
Patience means to be able to stand up against all those obstacles and
to conquer them with determination and enthusiasm. Therefore, as was mentioned earlier,
all Islamic duties whether individual or collective (social) are means and steps needed to
approach that goal of perfection.
For a person on a journey towards a distant City travelling through the
deserts, the passing of each habitation that lies in his path means that his journey is
progressing or, he is getting closer to his final destination. Of course these
intermediate aims or targets themselves are preliminaries of the path towards reaching the
real and final destination. Therefore each step taken, although a means for accomplishing
the ultimate aim, is nevertheless in itself a multidimensional accomplishment and may be
regarded as something closer to the final objective.
The summary of this discussion is that to reach each of these goals and
destinations, the basic condition is the possession of patience and the ability to utilise
this sharp and decisive weapon. Just as the road towards the accomplishment of the
ultimate goal of perfection is full of obstacles, similarly the paths of Muslims
fulfilling their Islamic duties and responsibilities are also full of these obstacles.
These paths are a means for reaching the final destination. There are infinite internal
and external obstacles scattered on these roads. On one hand, the depressing internal
feelings of laziness, indifference, selfishness, self-praise, pride, greed, and improper
sexual desires, as well as other various harmful desires of comfort, wealth, fame, etc.,
haunt the traveller. While on the other hand, unfavourable conditions, interruptions, and
situations forced or superimposed onto people because of the social set up of ruling
regimes confront him.
Each one of the above in a way, discourages him from carrying out his
constructive duties, which either could be individual duties such as offering prayers, or
other social obligations like his efforts for the proclamation of truth. The thing which
would enable and guarantee the dischargement of each duty, the undertaking of each step,
the proceeding on each road, and the accomplishing of each result, is the resistance
offered by man against obstacles. Thus the power which enables him to proceed through
these barriers, is defined as patience.
CHAPTER - II
Importance of Patience in the light of traditions
According to a few traditions selected from a collection of traditions
describing the importance of patience in Islam and other divine religions, it may be
summarised that patience has been recommended by all the divine prophets and righteous
leaders to their successors and followers.
Let us consider the example of a kind father or a compassionate teacher
who has spent a life full of efforts and resistance, and suffered pains, tortures, and
deprivations for the sake of his goals. At the last moments of his life, all the struggles
which provided the purpose and direction to his life are now nearing an end, and his goals
are still cherished. What will be his last advice for his successors, who in his opinion
will follow his struggle and will keep the movement alive by taking other giant steps to
carry this heavy load closer to the final destination?
It will be nothing other than the extraction and summary of all the
theoretical and practical experiences and possessions acquired by him in his life span.
All those things which must be said in his last moments, if he could manage to put them
into one sentence, will be like a capsule consisting all the precious accomplishments and
practical know-how acquired by him in the form of guidelines designed for a trainee. He
will hand this over to his successor and follower, which in reality means transformation
of the final designation of his life to the person after him. This mission being
accomplished, he leaves this world after making due preparations.
The last parting recommendations of the prophets, the pious, the
righteous, the martyrs and the strugglers in the way of Allah for their followers and the
builders of the divine society, is to be patient. Their last advice is their
recommendation regarding patience.
Now let us pay our attention to the following two traditions:
Abu Hamza Thomali, one of the famous and sincere followers of the
Prophet's Ahl-ul-Bait and a principal member of the righteous Shi'ite movement quotes from
his leader and teacher, Imam Mohammad AI-Baqer (a.s.), as saying: "When the last
moments of his life arrived, my father Ali ibn al-Hussain (a.s.) held me close to his
chest and said: My son I, recommend to you what my father (Imam Hussain) recommended to me
at the last Moments of his life. My son stand for truth even if it is bitter".
(al-Kafi vol. 2)
Imam Mohammad Baqer (a.s.) is the vicegerent and successor of his
father Ali ibn Hussain Zayn al-Abedin and is the inheritor of the heavy burden of trust,
and is responsible for the continuation of the struggle and movement of his father,
exactly in the same manner that Imam Ali ibn al-Hussain (a.s.) was responsible for the
continuation of the movement left by his father Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.), the martyr of
Each personality from the household of the holy Prophet was responsible
for the continuation of the divine mission of his predecessor, and all of them
collectively were upholders of the divine mission of the last Prophet of Allah. All of
them are created from a single source of energy (light) and are the seekers of one
direction and one aim.
"My son I recommend to you what my father recommended me at the
last moment of his life..."
We all know how and where the last moments of the life of Imam Hussain
ibn Ali (a.s.) were spent. He was in the midst of turmoil on the day of 'Ashura' (10th of
Moharram 61 Hijri -- 680 AD.). Pains, torture and tragedy dominated the bloody state of
affairs in the plain of Karbala. In spite of the fact that he was completely encircled by
his bloodthirsty enemies, Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.) took advantage of a short
opportunity to go back to his camp before starting his final attack. After having a brief
meeting with the members of his household who in their own ways were carriers of his
mission, he held a short but sufficient, effective and very important discussion with his
vicegerent and successor Imam Ali ibn al-Hussain (a.s.).
These kinds of discussions in simple language may be called farewell
meetings. But it must be understood that a pious leader (Imam) is far above sentimental
passions, and that during the last opportunity of his life, he would only open his lips
for personal, private, and sentimental affairs, instead of discussing the most important
issues of his mission. Whatever reports which remains regarding the other great pious
leaders (Imams) that has reached us, certifies the same thing. (Footnote: Among the books
of traditions, we may observe the wills of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.),
Imam Hassan (a.s.), Imam Sadiq (a.s.), and other leaders, which proves the seine point).
He knew at that sensitive moment that the heavy burden of the trust for
which he had struggled for since the beginning of his leadership had also been endured by
the founder of the revolution, the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), the Commander of Faithful Imam
Ali (a.s.), and Imam Hassan (a.s.). All of them had suffered all kinds of pains and were
subjected to severe hardships for following that path. The trust would now be handed over
to the next person. The powerful arms and steadfast steps of his vice-regent would be
assigned the responsibility to carry that burden of trust forward. Therefore he had come
to advice him about the most important issues of his mission. What was this important and
Now Imam Ali ibn al-Hussain (a.s.) who found himself more or less under
conditions similar to his father's time, explained the key issues to his son and
vice-regent, and offered recommendations accordingly. He also emphasised that earlier, his
father Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.) had been similarly instructed by his father Imam Ali
"What his father recommended..."
This advice has continuously been emphasised since it was first given
by the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) to the next Imam-designate and onward
through all the successive Imams by their proceeding Imams. What was that recommendation?
The outcome and summation of that advice was patience".
"My son stand for truth even if it is bitter."
My son! Stand for the truth and be patient, even if it is bitter and
inconvenient. Or in other words, on the road of truth one should never give up, and should
never be frustrated by obstacles. Once you know and recognise the path of truth, you must
support it all the way. All hardships, bitterness, failures, and inconveniences should be
borne patiently to continue the journey forward. It is obvious that the confrontation of
truth and falsehood is full of hardship, bitterness, and inconvenience and one should not
expect this path to be like a bed of roses. All these inconveniences and hardships should
be resisted with patience for the sake of truth.
This was the last will of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.)
given to Imam Hassan (a.s.), and subsequently it was given to all the successive Imams by
their predecessors. Also, we have witnessed that the Commander of the Faithful himself,
and all of the righteous Imams after him, had actually followed that will. All of them,
till the last moment of their lives defended truth accepting all the consequences, even at
the cost of their lives (martyrdom). Their lives in practising patience for the pleasure
of Allah, were indeed manifestations of the following Arabic couplet:
"I practised "patience" in my life to the highest level,
whereby even "patience" itself bears witness that in tolerating things even more
bitter than "patience", I remained steadfast and patient."
Therefore, for the importance of patience it is found, that all the
infallible Imams from the Prophet's Ahl-ul-Bait (a.s.) have enjoined this priceless jewel
and noble inheritance in their wills for their successors, at the very last moment of
"From Fiqh al-Redha (a.s.) We narrate of the wills of the
prophets, peace be upon them. Be patient for truth, even if it is bitter." (Bihar
Fiqh al-Redha is a famous book of jurisprudence attributed to the
eighth Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Redha (a.s.), a portion of which deals with the legal affairs
in Islam. In other words these issues may be termed as jurisprudence. This term partly
deals with the interpretation of the Holy Quran, and traditions but the major
portion of the book covers the ways and means and overall issues related to Islamic
learning. It is this second part which constitutes the complete and comprehensive portion
of the term of jurisprudence. The above mentioned book contains the following meaningful
narration (Footnote: Late Muhaddis Nouri, who was a most exalted and learned scholar of
his time in his book "Mustadrek al-Wasail" had presented numerous logical
convincing arguments, testifying the authenticity of the above issues. Nouri's work is
very interesting for the learned scholars in the field of traditions) which could be
interpreted and expounded as follows:
We narrate this important narration, which is the inheritance and
memory of our noble family left by our fathers and their ancestors, who left this last
will for us, and in turn we willed it to our successors:
The will of all the divine prophets for their vice-regents, inheritors,
trustees, flag carriers of divine movements, and students of the divine school of thought
"Stand for the truth and be patient, even if it is bitter and
This is exactly the same sentence spoken by the Commander of Faithful,
without the least Variation. Perhaps, this short, but meaningful sentence left by the
prophets and their vicegerents, could be the best example for showing the importance of
patience. Therefore, on the basis of the above two narrations, we may define patience, as
the will enjoined by the divine prophets and Imams on their inheritors and disciples. It
is quite explicit that this Islamic characteristic has so much weight, importance, and
influence, in the complex structure of the divine religion of Islam that all the prophets
had included it in their Testaments.
CHAPTER - III
Patience in Islamic Codices
Faith may be defined as something which consists of ethics, legal
rights, and public instructions (learning). The same is the case for any other
constructive social school or organisation. We may therefore classify faith into the
(I) The basis for understanding of man and the world. This is known as
(II) On the basis of these principles, the overall direction for the
movement and human action (ideology).
(III) Within these boundaries, guidelines or regulations for
relationship of man with Allah, with self, with fellow human beings, and with other
(IV) A series of moral guidelines for maintaining the required
necessary momentum or endeavour for achieving perfection or exaltedness, and accomplishing
success in various fields of life.
Of course, this vast complex, includes personal matters related to the
personal interests of individuals, as well as social matters pertaining to various large
groups of humanity, and affairs concerning these groups and the Islamic community (Ummah).
Let us see in the above complex of faith, what is the influence and roll played by
patience. In other words, a person committed to religion will act as follows:
(I) He must believe in religious principles.
(II) He must obey the religious regulations.
(III) He must be familiar with the special clauses dealing with ethics.
If one fulfils all the above three, in his conduct, one could rightly
be called a true believer. We will now examine the role played by patience in the life of
a believer in following religion in the true sense.
In a geometrical figure which consists of lines and angles, each point,
arc and semi circle creates a special effect. Let us see what influence and role is played
by patience in the geometrical figure representing the faith of a true believer. Let us
consider the example of an automobile which is supposed to move someone together with his
household belongings to a certain location. After passing through various streets, this
automobile finally reaches the desired final destination.
What is responsible for moving this automobile? Is it the
engine? What thing is responsible for providing this strength or power to the engine? Of
course, it is the petrol. Therefore in the life of a believer, patience may be compared to
the engine or the petrol which gives life and strength to that engine.
Without patience, the truth and steadfast logic of the exalted school
of religion would not have been understood. The divine learning (revelations) of this
school which blessed humanity would have lost its colour with the passage of time. The
ultimate hope of victory of truth over falsehood, which provides fresh life-giving blood
for powerful hands and steadfast steps of believers, would have been silenced. And the
laws and guidelines of religion which control and check the human tendencies of
transgression would have become inactive.
The heroic field of valour and martyrdom for the sake of Allah and
religion would have been converted into a graveyards of ideologies. The international
congress of Hajj would have remained empty. The humming, sensational and confidential
communications of the burning lovers (believers) in the middle of night, with the Beloved
(Allah) would have been silenced, the beautiful scene of "Jihad-e-Akbar" with
the self ("great self struggle"), namely fasting and self restriction would have
lost its charms. The arteries of the economy of the Islamic state would have dried up, and
charity and alms-giving for the pleasure of Allah would have been ignored.
Without patience all the higher educational and ethical values of Islam
(piety, trust, and righteousness) would have been forgotten; and in essence, each
parameter of religion which requires action and efforts, would have remained deprived of
them. Because religion requires practice, which is not possible without patience.
Therefore what provides life-giving fresh blood to this giant complex, or what provides
motion to this train is nothing else but patience. With the above discussion, the
substance and meaning of this divine inspiration could be clearly understood. According to
some documented narrations related to the infallible Imams, the importance of patience has
been defined as follows:
"Patience out of faith is like a head to a body."
The head of a person holds the most critical importance as far as life
is concerned. One may tolerate the absence of different parts in the human body such as
hands, feet, eyes, ears etc. But if the head which is the controlling room for the whole
nervous system, does not exist or is crippled, then all the parts and systems of the body
will become crippled. The body may remain alive, but in reality it will not be different
than a dead body.
Sometimes, it may be that a part of the body may perform an outstanding
task. May be the fist, a powerful hand, fingers, or the eyes of a person might conduct
excellent performance in discharging many duties, but all that is accomplished is because
of the presence of the head. Patience holds similar importance in the structure of
Without patience the existence of Monotheism (Tawheed) will not be
possible either. The prophethood and the prophetic mission would not have produced any
fruits. The rights of the deprived people could not have been obtained from the tyrants.
Prayers, fasting, and other rituals would also have been meaningless.
Therefore it is patience which fulfils all the aspirations of religion
and humanity. If at the very beginning of Islam, if the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would have not
offered resistance against all that severe opposition, for the sake of truth, of course,
the slogan "there is no god but Allah " would have been suffocated within
the boundary walls of his home, at its very inception.
What kept Islam alive and intact was patience. If the pious people of
Allah and great divine prophets would have not been patient against opposition and
obstacles in their path, today there would have not been left any trace and influence of
monotheism. The single factor responsible for keeping alive the system of monotheism,
since the very beginning of human creation has been patience. Which has been the flag
carrier for this heavenly ideology till today, and will continue to do the same till the
last day of judgement.
The most logical ideas and sayings of human beings, if not accompanied
by the patience practised by their founders, would have dried off in their throats and
tongues. They would have disappeared in the turbulent waves of the ocean of history
forever. It is therefore quite clear that patience holds the similar relationship with the
religious body, as the position of head relative to a human body. The Commander of
Faithful in his sermon "Qaseah" explains the victory of the deprived of history
over the tyrants and success of their noble ideas as follows:
"When Allah witnessed their patience in resisting the tortures and
hardships, which were inflicted upon them, because of their love for him and following the
path Of truth, he opened over them gates of divine assistance in the midst of those
difficult bottlenecks of misfortunes. The deprived of yesterday (Footnote: The present
book is based on the lectures of Ayatollah Khamenei at a Mashhad Mosque 20 years ago
as mentioned in the introduction. Now, in retrospect, the best manifestation of the above
sermon of the Commander of the Faithful could be, the victory of the Islamic Revolution on
February 11th, 1979. In an article a few years ago written by Dr. Hassan Ghafourifard, the
then Head of the Physical Education Organisation in a Sports Magazine, it was mentioned
that Ayatollah Khamenei was confined in Iranshahr (Sistan and Baluchestan Province),
a town with the worst climatic conditions in the south-east of Iran, before the victory of
Islamic Revolution. Today, by the Grace of Allah he is the Leader of the Muslims. The
honour and fame awarded to him and to all other leaders, now who were imprisoned under the
Pahlavi regime is a clear manifestation of 1.he above sermon. (Tr.)) after they find
themselves as rulers and governors. Their glory, fame, prestige, reached to a point, which
had never been imagined in their best of dreams." (Nahj-ul-Balagha Sermon No. 234)
And, this is a Tradition of history, which will never be changed till
the very end, as the laws of Allah are constant, irrespective Of time. Therefore after the
above detailed explanation one could describe in a nutshell the position of patience in
the complex of Islam as follows:
Patience is responsible for the fulfilment of all the aspirations, and
all the short term and long term goals whether individual or social.
The Fields of Patience
As explained in the earlier chapters of this book, one may define
patience as resistance offered by man on the road towards perfection against the forces of
mischief, corruption and degradation. Now let us recognise the fields of patience, where
its practice is most crucial. Of course, we would like to examine the domain of patience,
in accordance with the texts of Islamic narrations and the Holy Quran, where,
practising patience has been promised with plenty of rewards in this world as well as in
There is no doubt, that an ignorant soldier or a mercenary fighting in
the battlefield against the bearers of glad tidings of truth and justice (soldiers of
Islam), and even loosing his life for the sake of the orders issued by his master; or a
tyrant, hoarder of wealth, and holder of an important position, standing against truth for
the sake of power, wealth, and position; or various sections or special groups offering
resistance for the sake of their vested interests or other reasons, are in fact not
practising patience for the sake of human ideals but opposing the truth.
On the surface all these cases show practising of patience. But this is
quite opposite than patience practised by pious individuals on the road of perfection for
the pleasure of Allah. Of course, as far as the lexical meaning of the term
"patience" is concerned both share it equally.
But in all such situations, patience has not been practised for
accomplishing human perfection and ideals, rather for their suppression. Here the
resistance was not offered against the forces of mischief, corruption and degradation, but
instead it was offered to destroy the shining manifestations of human perfection.
Therefore, this domain of patience is not the domain as defined in the traditions and the Holy
It could therefore be concluded that patience may be defined as a means
of achieving perfection, excellence, and exaltedness, where man endeavours and makes
sincere efforts for the ultimate goal of creation, to become a real servant of Allah. His
personality ultimately becomes manifestation of all the hidden Potential of human talents
and characteristics. In other words achieving the status of a perfect human being (Insan-e-Kamil).
At this stage all the internal and external obstacles (explained in
detail earlier), which compliment each other, and in any case are the manifestations of
Satanic tactics, are resisted by him, on his forward journey. On this road, all kinds of
dangers, headaches and obstacles await the traveller. The opposition provided by them
varies in proportion to the traveller's location, movement, and duties. Sometimes for
discharging a duty one is confronted with a direct obstacle, while at other times one is
confronted with an indirect barrier in his path.
For a mountain climber, trying to scale the highest peaks,
confrontation with rocks, thorns, thieves and wolves, all are tantamount to a negative
force interfering with his ascent. But sometimes a beautiful scene, a comfortable soft
bed, and a shaky companion are also negative forces of another sort, which force the
climber to terminate his ascent. Still, at other times it could be his own sickness, or he
has to take care of some sick companions, or might be confronted with some other mishap,
which ultimately forces him to terminate his expedition. This last case may be regarded as
an indirect obstacle in his path.
The above analogy of mountain climbing is also true for the journey of
man on the road of perfection. He is confronted with three kinds of obstacles in this
journey. If the compulsory duties and obligations of religion may be considered as the
instruments and steps required for forward march on the road of perfection, the forbidden
acts of religion may be regarded as diversion from the straight path. And if the
unforeseen bitter happenings of life at the time of restlessness and instability are
considered responsible for slowing down and ultimately cutting short his journey, then the
obstacles and opposing motives could also divided into the following three categories:
(I) Desires and passions which are responsible for negligence of
compulsory religious obligations.
(II) Desires and tendencies which encourage man to indulge in forbidden
(III) Unforeseen, unhappy happenings which result in breaking his
courage and steadfastness.
Patience means resistance against all three types of barriers, and
providing moral courage and necessary momentum for the traveller to continue his forward
journey on the road of perfection. It offers resistance against those desires and
tendencies which discourage man from performing compulsory obligations, resists the
desires for indulging in sinful forbidden acts, and provides zeal and strength to be able
to tolerate the unforeseen and unhappy occurrences, which threaten to break his
With the above explanation one may appreciate the context of this
important narration from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as related by the Commander of the
Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.), as follows:
"The Prophet of Allah had said: Patience is of three kinds --
Patience in tragedies and unpleasant events, patience in performance of compulsory
obligations, and patience against sin".
On all the above mentioned occasions, like occurrence of a tragic
unfortunate happening resulting in loss of life or wealth or both, a situation requiring
performance of compulsory obligations, and an alluring sinful pleasure tempting him to
indulge in a forbidden act; a type of patience is required where the human being could
manifest or display the most superior heroic potential of his hidden exalted qualities. In
order that the complete understanding of these Islamic specialities related to the three
types of patience could be made explicitly clear, we will discuss all of them in detail.
Patience in Performance of Obligations (Obedience)
All duties and compulsory obligations are accompanied with some
headaches and inconveniences, or in other words, they demand some amount of efforts and
involvements (positive or negative), which are at odd with the easy going and comfort
loving nature of human beings. Starting from the personal compulsory religious obligations
such as prayers and fasting till the financial obligations such as "Khums" (One
fifth levy; a yearly tax upon one's personal savings) and "Zakat",(Wealth
tax to be paid on certain items) and collective social obligations such as Hajj,
the separation from family and loved ones, sacrificing all the comforts and pleasures of
life, and sometimes self-sacrifice itself becomes necessary. Of course, all this does not
match with the easy going and comfort loving nature of man. This holds true for all the
laws of the world whether heavenly or man-made, be they right or wrong.
Although in principle the law itself has been a necessity and for the
same reason it is accepted by mankind, but generally nowhere, it has ever been accepted as
something convenient, desirable and sweet by man. The same holds true for the most common
international laws and regulations, whose benefits and advantages are explicitly clear for
everybody, and their violation will result in serious consequences such as is the case
with traffic laws.
Passing through a red light results in most horrible accidents
sometimes leading to loss of lives. Although everyone is clearly aware about the
consequences of traffic law violations, but in spite of the above it is very common that
while awaiting behind a red light, the inner human nature is not comfortable and feels
inconvenient. Similar is the case for not being able to drive through a short cut route
because of a traffic sign, again one feels uncomfortable.
Although the compulsory religious obligations are based upon the
inherent human nature, and without exception to meet its genuine demands, are in reality
means and instruments to lead human beings towards perfection and exaltation, but in spite
of that it must be said that in practice it requires efforts and difficulties of some
sort. For example, in order to perform the compulsory daily prayers one has to spend some
time, must clean his hands and face before prayers, and has to meet other preliminary
requirements regarding the dress and place in accordance with the religious guidelines. It
is obvious that all of the above are in conflict with the easy going human nature.
During performance of daily prayers, to control thoughts and to achieve
the peace of heart and mind strictly for prayers, instead of getting preoccupied in
worldly affairs other than Allah, is very important. In order for the prayers to be
meaningful, and to be accepted by Allah, it is very important that the gates which allow
all external ideas should be thoroughly closed during prayers. (Footnote: In his book "Sirr-us-Salat"
the mysteries of prayers, Imam Khomeini, describes the presence of heart, as follows:
"During prayers one must try to completely cut off the heart's
preoccupation with worldly affairs. If a person is submerged in love and desires of this
world, naturally his heart is busy continuously from one involvement to another. The heart
behaves like a bird jumping from one branch to another. So far we have this tree of
worldly ambitions or desires ("Hubb-e-Duniya") in our heart, it will
behave restless. If by struggle, practice, efforts, and thinking about the severe
consequences and losses, if one could succeed in cutting this tree of worldly ambitions or
desires, then the heart will become reposed and peaceful. It will achieve spiritual
At least the more one tries to free himself from worldly charms and
temptations the more he succeeds in cutting the various branches of that tree in his
heart, with the result, the presence of heart will be achieved in the same
Imam Khomeini further explains the term 'love of this world' "Hubb-e-Duniya".
"There are people who do not possess anything at all of this mortal world, but
still they could be the persons totally submerged in the love of this world. While on the
contrary one may be like Prophet Sulaiman bin Dawood, (Solomon son of David) king of kings
and possessing all the treasurers of this universe, but at the same time may not be a man
of this world, completely detached from the lure of the world." (Tr.) )
Of course achieving the above state of mind and heart requires lots of
energy and efforts and is a difficult task.
Or fasting, which requires toleration of hunger and thirst for long
periods. To resist and struggle against the appetite for eating and drinking, to restrain
the eyes from looking at forbidden things of beauty and to resist sexual passions are
difficult tasks requiring tremendous amount of resistance. In spite of possessing
appetising food and drinks, to be able to impose voluntary self restrictions, to spent a
long hot summer day with empty stomach and dry lips of course, requires a lot of will
power and strong determination.
Or Hajj for instance, which requires tolerating the inconvenience and
hardships of a long distance journey, separation from home and relatives, and joining
groups of unknown companions, and spending money and precious time. If Hajj is done only
for the sake of pleasure of Allah, without any motives of leisure and profit-making, it
will also require patience and self-sacrifice.
The obligations regarding encouraging whatever is good (Amr bil
Ma'roof) and prohibiting whatever is forbidden (Nahi anil Munkar), as well as Jihad
(Striving for truth), requires a lot of hardship, sacrifice, tolerant and patience.
Proclamation of truth in front of the forces of falsehood and
Corruption is the most dangerous, unpleasant and bitter act, which is like standing
against a tyrant whose unsheathed sword is ready to fall on the proclaimer's head. Or
facing the enemies who are like savage beasts, the glint of whose electrifying eyes and
swords stun the heart and soul of superficial observers. Or, to be able to offer
resistance against the waves of corruption and diversion of a nation, a class, or mankind
as a whole, is the most hardest, dangerous and menacing task.
Similar is the case with other Islamic obligations, which are
accompanied with headaches, hardships and inconveniences, but at the same time without
exception, all of them are the most beneficial, and essential means and guarantees of
salvation and prosperity for mankind. Of course, for those who have recognised the
straight path and have tasted the sweetness of walking on the difficult road for the
pleasure of Allah, and the sacred and exalted aims of humanity, all the above difficulties
are desirable and tolerable.
The same prayer for men of Allah, who have tasted the sweetness of
fervent prayer and remembrance of Allah is something sweeter than honey. The Prophet of
Islam (p.b.u.h.) at the time of prayers was so eager and restless that he used to tell
"Bilal" (Footnote: 4. "He was born in Mecca, the son of an Abyssinian slave
called Rabah; in a city of idol-worship, he was tortured for his belief in the One and
Only Allah. He was made the first muezzin, the caller to prayer in Islam the Prophet
After the Prophet's death Bilal's legs, in his grief, failed him. He
could not climb up the steps to make the call to prayer again. He died in Syria, probably
in 644, twelve years after the Prophet's death. The Black Muslims in America have renamed
themselves the Bilali. Prophet (peace be upon him) called Bilal 'a man of
"Oh! Bilal please recite the call for prayer (Adhan) and make my
heart and soul peaceful".
The same struggle for the sake of Allah "Jehad fi sabil
lillah" for the self indulgent people without any insight for ultimate
consequences is extremely harsh and undesirable, but for someone with a good spiritual
insight and power like Imam Ali (a.s.), is sweeter than honey. For him, all inconveniences
and hardships in this struggle result in strengthening his power of resistance and
steadfastness. He himself describes about his astonishing state of morale in a sermon "Nahj-ul-Balagha"
"Together with the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) we fought our own
fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles, (but all these unpleasant events had the least
influence upon us), except that these increased our faith to surrender ourselves
completely to Allah and made the hard things tolerable for us."
But in general these difficulties and hardships exist for the common
people with weaker spiritual insight, and for those who are not possessed with the
required determination and will power, are bitter and undesirable.
Now, what should be done regarding these difficulties which exist in
dischargement of religious obligations? Since offering of dally compulsory prayers is
difficult, presence of heart during prayers and chaining the roaming and wondering
thoughts are even harder. Since Fasting, Jihad, Hajj, charity, encouraging good and
forbidding evil and other social obligations require pains and inconveniences, then all
these should be declared as void. Therefore, we should be allowed to live according to the
desires of our heart which is full of passions and a spirit which loves ease and comforts
It is here that Islam tells us No! Instead patience must be practised.
Patience in obedience must be practised against those passions which lure the heart away
from the prayer carpet, mosque and altar, by getting it preoccupied with hundreds nf kinds
of amusements, and in turn make prayers spiritless and meaningless. Patience must be
practised against these kinds of desires `nd prayers should be nffered completely with
presence, of heart and concentration, so that they are accepted by Allah and are fruitful
for us. Patience must be offered against those extremist tendencies which tempt us to
enjoy eating and drinking on a hot dry day instead of fasting.
Patience must be practised in confrontation with the enemies in
battlefield, where the danger shows its real and serious face, `nd where red death with
dynamic rpeed confronts the man. The pleasures and sweetness of life, memories of bhildren
`nd relatives, and the faces of the loved ones become incarnated in the eyes, and all
profit-oriented business transactions in one way or the other attract his attention, and
try to make his determination weak and shaky. Resistance should be offered against all
these forces. All obstacles and barriers vhich hnterfere with the forward march must be
removed from the road.
Patience must be offered against ` proud tyrant whose eyes burn with
`nger `nd whose transgression and corruption has pushed a nation to the brink of
catastrophe. Such a tyrant must be opposed by each responsible individual. In this
situation it is a compulsory obligation for every one to try to overthrow such a despot.
Patience should be practised against the vhispers nf Satan, who with
thousands of colourful deceits will try to close charitable hands by reminding nne nf
personal needs instead of helping others, by inciting desires for material profits and
other worldly ambitions, and will ultimately prevent a person from righteous deeds.
He will try to emphasise that the light in the own home is more important than the candle
of the mosque's niche (Mehrab). Here, patience comes into picture by offering the
necessary resistance to the above desires, to enable one to discharge his financial and
religious obligations. Yes! Patience should be practised. Yes! One should be patient in
obedience and fulfilment of these religious commands. Resistance should be offered against
the Satanic whispers and passions encouraging transgression.
Each case where such resistance is offered assumes a special meaning
and special importance in proportion to the greatness of that particular situation. At one
place, resistance means to be steadfast in facing the enemy in the battlefield, or it may
be confrontation with the self, and sometimes it may be the struggle to remain indifferent
while facing the pangs of poverty and other difficulties.
Therefore, patience means to be able to offer resistance in all the
above circumstances. Patience never allows us to surrender with folded hands, to be
insulted, to give up the initiative, and become prisoner of the events.
Examples of Patience in Obedience in the Lives of the Infallible Imams
The key phrase which has been emphasised a lot in the pilgrimage book "Ziyarat-nama"
of the Imams, is patience. i.e., "You! (Imams) remained patient, and this
patience was practised with pleasure for the sake of Allah. You! accepted the heavy load
of carrying the trust, and in spite of all the difficulties and hardships, you delivered
it to its final destination."
Truly, the responsibility of guiding mankind and explaining them the
truth of religion, and resisting tyranny, corruption, and transgression during the days of
the Imams, like any other time, was a difficult task requiring a lot of patience and
strong determination. If the patience practised by the Imams would have been of such a
type that although unhappy about the bad conditions of their times, with hearts bleeding
for the worsening plight of Muslims and Islam, they had confined themselves to the safe
boundaries of their homes without taking any concrete steps for destruction of evil and
betterment of situation in favour of the community, then this type of patience would not
have been of any special distinction, prestige and honour. There is nothing special in
this kind of inert behaviour and anybody could do it easily. Of course, this type of
conduct is practised by weak and uncommitted persons.
The prominence and glory which distinguish the lives of the holy Imams,
and the special characteristics which may be repeated while reciting salutations as
mentioned in the "Ziyarat-nama", was their being patient in obedience to
Allah. This is an area, in which many ordinary people found themselves helpless, and could
not tolerate the hardships and therefore failed to achieve that honour and distinction.
Review of the Holy Quran
It would not be out of context to remind here that among tens of verses
regarding the patience of those who have been patient, there are many verses about
patience in obedience, such as follows:
"If there are twenty patient (steadfast) ones among you, they will
overcome two hundred (of the infidels) and if there are a hundred (such ones), they will
overcome a thousands" (8:65)
The above verse emphasises the importance of offering resistance and
being steadfast while confronting the interior motives within the self, which act as
obstacles in the path of a soldier facing an enemy in the battlefield. The patient people
who have been mentioned in the above verse are those that neither the flashing swords, nor
the burning eyes of the enemies, neither the angry face of red death nor the memories of
friends and children, and pleasures and charms of life, stop them in discharging their
obligation to engage in bloody hostilities in the battlefield. And none of the above make
a slight dent in their iron will for obeying Allah.
Another verse from the Holy Quran regarding the importance
of patience in obedience is as follows:
"Our Lord! Bestow on us endurance, make our foothold sure, and
give us help against the disbelieving folk. (2:250)
The above verse refers to a group of believers who in order to
discharge a compulsory obligation have readied themselves to confront an enemy in the
battlefield. They are asking Allah to bless them with the spirit of endurance and
steadfastness in facing the obstacles in their path, and with the result bestow upon them
the fruit of their endurance, that is achieving victory over the enemies (unbelievers).
This verse very explicitly explains the meanings of patience in obedience. There are many
such verses in the Holy Quran , and the detailed discussions about them is
beyond the scope of our present discussion.
Patience Against Sin
Naturally, human beings are possessed with desires and passions, which
encourage as well as discourage them in doing certain acts. In reality these are
instruments for performing all actions, efforts and endeavours by men in their live span.
These are called instincts such as, love for self, love for children, love for wealth,
love for power, sexual desires, and scores of other such attractions and desires.
What are the instructions of Islam regarding the above natural human
instincts? And how the human beings are supposed to behave while confronting their natural
instincts? Do they have to surrender themselves to these instincts without any limit or
condition? Should these passions be suppressed? Or should they be made completely disabled
by means of superimposing rigorous self-discipline? According to the Islamic view none of
the above methods are the correct treatment.
On the contrary under no circumstances, Islam ignores the human
instincts, rather it considers them useful and something real to be reckoned with. Islam
closes the paths of transgression and Aggression, but on the other hand by utilising
realistic preventive measures. It dissipates the perversive energy associated with them.
In reality, as the basic existence of instinct among human beings is a means for
continuation of life, as well as for providing the essential necessities of life,
similarly mutiny, Aggression and transgression of instinctive passions result in
catastrophe and misfortune to human life.
If the instinct of love for the self did not exist, continuation of
human life would have not been possible. But at the same time excessiveness and
transgression of the above instinct makes the affairs of life difficult, and sometimes may
make it impossible. Similar is the case with other instincts. Among the three types of
patience mentioned earlier, patience against sin means offering resistance against the
fire of rage or diversion of instinctive passions, because basically sin or transgression
against Allah's law is nothing but the above acts of diversion, transgression and
Aggression of instincts.
Human beings are naturally inclined to endeavour for arranging the
necessities of life and other essential requirements. Since this could not be accomplished
without having wealth and money, therefore the motive to earn money and wealth constitutes
a natural instinct.
Also, Islam being a school of mankind and way of life, encourages the
above instinct and certifies it by putting its own signature. Of course, it does it for
the right administration of the society and accordingly establishes the methods,
procedures and limitations, but never stops human beings form making endeavours for
earning a livelihood.
In spite of all that, in many instances, this instinct of love for
money and hoarding of wealth takes its roots in the human soul like a chronic disease and
with the result, the money no longer remains as a means for providing the requirement.
Rather it turns into an intense desire for executing the inhuman goals or tools of
self-glorification, which is condemned from the Islamic point of view. It is here that
Islam decrees its followers to be patient by offering resistance against the transgression
and diversion of instinctive forces.
The other example of human instinct could be love for power. By nature
human beings crave for power. Certainly those who have accepted weakness, and humility as
essential elements of their existence must believe that they have deviated from the
assigned human nature. Islam, in this regards too, utilises the same approach as it does
for dealing with all other instinctive desires.
On one side the efforts and endeavours in the path of achieving power
have been commended as something desirable and permissible, and in certain circumstances
even considered as compulsory. Yes! Islam considers power necessary where it is required
for establishing the truth, for dischargement of important social obligations, for
reinstatement of lost rights of their rightful owners, and for execution of divine
commands and decrees. In these cases Islam has made it mandatory for all Muslims to gain
While on the other hand, in Islam, the path of this instinct towards
Aggression and ambitions has been closed. When the instinct of love for power results in
tyranny, oppression, brute force and savage crimes, this has been condemned as an
undesirable and forbidden act.
It is possible that association with a powerful tyrant or with a
destructive organisation may bring ample power for an ambitious person, but Islam never
sanctions such an association, because the act of associating with a tyrant is a direct
support for strengthening tyranny. The balance of power which results from this kind of
association is responsible for commitment of crimes.
Here the decrees of Islam and the Holy Quran are in direct
confrontation with the outburst and diversion of human instincts and closes the path for
them. The Muslims are ordered to struggle and offer resistance against the motives of this
type of love for power, which result in mischief and corruption, and should never
surrender to such ambitious tyrants, which means patience against sin.
There are other examples of instincts such as sexual desires, love for
fame, love for life, and etc., which could also be likewise examined, resulting in a
better understanding of important individual and social issues.
The Importance of Patience Against Sin
In the light of this brief discussion and in view of the traditions and
Islamic learning which are generally full of social education, it may be concluded that
patience against sins and transgressions has been assigned a special importance.
According to a few short traditions dealing with special circumstances
and giving a constructive lesson for the endeavouring Muslims of the period of the
infallible Imams, this branch of patience has been considered a crucial support and has
been assigned special privilege. Perhaps it may be because offering patience in obedience
is something accompanied with the natural desire (instinct) existing within human beings,
the same natural instinct which is responsible for action and efforts.
While on the other hand to be able to resist the desires for
diversions, and not to surrender to the appealing attractions of various obstacles, which
are full of sweet and desirable natural attractions, is the field of patience against sin.
In this case not only one is not supported by natural attractions and instinct, rather one
is acting in the opposite direction.
Therefore, practising patience in obedience although means struggling
against the natural instinctive (Footnote: This instinct is a part of the real human
structure, although its transgression and diversion is something unnatural and undesirable
which should be resisted by human beings) attractions such as human desires for ease and
comfort, nevertheless it is accompanied and supported by another natural instinct, however
weak. But patience against sin or transgression against laws of Allah, is in total and
direct confrontation with all the natural instinctive attractions and pleasures, and
accordingly this kind of struggle is more difficult and therefore has been assigned
Also, patience against sins plays a determining role as far as the
social affairs are concerned and since its effect is relatively more conspicuous, this
could be another reason for assigning special privilege to this kind of patience.
CHAPTER - V
For example let us consider the two very prominent faces of Islamic
History and compare them with each other. One of them is enlightened, honourable and
exciting while the other one is hated and condemned. These two faces belong to two persons
who have been offered exactly similar and equivalent opportunities. Or it may be said that
they both travelled together and reached simultaneously at an intersection, and in action,
each one selected a different direction.
One of them because of choosing the right path becomes the greatest and
most honourable Islamic personality, and the another one, because of his choosing the
wrong path becomes the most detested and deplorable face of Islamic history. One of them
is Omar bin Sa'd who is the commander of the Omayyad army to suppress the rising of Imam
Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.). The other one is Hur bin Yazid Riyahi (Footnote: Hur on the
morning of Ashura, came over to Imam Hussain's (a.s.) camp and preferred to die as a
martyr. (Ed.)) who is another commander of the same army and who had been dispatched
earlier on an assignment to follow and keep strict vigilance on the movements of Imam
Hussain (a.s.) and his followers, and had already committed an act of Aggression against
the revolutionary army of Imam Hussain (a.s.).
Each of them started their march on the road almost simultaneously. The
ruling Omayyad regime was being threatened by a revolutionary force. The revolutionary
freedom-giving fire was behind the ashes all over the Hijaz and was about to ignite inside
Iraq. Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.) considering the Islamic obligations and realising great
responsibility upon his shoulders had taken a giant revolutionary step by rising against
the corrupt and dictatorial regime of the Omayyads. He took this giant heroic step to
register forever in the history of Islam, the most practical and fundamental lesson for
the coming generations.
This rising therefore was a dangerous and a serious threat for the
ruling regime, and naturally it was forced to mobilise all the resources at its disposal
to suppress and crush this revolutionary uprising. The above two persons (Omar bin Sa'd
and Hur bin Yazid) were part of the vast resources of that tyrant regime, which were
mobilised against this revolutionary movement and against its founder Imam Hussain ibn Ali
Therefore, in the very beginning both these persons manifestes
themselves as the two important pawns (of chess play) on the playground for the game which
was actually being played by an usurper caliph (Yazid ibn Mua'wiyah). They were the
mercenaries of the caliph to execute his decisions and commands in Karbala. But apart from
that, they (Footnote: This has been explained by the lady Fatima daughter of Imam Hussain
(a.s.) in her sermon at Kufa.) too voluntarily accepted this assignment for the sake of
their love for self, love for material gains, and desires and temptations aroused by their
Omar bin Sa'd came to Karbala because of his obsession for achieving
power and position. Since his birth he was ignorant about religion and faith. For him the
promise made by the Caliph for the governorship of Rayy (presently the southern suburb of
modern Tehran), was the most valuable and dearest thing than Yazid and obedience to his
Hur bin Yazid too started his assignment for accomplishing similar
goals. Both of them were aware that whatever they were going to accomplish meant
committing a sin and a major one. But human passions and transgression of instinct for
power and ambitions did not allow them to ponder about the consequences of their would-be
assignment (war with Imam Hussain [a.s.]), and ultimately put them on the road, which
terminated into the most filthiest and beastly happening in human history.
Both of them were faced with the most critical and sensitive decisions
of their lives. One of the road was leading them towards the sensual desires which are the
same natural instincts such as love for power and ambitions, and the other one was leading
them towards discharging their Islamic duty by joining the righteous forces of Imam
At this critical juncture, the thing which could have rescued both of
them was supposed to be. nothing else but patience. Yes! By practising patience one may
overcome these destructive selfish passions. These strange destructive forces can only be
controlled by the power of patience. Patience may enable you to resist against the
temptations for committing sins and transgression of the Laws of Allah.
At this sensitive and determining moment, Omar bin Sa'd could not
resist against these deadly passions, and therefore failed. The knotted rope of love for
power and position was fallen over his neck, and he was being pulled towards hell.
Although being a powerful and strong person, he was helpless to offer any resistance about
his being fallen into this disgrace. Eventually he was overcome with impatience and was
vanquished by the motives of lust for power. And finally pulled by the rage of deadly
instinctive passions, fell down all the way into the bottom of Hell.
Hur bin Yazid too encountered the same situation. He was being
confronted with a critical dilemma. If he would have allowed himself to be led by the
desires and passions of his soul, he would have completed the assignment satisfactorily
(which was assigned to him by Yazid), and would have ignored the awakening inner voice of
his conscience by believing himself to be only an executioner of orders issued by the
caliph, and thus, could have achieved the highest position of power.
For him if the governorship of Rayy was not into consideration,
certainly something equivalent to that was kept in mind. For he too, after all was a human
being, and therefore a knotted rope of greed, desire, and rage of instinctive passions was
tied to his neck and was pulling hi-m towards hell. He was pulled almost to the brink of
fire i.e. the line dividing the two opposing camps in the plains of Karbala.
The camp of Hussain (a.s.) was manifestation of ready paradise,
fountainhead of genuine Islamic values, splendour of human spirit, and the defender of
real Islam. It was in a direct face-to-face confrontation with the Yazidi camp. Which was
the manifestation of ready hell, the degradation and humility of mankind, the scene of
hypocrisy, deceit and lies, and the bastion of ignorance which, in the name of Islam was
imposed upon the society.
Yes! The negative forces of degradation pulled him up to these limits
(i.e. brink of hell), but suddenly a heroic grand power, an awakening from within, at the
right moment took control of him and rescued him from this sudden fall. It gave him, a
severe jolt and sheared off the rope of desires and passions which was tied to his
By offering resistance against this violent instinctive passion, and by
remaining patient against this great sin, which was tantamount to waging war against the
forces representing the total truth for the sake of forces vhich were the manifestation of
total blasphemy, not only did Hur rescue himself, but jumped hnto the kingdom of paradise
from the very brink of fire.
In the above event there is a lesson for those who are interested in
in-depth studies of human history. It clearly shows the importance of this branch of
patience (against sin), in organising the great struggle between truth and falsehood,
which ultimately determines the interpretation of history, and decides the destiny of a
Some other Examples of Patience against Sin
In order to study in detail the examples of this branch of patience, we
must recollect a series of different kind of deviations and great sins. It will be proved
that patience has played the most crucial role in each situation, such as follows:
A powerful strong mounted fist has been raised and is about to fall
over the head of an innocent person, and there is absolutely -no obstacle in its path, is
a scene requiring this branch of patience. The strong instinctive forces consisting of
anger, pride, selfishness, and other desires, urge this raised fist to strike against the
innocent person's head. In this situation patience means offering resistance against these
instinctive motives and to control oneself against committing this transgression.
Someone may have an easy access to lot of money and wealth, only if he
could cross over the bridge, namely committing a murder, or indulging in a sinful act.
Here the natural lust for the love of wealth, an extremely violent deviated instinctive
force, takes control of the person to commit that crime. Here patience means offering
resistance against these motives, and to ignore the potential gains at the cost of a crime
or sin. This may be regarded as another example of practising this branch of patience.
The sexual urges are extremely powerful and intense, which may be
compared to a swamp, which swallows the elephants together with the elephant drivers. It
is exactly for the reason that this super magical characteristic had been exploited as an
easy and suitable means for humiliating and degrading the towering great human souls, by
the enemies of human progress and exaltedness throughout the history. Patience in these
situations means resisting the powerful sexual urges, by not indulging in a lower shameful
Fear or danger are common characteristics which are common among
ordinary people. It could be a product of many instincts or may consist of a single
instinct. But in many situations it plays a key role in bringing all kinds of humiliation,
insults, imprisonment, crimes and catastrophies. In many instances the weak individuals
under the influence of fear or danger submitted themselves to perform the most lowly
shameful tasks as well as committed horrible crimes, and ultimately lost their lives,
wealth, position, honour, prestige, and children. In one instance they fell down from the
highest peaks of human exaltedness and lowered themselves to become simply a tool without
any determination in the hands of enemies. Endurance against these forces of violence and
Corruption could be regarded as another scene for the display of this branch of patience.
Review of some Narrations
Here it would be worthwhile to ponder over some of the narrations
regarding this branch of patience, which have been narrated by the infallible Imams, and
are full of important revealing lessons. Asbagh bin Nabatah who is a companion of Imam Ali
(a.s.) quotes from him as follows:
"There are two types of patience, one of them is patience during
tragedies or catastrophies, which is very good and charming, but there is another type of
patience, which is far better and more charming than the above, i.e. patience against acts
forbidden by Allah." (al-Kafi vol. 2)
Narration No. 2:
Here Imam Ja'far ibn Mohammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) quotes the Prophet's
(p.b.u.h.), prediction of the state of affairs of his Ummah as follows:
"The people will face a period in which power and authority will
come only through bloodshed and brute oppression. Wealth will be amassed by usurping the
rights of others and by stinginess. Love will be realised only by giving up faith and
pursuing carnal desires. Whoever should find that period should have patience in poverty
because it will be better than faith, patience against grudge because it will be better
than love, and patience against humility because it is better than honour. Allah will
grant the reward of fifty truthful persons who believed in the Prophet". (al-Kafi
This prediction was witnessed by the Muslims of that time, during the
shameful life of Muawiya and his son Yazid and their successor caliphs, wealth and
other financial comforts could only be achieved by means of usurption of the rights of the
deprived, transgression of weaker classes, exploitation of masses, stinginess and
restrictions. in financial dues, and indifference to the genuine demands of deprived
masses. Or in other words the Prophet predicted that the natural development of the
Islamic Ummah would not be such that each individual will be possessing plenty of wealth
and material comforts without inflicting the least injury to the rest of the community.
(i.e. the rest of the community would still have the fair opportunities to earn wealth and
other material comforts). Rather gaining wealth and other material comforts, by a certain
special class could only be made possible by transgressing and exploiting the rights of
the rest of the community. This prediction was also witnessed as the Islamic Ummah
transformed into various social classes.
Popularity or fame could only be accomplished by discarding the spirit
of faith from one's life and existence, and by completely submitting to the carnal desires
of the self. In other words the love of masses or corrupt leaders could be achieved only
by practising flattery, lies, hypocrisy, cheating, surrendering to desires and passions,
deceiving and making people feel proud, covering up blunders, misportraying the realities
and disregarding the famous notion of "Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi anil Munkar" i.e.
encouraging good and discouraging forbidden acts, etc.
The above prediction by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is full of wisdom,
foretelling the would-be state of affairs of the Islamic community in the near future, in
which, the level of thinking and insight of the people will be lowered, Islamic values
will decline, the Islamic judicial system will be degraded, and the general affairs of the
Muslims will become chaotic.
It is of course obvious, that these happenings in the life of the
Islamic community, which was founded on the pillars of real Islamic values, or in other
words the train of that community which started its journey on the rails of Islamic
thoughts and ideology, was not possible, without the active involvement and subversive
acts of some powerful, hidden, and mischievous hands, operating to execute a calculated
plan to destroy the Islamic community from within.
The above prophecy by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) clearly throws light about
the usurption of political power, which may be regarded as the most inhuman act in the
history of Islam. Yes! The Prophet warned about these would-be occurrences. Alas! They
happened too soon. When people appeared before the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali
(a.s.), they witnessed in his sayings and deeds, nothing but seriousness and decisiveness,
for correcting the deviated state of affairs of the Islamic community by pulling all the
violators and sinners before the court of law. And to obtain Allah's justice for their
violations and transgressions, to restore the lost genuine rights of the rightful owners.
His brother Aqeel when approached him to seek a financial favour, had to face a red hot
iron bar and was turned down with a sad reply. Aqeel or any other person, when he
approached Muawiya, was welcomed with smiling face and open arms and rewarded with
plenty of ready money.
It was therefore natural that persons whose conscience was not
influenced by the logic of Islamic thoughts were more inclined towards Muawiya than
Imam Ali (a.s.). Therefore, this consideration that ,Muawiya lacked fame and popularity
during his rein is not correct. Notwithstanding the fact that people of Medina and Kufa,
who were under the direct influence of the towering personality of Imam Ali (a.s.) and
were familiar with the basics of Islamic ideology, the rest of the people of the Islamic
lands, throughout Muawiyahs rein, because of the suffocation of free thinking and
enquiry, the Propaganda practised by the Omayyad bands, special characteristics of the
people for loving to be mercenaries of the regime, considered him a competent,
respectable, and charismatic personality. They bestowed upon him the honourable title of "Khal-al-Muslimeen"
(Footnote: Since Mua'wiyah's sister Umm-e-Habibah was the Prophet's wife, and like his
other spouses was called Mother of Believers. With this misconstrued logic Mua'wiyah's
father Abu-Sufyan, a hard-core heathen would be called as "Grandfather of
Believers" and his wife Hind, the eater of the liver of the Prophet's uncle Martyr
Hamza would be called "Grandmother of Believers"!) i.e. the maternal
uncle of the believers.
Of course, this fame and popularity was achieved by means of special
tactical conduct of Muawiya with the influential tribal chiefs who had considerable
domination over the masses, and some manipulated them to lower their heads before Muawiya.
For these services they were showered with unlimited affection, were blessed with plenty
of wealth and power, and their hands were allowed to let open to commit all kinds of
horrible crimes and tortures against the poor deprived masses who possessed no other
These chiefs, in order to be benevolent towards their "Lord of
Affluence" (Vali Nemat), and in order to maintain the status quo, and to
exploit the situation to their best advantage opened their tongues in praising him, and
all of his faults and defects, or the type of faults he admired, were presented to the
masses as his exalted qualities and arts.
This was the picture of the would-be state of affairs of the Islamic
community as foreseen by the prophetic eyes of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Now in confronting
with such a state of affairs and facing an incompetent and sinister regime, what are the
obligations of the people? The answer to this question was provided by the narration in
Anyone who happens to face that period as predicted by the
Prophet,(p.b.u.h.) either in the near or distant future, must remain steadfast while
facing poverty and indigence and should offer resistance against the instinctual motives
for hoarding wealth and possessing other material benefits. While he had the option to act
like his contemporaries, who by utilising the usual means, were busy in accumulation of
wealth and other material gains, and passed through this difficulties naively, as though
nothing unusual had happened. He too, by accepting the filth, by indulging in crimes,
submitting to insults and captivation, giving up his dignity, honour, and exaltedness, and
turning his back against all the values and ideals, could have achieved the comfortable
and luxurious life and therefore would have fulfilled his carnal desires.
He should close his eyes over the wealth, power and riches in his
reach, at the cost of bringing poverty and destitution for thousands of people, as well as
over the hot and delicious food for him, at the cost of hunger for unlimited number of
He should endure patiently for remaining lonely, unknown and blamed
against the instinctive motives of desiring status, fame and popularity. While having the
option of receiving the favour of ignorant masses or leaders with vested interests, by
opening his tongue for flattery, praise, lies, deceit and shutting up his lips for
supporting the truth, closing his eyes for encouragement of good and forbiddance of evil,
`nd conscientiously electing to do otherwise. Realising the divine obligations entrusted
to him, and his personal duties, with full awareness he accepts demotion of his status,
becomes hated in the eyes of tyrants, and lets his prestige and honour be usurped and
trampled by the oppressors.
He should be patient and satisfied for possessing only lower social
status and should tolerate deprivation from higher prestigious positions offering better
material gains and power. He should not opt for accepting titles and important positions
of power at the cost of committing inhuman shameful crimes. Allah Almighty's reward for
someone who practices the above advises in his deeds, would be equivalent to the reward
earned by fifty righteous believers during the period of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
And therefore this heavenly saying which emanates from a celestial
heart and whose value is tantamount to a divine revelation, while offering the most
important and in-depth training, regarding social issues, also reflects the meanings and
value of this branch of patience (against sin).
Patience Against Unpleasant Events (Tragedies)
The human life is always accompanied by events and unpleasant
calamities, and there is no escape from such happenings. The human structure has been
created in such a way, that it has to deal with these imposed situations, i.e. always
encountering unpleasant events and calamities during the entire span of our lives. The
following famous sentence of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) describes the
above theme as follows:
"The world is like a house which has been encircled with
temptations and calamities."
Sickness, physical handicaps, financial losses, death of loved ones and
deprivations are some of the few' examples of the inevitable happenings from which there
is no escape. Even the most prosperous class of people are not immune against these types
of occurrences. When such calamities befall, naturally, without any choice or intention of
our own, in our lives, usually there are two types of reactions shown by the people, as
1. Some people, on account of the calamity give up their resistance
completely and therefore become spiritually handicapped.
2. The other group of people, bear with patience considering it a
natural thing of this worldly life, and come out of it intact and with dignity.
According to the famous Persian poet Roudaki (Footnote: Ja'far bin
Mohammad 'Roudaki" regarded as the father of Persian poetry, flourished in the
Samanid Court at Bukhara in the 9th-lOth century AD. (Ed.)) the merit, greatness, and
leadership of a man is tested during his encounter with calamity. Grief, crying, and
lamentation which are the ways of weak, timid-hearted and impatient individuals, in itself
is ` strong natural passion. Which imposes a violent emotional force upon the human
structure, whereby all the body parts are employed to perform a particular function. The
eyes shed tears, the tongue complains, the throat groans, and the hands, feet, and head,
are all involved in performing special actions and movements.
Patience, against calamities means not to surrender to these violent
emotional outbursts. A patient human being, while facing such tragedies does not give up
his morale and maintains his composure and control. These tragedies do not make him
depressed and discouraged, and do not stop him from making efforts and endeavours for
accomplishing the main goals in the real life. Therefore this type of patience (against
calamities) is also important, and has been termed as fair and charming in the narration
Now, let us consider the case of a wayfarer who starts his journey in a
certain direction so that he could reach the final desired Destination if upon
encountering each unpleasant accident, and after receiving a small injury, he gives up his
morale and looses his composure, then it is obvious that such a person will never complete
this journey and will never reach the final Destination Resistance, offered against these
motives of Depression while facing these tragedies is a key factor, which not only secures
the high morale, but moreover, this endurance in itself, is an exercise, which is
beneficial for building up the determination and strong iron-will among human beings,
which are the pre-requisites for continuation of the difficult journey.
Therefore patience against natural tragedies which befall human beings,
without any option or choice, consists of the following two important advantages:
Firstly, it secures and maintains the high morale, which is responsible
for all constructive involvement, and further acts as an obstacle to prevent it from
getting lost or being destroyed completely.
Secondly, it builds up the human determination or will power, which is
an important means for all positive actions, and further it provides the required
endurance to face the optional tragedies.
The special encouragement and excitement shown by the religious
guardians about this type of patience, clearly demonstrates its constructive and
miraculous role. In the following two narrations the deep philosophy of this branch of
patience could be clearly demonstrated.
"Whoever has not equipped himself with the weapon of patience,
during hardships and calamities of the time, will be subjected to a state of weakness and
helplessness". (al-Kafi vol. 2, p. 93)
"For a believer, if a position and rank, has been taken into
consideration by Allah, which could never be accomplished by deeds alone, he is inflicted
with physical sickness, or loss of wealth, or tragedies to his loved ones, and in case, he
remains patient, he is awarded by Allah (the assigned position and rank)" (Safinatul
Bihar vol. 2, p. 5)
In the above narration the constructive and exalted role of patience
has been demonstrated explicitly.
Othman bin Maz'oon, who was an experienced Muslim and had migrated to
Ethiopia and Madina, during the early period of Islam, lost his young son at Madina. This
tragedy was so devastate that he decided to spend all his remaining life inside his house
in prayers, and suddenly stopped all his social involvement completely. His depression
after the death of his young son was so intense, that he wished never to face the
pleasures of life again. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) after hearing about his state of affairs,
paid him a courtesy visit and advised him to change his decision. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.)
said that Islam does not allow monastic life (renunciation of world), sitting in an
isolated corner, engrossed prayers. The renunciation of the world by Islamic Ummah means,
participation in Jihad for the sake of Allah.
Therefore, patience against unforeseen tragedies, for which we have no
choice, means to be able to tolerate the injury caused by the calamity without giving up
the morale, and to be able to continue the routine normal involvement of the real life,
and eventually forgetting the tragedy with the passage of time.
Patience Against Optional Tragedies
This branch of patience surpasses in excellence other situations
because in this case a conscientious, and aware human being arises to accomplish a certain
goal, and offers resistance against all the hardships and unpleasant events which are
inflicted upon him during this course. But inspite of facing all these severe calamities
does not get demoralised, depressed, and continues his movement towards the cherished
If we perform an in-depth analysis for research purposes, regarding the
state of affairs of human societies in history, looking for lofty human ideals, and
specially the goals aspired by divine Prophets, which were always in conflict with the
classes representing the tyrants and profiteers, and therefore were always opposed by
them; it would become crystal clear that there had always been permanent war and
Confrontation between the proclaimers of these higher goals and the powerful classes of
tyrants and oppressors.
There are plenty of verses in the Holy Quran which throw
considerable light regarding the historical Confrontation between the Prophets of Allah
and the representative of false deities (Taghout). Since this Confrontation between
truth and falsehood is inevitable, therefore it is necessary for the followers of the path
of truth, proclaimers of justice and righteousness, and the truth seekers and researchers
following the path of divine Prophets, to know and predict in advance that the path of
truth is accompanied by all kinds of hardships and calamities.
The Holy Quran, in order to make the believers ready for
confronting the problems, announces in advance clearly the potential dangers on the path
of truth, and brings the historical realities to their attention as follows:
"Assuredly you will be tried in your property and in your persons
and you will hear much wrong from those who were given the scripture before you and from
the idolaters. But if you are patient and guard yourselves (against evil), then it is a
matter of (great) resolve. " (3: 186)
In reality, those who wanted to live like a believer or slave of Allah,
and also wanted to be responsible towards the divine obligations and other commitments
assigned to them, realised that they will be opposed and subjected to different kind of
hardships by their opponents, and they soon witnessed the truth of this Qur'anic
prediction with their own eyes in their own period.
Of course, the one who enjoys an important position and rank and whose
faith and actions are more determined in the path of Allah would be more effective. And
therefore in the same proportion will be subjected to severe hardships and tragedies by
the opponents, whose tolerant is indeed difficult. There is a famous narration quoted from
Imam Jaffer Sadiq (a.s.) as follows:
"Among all the people, the prophets were inflicted with the
harshest calamities, and after them, those who were closer to the prophets were subjected
to similar kinds of hardships and calamities". (Safinatul Bihar)
Of course, these calamities are not like the type of unforeseen natural
tragedies, as described earlier, for which a human being has absolutely no control or
choice, rather in this case every one has the option too choose. In case he desires and
prefers the comfortable and easy life of this world, and to remain immune against these
types of calamities, he may elect to do so. What makes these events inevitable is the
movement towards the cherished goal.
Every easy going person who prefers the comfortable environment of his
home and never takes the trouble to venture outside the four walls of his house, would
never face the inconveniences and problems encountered in a journey. But at the same time,
he will never benefit from the experiences which are possible only by going through an
adventurous journey. He would remain safe throughout his life from such events as,
slipping from the mountain peak, facing a beast in the jungle, and being robbed by
bandits, which are likely events of an adventurous journey.
Like every naive and irresponsible human being who has not recognised
the aims of life, and has not taken any steps towards that goal, and prefers an uneventful
life without headaches, would be better advised to follow the decree of the following
verse of Sa'di, the famous Iranian poet as follows:
"Although inside the sea there are plenty of material gains. But
if you prefer safety, you better stay on the shore!"
According to this logic (Footnote: Like the French poet Gautier who
once during wartime stated: "I prefer lying down to sitting, I prefer sitting to
standing, and I prefer remaining home to going out. I will know nothing of the war they
say has engulfed the whole world, unless a bullet shatters the window of my house"
(Tr.)), one could easily choose the option to remain immune from all the troubles,
headaches, and injuries etc., which are a pre-requisite for joining the path of the
Therefore, the calamities on the path of the prophets are optional
tragedies, in the sense that they are inflicted upon those, who are taking commands from
the following saying of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) as follows:
"By taking giant steps on the divine path, they throw themselves
into the whirlpool of tragedies."
Therefore, they succeeded in announcing the positive and definite reply
to the divine invitation to support the truth. Hence, patience against optional tragedies
is the important type of patience, relative to other categories. This branch of patience
reflects the highest degree of human exaltedness in facing the optional tragedies.
This type of patience means accepting tragedies in spite of the fact
that all instinctual motives, are forcing him to turn his back in the middle of the path
and stop offering resistance any more; yet he continues offering resistance, and never
feels sorry or ashamed to be inflicted with severe blows on the righteous path.
Khabbab bin al-Arth, is ranked among the top Muslims, who accepted the
invitation of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to Islam, and offered a lot of sacrifices.
Because of his conversion to Islam, he lost a significant portion of his property and
possessions. One day, he complained to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) about his severe financial
loss. He himself narrates as follows: "The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had spread his robe on
the ground, and was reclining with his back against the Holy Kabah. When he listened
to my complaint, he changed his relaxed sitting position, and his composure changed, and
"Your predecessors (Footnote: The Prophet was referring to
believers in the mission of earlier Prophets, who in those distant times were subjected to
all sorts of inhuman atrocities by the idolaters. The main theme of the messages of all
divine Prophets was Monotheism (belief in the One and Only Allah) and Islam, which means
submission to Allah's will. (Ed.)), sometimes were slaughtered by the iron saw, cutting
their skin, veins, and flesh all the way down till the bones. But they remained committed
to their faith, and never complained, even when in some cases, their bodies were cut off
into two equal pieces. Allah will carry this movement (Islam) till its perfection. The
distance a rider travels between Sana (Capital of Yemen) and Hadhramut, (Region in the
southern part of Yemen) roads and highways will be so safe, under the Islamic state and
Islamic system that nobody will be afraid of anything but Allah, and the flock of sheep
will not be scared of anyone but wolf."
Therefore, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) by delivering these fiery speeches
instilled his followers with the spirit of resistance and iron will, and encouraged them
to be Patient, while facing the calamities which were inflicted upon them for the sake of
their belief in Allah. It is quite possible that some one by practising patience for
discharging Islamic obligations (i.e. patience in obedience), or by offering resistance
against instinctual passions (i.e. patience against sin), may be genuinely included in the
list of believers and may start walking on the path whose other end leads to Allah.
But once confronted with accidents and tragedies, which are essential
and inevitable part of this journey, he may not withstand, and in the middle of the path,
face moral break down, weakness of faith, hopelessness, and other such reasons and on
account of impatience, may decide to return without completing the journey, disregarding
the dischargement of duties, which were assigned to him. Therefore the completion of
journey on this path with certainty, and without any doubt for not breaking in the middle,
is made possible only by practising this type of patience (i.e. patience against optional
Ways for Encouraging this Branch of Patience
In view of its importance and fundamental role, many verses of the Holy
Quran focus on this particular branch of patience, so that Muslims could feel
the charm of this special struggle in their heart and spirit. One of the ways for being
patient against optional tragedies is to ponder on tragedies which are beyond our control.
In order that the confrontation with death may not be difficult for the wayfarers on the
path of Allah, the Holy Quran reminds us that: Death is destined for all
human beings. Those who do not die on the battlefield will eventually die on their beds in
their homes. Life and death all belong to Allah, and the deeds which are accounted for his
path carry the best of compensation and bonus from Allah the almighty.
Muhammad is not but a Messenger, (other) Messenger have passed
away before him. Will it be that, when he dies or is slain, you will turn back on your
heels? He who turned back does not hurt Allah the least, and Allah will reward the
thankful" (3: 144)
"Oh you who believe! be not as those who disbelieved and said of
their brethren who went abroad in the land or were fighting in the field: Had they been
(here) with us they would not have died or been killed; that Allah may make it anguish in
their hearts. Allah gives life and causes death, and Allah beholds of what you do. (3:
"Those who, sat at their home said to their brethren (who were
fighting for the cause of Allah): If they had been guided by us they would not have been
slain: say (unto them, 0 Muhammad): Then avert death from yourself if you are truthful
" (3: 168)
The other method consists of reminding the progress accomplished by
accepting these calamities on the desired path, and the severe blows dealt to the
obstacles on the path by these means.
"Faint not nor grieve, for you will overcome them if you are
indeed believers (3: 139)
"If you have received a blow, the disbelieving people have
received a blow the like thereof. These are (only) the vicissitudes which we cause to
follow one another for mankind, to the end that Allah may know those who believe and may
choose witnesses from among you, and Allah loves not the wrong-doers. " (3: 140)
The Holy Quran emphasises upon its followers not to worry or
be slow because victory eventually belongs to believers. If believers have received blows,
similar blows were also dealt to the enemy.
The third method consists of narratives of the predecessors and their
role against optional tragedies. The Holy Quran, puts the patience and
steadfastness of the supporters of prophets and pioneers of Islam in the following
"And how many a prophet had fought with whom were a number of
devoted men and they lost not heart at what befell them in the way of Allah, nor did they
weaken, nor did they demean themselves (before their enemies); Allah loves the steadfast.
" (3: 146)
There are many such verses in the Holy Quran describing
similar situations, and encouraging believers to tread the path of Prophets. Of course,
patience against such optional tragedies, while it is quite difficult and requires strong
determination and faith, but at the same time, in itself plays a miraculous role in
producing firm resolve and righteous faith; and more important than that is responsible
for creation of the ideal society of Islam.
It is for this reason that many verses of the Holy Quran
as well as of narrations of the infallible Imams, emphasise in different styles the
importance of this branch of patience, and have issued the necessary guidelines and
instructions about its practice. Since this discussion which is mostly based upon
narratives, therefore let us quote one more narration about patience against all kinds of
tragedies as follows:
"Abi Basir quotes from Imam Ja'fer Sadiq (a.s.): "A free
person is free in all situations, if a terrible tragedy befalls him he is patient, and
tragedies and inflictions cannot break him. He might be arrested, chained and tyrannised
but converts hardships into comfort like Prophet Joseph the righteous, whose freedom was
the least affected by oppression, tyranny and imprisonment". (al-Kafi vol. 2 p. 89)
CHAPTER - VI
The Advantages and Effects of Patience
In the end, it would be necessary to mention about the advantages and
constructive effects of patience. Although in our earlier discussions, the topic has been
covered to a certain extent, but in order to provide more detailed information regarding
the individual and social effects of patience, further discussion is necessary.
It should be mentioned that, here we are not looking into the
advantages of patience in the next world, i.e. the rewards which will be awarded in the
Hereafter to a person for being patient in this life. But at the same time, it should not
be forgotten that those rewards cannot be separated with some of the advantages of
patience in the life of this world.
At present, however, we are looking into rewards and advantages of
patience for a patient person, or a society and groups of patients, as a ready cash, on
account of their being steadfast and patient, right here at this stage of worldly life. It
is really difficult to start and to select a certain advantage out of unlimited advantages
One could say in nutshell, that every thing, this world as well as the
next world; the higher noble human ideals as well as the lowest mischievous plots, and in
summary, each goal or aim, desired by any one, are all directly tied to their being
steadfast and patient. If it is required to produce a logical reasoning to support the
above statement, and if the vast experiences gained by mankind throughout history are not
sufficient enough for convincing, then let us present this definite and explicit formula:
Accomplishment of a goal requires action, and action requires patience
Every one must have, at least a couple of times in his lifespan,
examined the correctness of the above formula.
Permanence and Victory
The Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) in the following
quotation, which is full of wisdom said:
"A steadfast patient person would never be denied success, however
it may materialise after a long time." (Nahj-ul-Balagha)
In another quotation from him, the same theme has been described in
other words as follows:
"Whoever mounts the horse of patience would definitely find his
path to the field of victory." (Nahj-ul-Balagha)
During the battle of Siffin, in an inspiring sermon for boosting the
morale of his forces, the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (a.s.) said:
"Make your supports upon righteousness and patience (stability);
because it is only after patience (stability) that victory shall be bestowed upon
you." (Tarikh Kamil ibn Athir)
Is it really true, that patience and endurance will enable a person to
achieve his goal? If this is a overall law or regulation, which is always applicable, then
why all along the history, we encounter many groups, who in spite of their best efforts at
endurance and steadfastness could not accomplish their desired goals, and could not
witness the victory. During the early period of Islam, there are incidents like Ashura,
the uprising of the 'Tawwabin', (Footnote: Tawwabin or penitents, as they are called in
history books, were mostly people of Kufa and Iraq, who rose up against the Omayyad rule
in 64 A.H. (683 AD.), three years after the tragedy of Karbala to avenge the blood of Imam
Hussain (a.s.) and the Prophet's Household. Led by the Prophet's ageing companion Sulayman
ibn gurad al-Khazaei, who was one of the leading Islamic generals in the conquest of
Transoxiana, their sole aim in battle, was either to kill the ungodly Omayyads or to
achieve martyrdom in the process. For almost two years, they fought the caliphal forces,
killing a great number of those troops who had fought against Imam Hussain (a.s.) at
Karbala.(Ed)) of Zaid bin Ali, (Footnote: Zaid was the son of the fourth Imam Ali ibn
al-Hussain (the survivor of Karbala). Fed up with Omayyad tyranny, he started an uprising
in Iraq and was tragically martyred and his body was burned by the caliphal forces in 124
A.H. (740 AD.). His movement like other Alid uprisings, aroused people's conscience
against the libertine and ungodly rule of the Omayyads, who were swept into the dustbin of
history ten years later in 132 A.H. (749 AD.). (Ed)) and similar incidents during later
Of course many people are interested to know the answer to the above
questions, but if we ponder a little bit, the answer will become explicitly clear. In our
opinion, those who consider these historical apparently unsuccessful and inconclusive
events, such as Ashura, and martyrdom of Hazrat Zaid, as a violation of the overall law
(after patience comes victory), have not recognised the aims and objects, which were
incorporated in each of these incidents, and whose attainment meant achieving success and
victory for these movements. Now let us ask this question: What were the aims of these
historical events? If this question could be answered correctly, it would become quite
apparent that under no circumstances they were defeated or disappointed in their
endeavours and efforts toward achieving the cherished goals.
Incidentally, it should be reminded, that aims and objectives, as
regards to being long term or short term, differ from each other. Some of the aims could
be accomplished in short time, while some others could only be materialised after a
lengthy period. To plant a sapling, nurture it and make all other necessary arrangements,
are preliminary requirements, in order to utilise the fruits of that tree. If all these
preliminary requirements were, without the least negligence, fulfilled timely, and if
precautions were taken to make it resist the negative factors responsible for
unproductiveness and decay, certainly this plant will bear fruits, but a uniform and fixed
period for all places does not exist.
Sometimes the fruits under consideration will be obtained, say after a
period of one year. But occasionally the type of the tree, the fruits under consideration,
and the natural circumstances are such that one cannot hope to have fruits at least before
10 years. Certainly, the ultimate goal for taking care of this sapling, which will be
achieved after 10 years, is to have the desired fruits of this tree.
But during all these long waiting years, the aim behind each year's
efforts is to move the sapling one step closer to the date when it will bear fruits. After
passing of each progressive year, the gardener becomes happy and satisfied, that his
efforts during the past years have produced results i.e. the sapling has grown through one
stage, getting on a year closer to its fruit-bearing date.
Now, if an observer, aware of the efforts and endeavours of this
hardworking and patient gardener all along the year, does not see any fruits on the tree
after passing of a year, and wrings his hands in hopelessness and looses his confidence in
the famous notion: "It is only after patience, victory would have a chance," and
out of immaturity and inexperience were to criticise the gardener, then such an observer
would obviously be termed a narrow minded and impatient person by every one and would be
reminded that he should not expect that the efforts and endeavours of one year will
produce a result equivalent to 10 years of efforts.
The movement of Ashura, and all other later movements having the same
orientation and same direction, without exception succeeded in achieving their desired
aims and goals. Each of these movements were giant strides for the destruction of power of
tyrants ruling in the name of Islam, and for the establishment of ideal Islamic society.
Without any doubt following these pioneering giant steps, if the
courage of later generations would have encouraged them, to take the next steps, the
ultimate result would have been certainly achieved. Therefore, to expect that ultimate
result, which could only be obtained through the organised and continuous efforts and
involvement of a few generations, or few persons, or some people of a single Generation,
is certainly wrong, resulting from ignorance and over-expectation.
In the above example, it should be said to that impatient and
inexperienced observer, that those who had accepted the hardships of gardening and
discharged their duties understood well that the work done by them, each day and each
hour, had instantaneously produced desired results, even before the passing of that hour
and day, and they achieved the result of their patience practised at each passing instant.
Two years of hard work of this gardener brings the fruit-bearing date closer to two years.
If his efforts were not there, the fruits of this sapling would have been delayed by two
years or perhaps two years of fruit-bearing time would have been wasted. Is reality other
Parallel to this reality, there exists another reality too. If, after
an obstacle which prevented the sincere gardener from continuing his job, another gardener
does not pursue the duties of his predecessor, by undertaking the planned activities for
the third, fourth years, obviously this tree will never bear fruits.
Let us consider the example of a certain load, supposed to be carried
to a place, say ten steps ahead. Now, suppose it has moved by two steps, one could say the
load has reached close to its final destination by two steps. If the first person,
responsible for its delivery, is in a position to undertake the remaining steps, he would
do so, if not his substitute will take the remaining steps to carry the load to its final
destination. But if this responsibility, i.e. moving the load past the remaining eight
steps was not discharged by the first person or by his substitute, then obviously the load
will never be delivered to its final destination. However, there is no doubt, that the
result of patience in taking the first two pioneering steps has been achieved, because the
load has moved by two steps.
To uproot a deep rooted tree, and to remove a huge rock without having
proper equipment like drill, chain saw, nr powerful and strong hands, is of course not
possible, but having all of them, but not having patience will not produce any result. If
the first person having strong hands and patience, after making a headway was forced to
discontinue his efforts, then the others who were supposed to take his place, are
responsible to carry on the job by one more step ahead, and another stage closer to
Likewise, the uprising of Zaid bin Ali, because of an unexpected
tragedy -- an arrow struck him on his forehead and he fell down instantly -- could not
accomplish the final victory, but the result of this pioneering step (i.e. to arise) was
achieved immediately by him. His uprising was a heavy blow to the huge rock of the usurper
A heavy rock, which required repeated and continuous blows, to be
destroyed completely. If the initial blows would have been accompanied by later blows,
this black boulder of Omayyad rule, which was a heavy burden upon the Islamic Ummah, and a
source of oppression, would have splintered into pieces. Certainly, without the initial
severe blow being struck, the later blows would not have achieved that desired result, or
may be, no one would have dared to struck those later blows.
There are narrations -- refer to Bihar-ul-Anwar -- which consider the
martyrdom of the Lord of Martyrs, Imam Hussain (a.s.), as the key factor for the collapse
of Sufyani rule and the martyrdom of Zaid bin Ali for the downfall of the Marwanids
(Footnote: The Omayyuds who usurped power of the Islamic State in 41 A.H., when Muawiya
the son of Abu Sufyan, forced Imam Hassan (a.s.) to abdicate, were divided into two
branches; the Sufyanids whose rule terminated with the death of Muawiya ibn Yazid in 64
A.H. (683 AD.) and the Marwanids, whose rule started with Marwan ibn Hakam and ended with
Marwan ibn Mohammad al-Hemar in 132 A.H. (749 AD.), when a new dynasty the Abbasids
usurped power. (Ed)).
Psychological Traces of Patience in the Lives of individuals
Apart from the constructive social advantages of patience such as
gaining victory and fulfilment of aims and goals, this characteristic is also responsible
for the positive and very important influences upon the mentality and spirit of the
patient person. It is because of this miraculous awareness, that most of the historical
human sacrifices, and specially the supreme sacrifices of the martyrs of Karbala, i.e. the
companions and relatives of the Lord of Martyrs "Imam Hussain (a.s.)", whose
memories we are celebrating during these nights (Footnote: These speeches were delivered
during Muharram of 1394 Hijri at Masjid-e-Karamat in Mashhad. (Tr.)) will become easy to
comprehend. What we mean with the spiritual mentality, are the influences left by the
patient person upon his soul and mind, that before accomplishing the external and definite
results of his struggle, he instantaneously obtains the personal result.
The Birth of Invincible Spirit
The foremost positive and constructive effect of patience is to produce
a strong and invincible personality. Like a good physical exercise programme makes a
person strong and healthy to enable him to offer better physical resistance. Secondly, it
produces all the required elements for achieving success in accomplishment of aims,
fulfilment of desires, be material or ideological, among the patient individuals.
The defeats and failures suffered during the social, religious, and
ideological struggle has had a devastative moral effect, a blow, inflicted by the vincible
and week mentality upon the determination to carry on the struggle, whose damage and
devastation is many times severe than the losses inflicted by trained professional armed
forces and their armament.
The soldier, (Footnote: General George C. Marshall, a great soldier had
stated that "you can have all the material in the world, but without morale it is
largely ineffective". He also said: "it is not enough to fight, it is the spirit
which we bring to the fight which decides the issue. It is morale that wins the
victory." (Tr.)) who decided to run away from the battlefield turning his back to the
enemy has indeed first suffered a moral defeat, before giving up his physical strength.
Until this psychological defeat is not inflicted upon him, it is impossible that a soldier
will be able to turn his back and run away from the battlefield.
The historic behaviour of Tariq bin Ziyad -The commander of the Muslim
army -- the brave Muslim commander and victor of a portion of Spain in the year 94 Hijri
(711 AD.), who after crossing the Mediterranean Sea and stepping upon enemy land, ordered
the burning of all his ships, is an example of this invincible spirit. The prime quality
of patience is to produce such an invincible spirit in a patient person.
Those individuals, who while facing routine events of day-to-day life,
such as financial losses, sickness, frustration, hatred, and death etc. .. do not offer
resistance and endurance, and very soon become dejected, aggrieved, annoyed, and helpless,
when confronted with obstacles in their path, and thereby leave the scene of struggle and
are suspectable to instant defeat. Contrary to these individuals of weak mentality there
are those, who in confronting every event in their life use patience as their ultimate
winning weapon, and offer resistance in the best possible manner, achieving an invincible
morale and strong will power to face the problems of life.
An impatient person could be compared to a soldier in the battlefield
who is fighting virtually naked without armour. Such an ill-equipped soldier is most
likely to be killed and disappear from the scene during the very first encounter. With the
same analogy a patient person could be compared to a soldier who is clad in a coat of mail
from head to toes, and is fully equipped with all the required armaments. Obviously to
defeat such a well equipped soldier by the enemy is relatively a difficult task.
The one, who would never be defeated in the battlefield of life, is the
one who had already made all the necessary arrangements, by putting on the armour of
patience. Such a person, never gets defeated easily, and when faced with problems and
unpleasant events, which abound at every step on the road of perfection and prosperity,
never flinches his eyebrows, and his legs and heart remain firm and stable without showing
the least signs of trembling.
The following narration from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) throws ample light about
the depth of this divinely inspired Islamic characteristic:
"Any one who has not prepared for himself logistics of
patience to meet every tragedy will find himself in a state of despair and
It means that the one who has not planned in advance, how to face the
problems and unexpected tragedies of life, and has not developed within himself a spirit
of resistance, would soon find himself in a state of despair and helplessness. The
opposite of this is, if some one for confrontation with tragedies has equipped himself
with the logistics of patience shall never face disappointment and defeat.
The secret of steadfastness and permanence of great builders of the
history of mankind, and the foremost amongst them, the divine Prophets and other pious
statesmen, who in spite of being inflicted with the most severe pains and tortures at the
very beginning of their invitation, remained relatively active and stable, lies in the
same point. With an accurate foresight regarding the bitterness and unpleasantness of this
path, and with their properly being equipped with the logistics of patience, they were
able to completely eliminate the possibilities of their psychological defeat and with the
result converted themselves into robust and invincible creatures.
Their opponents and enemies that in many instances were equipped with
all kinds of resources became tired and helpless, but these great men in spite of being
deprived of proper resources diligently continued their heroic invincible resistance.
Mutawakkil the Abbasid (Mutawakkil: one of the Abbasid caliphs who was
specially hostile to the Ahl-ul-Bait and their followers, ruled from 232/847 to 247/861
(Tr.)) caliph once said: "Ibn al-Redha (Footnote: After Imam al-Redha (a.s.) the 8th
Imam, three successive Imams till the 11th Imam and some other prominent descendants of
the 8th Imam, during that period were called "Ibn al-Redha". In the above
sentence the reference is to Imam Hadi (a.s.) the 10th Imam) has put me in a state of
How someone like Imam Hadi (Footnote: 8. The important point in this
narration is the importance of predicting dangers in advance, while making preparations
for struggle. Perhaps, those who without considering the potential dangers, conducted a
dangerous operation, do not have the strength to confront the danger and therefore as soon
as they face the signs of potential danger, became disappointed, ashamed and helpless.)
(a.s.), who has spent most of the period of his leadership under the intense pressure of
the ruling regime of caliph Mutawakkil, was in a position to put the powerful caliph in a
state of annoyance. When one among the two combatant adversaries is weak as regards to the
outwardly resources, but inspite of being faced with imprisonment, deprivations, being
away from the comfortable and secured environment, does not get harassed, pressures and
hardships does not break his iron will, and inspite of all these obstacles on the path of
his cherished goals, continues his long term march. It is obvious that his adversary who,
in spite of having equipped with better material resources lacks the commitment and strong
spiritual faith and therefore becomes easily harassed and defeated.
Certainly, an impatient wayfarer cannot without first getting himself
tired, at the same time, would be able to make his adversary tired undoubtedly he is going
to loose and be defeated. This is the strange characteristic of patience which makes a
Appearance of Righteous Virtues Within
The people before testing, cannot evaluate themselves, and very often
are unaware about the hidden energy in their existence. Let us consider the example of a
strong person, who is possessed with plenty of natural physical strength without doing any
special practice or physical exercise. Let us imagine that he has never participated in a
weight lifting or any other physical competition, such a person is certainly not aware
regarding the amount of physical strength in his body. We could only discover the
Allah-given energy in our existence, when we are challenged to participate in a certain
competition which requires the utilisation of that particular energy.
The second important effect of patience is, that a patient person after
offering resistance in different fields of life and against the events and obstacles,
discovers about the amount of energy, its particulars, and the noble and higher sublime
virtues hidden with in his existence, which were never discovered by him earlier, during a
routine life without any headache.
Those who have suffered the pressures and harshness of life, and for
the sake of their cherished noble aims and ideals, were subjected to severe tragedies and
hardships appreciate the above meanings. Such individuals with an irreversible decree of
determination, in their confrontation with great dangers, and severe pressures, while a
strange naive observer would have considered them defeated and destroyed completely,
because of their patience and endurance, were able to achieve a sense of relief and
victory, an unprecedented power and surprising grandeur; within their existence, which was
something completely new for them and was never realised by them before.
Therefore, it is because of patience, that a patient person could
better recognise his self, as well as could better identify the positive points within his
existence, and could discover the energy which was never identified throughout his life
More Attention and Reliance upon Allah
The third constructive quality of patience is that whatever stage or
extent a patient person may be, it helps him to bring relatively closer and more reliant
upon Allah. Now, some people may consider that reliance upon Allah does not get along with
the reliance upon self, and therefore according to their logic, any one who is dependent
upon Allah, could not rely upon his self.
When it is said: 'Rely upon Allah', such people complain: Let people
rely upon themselves, and let their eyes and hopes look towards themselves, as if the one
who invites the people to rely upon Allah, wants them not to be relied upon themselves.
While in reality for a person committed to Allah, reliance upon self is complimentary and
inseparable with each other, even to the extent that reliance upon self is regarded as one
of the parameter of the patience, which in effect is a means for reliance upon Allah as
well as. Because impatience against bitter tragedies of life, and fear against optional
calamities, which are reflections of lack of self reliance, also means forgetting Allah.
When a person is inflicted with the severe tragedies of life, and the
millstone representing the testing of life is grinding him with intense pressure, if he
does not become impatient, aggrieved, and annoyed, the channels of his communication with
Allah would become wider and independent, and his heart and soul would be enlightened with
the Light of Allah. And on the contrary, his becoming weak and annoyed, makes him
ignorant, stranger and disconnected from his own self as well as from Allah. This sentence
speaks about a reality fully explicit with clear reasoning and tested with the experience
of those, who in their confrontation with the adverse conditions, were able to utilise
patience as their winning weapon, and believe and acknowledge this matter with certainty.
"Our Lord! Bestow on us endurance, make our foothold sure and give
us help against the disbelieving folk. " (2:250)