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Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim’s Tips to Improve Your Patience

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim’s Tips to Improve Your Patience

By Ibn Al-Qayyim

Faith is a strong incentive that helps achieving patience.

Faith is a strong incentive that helps achieving patience.

As Almighty Allah has enjoined patience, He has also provided some means that lead to it and support it. Whenever Allah ordains something, He grants the necessary help and appoints the way to maintain it. Indeed, Almighty Allah never inflicts a disease unless He provides its remedy, through which recovery is ensured if He wills. Though difficult for the soul, patience is possible to attain and worthy to strive for.

Two aspects of patience

Patience has two aspects: theory and practice. In these, cures of the heart and the body are found. The theoretical aspect, as well as the practical one, should be present so that the most effective treatment may be facilitated.

The theoretical aspect requires us to get acquainted with the goodness, benefits, bliss, and perfection of the divine obligations as well as the evil and harm of what is forbidden.

When a person adds to this his or her sincere resolution, powerful will, and sense of honor, patience is the result. When this occurs, hardships become of little importance, bitterness turns into pleasure, and agonies transform into joys.

There is a continual struggle between patience and impatience. Both seek victory over the other, but the victory of either side will be ensured only when a person supports one side against the other. When one’s lusts and whims become stronger and gain supremacy, to the point that relief is unattainable, one is usually tempted by promises of gratification and dissuaded from the divine remembrance and contemplation of what is beneficial to one both in this world and in the hereafter.

Five Steps to cure lack of patience

However, if a person is resolved to resist and seek treatment for such a spiritual infection, he or she can achieve that by observing the following:

First, the negative side of desires is nourished by that which stimulates and stirs it into action. So, to weaken the effect of this process, one should avoid the possible stimulus, such as excessiveness in food, for example. Fasting helps control one’s desires, especially if the fast is broken with a modest meal.

Second, desire is often stimulated by eyes gazing and, thus, a person should lower his or her gaze as much as possible. The motivation of one’s will and desire, with which the heart may be moved, is stirred by gazing. Indeed, such gaze is a poisoned arrow of Satan. Satan sends its arrows against an unarmored heart. Armor here connotes either lowering one’s eyes or diverting them. Such an arrow is thrown from the bow of physical forms. If one keeps away from it, it misses its target; otherwise the heart would be smitten.

Third, pleasure should be sought in what is permissible. Man’s natural instincts can be satisfied with what Almighty Allah has permitted. As pointed out by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) this is an effective treatment that is prescribed for most people.

Fourth, the harms of wrongdoing in this world should be considered. In fact, if there were neither Paradise nor Hell, contemplating the harms of wrongdoing in this world would still be sufficient to lead people away from doing wrong.

Fifth, one has to think about the ugly aspects of the evil inclinations and whims of the soul. The human being who has even the slightest sense of honor naturally dislikes to be involved in any evil affair.

Reinforce your faith

Faith is a strong incentive that helps achieving patience. Faith can be strengthened by the following:

  1. Glorifying Allah: This means to glorify Allah by refraining from disobedience, for He is Ever-Hearing and Ever-Watching. When one’s heart is full of fear and awareness of Allah and respect for Him, one cannot act sinfully.
  2. Loving the Creator: If a servant’s heart is full of love for Allah, he or she will give up all sins. Indeed, love commands obedience.
  3. Being grateful to the divine bounty and beneficence: A virtuous person never repays his or her benefactor with offensive deeds. This is something only the wicked do. The servants of Allah should, out of thankfulness, fall down in humility when they recognize Allah’s bounties being continually bestowed upon them. As a result, any repulsive sin would seem all the more detestable to them.
  4. Fearing Allah’s wrath and punishment: If a person persists in rebellion, Allah’s wrath descends upon him or her, and His wrath cannot be resisted. Humans are weak by nature and are in constant need of Allah’s help, mercy, and guidance.
  5. Expecting loss because of sin: Sinful people are in a state of loss, for they lose good both in this world and in the next. The smallest atom of faith is better than the whole universe! How can anyone desire to relinquish it? How can they trade it for a brief moment of pleasure that fades away in no time, but whose consequences will be felt forever? Desires languish while misery remains. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying,

“The adulterer is not a believer at the moment when he is committing adultery; the wine drinker is not a believer at the moment when he is drinking wine; and the thief is not a believer at the moment when he is stealing.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

According to some Companions of the Prophet, faith is taken away from such a person like an umbrella is taken from over one’s head. When he or she repents, faith is obtained once more.

  1. Seeking victory over Satan and one’s lower self: When people control their desires and overcome Satan, they find sweetness and delight in their heart. Such victory is greater than the victory gained over human enemies. It is also more impressive, pleasurable, and praiseworthy. Such victory is similar to the effective remedy that treats the ailments of one’s body.
  2. Anticipating reward from Allah: Almighty Allah has promised to reward His servants when they give up what is forbidden and restrain their desires. The reward shall be so generous as to make them completely content.
  3. Seeking Allah’s aid: The Noble Qur’an, in more than one verse, speaks about the fortunate persons who shall receive aid and support from their Lord. Almighty Allah says,

***“O you who believe! Seek assistance through patience and Prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

***“Lo! Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him and those who are doers of good.” (An-Nahl 16:128)

***“And verily Allah is with those who do right.”  (Al-`Ankabut 29:69)

Allah’s aid and bounty are surely better and more lasting. Eternal success and happiness are so much more desirable than a short joy in the brief period of one’s life.

  1. Fearing unexpected death: Always in the back of people’s mind is the fear of death, which can take them by surprise at any time. The time of death is unknown to any one. At the moment of death, the sinful will regret their negligence and disobedience. One does not fully appreciate this until his or her life is over, and then it will be too late.
  2. Grasping the evil consequences of sins: Experiencing tribulation is often related to sins and their consequences, while well-being comes as a reward and mercy from Allah when people obey Him. Some earlier scholars said, “When we see people in great difficulty, we should ask Allah for well-being. And when people try to evade their obligations toward Allah and become willfully disobedient and negligent in remembering Him, then affliction follows.”

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Adapted from the author’s `Uddat As-Sabreen wa Dhakeerat Ash-Shkirin, cited here with modifications from http://nur-ar-ramadan.tripod.com/index.html.

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya was a famous Islamic jurist and commentator to the Qur’an. He was born on the seventh of Safar in 691 AH (Feb. 4, 1291) in Hauran, near Damascus, Syria. He died on September 23, 1350.

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