The Benefits of Patience
Truly man is in loss—except for those who believe and do right actions and urge each other to the truth and steadfastness. (Surat al-'Asr, 2-3)
As Allah tells us in this verse, people who encourage one another to follow the truth and be steadfast receive various benefits. Patience develops people in many ways, such as allowing them to acquire superior morality, and offers them a beautiful and peaceful life that cannot be compared with the life of people who are far from the faith. In addition, believers have been promised greatly increased blessings in the afterlife in return for their patience. We list some of these fine and beautiful things, which are experienced in this world and the next, as follows:
Patience leads to intelligence
One of the major factors preventing people from acting intelligently is their impulsive thinking and behavior brought about by impatience. Sudden anger or desire shuts down the mind and pushes people to act without thinking. In the same way, such feelings as fear and irritation may prevent people from thinking logically and intelligently. People who do not live by the Qur'an's understanding of patience fall victim to such emotions for long periods of time and so become separated from intelligence.
However, the believers who always remain patient, as Allah counsels them, acquire great blessings, one of which is intelligence. As a result, they do not suffer from sudden fear, nervousness, or emotional excess. This enables them to evaluate all events in a calm and self-possessed manner and thereby arrive at the most intelligent conclusions and the most beneficial decisions.
Even more important, this patience allows the faithful to follow all of the Qur'an's teachings in the best possible way. Since believers always behave patiently, they have the opportunity to act only after evaluating events in light of the Qur'an's teaching. Those who follow the Qur'an are directed toward the true path of Allah and toward the finest behavior. For these reasons, following the Qur'an in the best possible way enables believers to gain the superior intelligence that derives from its wisdom.
Patience ensures subtle thought and the ability to see details
Another important characteristic of patience is that it enables the believers to see details that people cannot see right away, and thus helps them to use their intelligence. Impatient people want to solve everything right away and are not very interested in details. Consequently, they miss details that may be quite important and so make wrong decisions. In the same way, they cannot see the situation in which others around them find themselves, are incapable of noticing their needs, and so exhibit thoughtless behavior characterized by a lack of humaneness.
The faithful, always remaining patient, do not succumb to unnecessary haste while solving a problem. Understanding that haste is a primary factor of people's inability to use their intelligence and think correctly, they consider all details and make accurate decisions. Knowing how to act according to their intelligence without rushing, believers proceed intelligently, easily see those complexities that might be invisible to others, and thus adopt the most correct behavior.
Patience ensures the ability to do good
Patience enables people to overcome many of their bad characteristics and hence to discover good behavior. However, we must never forget that this is unique to believers. Those who do not fear Allah and forget that they will be recompensed in the afterlife for the morality they displayed in this world do not try to overcome their bad characteristics. As long as a worldly advantage is dangled in front of them, they can see no reason to alter their behavior. For example, if someone's elderly mother-in-law falls ill and that person has to move into her house to take care of her, he or she will need a great deal of patience. But those who cannot grasp the concept of Qur'anic patience can tolerate such a situation only for a short time. In a little while, that person begin to think ways of getting rid of this situation, and then says out loud: "Let's put her in a nursing home, because I can't look after her." Or an unbeliever's spouse has an accident, becomes bedridden, and requires intensive treatment and care. In such a situation, the other spouse will care for him or her for a while, perhaps to avoid the neighbors' criticism if they do not do so or for some other reason, but again only for a limited time. After this time, the spouse may abandon the other because he or she has no patience when it comes to self-sacrifice for others.
As for the faithful, they have an inner awe of Allah and know that they will find in the afterlife beauty and blessings commensurate to what they have done for Him. For this reason, they show determination and patience by always behaving well and making a serious effort. Thus they purge themselves of all bad characteristics and find the opportunity to turn these into good characteristics.
Patience ensures just behavior
By proclaiming that "Allah commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on trust and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How excellent is what Allah exhorts you to do! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing" (Surat an-Nisa': 58), Allah states that He expects the faithful to behave justly. Aware of this command, the believers do not deviate from honesty and justice. In order for them to live this superior morality, their greatest aid is patience, a characteristic that they gain from adhering to the Qur'an's teachings.
Those who are expected to ensure justice must not give way to their emotions, succumb to anger, or act from such motives as hatred and revenge. When they encounter such a situation, they must display serious patience. Allah informs us of this, as follows:
O you who believe, show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you to injustice. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness. Heed Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 8)
Patience gives believers a trustworthy character
All Prophets have said these words to the peoples to whom they were sent:
Indeed, Iam to you a trustworthy messenger. (Surat ash-Shu'ara', 143)
That they sought to define themselves in these terms as a priority arises from their awareness of just how important it is to be trustworthy in the people's eyes. This quality can be seen also in other believers, for adhering to the Qur'an's concept of superior morality and patience enables them to acquire all of the characteristics required for trustworthiness. In addition to patience, the believers also are intelligent, truthful, just, and moderate; free of hatred, anger, and untruthfulness; and balanced. Thus it is possible for people to know what the believers will do at any time and how they will react to events. While unbelievers exhibit an unbalanced character by reacting to events in unexpected, surprising, and disturbing ways, the faithful never behave in such a way. In fact, this is one of the reasons for their trustworthiness.
Most important, their continual patience at all times allows them to behave with determination in displaying this fine characteristic as long as they are alive. They make no concession to worldly profit in their behavior, a trait that pleases Allah. All of these elements together, along with living in a consistent manner, make the faithful the most trustworthy of all people.
Patience gives a person a cheerful and peaceful character
For people who have no faith in Allah, being sad, bored, or upset is a quite normal condition, for they ignore the facts that Allah controls everyone and everything, creates all events for a reason, can answer our prayers to Him whenever He wills to do so, and keeps everything in His power. Unaware of these truths, such people react to an apparently unfavorable development by immediately giving way to hopelessness and sorrow. The Qur'an mentions this characteristic of the unbelievers, as follows:
When We give people a taste of mercy, they rejoice in it. But when something bad happens to them because of what they themselves have done, they immediately lose all hope. (Surat ar-Rum, 36)
The faithful, on the other hand, never lose their hope in Allah, for He has infinite power and keeps everything in the universe under His control. He is the Friend, Guardian, and Helper of the faithful. He protects, guards, and gives ease to those who take refuge in Him.
The believers who can appreciate Allah's greatness and boundless mercy take refuge in Him with patience and trust, regardless of the difficulties, problems, or events that they may be experiencing. As a result, they never lose any of their cheerfulness and tranquility, even when experiencing their most difficult moments, for they know that Allah will give them a fine recompense in Paradise for the patience they displayed in this world. Therefore, they live their lives in great joy and enthusiasm.
Those who cannot show patience when confronted with adversities are condemned to spend their worldly lives in unhappiness. Allah points out that they will be unhappy in the afterlife as well. The Qur'an describes the rewards that those who are patient (the believers) and those who are impatient and therefore rebellious toward Allah (the unbelievers) will receive in the afterlife, as follows:
On the Day it comes, no one will speak except with His permission. Some of them will be wretched and others will be glad. As for those who are wretched, they will be in the Fire, where they will sigh and gasp, remaining in it timelessly, forever, as long as the heavens and Earth endure, except as your Lord wills. Your Lord is the Doer of what He wills. As for those who are glad, they will be in Paradise, remaining in it timelessly, forever, as long as the heavens and Earth endure, except as your Lord wills. An uninterrupted gift. (Surah Hud, 105-108)
The wonderful life Allah promises to the faithful
Throughout this book, we have stated that Allah tests the faithful in various ways. However, this should not be taken to mean that they live difficult or troubled lives. On the contrary, the faithful live the best lives in this world because Allah places serenity and peace in their hearts on account of their continuous patience and devotion. This blessing is exclusive to the faithful, for it cannot be obtained with money or status, or by means of any of the other opportunities that the world has to offer. So many people who appear to be living in comfort feel none of the serenity and peace that Allah grants to the patient. They could not feel such feelings even if they somehow managed to offer all of the wealth in the world or mobilize all of its resources, because Allah places these feelings only in the hearts of the faithful:
He sent down serenity into the hearts of the believers, thereby increasing their faith with more faith—the legions of the heavens and Earth belong to Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Surat al-Fath, 4)
As a result, the believers never succumb to worry, concern, or unhappiness when they encounter difficulty and hardship.
In return for their unconditional submission, patience, and pleasant acceptance of everything that our Lord sends to them, Allah tells them that He will give them a beautiful life in the world:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 97)
As for those who do their duty and are steadfast, Allah does not allow to go to waste the wage of any people who do good. (Surah Yusuf, 90)
When those who have done their duty are asked: "What has your Lord sent down?" their reply is: "Good!" There is good in this world for those who do good, and the abode of the Hereafter is even better. How wonderful is the abode of those who guard against evil. (Surat an-Nahl, 30)
Say: "Servants of Mine who believe, heed your Lord. For those who do good in this world there is good, and Allah's Earth is spacious. The steadfast will be paid their wages in full without any reckoning." (Surat az-Zumar, 10)
The believers' reward for being patient is Paradise
People who are bound to Allah in their hearts dedicate their goods and lives, in short everything they own, to our Lord and are patient in order to earn His approval in both good and bad times. None of the troubles, pressures, and difficulties they experience in this world can prevent them from living according to Allah's religion, because they are devoted firmly and only to Him and show patience and determination for as long as they live.
The finest reward that the faithful can obtain in the afterlife for this outstanding patience is Allah's love, generosity, and approval:
Allah has promised the male and female believers Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever, and fine dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. And Allah's good pleasure is even greater. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba, 72)
Their Lord gives them the good news of His mercy, good pleasure, and Gardens in which they will enjoy everlasting delight. (Surat at-Tawba, 21)
Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever and ever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. That is for those who fear their Lord. (Surat al-Bayyina, 8)
Allah's patient servants will be met in a Paradise of boundless beauty due to the angels' greetings of peace and good wishes, and through all eternity they will never leave it. Angels announce that these eternal blessings are the reward for their patience, as follows:
Gardens of Eden that they will enter, and all of their parents, wives, and children who were righteous. Angels will enter in to welcome them from every gate: "Peace be upon you because of your steadfastness! How wonderful is the Ultimate Abode!" (Surat ar-Ra'd, 23-24)
To those people who display a great determination to exhibit a fine morality throughout their lives, remaining steadfast in times of difficulty, and exhibiting behavior pleasing to Him, Allah multiplies their rewards many times over:
They will be given their reward twice over, because they have been steadfast… (Surat al-Qasas, 54)
Those believers regarded as worthy of Paradise will find there everything that their hearts desire. They will live in eye-catching mansions, sitting on couches of striking beauty and exquisite quilts and rugs, and will be together forever with the Prophets and the righteous believers. This is a definite reality that Allah has promised to believers in return for their patience. For these reasons, He calls upon them to compete for His approval and for Paradise while living in this world: "Race each other to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden [i.e., Paradise] as wide as the heavens and Earth, prepared for the people who guard against evil" (Surah Al 'Imran, 133). In other verses, He brings the good news to the faithful, as follows:
Such people will be repaid for their steadfastness with the Highest Paradise, where they will meet with welcome and with "Peace." (Surat al-Furqan, 75)
Today I have rewarded them for being steadfast. They are the ones who are victorious. (Surat al-Mu'minun, 111)