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The Qur'anic Definition of Patience

O you who believe, seek help in steadfastness and prayer. Allah is with the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 153)

Allah, Who has defined the best way of life for people and the most appropriate moral conduct for their nature, announces in "We send down in the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers" (Surat al-Isra', 82) that patience is a mercy for the faithful.

People can gain Allah's approval and love by fully applying the Qur'an's truths in their lives. Allah requires the faithful to adhere to the Qur'an's morality as long as they are alive, without showing any weakness. To carry out this task successfully, the faithful must acquire the supreme characteristic of patience, which is the result of faith. Those who learn the secret of patience can demonstrate the required steadfastness in every act and prayer.

Attaining this secret is extremely easy. Allah manifests His attribute "Al-Sabur" (The Patient) on those who believe in Him and helps perfect the determination in their hearts.

The real source of this lifelong true patience is the believers' faith in Allah. They know that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge, that everything occurs only with His permission, and that He hides thousands of blessings and benefits behind all events. In addition, they do not forget that Allah is the Friend, Guardian, and Helper of the faithful. Thus, although it may not seem so at first glance, all events are arranged to somehow benefit the believers. For this reason, patience is not a moral characteristic that makes life difficult for the faithful; rather, it is a form of worship that they accept wholeheartedly and with joy. Here is one point of difference between true patience and the view of patience as commonly understood in society.

 Many people do not know the true meaning of patience, how truly patient people are required to behave, or how important this is in Allah's sight. They regard patience more as holding up one's head when faced with difficulties and problems, either overcoming or enduring them. Thus, they consider patience as the ability to withstand something, up to a certain point, and that an occasional loss of patience is quite normal. Moreover, according to this non-Qur'anic understanding, it is utterly futile to show patience in a matter from which no concrete benefit can be derived. And so when faced with such a situation, they give way to frustration and believe that being patient is useless.

The Qur'anic concept of true patience is quite different from this understanding of endurance. In the first place, people experience patience as the instruction of Allah and so can neither exhaust nor lose it. They carry out this form of worship joyfully and fervently and expect no concrete benefit in exchange for it, because they are patient solely to earn Allah's approval. What matters for them is the knowledge that they will earn His approval with their superior morality. For them, such a reward is enough.

Furthermore, the patience recommended by the Qur'an is not a moral characteristic employed only in times of hardship. True patience is shown in fully applying all of the Qur'an's teachings, in being scrupulous in guarding against all behavior that Allah warns against, and in being determined to live according to the Qur'an's morality as long as one is alive and with no thought of deviating from it, regardless of circumstances.

 In "But, in your Lord's sight, right actions that are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope" (Surat al-Kahf, 46), Allah points out that proper behavior carried on with determination is regarded with approval and invites the faithful to be patient under all circumstances.

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