Good Patience and Bad Patience


Bad patience means having patience in keeping away from Allâh and His love and His will, because this prevents a person from fulfilling his potential of attaining perfection and doing what he was created for. This is the worst type of patience, and the most difficult, because there is no type of patience stronger than that of the person who wilfully keeps away from his Creator, as apart from Him there is no life at all. No-one is as careless as the person who has no interest in what Allâh has prepared for His friends (awliyâ’) in the hereafter, that which no eye has ever seen nor ear has ever heard, and has never been imagined by any person. Once a man who admired a zâhid (one who does without) for his zuhd (doing without) and lack of interest in this world said to him, “I have never seen a man who has as much zuhd (doing without) as you so.”The zâhid told him, “Your zuhd is much stronger than mine, for my zuhd concerns the world, and this life is short and unstable, but your zuhd concerns the hereafter, which is eternal.”

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A man asked Shiblî, “What type of patience is more difficult?” Shiblî said, “Patience through seeking the help of Allâh.” The man said, “No.” Shiblî said, “Then patience for the sake of Allâh.”The man said, “No.” Shiblî said, “Patience in seeking the pleasure of Allâh.” The man said, “No.” So Shiblî asked, “What is it then?” and the man answered, “Patience in keeping away from Allâh.”Shiblî screamed in such a way that he nearly died.

Good patience consists of two types: patience for the sake of Allâh and patience by the help of Allâh. Allâh said:

  “Now await in patience the command of your Lord: for verily you are in Our eyes…” (at-Tûr 52:48)

It is impossible to have patience for the sake of Allâh without patience by the help of Allâh:

  “And be patient, for your patience is but by Allâh…” (an-Nahl 16:127)

This âyah tells us that patience cannot be achieved without the help of Allâh, which means that in addition to the help of Allâh we need the companionship of Allâh, as in the hadîth [qudsî]:

 “ “I am his hearing with which hears, his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes.”

The help of Allâh is bestowed upon the believer and the wrongdoer alike, both of whom receive blessings and rizq. This hadîth describes something more, the companionship of Allâh, which the believer will attain when he performs nafl (supererogatory) acts of worship until Allâh loves him. When he reaches that status, and Allâh is his hearing with which he hears and his seeing with which he sees, he does not move or do anything but Allâh is with him. Whoever reaches this level can have patience for Allâh’s sake and endure severe hardship to please Him. The person who does not reach this level will not have this degree of patience; his level of patience will be in accordance with his share of Allâh’s companionship. The believer who enjoys Allâh’s companionship will reach levels of patience that are impossible for others. Those who have patience are the winners in this world and the next, because Allâh is with them:

  “for Allâh is with those who patiently persevere” (al-Baqarah 2:153).

Emulating the attributes of Allâh

If a person loves an attribute of Allâh, then this will help him to reach Him. Allâh is as-Sabûr, patient, and there is none that is more patient and forbearing than Him. It was reported that Allâh revealed to Dâwûd (AS), “Have my attributes, as one of My attributes is that I am sabûr (patient).” Allâh loves His attributes and characteristics, and He loves to see the effects of His attributes on His slaves. As He is beautiful, so He loves beauty; as He is all-forgiving, He loves forgiveness; as He is generous, He loves generosity; as He is all-knowing, he loves the people of knowledge; as He is strong and powerful, so a strong believer is more beloved to Him than a weaker one; as He is sabûr (patient), so He loves those who have patience; as He is shakûr (grateful), so He loves those who give thanks. As He loves those who have His characteristics, so He is with them, and this is a special and unique type of companionship.

No contradiction between patience and complaining to Allâh

Crying out and complaining to Allâh does not mean that a person has no patience. In the Qur’ân, we find Ya‘qûb (AS) saying, “My course is comely patience (sabrun jamîl)” (Yûsuf 12:83), but his love and longing for his lost son Yûsuf made him say: “How great is my grief for Yûsuf” (Yûsuf 12:83). Sabrun jamîl refers to patience with no complaint to other people. Complaining to Allâh does not cancel out patience, as Ya‘qûb said, “I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allâh” (Yûsuf 12:86).

Allâh also enjoined sabrun jamîl on the Prophet (SAAS) and he obeyed, but he would pray,

 “ “O Allâh, I complain to You of my weakness and helplessness.”

Taken from Patience and Gratitude
By Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah
An abridgement of his original work entitled, “Uddat as-Sâbireen wa Dhâkirat ash-Shâkireen” © 1997 TA-HA

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at

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