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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 demoralized, depressed, and continues his movement towards the cherished goal.

If we perform an indepth 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 Qur'an 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 Qur'an , 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, realized that they will be opposed and subjected to different kind of hardships by their opponents, and they soon witnessed the truth of this Quednic 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 tolerance 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 optic n 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 inconveniencies and problems encountered in a journey. But at the same time, he will never benefit from the experiences which a re 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 recognized the aims of life, and has not taken any steps towards that goal, and prefers an unevtentful 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,1 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 prophets.

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 catagories. 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 Ka'ba. When he listened to my complaint, he changed his relaxed sitting position, and his composure changed, and said:

"Your predecessors, 2 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 3 and Hadhramut, 4 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 sheeps 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 practicing 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 practicing this type of patience (i.e. patience against optional tragedies).

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1 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)

2 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).

3 Capital of Yemen.

4 Region in the southern part of Yemen.

Adapted from the book: "Discourse on Patience" by: "Seyyed Ali Khamenei'i"

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