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Permanence and Victory

The Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (I .S.) in the following quotation, which is full of wisdom said:

"A steadfast patient person would never be denied success, however it may materialize after a long time." (Nahjul Balagha)

In another quotation from him, the same theme has been described in other words as follows:

"Whoever mounts the horse of patience would definitely find his path to the field of victory." (Najul Balagha)

During the battle of Siffin, in an inspiring sermon for boosting the morale of his forces, the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) said:

"Make your supports upon righteousness and patience (stability); because it is only after patience (stability) that victory shall be bestowed upon you." (Tarikh Kamil ibn Athir)

Is it really true, that patience and endurance will enable a person to achieve his goal? If this is a overall law or regulation, which is always applicable, then why all along the history, we encounter many groups, who in spite of their best efforts at endurance steadfastness could not accomplish their desired goals, and could not witness the victory. During the early period of Islam, there are incidents like Ashura, the
uprising of the 'Tawwabin',1 of Zaid bin Ali,2 and similar incidents during later periods.

Of course many people are interested to know the answer to the above questions, but if we ponder a little hit, the answer will become explicitly clear. In our opinion, those who consider these historical apparently unsuccessful and inconclusive events, such as Ashura, and martyrdom of Hazrat Zaid, as a violation of the overall law (after patience comes victory), have not recognized the aims and objects, which were incorporated in each of these incidents, and whose attainment meant achieving success and victory for these movements. Now let us ask this question: What were the aims of these historical events? If this question could be answered correctly, it would become quite apparent that under no circumstances they were defeated or disappointed in their endeavours and efforts toward achieving the cherished goals.

Incidently, it should be reminded, that aims and objectives, as regards to being long term or short term, differ from each other. Some of the aims could be accomplished in short time, while some others could only be materialized after a lengthy period. To plant a sapling, nurture it and make all other necessary arrangements, are preliminary requirements, in order to utilize the fruits of that tree. If all these preliminary requirements were, without the least negligence, fulfilled timely, and if precautions were taken to make it resist the negative factors responsible for unproductiveness and decay, certainly this plant will bear fruits, but a uniform and fixed period for all places does not exist.

Sometimes the fruits under consideration will be obtained, say after a period of one year. But occasionally the type of the tree, the fruits under consideration, and the natural circumstances are such that one cannot hope to have fruits at least before 10 years. Certainly, the ultimate goal for taking care of this sapling, which will be achieved after 10 years, is to have the desired fruits of this tree.

But during all these long waiting years, the aim behind each year's efforts is to move the sapling one step closer to the date when it will bear fruits. After passing of each progressive year, the gardner becomes happy and satisfied, that his efforts during the past years have produced results i.e. the sapling has grown through one stage, getting on a year closer to its fruit-bearing date.

Now, if an observer, aware of the efforts and endeavours of this hardworking and patient gardner all along the year, does not see any fruits on the tree after passing of a year, and wrings his hands in hopelessness and looses his confidence in the famous notion: "It is only after patience, victory would have a chance," and out of immaturity and inexperience were to criticize the gardner, then such an observer would obviously be termed a narrow minded and impatient person by every one and would be reminded that he should not expect that the efforts and endeavours of one year will produce a result equivalent to 10 years of efforts.

The movement of Ashura, and all other later movements having the same orientation and same direction, without exception succeeded in achieving their desired aims and goals. Each of these movements were giant strides for the destruction of power of tyrants ruling in the name of Islam, and for the establishment of ideal Islamic society.

Without any doubt following these pioneering giant steps, if the courage of later generations would have encouraged them, to take the next steps, the ultimate result would have been certainly achieved. Therefore, to expect that ultimate result, which could only be obtained through the organized and continuous efforts and involvement of a few generations, or few persons, or some people of a single generation, is certainly wrong, resulting from ignorance and over-expectaion.

In the above example, it should be said to that impatient and inexperienced observer, that those who had accepted the hardships of gardenring and discharged their duties understood well that the work done by them, each day and each hour, had instantaneously produced desired results, even before the passing of that hour and day, and they achieved the result of their patience practiced at each passing instant. Two years of hardwork of this gardner brings the fruit-bearing date closer to two years. If his efforts were not there, the fruits of this sapling would have been delayed by two years or perhaps two years of fruit-bearing time would have been wasted. Is reality other than this?

Parallel to this reality, there exists another reality too. If, after an obstacle which prevented the sincere gardner from continuing his job, another gardner does not pursue the duties of his predecessor, by undertaking the planned activities for the third, fourth years, obviously this tree will never bear fruits.

Let us consider the example of a certain load, supposed to be carried to a place, say ten steps ahead. Now, suppose it has moved by two steps, one could say the load has reached close to its final destination by two steps. If the first person, responsible for its delivery, is in a position to undertake the remaining steps, he would do so, if not his substitute will take the remaining steps to carry the load to its final destination. But if this responsibility, i.e. moving the load past the remaining eight steps was not discharged by the first person or by his substitute, then obviously the load will never be delivered to its final destination. However, there is no doubt, that the result of patience in taking the first two pioneering steps has been achieved, because the load has moved by two steps.

To uproot a deep rooted tree, and to remove a huge rock without having proper equipment like drill, chain saw, or powerful and strong hands, is of course not possible, but having all of them, but not having patience will not produce any result. If the first person having strong hands and patience, after making a headway was forced to discontinue his efforts, then the others who were supposed to take his place, are responsible to carry on the job by one more step ahead, and another stage closer to success.

Likewise, the uprising of Zaid bin Ali, because of an unexpected tragedy -- an arrow struck him on his forehead and he fell down instantly -- could not accomplish the final victory, but the result of this pioneering step (i.e. to arise) was achieved immediately by him. His uprising was a heavy blow to the huge rock of the usurper Omayyad regime.

A heavy rock, which required repeated and continuous blows, to be destroyed completely. If the initial blows would have been accompanied by later blows, this black boulder of Omayyad rule, which was a heavy burden upon the Islamic Ummah, and a source of oppression, would have splintered into pieces. Certainly, without the initial severe blow being struck, the later blows would not have achieved that desired result, or may be, no one would have dared to struck those later blows.

There are narrations -- refer to Bihar-ul-Anwar -- which consider the martyrdom of the Lord of Martyrs, Imam Hussain (A.S.), as the key factor for the collapse of Sufyani rule and the martyrdom of Zaid bin Ali for the downfall of the Marwanids.3

1 Tawwabin or penitents, as they are called in history books, were mostly people of Kufa and Iraq, who rose up against the Omayyad rule in 64 A.H. (683 A.D.), three years after the tragedy of Karbala to avenge the blood of Imam Hussain (A.S.) and the Prophet's Household. Led by the Prophet's ageing companion Sulayman ibn Surad al-Khazaei, who was one of the leading Islamic generals in the conquest of Transoxiana, their sole aim in battle, was either to kill the ungoldy Omayyads or to achieve martyrdom in the process. For almost two years, they fought the caliphal forces, killing a great number of those troops who had fought against Imam Hussain (A.S.) at Karbala.(Ed)

2 Zaid was the son of the fourth Imam Ali ibn al-Hussain (the survivor of Karbala). Fed up with Omayyad tyranny, he started an uprising in Iraq and was tragically martyred and his body was burned by the caliphal forces in 124 A.H. (740 A.D.). His movement like other Alid uprisings, aroused people's conscience against the libertine and ungodly rule of the Omayyads, who were swept into the dustbin of history ten years later in 132 A.H. (749 A.D.). (Ed)

3 The Omayyuds who usurped power of the Islamic State in 41 A.H., when Mua'wiyah the son of Abu Sufyan, forced Imam Hasan (A.S.) to abdicate, were divided into two branches; the Sufyanids whose rule terminated with the death of Mua'wiyah ibn Yazid in 64 A.H. (683 A.D.) and the Marwanids, whose rule started with Marwan ibn Hakam and ended with Marwan ibn Mohammad al-Hemar in 132 A.H. (749 A.D.), when a new dynasty the Abbasids usurped power. (Ed)

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

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