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The Fields of Patience

As explained in the earlier chapters of this book, one may define patience as resistance offered by man on the road towards perfection against the forces of mischief, corruption and degradation. Now let us recognize the fields of patience, where its practice is most crucial. Of course, we would like to examine the domain of patience, in accordance with the texts of Islamic narrations and the Holy Qur'an, where, practicing patience has been promised with plenty of rewards in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

There is no doubt, that an ignorant soldier or a mercenary fighting in the battlefield against the bearers of glad tidings of truth and justice (soldiers of Islam), and even loosing his life for the sake of the orders issued by his master; or a tyrant, hoarder of wealth, and holder of an important position, standing against truth for the sake of power, wealth, and position; or various sections or special groups offering resistance for the sake of their vested interests or other reasons, are in fact not practicing patience for the sake of human ideals but opposing the truth.

On the surface all these cases show practicing of patience. But this is quite opposite than patience practiced by pious individuals on the road of perfection for the pleasure of Allah. Of course, as far as the lexical meaning of the term "patience" is concerned both share it equally.

But in all such situations, patience has not been practiced for accomplishing human perfection and ideals, rather for their suppression. Here the resistance was not offered against the forces of mischief, corruption and degradation, but instead it was offered to destroy the shining manifestations of human perfection. Therefore, this domain of patience is not the domain as defined in the traditions and the Holy Qur'an.

It could therefore be concluded that patience may be defined as a means of achieving perfection, excellence, and exaltedness, where man endeavours and makes sincere efforts for the ultimate goal of creation, to become a real servant of Allah. His personality ultimately becomes manifestation of all the hidden potential of human talents and characteristics. In other words achieving the status of a perfect human being (Insan-e-Kamil)

At this stage all the internal and external obstacles (explained in detail earlier), which compliment each other, and in any case are the manifestations of Satanic tactics, are resisted by him, on his forward journey. On this road, all kinds of dangers, headaches and obstacles await the traveller. The opposition provided by them varies in proportion to the traveller's location, movement, and duties. Sometimes for discharging a duty one is confronted with a direct obstacle, while at other times one is confronted with an indirect barrier in his path.

For a mountain climber, trying to scale the highest peaks, confrontation with rocks, thorns, thieves and wolves, all are tantamount to a negative force interfering with his ascent. But sometimes a beautiful scene, a comfortable soft bed, and a shaky companion arc also negative forces of another sort, which force the climber to terminate his ascent. Still, at other times it could be his own sickness, or he has to take care of some sick companions, or might be confronted with some other mishap, which ultimately forces him to terminate his expedition. This last case may be regarded as an indirect obstacle in his path.

The above analogy of mountain climbing is also true for the journey of man on the road of perfection. He is confronted with three kinds of obstacles in this journey. If the compulsory duties and obligations of religion may be considered as the instruments and steps required for forward march on the road of perfection, the forbidden acts of religion may be regarded as diversion from the straight path. And if the unforeseen bitter happenings of life at the time of restlessness and instability are considered responsible for slowing down and ultimately cutting short his journey, then the obstacles and opposing motives could also divided into the following three categories:

    (i) Desires and passions which are responsible for negligence of compulsory religious obligations.
    (ii) Desires and tendencies which encourage man to indulge in forbidden sinful acts.
    (iii) Unforeseen, unhappy happenings which result in breaking his courage and steadfastness.

Patience means resistance against all three types of barriers, and providing moral courage and necessary momentum for t he traveller to continue his forward journey on the road of perfection. It offers resistance against those desires and tendencies which disco urage man from performing compulsory obligations, resist s the desires for indulging in sinful forbidden acts, and provides zeal and strength to be able to tolerate the unforeseen and unhappy occurences, which threaten to break his determination.

With the above explanation one may appreciate the context of this important narration from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as related by the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.). as follows:

" The Prophet of Allah had said: Patience is of three kinds Patience in tragedies and unpleasant events, patience in performance of compulsory obligations, and patience against sin".

On ail the above mentioned occasions, like occurernce of a tragic unfortunate happening resulting in loss of life or wealth or both, a situation requiring performance of compulsory obligations, and an alluring sinful pleasure tempting him to indulge in a forbidden act; a type of patience is required where the human being could manifest or display the most superior heroic potential of his hidden exalted qualities. In order that the complete understanding of these Islamic specialities related to the three types of patience could be made explicitly clear, we will discuss all of them in detail.

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

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