The Origin of Patience
Adopted from the book: "Mahdaviyat in Hadith"
Patience has various levels. In logical terminology it is a 'sum total' with different degrees and which cannot be applied universally. It is of three kinds viz. patience near sins, patience in the face of calamities and patience on one's desires. However, it is not our aim over here to get into a detailed discussion on this topic.
The origin of patience lies in talking less, in controlling one's tongue, in refraining one's self from talking nonsense or irrational talks. It involves training oneself to talk only when it is necessary and that too in a concise manner. This is the very first stage of patience. There is a lot of emphasis on silence in books related to spiritual training. Along with the tongue it is also essential to keep one's eyes also in control. The 'Nafs' of a person employs these two faculties in a lot of futile things.
Gradually a person should prepare himself to be patient on the bounties of this world. The heart should not be accustomed to the comforts of the world, nor should any of its pleasures build a house in it. No form of lust or greed should be allowed to enter the heart. We find in Dua-e-Nudbah.
'And when You fixed the condition that they will forsake this detestable world and its luxuries and comforts and will not attach one's self to it, then they accepted this condition. Then when You saw that they fulfilled this demand in totality. You favoured them and made them Your proximate and You reserved for them the best of remembrances and the finest of descriptions and adulation and You descended upon them Your angels.'
To remain patient on the bounties of this world is just one of the stages. There are many more stages of patience after this. The stage after the world is that of 'Barzakh'.
Another form of patience is to exercise complete restraint and mastery on our thoughts. This particular stage is more arduous than being patient upon the bounties of the world. Man can turn his face away from the luxuries of this world. But his thoughts too should be in his control. He should have such command and influence upon his 'Nafs' that no thought should be able to enter his mind without his consent. It is not a matter of few moments, hours, days and years. No doubt this is extremely difficult. Just try to keep yourself focused on one particular point for a few moments - taking care that your attention is not distracted by any other thought - you will realized the magnitude of this task. When it is difficult to concentrate for such a small duration of time then to keep one's mind free from distractions and diversions for the whole life is that stage of patience which is far higher than being patient on calamities. Here the mind falters and becomes helpless.
Imam Husain (a.s), even when surrounded by grief and calamities says
'In the name of Allah, by the strength and support of Allah and for the sake of Allah.'
'At the time when he (a.s) was strewn with wounds and injuries and when he fell from his horse to the ground and when he was rubbing his blood on his face at that time too he was saying
In such dangerous and difficult times too no other thought could distract Imam Husain (a.s) from remembering Allah.
'Allah knows best where He places His message
(Surah An'aam: 124)
After this world comes the Hereafter. Nothing from the Hereafter should attract a person. Neither the bounties of Paradise nor the chastisement of Hell nor the stages of Mahshar. Ameerul Momineen - Imam Alt ibn Talib (a.s) has expressed this most eloquently when he says
Some people worship Allah for the sake of rewards. This is the worship of traders. While some worship Allah due to the fear of being punished. This is the worship of a slave. Yet others worship Allah out of gratitude for His bounties. This is the worship of free men.'
(Nahjul Balagha: trad. 237, vol. 2, Ansariyan Publications)
One should have so much control on one's 'Nafs' that while worshipping Allah he should neither think about the bounties of Paradise nor about the punishments of Hell. It is extremely difficult to reach to this stage of patience. And this stage too demands a remarkable amount of restrain on the 'Nafs'.
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