Sabr – Patience

All praise is due to Allah, and Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon His Final Messenger, his family, his noble Companions, and all those who follow them with righteousness until the Day of Judgment.

Defining Sabr

Sabr literally means to ‘withhold’ or control something. It means to control the inner-self and prevent it from being in a state of panic or impatience. It also means to prevent the tongue from complaining or saying negative things. Sabr is an essential element in fulfilling our Ubudiyyah (worship) to Allah (swt). As the bones are the foundation of ones body, Sabr is the foundation of the character. Imam Ghazzali said about Sabr, “Sabr is a very bitter and distasteful medicine, but it is so full of blessings that through this medicine it is easy to reap all gains and to avert all harms and injuries. Man of wisdom and insight take courage to take its bitter dose without caring its bitterness and distaste.

They think that tolerance of moment’s bitterness ensures years of gain.”

مَا عِندَكُمۡ يَنفَدُ‌ۖ وَمَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ بَاقٍ۬‌ۗ وَلَنَجۡزِيَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُوٓاْ أَجۡرَهُم بِأَحۡسَنِ مَا ڪَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ

“What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions.” (16;96)

بَلَىٰٓ‌ۚ إِن تَصۡبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ وَيَأۡتُوكُم مِّن فَوۡرِهِمۡ هَـٰذَا يُمۡدِدۡكُمۡ رَبُّكُم بِخَمۡسَةِ ءَالَـٰفٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ مُسَوِّمِينَ

“Yes, if you hold on to patience and piety, and the enemy comes rushing at you; your Lord will help you with five thousand angels having marks (of distinction).”(3;125)

Rumi Says: In order to be sustenance for man, a source of strength for his knees, a “light” for his eyes, and a substance for the maintenance of his life, a grain of wheat must be buried in the bosom of the earth, germinate under it, and grow to emerge into the air. It must come into the air after a fierce struggle with the earth, and then be sown and threshed, and ground in a mill. After that, it must be kneaded, baked in an oven, and, finally, chewed by teeth, sent into the stomach, and digested.

Kinds of Sabr

صبر على الطاعة – Endurance of worship and obedience

The Holy Quran says,“And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity…” (2:110)

We find in one of the Ahadith: “Whenever a museebah (hardship) befalls you (and you show sabr) Allah (swt) atones for you some of your sins.”


صبر على المعصية – Endurance of refraining from sin

The Holy Quran says, “O you who believe, do not let your families and your wealth draw you away from the Dhikr of Allah; and whosoever does that is indeed the loser.”

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “I do not fear for you poverty; I fear for you plentifulness of Dunya, and it will destroy you as it had destroyed nations before you.”

Shaykh Saadi said, “I saw a holy man on the seashore who had been wounded by a tiger. No medicine could relieve his pain; he suffered much but he nevertheless constantly thanked God the most high, saying:’ Praise be to Allah that I have fallen into a calamity and not into sin.”


صبر على مصاءب الدنيا – Endurance of worldly troubles and hardships

The Quran Says,

وَلَنَبۡلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىۡءٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡخَوۡفِ وَٱلۡجُوعِ وَنَقۡصٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَمۡوَٲلِ وَٱلۡأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ‌ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ (١٥٥) ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتۡهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ۬ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيۡهِ رَٲجِعُونَ (١٥٦) أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ عَلَيۡہِمۡ صَلَوَٲتٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِمۡ وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬‌ۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُهۡتَدُونَ

“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return”: – They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance.” (2;155-157)


Scholars said that not to endure calamities with patience is a greater calamity.

Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas (ra) asked the Prophet (saws), “Ya Rasulullah, who amongst people are the most tried (subject to hardships)?” Rasulullah (saws) said: The Anbiya (Prophets of Allah) and after them the Salihun (righteous) and then in accordance to your Iman, Taqwa etc, there will be more hardships, not less. Every believer will be tried by difficulties in accordance (proportion) to his Deen. If in this person’s Deen is solidity (their Deen is deeply rooted) the hardship will increase, to purify, cleanse, strengthen and elevate the person. And if in the Deen of this person there is Riqaa (weakness), then that persons hardship will be weakened, until the person walks on the earth cleansed of sins until he meets Allah.


Manners of Sabr

If one is required to show Sabr, he must show it immediately without delay.

A woman was in the cemetery, crying, mourning her love, when Rasulullah (saws) said to her “show sabr”. She said, not knowing who he was “that’s easy for you to say, you have not lost a loved one”. When the companions told her who he was, she asked for forgiveness and Rasulullah (saws) said, “Sabr is to be shown at the beginning of hardship.”

Sabr can be categorized into three levels:

  • Tarkus sabraa: the lowest level- when one does not complain but inside dislikes what’s happening to them
  • Ar-ridhaa-bil-beelah: no complaint, to show satisfaction with the balaa (hardship), because they have yaqeen (certainty) that Allah only does to the ‘abd what is best for them.
  • Ash-shukr-alal-bala: to have ridhaa (satisfaction) and to be grateful to Allah for the hardship because that person has Yaqeen, that this is to elevate his spiritual level.

Ali (ra) said: Of the realization of the Majesty of Allah, and of knowledge of the right Allah (swt) has on His creation, is that when one is befallen with a calamity, one does not complain, does not even mention what has befallen him.

Attaining Sabr

1  Ilm (Knowledge) brings desire and a want for change.

2  Amal (Deed). No pain, no gain. Condition your Nafs, or it will condition you.

3  Humility. The best door from which we can enter the majesty of Allah is humility.

4 Remembering Allah’s Bounties. Always be conscious in our heart and mind of Allah’s nimaah. In the Quran it says: “And practice sabr, for you are under Our gaze” One of the early Scholars used to carry a parchment engraved with this ayah on it in his pocket, and he used to look at it constantly.

(Khutbah Delivered by Imam Didmar Faja – March 28, 2008

Albanian American Islamic Center of Arizona)