On Sabr (Patience)

On Sabr (Patience)
Shaykh Hosam Raouf

Held at the Rasooli Center mosque (Pretoria, South Africa) on April 20, 2012.

Translated in Arabic as the bitter resin used by mothers to wean children off breast milk, sabr (patience) is something we know is good for us, but can be difficult to swallow. This enlightening talk reflects on the three types of sabr: patience in our obligatory acts; patience in avoiding forbidden acts; enduring patience in times of affliction.

Touching on beloved stories of the prophets, Shaykh Hosam Raouf uses the example of the Prophet Ayyub (a.s.) and the Prophet Yaqub (a.s.) to demonstrate the benefit of sabr during extremely trying circumstances. The example of the Prophet Musa (a.s.) is given to highlight the misgivings of not having sabr, and the story of Dawud (a.s.) is given to show the triumph against oppression of a people who kept sabr in the hearts.

We are taken through the attributes of the sabrun-jamil, learning that the true essence of sabr is not just patience, but patience without complaint.

Some Important Points:

  • Sabr = translates in Arabic to bitter resin, used by mothers to wean children off breastfeeding
  • The Qur'an tells us that human being was created in a hurry
  • 3 types of patience
    • Patience in our obligatory acts, e.g., sawm (fasting), salah (prayer), zakat (welfare tax)
    • Endure patience in avoiding forbidden acts
    • Endure patience during afflictions, e.g., losing one's wealth, health, children – this is the sabr of the Prophet Ayyub (a.s.)
  • Prophet Ayyub (a.s.) had lots of children, wealth, camels – he suddenly had nothing, but never complained to anyone (not even Allah)
    • He said: As long as I can praise Allah, I have enough
    • His body started to deteriorate to the point that he thought nobody could touch him, so he was living on a dump outside of the city
    • But while his tongue could still work, he used that as an opportunity to express sabr
    • He called upon his lord: "harm has touched me, and You are the most merciful"
  • Also have story of the Prophet Yaqub, who lost his son Joseph who was thrown in the well by his other children
    • His eyes turned white with grief from crying
    • The sons also detained Benjamin, his second son
    • We see the extent of his sabr
  • The Qur'an also gives examples of impatience – example of the Prophet Musa (a.s.) when he met the learned man (Khizr), who told the Prophet Musa (a.s.) he was not going to be patient
    • At each stage, the Prophet Musa (a.s.) questions the wise man's actions and then apologizes
    • Destroys the boat of the orphan, kills a child, builds a wall
    • See that flaw in boat means king won't confiscate it, boy who was killed was going to afflict his parents, wall helped preserve a treasure underneath for children
  • Story of the Children of Israel against Goliath
    • They asked Allah: shower us with patience
    • David was able to defeat Goliath with a single slingshot
  • How sabr affects us in general
    • The sign of people with sabr: they do not slack, they do not get bored
    • A true sabir (the person who is patient) does not complain
    • Sabrun jamilsabr without complaint
    • Those afflicted with anything can only say: everything comes from Allah, everything returns to Allah
  • Pray to Allah to give us the patience of the Prophets, which is outwardly bitter but a trial for us – He has created us to test us and train us
  • Pray to Allah to endure the difficulties we are faced with, amin

(20:23)