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True patience

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There are some types of grief that weigh on the heart, that if they were to be felt by a mountain, that mountain would crumble to the ground…

When Prophet Muhammad (saw) lost his beloved son Ibrahim, he held his small body in his arms and said “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.” Then he turned his face towards the mountain before him and said, “O mountain! If you were as sorrowful as I am, you would certainly crumble into pieces! But we say what Allah has ordered us: (we are the servants of Allah and we will return to Him; we thank Allah, the Creator of the Universe).”

The human heart is just a small, fragile piece of flesh – but with patience, it is able to carry the kind of pain that would cause a mountain to disintegrate.

Patience only comes with great struggle and difficulty. It is like trying to grasp and hold onto a strong and fast-swimming fish with your bare hands. You may succeed for a moment or two, but if you are not vigilant, it will escape from grip just as quickly as it came. And how desperate is our need for patience.

Patience doesn’t mean to just ‘wait out’ the pain. It doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand until the storm has ended and you can be sure to safely re-emerge into life.

And patience isn’t peaceful – at least not at first.

True patience is like stepping onto shards of glass and muffling your screams. As you sit and remove the pieces from your skin, tears stinging at your eyes from the pain, you smile and do not say a word.

Patience is like being lit on fire from within, a fire that feels as though it will consume you. And yet you keep walking forward calmly, extending your hand to take cool drinks from those who offer them in order to quell the flame.

Patience is like treading water in violent seas after your boat has capsized – you are exhausted, but if you stop trying for a moment, you will drown.

“Say, ‘O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account’” (39:10).

Part of Allah’s Mercy is that some of the believers who have been tried greatly in this world and who have remained patient will meet Him without any sins in their records at all.

Patience isn’t to not feel, or to be unaffected by pain or loss. It isn’t so, and it has never been. It is to feel as though you are going to be crushed by the grief, it is to feel as though your body will be consumed by the fire of pain, it is to feel that you will drown in your sorrow. And yet you wake up in the morning and do what needs to be done to take care of yourself and your family. You pray, you work, you live…and you don’t say except that which pleases Allah.

Praise and thanks belong to Allah. To Him we belong and to Him we shall return. There is no power or might except that of Allah. Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs for us. We have placed our trust in Allah.

Patience will extinguish the fire, lift the weighty burden, and lead you to dry land. Not because you have been exceptionally good or are intrinsically worthy of being healed. Rather, it is because Allah (swt) has promised:

With difficulty, there is ease.

And Allah (swt) never breaks this promise to those who honour the covenant.

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