We all know the need to bear patience when things don’t go to plan. Our plan. How many times have we heard someone give that timeless advice to keep positive, understand that when things go seemingly wrong, it’s Allah’s way of testing us to remain calm? We need to put our wholehearted trust in Him. I totally agree with that advice.
We also believe, as Muslims, that any suffering endured with grace and dignity in this life is a means of purification and redemption on the other side of this life, insha’Allah. To summarise, we have often witnessed that whilst going through a negative life experience, it is encumbent upon us to have patience. Whilst that is an admirable goal, I have recently become more aware of how it is only part of the whole picture.
Being the inherently myopic and impatient kind of people that we are, it is rarely understood that having patience is also an essential characteristic in times of ease and comfort. I know that seems illogical. What is there to be patient about when life is already full of goodness in its many forms? Isn’t having patience a waiting game that we need to master in the face of adversity only? Wrong.
To be honest, I never gave the idea of being patient in good times much thought. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened my eyes to such a nuanced perspective on life, I cannot possibly encompass it all in one blog post. For now, I want to mention how I realise I am extremely fortunate with my lot in life, Alhamdulillah. Good fortune itself is not always a tangible entity. It is not always measured in commodities or cash. Sometimes, it is simply a state of peaceful inner acceptance of one’s circumstances. With good fortune follows the need to bear patience in the handling of these blessings. You see, it is possible that a person is blessed with wealth of different kinds but, in haste, squanders it on fruitless or futile pursuits. In extreme cases, wealth may even be spent on haram (forbidden) things such as a gambling habit or alcohol. Rash decisions are invariably a consequence of impatience. It’s this type of situation that requires a heightened awareness of patience as comforts in life often bring with them a certain heedlessness as well.
Coming back to today, I sit here in my home and wonder about the human suffering which exists across the world – be it physical, financial or emotional. I admit I feel a sense of guilt for not having been tested to such an extreme as others have. I wonder what did I do to deserve to escape such painful challenges? And yet, I console myself by reminding myself that Allah did not choose those particular trials and tribulations for me. He has given me my own personal challenges. He knows how and when to give everyone their share of grief and their share of calm. Yet in all those situations, the unwavering constant is the need to remain patient. Arguably, striving for patience in our quiet phases of life is an even bigger challenge since the smokescreen fools us into thinking there is nothing left for us to do. Life is good.
Do I, therefore, wish to swap my current peace for upheaval just so I may always avoid complacency and be kept on my toes? I think that would be foolish. However, I need to remind myself that comforts in life are as much a test as they are a blessing. We can easily become lost in moments of unguarded arrogance. On this Earth we tarry for some time but the amusements are as consequential as the hardships.
In truth, the question we need to ask ourselves is this:
Do we need to learn patience or must we have the patience to learn?