Patience after the Loss of Children
By: Second Martyr, Sheikh Zayn ad-Din Ali ibn Muhammad al-Jabil Amili
Translated from the Arabic by Yasin T. al-Jibouri
In language, patience means one restraining himself during periods of panic about something the advent of which is hated and about fretting on its account. This takes place when one prevents his inner self from being perturbed, his parts from unusual motion, and it falls in three types:
First: General patience: Self-restraint as a way for showing forbearance and demonstrating firmness during trials and tribulations so people will be regarded by men of reason and by the general public as accepting whatever comes up in the life of this world while being unaware of the advent of the Hereafter.
Second: Patience of the ascetics, the true worshippers, the men of piety, the men of clemency, due to their expecting rewards for it in the Hereafter; surely those who persevere will be granted their rewards without count.
Third: Patience of the Gnostics, for some of them are pleased when something hated takes place to them due to their belief that the One Whom they adore has singled them out for it from among all other people, so they have become recognized (by the honor of His having cast a look at them): "… Give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere and, when afflicted with calamity, say, 'To Allah do we belong, and to Him do we return'. They are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend), and they are the ones who receive guidance” (Qur'an, 2:155-157).
This type is exclusively relevant to accepting whatever the Almighty decrees, and we will discuss it in a special chapter.
The first type has no rewards in it because it is not done for the sake of Allah. Rather, it is done for the sake of people; it is in reality mere pretension: Everything said about pretension applies to it. But impatience is worse because human souls incline to emulate their peers, the ones with whom they mix, they like, so they would thus disseminate patience among them.
If they see the conditions of those who persevere, their souls will incline to emulate their norms of conduct, and this may become a cause for their perfection and thus benefit may be reaped in the same type system even if the persevering person himself may not be perfect.
Patience, in the absolute sense, is applied to the second type. Be informed that Allah, the most Praised One, has described the patient ones, mentioning those who persevere in the Qur'an in more than seventy places, attaching many good things and degrees to patience and to making them its fruit: The greatest One has said: "And We appointed leaders from among them, giving guidance under Our command so long as they persevered with patience and continued to believe in Our Signs" (Qur'an, 32:24).
He has also said: "The fair promise of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because they had patience and constancy" (Qur'an, 7:137).
The Almighty has also said: "And We will certainly bestow rewards on those who patiently persevere according to the best of their deeds" (Qur'an, 16:96).
He has also said: "Twice will they be given their reward because they have persevered" (Qur'an, 28:54).
He has also said: "Those who patiently persevere will indeed receive their reward without measure!” (Qur'an, 39:10).
Every sacrifice has its own reward according to a measure and a calculation except perseverance. Since fasting is derived from perseverance, and since it is equivalent to half of perseverance, rewards for it are handled only by Allah, the most Praised One, the most Exalted, as books of traditions tell us.
Allah Almighty has said [in a Qudsi hadith]: "Fasting is for My sake, and I am the One Who rewards for it." Thus, He added it to Himself from among all other acts of worship, promising those who persevere that He is with them, saying: "… And persevere, for Allah is with those who persevere" (Qur'an, 8:46), hinging His support on perseverance and saying, "Yes, if you remain firm and act rightly, even if the enemy should rush headlong on you here, your Lord will help you with five thousand angels, making a tremendous onslaught" (Qur'an, 3:125).
He has gathered rewards for those who persevere which He has not for others saying: "They are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend), and they are the ones who receive guidance" (Qur'an, 2:156).
Guidance, blessings and mercy are all gathered for those who persevere, and recounting all verses referring to perseverance will take quite a lengthy endeavor.
As regarding traditions, the Prophet (Õ) has said, "Perseverance is half the measure of conviction."
He (Õ) has also said, "The least that you have been granted are: conviction and the will to persevere: Anyone who is granted his share of them does not mind what [rewards] he has missed for not performing the night prayers or fasting during the day.
If you are patient about the way you presently are, it is dearer to me than each of you bringing me a good deed equal to what you all do, but I fear lest life opens up to you [with its riches and temptations] after me, so much so that each of you will not even know the other, and you will likewise be dissociated by the people of heaven at that time.
One who perseveres and rests his hopes on rewards from his Lord will win the perfection of his rewards." Then he (Õ) recited this verse: "What is with you vanishes: [whereas] what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow rewards on those who patiently persevere" (Qur'an, 16:96).
Jabir [ibn Abdullah al-Ansari] has narrated saying that the Prophet (Õ) was asked once about conviction. He (Õ) said, "It is perseverance: One of the treasures of Paradise." He (Õ) was also asked once what conviction is. He (Õ) said, "It is perseverance." This is similar to this statement of his (Õ): "Pilgrimage is the standing at Arafa [mountain]."
He (Õ) has also said, "The best of good deeds are those the souls are forced to do." He (Õ) has also said, "Allah Almighty inspired to [Prophet] David the following: 'Adorn yourself with My norms of conduct, and among my norms of conduct is perseverance.'"
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, has said that when the Messenger of Allah (Õ) met a gathering of the Ansar once, he said, "Are you believers (mu'mins)?" They all remained silent save a man who said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" The Prophet (Õ) asked, "What is the mark of your belief?" They said, "We thank the Almighty when we are prosperous and persevere when we are afflicted; we accept destiny." The Prophet (Õ) said, "Indeed you are believers, by the Lord of the Ka`ba."
He (Õ) has also said, "Many rewards lie in persevering about something hated."
Jesus (Ú) has said, "You will not achieve what you love except through persevering about what you hate."
The Prophet (Õ) has said, "Had perseverance been a man, he would have been quite generous."
He (Õ) has also said, "Islam is built on four pillars: Conviction, perseverance, jihad (holy war) and adl (Justice of God)."
He (Õ) has also said, "Perseverance's position with regard to conviction is like that of the head to the body: There can be no body for one without a head, nor can there be conviction for one who has no perseverance."
Imam Ali (Ú) has said, "Take to perseverance, for it is upheld by a man of determination and it is to it that a man of impatience resorts." He (Ú) has also said, "If you persevere, fate will be applied to you while you receive your rewards. But if you fret, fate will apply to you while you bear your burdens."
Imam al-Hassan son of Imam Ali, peace be with them both, quotes the Messenger of Allah (Õ) saying, "There is a tree in Paradise called the Tree of Tribulation to which the people of trial and tribulation resort on the Day of Judgment where no books of reckoning will be opened about them, nor will there be scales [to weigh their deeds]; instead, rewards are poured over them." Then he (Ú) recited this verse: "Those who patiently persevere will indeed receive a reward without measure!" (Qur'an, 39:10).
He (Ú) has also quoted the Prophet (Õ) as saying, "There is no dose dearer to Allah Almighty than one of anger which a man suppresses, or a dose of perseverance on account of a calamity. And there is no drop dearer to Allah Almighty than a drop of tear shed out of fear of Allah or a drop of blood shed in the Way of Allah."
He (Ú) has also been quoted as saying, "Calamities are the keys to rewards."
Imam Zainul-`Abidin (Ú) has said, "When Allah gathers the early generations and the last ones, a caller will call out: 'Where are those who persevered?! Let them enter Paradise without account.' Some people will stand up and will be received by the angels who will ask them, 'Where to, descendants of Adam?!' They will say, 'To Paradise'. The angels will ask them, 'Even before reckoning?!'
They will say, 'Yes.' The angels will ask them, 'Who are you?' They will say, 'We are those who persevered.' They will ask them, 'What did you persevere about?' They will say, 'We persevered about obedience to Allah, and we persevered about disobeying Him till Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, caused us to die.' The angels will then say, 'Yes, you are just as you have described. Enter Paradise. Great is the reward of those who do good.'"
Anas is quoted as having said that the Messenger of Allah (Õ) has said, "Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, has said: If I direct to one of My servants a calamity from Me in his body, wealth or children, and if he receives all of this with beautiful perseverance, I will be too shy on the Judgment Day to set up scales for him or open records (of deeds)."
Ibn Mas`ood quotes the Prophet (Õ) as having said, "If one is granted three things, it will be as though he has been granted the best of both worlds: accepting destiny, persevering about affliction and supplicating during prosperity."
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, is quoted as having said, "I was once in the company of the Messenger of Allah (Õ). He said [to me]: 'Young man! Shall I teach you words through which Allah will grant you benefits?' I said, 'Yes, please do so.' He (Õ) said, 'Be mindful of Allah so He may be mindful of you.
Be mindful of Allah and you will [always] find Him before you. Be mindful of Allah during prosperity, He will be mindful of you during austerity. If you are in need, ask Allah. If you seek help, seek His help, and be informed that there is a great deal of goodness in what you dislike, that victory comes with perseverance, that ease follows hardship and that with every hardship there is ease.'"
He (Õ) is also quoted as having said, "Torment is brought to a man in his grave. If it is brought to him from the direction of his head, it will be repelled by his recitation of the Holy Qur'an [in this life]. If it is brought to him from the front, charity repels it. If it is brought to him from the area of his feet, his walking to the mosque repels it. And perseverance shields him: It says, 'If I see something wrong, I am the one to correct it.'"
Another wording of the above is this: "If a man enters the grave, prayers stand at his right side, zakat (obligatory alms) on his left, kindness overshadowing him while perseverance stands nearby and says, 'Look after my fellow, for I am here for him,' meaning if they cannot repel the torment from him, he, perseverance, would do so."
He (Õ) has been quoted as saying, "How amazing the matter with the mu'min (believer) is! His matter is all goodness, whereas this is not available for anyone else other than a believer: If he is blessed with something good, he thanks his Maker, and this will be good for him, and if he is afflicted with a calamity, he praises Allah and perseveres. So, the believer is rewarded for everything, including a morsel which he raises to his mouth."
According to another narration of this tradition, the last phrase says: "… even the morsel which he raises to his wife's mouth." He (Õ) has also said, "Perseverance is the best conveyance: Allah has not granted a servant of His anything better or broader than it."
The Messenger of Allah (Õ) was asked once, "Can one enter Paradise without reckoning?" He said, "Yes, everyone who is merciful, perseverant." Abu Busayr is quoted as having said, "I have heard Abu Abdullah (Ú) saying, 'A freeman is free in all his circumstances: When a calamity afflicts him, he perseveres. If tribulations pile up on him, they fail to break him down.
And if he is arrested, subdued and hardship replaces his ease, he will be like the truthful and trustworthy one, Prophet Yousuf (Joseph), peace be with him: Nothing harms his freedom even if he is enslaved, confined and vanquished, and the darkness and loneliness in the well do not harm him: Allah turned mercifully to him and made the haughty mighty one his servant after he used to be a king, so He dispatched him and was a source of mercy to a nation on his account. Such is perseverance: It is always followed with something good; so, persevere, accustom yourselves to perseverance so you may receive your rewards."
Imam al-Baqir (Ú) is quoted as having said, "Paradise is surrounded with what is hated and with perseverance: So, if one perseveres about what is hated in this life, he will enter Paradise. Hell is surrounded with pleasures and desires: If one satisfies himself with its pleasures and desires, he will enter the Fire."
Imam Ali (Ú) has said that the Messenger of Allah (Õ) had said, "There are three types of perseverance: during the time of a calamity, while trying to obey the Almighty, and while trying to stay away from transgression. So, if one perseveres when afflicted by a calamity till he repels it with a good solace, Allah will record for him three hundred degrees the distance between each degree and the other is as much as the distance between the heavens and the earth.
And if one perseveres while trying to obey [his Maker], Allah will record for him six hundred degrees, the distance between one degree and the next is like the distance between any point on earth and the [Almighty's] Arsh. If one perseveres so he may not commit a transgression, Allah will record for him nine hundred degrees, the distance between one degree and another is like that between the earth and the end of the Arsh."
Abdullah ibn Sinan quotes Imam Abu Abdullah (Ú) saying that the Messenger of Allah (Õ) has said, "Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, has said: I have made the shorter life like a loan among My servants: Whoever gives Me one loan, I will grant him ten to seven hundred as much or whatever I please.
And if one does not loan me, and if I take a thing from him against his will, I shall grant him three merits: If I give even a single one of them to My angels, they will be satisfied with it." Then Imam Abu Abdullah (Ú) went on to quote this verse of the Holy Qur'an: "… [Those] who, when afflicted with calamity, say: 'To Allah do we belong, and to Him do we return…;' (Qur'an, 2:156) and this is one of the three merits. The other is this: 'They are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend)' (Qur'an, 2:157), and the third is: 'They are the ones who receive guidance' (Qur'an, 2:156).
Then Imam Abu Abdullah (Ú) went on to say, "All this is the reward if one from whom something is taken away [by the Almighty, such as children, wealth, etc.] against his wish."
The Imam (Ú) is also quoted as having said, "If one strikes on his thigh when afflicted by a calamity, he voids his rewards." The greatest perseverance is one through which someone goes when afflicted the first time, and the extent of reward is measured according to the extent of the calamity; and if one renders his affairs to the Almighty after he had already been afflicted, Allah will renew the rewards for it as if he was afflicted by it that same day."
A man once asked the Prophet (Õ), "What voids rewards in a calamity?" He (Õ) said, "It is when he claps his right hand on the left. Perseverance must be upheld at the time of the first shock: Whoever accepts, he will be pleased with; and whoever feels angry, on him shall the wrath [of the Almighty] descend."
Umm Salamah, wife of the Prophet (Õ), once said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, say, 'If a servant of Allah is afflicted by a calamity and he says: 'We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return; Lord! Grant me a compensation for my calamity', Allah Almighty will compensate him for his calamity and grant him better than what he had lost.'" She went on to say, "When Abu Salamah died, I said as the Messenger of Allah (Õ) had commanded me; therefore, He granted me better than Abu Salamah: the Messenger of Allah (Õ)!"
In another rendering of this tradition, she heard the Messenger of Allah (Õ) say, "Whenever a Muslim is afflicted, he should say as he is commanded by Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, that is, 'We belong to Allah and to Him is our return; Lord! Grant me rewards for my calamity and give me better than it.'
When Abu Salamah, may Allah be pleased with him, passed away, I (Umm Salamah) said, 'Who is a better man than Abu Salamah?! His family is the first family that migrated to the Messenger of Allah (Õ)' then I the supplication at the time of affliction, and Allah granted me the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny."
She also is quoted as having said that the Messenger of Allah (Õ) sent the son of Abu Balta`ah to ask for her hand. She goes on to say, "I said to him, 'I have a daughter, and I am a jealous woman.'" He (Õ) said, "As regarding her daughter, I supplicate to Allah to grant her independence of her, and I supplicate to Allah to take away jealousy from her."
In another tradition, she is quoted as having said, "Abu Salamah returned once from seeing the Messenger of Allah (Õ) and said, 'I have heard something which the Messenger of Allah (Õ) has said and which made me very happy. He (Õ) said, 'If anyone from among the Muslims is afflicted by a calamity and says, 'We belong to Allah and to Him is our return; Lord! Grant me my reward for my calamity and compensate me with better than what I have lost,' Allah will do just that.'"
Umm Salamah said, "I memorized this from him. When Abu Salamah passed away, I said that statement and added: 'Lord! Grant me rewards for my calamity and compensate me with better than him!'
Then I pondered inwardly and said, 'How can I get anyone better than Abu Salamah?!' When my idda (waiting period) came to an end, the Messenger of Allah (Õ) sought permission to visit me as I was tanning a hide. I, therefore, washed my hands and granted him permission. I put down a leather pillow stuffed with palm leaves for him on which he reclined. He (Õ) sought my hand for himself, blessings and peace of Allah be with him and with his family."
Ibn Abbas says that the Messenger of Allah (Õ) has said, "There is fright in death. If one of you hears about his brother having died, he must say, 'Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon' (We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return); Lord! Count him among the doers of goodness; place his book of reckoning in Illiyyeen(the elevated) and let his progeny be good in all coming generations! Lord! And do not deprive us of its rewards, and do not try us after it.'"
Imam al-Hussain son of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, peace be upon them all, is quoted as having said that the Prophet (Õ) has said, "If one is afflicted with a calamity, and if he says 'Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon', Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, will renew its reward for him as much as it was on the day when he was afflicted by it."
Yousuf ibn Abdullah ibn Salam has said that whenever hardship hit the family of the Prophet (Õ), he would order them to perform prayers, then he would read this verse: "Enjoin prayer on your people, and be constant in it" (Qur'an, 20:132).
When he was traveling, Ibn Abbas received the news that his brother, Qatham, had died, so he said, 'Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon', went aside from the road, alighted from his mount and prayed two rek'ats during which he prolonged the prostration. Then he walked to his she-camel as he was reciting this verse: "Seek (God's) help with patient perseverance and prayer; it is indeed hard, except for those who are humble" (Qur'an, 2: 45).
Whenever Ibn Abbas was afflicted with a calamity, he used to perform his ablution and pray two rek`ats, then he would say, "Lord! We have done what You commanded us; so, do perform what you promised us."
Abadah ibn Muhammad ibn Abadah ibn al-Samit has said that when Abadah, may Allah be pleased with him, was passing away, he said, "Get my bed out to the courtyard. Gather my slaves, servants, neighbors and those who used to visit me." Once all these have been gathered, he said, "I see this day as the last of my life and the first night of those of the Hereafter. I do not know that perhaps I have abused you with an action or a word, and this, I swear by the One Who holds Abadah's life in His grip, means retribution on the Judgment Day. I, therefore, implore, in the Name of Allah, everyone among you whom I have harmed to seek retribution on me before my soul departs from my body."
People said to Abadah, "Rather, you used to be like a father to us and a mentor, and you never committed any wrongdoing against anyone who served you." He asked them, "Have you then forgiven me?" They answered in the affirmative. He said, "Lord! Bear witness to it."
Then he said, "Remember, then, my will: I implore you all not to weep; when my soul departs from my body, perform your ablution, and do it well. Then you should enter a mosque and perform prayers seeking forgiveness for Abadah and for yourselves, for Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, has said, 'Seek (God's) help with patient perseverance and prayer'. Then you should make haste [and bury me], and do not walk behind me bearing torches and do not put underneath me any piece of colored cloth."
Jabir quotes Imam al-Baqir (Ú) as saying, "The extremist form of grief is wailing, slapping the face and the chest and pulling the hair. One who wails abandons perseverance, and one who perseveres surrenders to the will of Allah and praises Allah Almighty, accepting what Allah has done; his reward will be with Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great. One who does not do so will suffer destiny as he is held in contempt, and Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, voids his rewards."
Rab`i ibn Abdullah quotes Imam al-Sadiq (Ú) as saying, "Perseverance and affliction race towards the believer. He is afflicted while he perseveres. Impatience and affliction race towards the unbeliever. Affliction reaches him as he is being impatient."
He (Ú) is also quoted as having cited the Messenger of Allah (Õ) as saying, "When a believer slaps his thigh at the time of grief, he voids his rewards."
Mousa ibn Bakr quotes Imam al-Kazim (Ú) as saying, "When one beats his thigh at the time of grief, he voids his rewards."
Ishaq ibn Ammar quotes Imam al-Sadiq (Ú) as saying to him, "O Ishaq! Do not regard a calamity for which you are granted patience and which necessitates rewards from Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, as a calamity. Rather, it is, indeed, a calamity when one is deprived its rewards because he did not persevere when it fell down upon him."
Abu Maysarah has said, "We were in the company of Imam Abu Abdullah, peace be with him, when a man came to him and complained about a calamity that had befallen him. The Imam (Ú) said to him, 'If you persevere, you will be rewarded, and if you do not persevere, the destiny of Allah Almighty will be affected on you as you are despised.'"
Imam al-Sadiq (Ú) has said, "Affliction is a decoration for the believer and a bliss for those who have reason because going through it, maintaining perseverance during it and remaining firm towards it is correction for one's degree of Iman (conviction)."
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him, has said, "We, prophets, are afflicted the most, then the believers, the best and the one lower in conviction and so on. One who tastes affliction under protection preserved for him by Allah finds it sweeter than any other bliss, and he yearns for it when he misses it because under the fires of affliction and calamity there are noors (lights) of the bliss. And under the noors of a bliss there are fires of affliction and trial. Many may be saved through it, and many may perish in the bliss.
Allah Almighty never lauded one of His servants, starting from Adam to Muhammad (Õ), except after afflicting him then rewarding him for adoring Him as He should be adored, for the graces of Allah Almighty in reality are conclusions the beginnings of which are afflictions, and the beginnings of their conclusions are [also] afflictions.
One who comes out of the net of trials and tribulations will be made a lantern for the believers, a solace for those near to Him, a guide for those who seek Him. There is nothing good in a servant who complains about a trial in the vanguard of which there are a thousand blessings followed by a thousand norms of ease.
One who does not pay the dues of persevering when afflicted with a trial will be deprived of the right of thanking Him during the time of prosperity. Likewise, one who does not truly thank Him during prosperity will be deprived of the rewards of persevering during the time of affliction."
Prophet Job (Ayyub) (Ú) said once by way of supplicating: "Lord! You have blessed me with seventy years of prosperity, so grant me time so I may go through seventy more in trial and tribulation."
Wahab has said, "Affliction for a believer is like shackles to a beast of burden and reins to camels."
The Commander of the Faithful, peace be with him, has said, "The place of perseverance in conviction is like the head in the body. The head of perseverance is affliction, yet only those deeply immersed in knowledge realize it."
This entire chapter is excerpted from statements by Imam al-Sadiq, peace be with him.
Imam al-Sadiq, peace be with him, has said, "Perseverance reveals the noor (light) and clarity in the believers, while impatience reveals the darkness and desolation inside them. Everyone claims to be patient, but only those who tolerate pain prove it.
Everyone denies impatience, but it appears most clearly on the hypocrites because the descent of calamity and tribulation tells who is truthful and who lies. Explained, perseverance has a bitter taste; what causes upsetting is not called perseverance.
Explained, impatience is the heart palpitating, the individual grieving, his color is changing, and his condition is quite different. Any calamity the beginning of which does not have toleration for pain, surrendering and pleading to Allah Almighty, leaves one in a state of impatience, not perseverance. The beginning of perseverance is bitter and its conclusion is sweet for some people.
For others, it is bitter from beginning to end. One who enters through its exit enters [Paradise], whereas one who enters through its beginning exits [it]. One who knows the value of perseverance does not complain about it.
Narrating the tale of Prophet Moses and al-Khidr, peace be with them both, Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, says: "And how can you be patient about something of which you have no knowledge?" (Qur'an, 18:68).
One who perseveres about something which he hates and does not complain about it to others, one who does not fret when his veil is torn apart, is one about whom Allah Almighty says: "… And convey glad tidings to those who persevere" (Qur'an, 2:155)
which means Paradise and forgiveness. And one who welcomes calamity with open arms and perseveres quietly and with dignity is one of the elite; his lot is described by Allah Almighty thus: "Allah is surely with those who persevere" (Qur'an, 2:153)."