Conviction and Patience
Conviction is the constant believing in the principles of the religion. Such believing should conform to the reality and not be shaken by suspicions. If it does not, it is then compound ignorance. The Islamic Sharia has taken a special notice of conviction and showered people of conviction with glorious items of praise:
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) used to say: "No one can find the true taste of faith before he believes that whatever befell him would never miss him and whatever missed him would never befall him. The real source of harm and benefit in only Allah." 188
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "Faith is preferable to being Muslim. Conviction is preferable to faith. In fact, there is nothing more powerful than conviction." 189
"The little permanent deed with conviction is favorable in the sight of Allah to the many deeds that are lacking conviction." 190
"To avoid pleasing anyone and discontenting Allah and reproaching anyone for something that Allah has not given to you-these are parts of the trueness of Muslim's conviction. The sustenance cannot be obtained through (any sort of) niggardliness and will not be ceased when someone hates it. If you escape your decided share of sustenance in the same way as you escape death, it will surely catch you in the same way as death will inevitably catch you. Out of His justice and equality, Allah has made pleasure and rest lie in conviction and content, and has made care and grief lie in suspect and dissatisfaction." 191 Once, Imam ar-Rida (a) was asked to identify the best of two men one of whom says only the truth, but he commits wrongdoings, consume wines, and perpetrates the grand sins, while the other is less in conviction but he does not commit such evildoings. The Imam said: "The first one is just like a man who sleeps on the right course; as soon as he is awaken, he will take it. The other is like a person who sleeps on the wrong course; when he is awaken, he cannot realize the right course to take." 192
Imam as-Sadiq narrated that the Prophet (s) once, noticed a young man, in the mosque just after the Fajr prayer, nodding his head with his face pale, his body thin, and his eyes sunken in his head. 'How is your morning?' the Prophet asked the young man. 'God's Messenger,' answered the man, 'I begin this morning with full conviction.'
The Prophet (s) was admired by this answer; hence, he said, 'There is a proof for every conviction. What is the proof of yours?'
The young man said, 'God's Messenger, my conviction is the reason of my grief, sleeplessness, and thirst in midday. Hence, I disdain this world along with its pleasures so completely, as if the Throne of my Lord is prepared for the judgment, all people, including I myself, are gathered there for interrogation, and as if people of Paradise are there enjoying the bliss and introducing themselves to each other and leaning on the sofas, and as if people of Hell are there tormented and lined up, and now I can hear the sound of fire in my hearings.'
The Prophet (s) said to his companions, 'Surely, Allah has illuminated the heart of this man with faith.' He (s) then asked him to keep on such faith and conviction. The young man asked the Prophet to pray to God for martyrdom, and the Prophet did.
Not before long time, that young man participated in one of the Prophet's campaigns and was martyred. 193
Qualities of People of Conviction
People of conviction, as they are flourished and lightened by the glittering rays of conviction, acquire various colors of mental perfection that exalt them to a lofty spiritual standing. Thus, they are characterized by high moral standards and moral conducts as they avoid vices and bad manners. The illusions of this world cannot divert them from exalting their spiritual qualifications for gaining the lofty ranks and the expected endless pleasures of the life to come. They exert all efforts for offering acts of obedience to God for sake of attaining His satisfaction. They trust in Him completely in sorrow and in joy. They neither fear nor hope for anything except God because they are convinced of His well management and wisdom. Their prayers therefore are responded and their charismata are shown. Finally, they find favor with God.
Ranks of Faith
There is a great variety in the scope of people's faith. Some are forerunners in the field of faith while others are too tardy. The following holy text may cast shadow on such a variety.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "Like stairs, faith is of ten ranks that should be taken one by one. The owner of two ranks of faith should not accuse the owner of one rank of having nothing of faith until he climbs the ten ranks successfully. Hence, you should not throw him who is lower than you are down, lest he who is higher than you are will throw you down. You should also raise him who is lower than you are so leniently and you should avoid burdening him with heavy things that break his back. In fact, he who breaks a believer should set him." 194
Categories of Faith
1. Natural Faith:
Natural faith is that which God grants, such as faith of the prophets and their successors, because those individuals are the highest examples of faith and nobility of conviction. Neither doubts nor can the devilish inspirations influence them.
Transient faith is the artificial that is only said without having any reality in the inner self. Such category of faith is very soon influenced by doubts and ill inspirations. Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "A man may begin his day with faith but ends it with disbelief or the opposite. Some people borrow faith then dress it. Those are the borrowers." 195
"Allah created prophecy in the prophets; hence, they never apostatize. Likewise, He created succession of prophecy in the prophets' successors; hence, they never apostatize. For some believers, He created faith in them; hence, they never apostatize. For others, they are given faith as loans; but if they pray and supplicate to Allah importunately, they keep on that faith." 196
After these two sayings, Imam as-Sadiq (a) adds a third one as the criterion of constant and transient categories of faith. He says:
"Regret, sorrow, and woe-all will be to him who does not benefit by that which is shown to him and does not realize whether his belief is for his good or bad… he whose deeds conform to his words will be saved (since he enjoys constant faith), while he whose deeds do not conform to his words enjoys the transient faith." 197
Acquisitive faith is the slight natural that has been grown and increased until it is exalted to a considerable level. This category of faith, however, has different ranks.
Now, let us provide some advices that help in protecting the natural part of faith and saving the acquisitive:
It is recommended to associate with the faithful, pious individuals and avoid the sinful, wicked ones. It is well known that the associate plays a great role in acquiring moralities. Referring to this fact, the Prophet (s) said:
"A man follows his associate's beliefs. Hence, you should care for choosing your associates."
It is recommended to avoid looking in and listening to the books of deviation and sayings of the misleading people whose main concern is to poison the others' pure ideas in order to take them away from the Islamic creed and to corrupt the values and concepts of faith in their mentalities.
It is recommended to practice pondering over God's creatures that are characterized by beautiful made, accurate organizing, and fascinating wisdom of management:
"In the earth, there is evidence (of the Truth) for those who have strong faith. There is also evidence of the Truth within your own selves. Will you then not see? (51:20-1)"
It is highly recommended to strive oneself and practice acts of obedience to God. It is recommended to avoid acts of disobedience to God so that one's mentality will be established correctly by the concepts of faith. As a matter of fact, the soul is as pure as fresh water unless it is blemished by pollutions. Were it not for the rust of sins and the dirt of wrongdoings that raid at the souls to seize their beauties and abate their lights, most of people would benefit by the illumination of faith:
"(I swear) by the soul and that (Power) which designed it and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety, those who purify their souls will certainly have everlasting happiness and those who corrupt their souls will certainly be deprived (of happiness) (91:7-10)."
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "When a man commits a sin, a black spot emerges to his heart. If he repents, that spot will disappear. But if he keeps on committing sins, that spot will increase in area until it covers the whole heart. That man will never see success." 198
Patience is the moderate steadfastness against misfortunes. It is also defined as to compel oneself to stand the necessities of the Sharia including the matters to do and the matters not to do. It indicates wisdom, broadmindedness, high morality, and great steadfastness. In more than seventy places in the holy Quran, God refers to and praises patience. He promises the patient of His contentment and liking:
"Allah loves those who have patience (3:146)."
He promises He should always support them:
"Allah is with those who have patience (8:46)."
He promises He should grant them abundance rewarding:
"Allah will recompense the deeds of those who have exercised patience, without keeping an account (39:10)."
He promises He should confer upon them with a variety of kindness:
"We shall test you through fear, hunger, loss of life, property, and crops. (Muhammad), give glad news to the people who have patience and in difficulty say, "We are the servants of Allah and to Him we shall all return." It is they who will receive blessings and mercy from Allah and who follow the right guidance. (2:155-7)"
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: "Paradise is surrounded by misfortunes and patience. He who shows steadfastness against misfortunes of this world will be in Paradise. Hell, likewise, is surrounded by lusts and appetites. He who allows himself to have these lusts and appetites will be in Hell." 199
"In his final hours, my father embraced me to the chest and said, 'son, stand the right even if it is bitter, for if you do it you will be granted your rewards without interrogation." 200
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "The rank of patience for faith is as same as the rank of the head for the body. When there is no patience, there will be no faith." 201
"The believer who shows steadfastness against misfortune that befalls him will be given the rewards of one thousand shahids."
One may ask how people of patience are given the rewards of one thousand shahids who are the heroes of patience in the fields of jihad? To answer this wonderment, we say that people who practice patience deserve the rewards of those shahids although God will grant them more rewards.
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "He who is not saved by steadfastness will surely be killed by impatience." 202
Categories of Patience
Steadfastness against Misfortunes and Calamities
This category of patience is the greatest because it implies self-dignity, wide-mindedness, unruffledness, and progression. Man is naturally the subject of misfortunes that befall him unwillingly while he has no ability to stop them. The best thing that such a man may practice in such states is to armor himself with steadfastness without which man will surely collapse and become a palatable bite of griefs:
"Give glad news to the people who have patience and in difficulty say, "We are the servants of Allah and to Him we shall all return." It is they who will receive blessings and mercy from Allah and who follow the right guidance. (2:155-7)"
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "If you practice patience, the destined calamity will befall you while you are rewarded. But if you lose your temper, the destined calamity will befall you while you are sinned." 203
It is worth mentioning that patience that is described as nice stands for the steadfastness against the inescapable calamities, such as loss of a dear person, usurpation of the wealth, or persecution of the enemy.
Submission to calamities, while the ability to protect oneself against them is available, is a sort of foolhardiness that is denied by Islam. The thing that divests of the virtue of patience is the excessive intolerance, such excessive complaint and grumbling. To give vent to the mental pains by means of moderate weeping and to complain about the sufferance of a disease are among the necessities of the vital emotions. The Prophet (s) said when his son Ibrahim died:
"The eyes shed tears and the heart grieves, but we will say nothing that may displease the Lord."
Within the folds of history, there are many stories carrying glorious examples from the past generations who practiced patience remarkably:
It is narrated that Khosrow the Persian king, once, was angry with Bozorgmehr; therefore, he detained him in a gloomy house and ordered to enchain him with iron. Several days later, the king sent some people to investigate his state. As they visited him in that gloomy house, they found him tranquil and cheerful. They were astonished; therefore, they wondered: "How can you enjoy such peace of mind while you are in such miserable state?" He answered: "In fact, I have made, mixed, and used six humors that helped me keep such manner. The first humor is trust in God. The second is to believe that every destined matter will inevitably occur. The third is the fact that steadfastness is the best thing that the inflicted person should opt. The fourth is the fact that what should I do if I do not practice patience, since I will not make impatience prevail on me. The fifth is that there may be some others who suffer harsher calamities. The sixth is that relief may come in any moment." 204
Imam ar-Rida narrated the following story on the authority of his fathers (a): One day, Prophet Solomon said to his companions: "Although Allah has granted me a kingdom that no one will ever have its like, made the wind, humankind, jinn, birds, and beasts subservient to me, taught me the languages of birds, and granted me a part of everything, I have never passed a whole daytime with pure pleasure. Tomorrow, I want to go to the surface of my palace in order to watch my kingdoms. Thus, do not let anybody visit me so that nothing will ruin my pleasure."
The next day, he took his stick in the hand, went to the highest point in his palace, and leaned on his stick watching his kingdoms cheerfully. Suddenly, a young handsome man came to him from one of the corners of his palace. "Who permitted you to enter my palace on this day that I have dedicated to my seclusion?" asked the prophet (a). "I entered here by the permission of the lord of this palace," said the young man. "Well," said Solomon, "the lord is worthier of this than I am. Who are you?" "I am the angel of death," answered the young. "What for are you here?" asked Solomon. "I am here for grasping your soul," answered the angel. "Do it, then," said the prophet, "This is surely the day of my pleasure. Allah has rejected for me to have pleasure other than meeting Him." Hence, the angel grasped the soul of the Prophet Solomon while he was leaning on his stick…" 205
Standing the Obedience and Perseverance against the Disobedience to God
Man, naturally, rejects the obligatory regulations that delimit his freedoms, even if such regulations are put for sake of achieving his pleasure. Thus, man does not submit to such regulations except by means of inducement, encouragement, warning, or threat.
Seeing that the practicing of acts of obedience to God and the avoidance of acts of disobedience to him are two difficult deeds, to stand the obedience to God and to persevere against the disobedience to Him are within the most important obligations:
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "Stand the acts of obedience to Allah and practice the perseverance against the acts of disobedience to Him. This world is only one hour: you cannot find the taste of pleasure or bitterness of all that which passed, and you can never realize that which has not come yet. Hence, show steadfastness in that hour and you will be surely happy." 206
"On the Day of Resurrection, a group of people will go straightly to knock the door of Paradise. As they are asked about their identities, they will answer they are people of patience. As they are asked about the fields of their patience, they will answer that they stand the acts of obedience to Allah and persevere against the acts of disobedience to Him. Then, Allah will say, 'They have told the very truth. Let them be in Paradise.' This is the indication of Allah's saying:
Allah will recompense the deeds of those who have exercised patience, without keeping an account. (39:10)" 207
"Patience is of two forms: steadfastness against misfortunes. It is good and fair. What is better and fairer is the ability to avoid what Allah has forbidden." 208
Patience of the Graces
This category of patience stands for self-control against the inducements of ingratitude. As a matter of fact, steadfastness against tragedies of this life is not preferable to self-control against pleasures, passions, and charms of this world. The neglect of steadfastness against misfortunes results in destroying impatience. Likewise, negligence of self-control in luxury results in ingratitude and exaggeration, which are both detestable:
"The human being still tends to rebel when he becomes wealthy (96:6-7)."
Patience of graces means to observe the rights of such graces and exploit them in the fields of charity, such as helping the miserable, aiding the persecuted, settling the believers' needs, and avoiding slips of ingratitude and vanity.
Advantages of Patience
Patience is the shelter of the grievous because it supplies with tranquility. It is also security against intolerance and anxiety. Without patience, the afflicted people would fall in and become the prey of mental and physical defects. Patience, too, is the expected hope due to which God has prepared the great rewards.
How to Acquire Patience?
To acquire patience it is recommended:
(1) To look in the virtues and nice traits of patience.
(2) To ponder over the disadvantages that impatience leaves on people's lives. Impatience does not settle a need, save from acts of God, or change a reality. It only results in wearisome. In his How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie says: "In the last eight years, I have read every book, magazine, and article that dealt with worry. Do you want to know the wisest and most beneficial advice that I extracted through such prolonged survey? It is 'satisfy yourself with the inescapable.'"
(3) To sympathize with the actuality of this life, which is based upon troubles and concerns. Indeed, this world is not the abode of comfort. It is a transitory place of test for the believers. Like students who exhaust themselves in the tests for sake of obtaining high grades, the believers in this world are examined for recognizing the scope of their faith and conviction:
"Do people think they will not be tested because they say, 'We have faith?' We had certainly tried those who lived before them to make sure who were truthful in their faith and who were liars (29:2-3)."
(4) To learn lessons from the sufferings of the great persons who exercised patience for sake of God purely, and
(5) To practice matters of entertainment that help in alleviating the pains and relaxing the nerves, such as traveling, visiting charming views, and reading amusing stories.