Sabar – Hang in there

Sabbar: The Remarkable Power of the Prickly Pear. Reference: Trevino. 26 May 2020.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

Dear Believers, be patient (and tolerant of your duties) and patient (of the harm and affliction that comes your way) and be steadfast (and defend yourself against antagonism and machiavellianism) and be cognizant (aware and conscious) of Allah in all circumstances, so that you will be successful (in this world and the hereafter).

(Surah Ali Imran 3:200)~ Adapted from Tafsir Muyassar.

Sabar linguistically translated means to restrain, or to bind. Islamically, it is understood as endurance or perseverance. Allah ﷻ mentions the virtue Sabar 102 times in the Quran, the same amount of times He mentions Ash-Shiddah (pressure). Sabbar is also Arabic name given to Prickly Pear, which is highly nutritious and medicinal. However, the skin of this sweet refreshing fruit has fine prickly thorns, that can easily lodge itself into the skin, and cause irritation.

What we mean to say here is, patience is a process. It is sitting through difficulties. In the verse above, Allah ﷻ enjoins us to courage and sturdiness, in the face of challenges and offensive onslaught.

Definitely not to be defeatist, but to accept our states, sit with it, move through it, and make the best of our circumstances, in the most honourable & noble manner possible. This trait of persevering in honour and nobility is ingrained in human beings.

How do we do this?

  1. Breathe. Nafasa is related to the word Nafs (Soul). It signifies how Allah ﷻ breathed the Ruh (spirit) into our father Nabi Adam عليه السلام, activating the temperaments of the Soul (a.k.a ego). Breathing has been proven to regulate dysregulated Nafs.
  2. Notice your state. Notice attachments to dunya. Are you grasping at something fleeting? Are you craving for something you don’t have? Are you clinging on to a loss? Are you rejecting reality?
  3. Check for Idealistic Perfectionism. Only Allah ﷻ is perfect. And He DOES NOT expect the creation to be perfect. In fact, Allah expects us to make honest mistakes, to test boundaries and return to him remorseful and mournful. Rasulullah ﷺ said “By the One in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin, and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them.” Reference: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2749.
  4. Acknowledge The Pain/Harm/Suffering. Recognise how our thoughts and ideals have an effect on our behaviour and state. Prepare for change.
  5. Personify Rahmah. Our job is to be a servant of the Most Compassionate (‘ibadur-Rahman). This means we are to be compassionate, beginning with ourselves. Compassion also means not causing harm to our soul or to others. To not put on ourselves a burden that contributes to harm.
  6. Accept Reality As It Is. Redha. To accept that there is pain; and that some things are not meant to be. So, Let Go & Let God take care of you. Know that life is worth living and striving for, even if there is pain.
  7. Hope. Trust that Allah knows best, exactly what you need. Open your heart to be pleasantly surprised.

Hmmm… yes, we hear you… that’s quite a bit of work. Which is why Rasulullah ﷺ considered Sabar amongst the highest and most meritorious of virtues.

أفْضَلُ الْإِيمَانِ الصَّبْرُ والسَّماحَةُ

The best of faith is patience and tolerance. (Zahr al-Firdaws 516)

And don’t worry too much… Allah ﷻ who created us in the best of forms, equipped us with special features (the ‘aql /intellect) allowing us to create solutions, wield resources and make choices, while we face life’s challenges (whether we are aware of it or not… did you realise that you’ve been taking spiritual exams twice a year?).

أَوَلَا يَرَوْنَ أَنَّهُمْ يُفْتَنُونَ فِي كُلِّ عَامٍ مَّرَّةً أَوْ مَرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ لَا يَتُوبُونَ وَلَا هُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

Do they not see that they are tried every year once or twice but then they do not repent nor do they remember? Surah At-Tawbah 9:126

So, rest assured, Allah is Well-Aware of what we are going through, how we got into our messes, our thought processes, and the feelings it conjure. Allah knows our strengths and limitations too. And Allah is Most Compassionate, Graciously Merciful, who will recompense us for all the difficulties we, stout-heartedly, endure.

عَجَبًا لِأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لِأَحَدٍ إِلَّا لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ

Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him. Sahih Muslim 2999*

We can do this. We can weather the storms and make it through. Coz even Bob Dylan said, “I will not carry myself down to die. When I go to my grave my head will be high.”

* Read more on Sabar Everything Allah decrees is good for the believer (Ustaz Justin Parrott a.k.a Abu Amina Elias)