Patience

There was once a king, and he had an advisor. The advisor always mentioned Khayr InshaAllah (Good, the Will of Allah). One day the king gathered some men and with his advisor, they went on a hunting trip. On this hunt, the king was involved in an accident and he ended up losing his finger. During the pains and screams from the wound, the advisor was there with him, and the advisor told him: Khayr InshaAllah. and the King looked furiously. He was furious. So furious, that he threw his advisor in prison.

A few years later, the king went on another hunting trip but this time, instead of losing a finger, he was attacked by another tribe and they captured him. The tribe brought the king back to their area and started to prepare a sacrifice for their God. The king was going to be sacrificed. Just before he was about to sacrificed, they noticed that the king had one finger chopped off. The tribe told the king that their God doesn’t want someone who is “incomplete”. Because he had a finger missing, the tribe let him go.

The king came running back to his advisor in prison and immediately asked his advisor about what had happened, and he asked his advisor for forgiveness for previously throwing him in jail. The advisor again said Khayr InshaAllah. The king looked at him in confusion, and the advisor told him that if he hadn’t been thrown in jail, he would have had been with the king during the attack, and because he was complete, he would have had been killed.

Sabr (Patience) and Tawakkul (Trust in Allah) is the crux of the story.

Welcome to one of UNSWMSA’s first blog post!

Tawakkul is a verb that is etymologically derived from the root word wakala (trust/reliance), and by trusting in Allah you learn to be patient when any adversity is experienced. In consideration of the calamity that has transpired in Christchurch, the first post will explore how we can be patient and why patience is necessary.

With regards to the events that have transpired in New Zealand, a brother within the Sydney Muslim Community has stated:

“You may have questions about what took place: why would Allah allow such a thing to those who came to worship? Why is there such evil in the world? Why does it feel like everything is wrong with world and I can’t do anything about it? There’s nothing wrong with having these questions. But seek the answers from the right place, from those who know, instead of letting shaytan take you down the wrong path towards wrong conclusions. Moments such as these, to different extents for different people, can be moments of rupture but in a positive sense: they allow for deep introspection, re-connection with Allah, reconsidering of what is of priority.”

This mindset of materially and spiritually addressing a calamity, a negative and troublesome external stimulus, can be applied to our everyday lives. For a university student, the phenomena of being patient is one that we frequently forget. We will look at Surah Al Asr as a source to develop a process to become patient.

Surah Asr [103]

The method:

  1. Perform righteous deeds
  2. Alongside performing righteous deeds, staying away and stopping oneself from the Haram.
  3. Being patient in consistently and persistently striving to perform righteous and staying away from the Haram.

Imam Ash-Shafi`i said that “If the people were to contemplate on this Surah, it would be sufficient for them.’’ Contemplating about patience would therefore fall under this statement. The scholars of Islam have stated there are a few ways to develop patience: In Calamities, in Worship, in Staying Away from the Haram and in Akhlaaq (manners/character). This post will focus on patience in Calamities and Worship.

Patience in Calamity

When we become sick or when we hurt ourselves, or, something as horrific and terrible as the massacre at Christchurch, New Zealand occurs. It is completely okay to feel negatively about what has occurred. To be patient in calamity is to be resilient. This negative emotional energy should be converted into a positive motivation and a drive for benefit. The same brother who we quoted above states that:

“We should help in whatever capacity we can. The security of our places of gathering is a real concern. We’ve all gone through the motions mentally sitting in a khutbah (sermon) or the like. We need to address this materially (by adopting appropriate means) and spiritually (‘Allah is the best protector’)”

How do we become patient as a University student? What is the number one dreadful, stressful, anxiety inducing event you will face? Final exams and assessments. Why do we perceive it as a calamity? We haven’t studied enough, and we procrastinate and when we have Coffee/Energy Drinks a few days before assessments and exams, we go through a few all-nighters. And we think we’re going to be functioning well running low on sleep. Good luck.

What you could do instead: Plan your semester/trimester and:

  1. Create a weekly plan and see what responsibilities you have (e.g. for myself it includes university, study, work, volunteering, gym, family, friends [no order]).
  2. For the days, or periods within a certain day you have allocated studying. Stick to it.
  3. Structure your study periods around the five daily prayers
  4. If you are struggling to study for a long period, try do some mindfulness exercises, e.g. Dhikr

Patience in Worship

What is difficult in performing your obligatory acts of worship as a student? You may have class at the times of prayer, or you may get caught up doing your studies. If you look back on point (3.) in the plan above, it could be extrapolated to a general idea. Structure everything around your prayers.

The month of Ramadan is approaching, and exam period has (AGAIN…) coincided with this. Ramadan is the month of patience, and when you are in a state of fasting, your mind becomes more alert of the little changes and developments throughout the day. Whether it be the recognition of hunger, or the increased sensitivity of smell. You become a bit more agitated, but you control it. You focus on letting the desire of food overcome you. The same motivation you can apply to studying. Again, structure everything around your prayers.

Example: A study day in Ramadan at university

Note: This is just an example and you could be more flexible. You may finish university later or prefer to go gym in the evening. The essence of this schedule is to plan your time around your prayers.

Marshmallows!

When a Muslim is fasting, this portrait is a great representation of what a Muslim feels when they see or smell anything, they really enjoy eating!

In the late 1960s and 70s an experiment was conducted to observe delayed gratification (patience) in children. They were offered a marshmallow and were told if they waited 10–15mins they could have two marshmallows! Successive follow-up studies were conducted again. The children who waited for the second marshmallow were correlated to perform better in the future.

What does this ultimately mean for Muslims and for Islam? What is the ultimate reward? Jannah. Waiting for the akhira’s pleasures rather than indulging in the current worldly pleasures is the ultimate form of delayed gratification with the ultimate reward possible.

Surah Zumar Ayah 10 [39:10]

Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.

“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.”
Nicholas Nassim Taleb in Antifragile

Muhammad Abdur-Razzaq

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UNSW Muslim Students Association

UNSW Muslim Students Association

Showcasing the intellectual and creative works of young Muslims from UNSW