Patience primarily means not to complain to anyone other than Allah, not to let the heart feel angry with one’s fate, and not to let the organs express wrath, sorrow, grief and the like in a forbidden way. Relying on this principle, whenever man lets himself do such prohibited actions, it means that he is not one of the patient.
One of the matters which contradict patience is to complain about Allah to a human being. When a servant does this he only complains about the One Who pities him, to the one who does not pity him As for raising complaints to Allah Himself, it does not conflict with patience, as we have mentioned in the story of Ya’qub, when he said,
“(For me) patience is most fitting.” (Surah Yusuf, 12 : 18)
But suffice it to say that when the servant tells his Muslim brother about his bad circumstances only to get his advice, it does not then violate patience. We may cite the example of the patient who tells his doctor about his pains, and the example of the wronged person who complains to the ruler. Yet, some pious people dislike expressing even their pains caused by illness through moans and sighs.
Mujahid said, ‘‘Everything that which man does is written down in his book even his moaning out of illness; the people of knowledge said that moaning may be an expression of complaining which contradicts patience.”
Imam Ahamd also held this opinion concerning moaning. But there is another report stating that he said that it does not violate patience. Al-Marwazi reported that when he went to visit Imam Ahmad when he was ill, the Imam told him about the pains he was suffering from and his eyes shed tears.
Once again, moaning for the sake of complaining is reprehensible, but if done for the sake of relieving, is irreprehensible, particularly when the moaner expresses his praising of Allah before moaning or talking about his pains.
Complaint is of two types – one that is expressed with words and one expressed with acts. The second type may be the more dangerous of the two types. For this reason, the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) ordered that the ones who are provided with bounties should reveal their marks for people.
However, there is another type of complaint which is more dangerous than those two; it is that one complains about his Lord while he is covered with His bounties. Such a man is most detestable in the eyes of Allah.
Imam Ahmad narrated that Ka’bul-Ahbar said, “One of the best deeds is to glorify and praise Allah, and one of the worst deeds is to claim that you are wretched, while you are covered with Allah’s favors.”
Another matter contradicting patience is to express bereavement with forbidden expression, such as tearing of clothes, slapping of the face and cutting the hair. The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) condemned such acts. But weeping and grieving are not involved in these matters. Allah tells about Ya’qub’s grief saying,
“And his eyes became white with sorrow, and he was suppressed with silent sorrow.” (Surah Yusuf, 12 : 84)
Qatadah said, “It means that he was sad and sorry but said nothing save good words.”
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Everything that the eye or the heart may produce is from Allah and out of mercy, but everything that the hand or the tongue may produce is from the Devil.”
Khalid Ibn Abu ‘Uthman reported that when Said Ibn Jubayr saw him covering his head after one of his Sons had died he said to him, “Ward off this cover, for it is a token of submission (to bereavement)”.
And Bakr Ibn ‘Abdullah Al-Mazini reported that some people of knowledge said that confining oneself at home after having faced bereavment is a token of submission to it.
‘Ubayd Ibn Umayr said, “It is not a token of a despised expression that one should weep or grieve, however, bad words and thoughts are what are to be despised.”
‘Abdullah Ibnul-Mubarak reported that a man saw Yazid Ibn Yazid performing Prayers, while his son was dying. The man asked him, “Are you performing Prayers, while your son is dying?” Yazid said, “To desert (under such circumstances) a work that you are used to handling for even one day is a shortcoming in this work.”
Another matter contradicting patience is to speak out of bereavment. Yet the best token of patience in this regard is to hide it.
Al-Hasan Ibnus-Sabah narrated in his Musnad that Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “It is a symbol of righteousness that one should hide bereavment, disease and alms (giving).”
When one of ‘Ata’s eyes became blind, no one of his family knew it for twenty years, and then they knew it by mere accident.
And when someone entered to Dawud At-Ta’i, he saw him trembling because of illness and said, “To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.” But Dawud begged him not to tell anyone about his illness. There had passed four months of his illness before that situation took place.
Moreover and more impressive still, the uncle of Al-Ahnaf remained for forty years with a blind eye, but no one was aware of it.
Another matter contradicting patience is impatience. It is that man falls into fretfulness at the time of bereavment, and then restores his normal condition after it has gone. Allah the Almighty says:
“Truly man was created, very impatient; fretful when evil touches him; and niggardly when good reaches him.” (Surah Al-Ma’arij, 70 : 18-21)
There are some facts which may clarify the meaning of the impatient man. When such a man feels hungry he expresses his hunger simultaneously; when something hurts him he complains as soon as possible; when he is suppressed he quickly submits to it; and when he meets something profitable he flies to catch it. In short, he does not forbear pains, nor does he neglect opportunistic pursuit of gains.
May Allah help us all be righteous.
By : Imam Ibnul Qayyim ; From the book : THE WAY TO PATIENCE AND GRATITUDE