How Do We Define Patience in Islam? Who is a Patient Person?

The death of a loved one, the problems at home or work, and even maintaining the Islamic regulations and orders might sometimes be challenging for us. In all these cases and many others, the patience to which Islam has invited can be enlightening for a Muslim. This patience is not merely passive waiting. Instead, patience in Islam directs us toward bearing things in a more steadfast and hopeful way.  


patience in Islam, Salam Islam

What is Patience in Islam?

The word patience in Islam has several meanings like limiting and constraining the self (Nafs), and, strengthening it against anxiety and discomfort [1]. Patience in Islam can be defined in two ways:


1. Patience Concerning the Islamic rules and Duties and in Worshiping Allah:

Being steadfast in doing what Islam and Allah have advised us to do and in preventing ourselves from whatever they have forbidden us to commit [2] & [4]. The duties that God has assigned to human beings, and especially those He has determined for Muslims, are not free of hardship. Hence, one might ignore some of them or abandon entirely or choose to be patient and experience their eternal joy: “so worship Him and have the patience for His worship” (19:65).


Moreover, being steadfast in avoiding sins and against committing evil deeds is the highest level of patience and the hardest one. Resisting the temptations and desires that appeal to evil deeds, to worldly positions or personal benefits against the collective interests, etc. is not easy, such that Prophet Joseph (AS) said: “And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy.” (12:53).   


2. Patience in our lives:  


Keeping the inner peace and serenity in difficulties and disasters such as  the loss of a loved one or some money, sickness or natural disasters, and having perseverance and persistence in those circumstances such that one keeps calm, does not complain, nor shows overreaction are the signs of patience in our personal lives: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to those who are patient.” (2:155) [3], [6]


The Manifestations of Patience in Islam

According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) patience is manifested in the behavior of the one who believes in the other world, its rewards and punishments, is pious and considers this world as a temporary dwelling, and is aware of his/her mortality and the fact that one day he/she will be no more and the difficult moments will soon pass and be forgotten [5].

patience in Islam, Salam Islam

Four Characteristics of a Patient Person

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has explained the characteristics of a patient person as follows [7]:

1. Is not lazy or indolent:  being lazy and not doing anything equals ignoring the rights of others, including family, friends, neighbors, etc., as well as those of oneself [7];

2. Does not get upset and disappointed:  believing that there is a wisdom behind every happening, a patient person does not lose his\her hope [7]. These are the ones that in case of sorrow, tell themselves that: “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him, we will return.” (2:156);

3. Does not complain: a patient person does not complain [7] despite any difficulties that he\she faces, because he\she is satisfied with everything that God has considered for him\her to be the best thing that could happen. On the contrary, he\she asks God for the help and solution on that matter.

3. Controls his words: a patient person does not lose his temper when being frustrated or hurt and avoids insulting, slandering, and offensive words. 


When Is Patience Required?

According to a Hadith, patience is required on five occasions: 

•    A respected person who is humiliated: 

•    An honest person who is accused of something unfairly;  

•    One who invites to justice but is ignored; 

•    An innocent person who is hurt; 

•    The one who seeks justice is opposed [8]. 

If one faces these troubles with serenity instead of showing a sudden naïve reaction, and if he\she be patient and trust the divine support, sooner or later he/she will find justice.


[2].    Al-Raghib al-Isfahani, "Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran", p. 474.
[3].    M. M. Naraqi, "Jami' al-Sa'adat", vol. 3, p. 280.
[4].    M. Davoudi, “Islamic Ethics (Principles and Definitions)”, p. 92.
[5].    M. Al-Karajaki, “Madan al-Jawahir”, p. 40.
[6].    Shaykh al-Kulayni, "al-Kafi", vol. 2, p. 91.
[7].    Shaykh Sadooq, “Illal al-Sharaie: Reasons for Islamic Practices”, vol. 2, p. 498.
[8].    “Misbah al-Sharia”, p. 154.