Sabr or patience is something I often struggle with. Not because I am always impatient but because I struggle with how people define it and as a result what they say people should do in situations that require you to be patient.
Yes patience means that we endure the hardship without complaining about why you have been put through this, it’s a test from Allah and we all know the ayah that speaks about hardship. We are never given hardship without also being given ease.
“Verily, with hardship there is ease.” Quran (94:6)
But what I find astounding is how many people use that in situations of abuse, of someone living in a toxic environment. I have even heard people say that a person should patiently live in an abusive situation. It is something I often hear directed at women, stay and be patient, do it for the sake of the children. And I could never wrap my head around this. Why should she stay? How is staying equated to being patient?
Sabr is one of the greatest virtues to have as a Muslim, we all know this but sabr is not suffering in silence.
I think one of the reasons is that we forget that sabr is much more than patience, it also means endurance, perseverance and persistence. To know when to respond and when not to respond. Arabic is a much richer and complex language than English so words can lose some of their meaning in translation.
So sabr is not passive, we aren’t supposed to just stay in that situation that is toxic or abusive, it means we stand firm, that we take action to change our situation. So to take action, to stand firm, we need sabr, so we can persevere.
It reminds me of the hadith:
The Prophet (saw) said: Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)
This is how we should respond to abuse, and that means that if someone brings up the courage to come to us and say that are being abused we should take action. We should help them get out of that situation, not tell them to be patient.
It makes me so mad when I hear of situations where women aren’t given support and told to just endure it, using children to shackle them to the abusive husband. It goes against what we are taught and it will not benefit the wife or the children. How can children grow up safely in an abusive environment and how can that be better than living with a single parent but safe?
Sabr is not standing still. Sabr is not being passive. Sabr is the endurance necessary to make the change needed to move one step closer to where Allah wants us to be. – Yasmin Mogahed