Patience & Contentment in Islam

by Jim Booth
The Quran insists that Muslims exercise patience and strive toward contentment.

The Quran insists that Muslims exercise patience and strive toward contentment.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Islam considers patience and contentment hallmark virtues that Muslims ought to practice. The Quran, Islam’s sacred text, encourages Muslims to endure with patience the many trials and tribulations of existence. Muslims also work toward contentment by expressing gratitude and praise toward Allah, the Arabic term for God. Muslims believe Muhammad, the messenger of Islam, is the perfect embodiment of such virtues.

Patience and Prayer

Patience and prayer share a relationship in Islam. Similar to prayer, patience requires Muslims to surrender to the will of Allah. In Islam, surrender means obedience to the various tenets established in the Quran and hadith. Patience and prayer are two such tenets that provide solace for Muslims and strengthen their trust and obedience to Allah through worship and by acquiescing to his will in times of hardship:
“And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones…” (Quran 2:45).
Muslims believe that Allah rewards those who exercise patience. Restraint in moments of anger and maintaining vigilance in the face of desires that violate Islamic principles are some of the many ways Muslims practice patience. Defined as a virtue and an act of worship in Islam, patience also provides respite for Muslims when facing difficulties.

Contentment in the Quran

Contentment in Islam is best understood as gratitude toward Allah. Islam considers Allah the source of all good fortune. The Quran insists that Muslims thank Allah for even seemingly insignificant things. This allows Muslims to focus on Allah as their sole provider, for as the Quran states: “And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah” (Quran 16:53). Muslims thank Allah in their daily prayers and often repeat the prayer "“alhamdulillah" throughout the average day. This prayer offers praise to Allah and reminds Muslims to be content. Muslims also give charity to express contentment with their lives and to show Allah gratitude.

Muhammad’s Example

According to the Harvard scholar, Annemarie Schimmel, Muslims consider Muhammad the perfect embodiment of all Islamic virtue, including patience and contentment. Muslims believe Muhammad demonstrated these two virtues at various times throughout his life by remaining patient in spite of the suffering and loss he endured and by being content with Allah's will during such hardships. His status as an orphan and his deep sense of isolation in the face of outward hostility toward his message provides Muslims an example to strive toward regarding patience and contentment.
The hadith, the collected sayings and teachings of Muhammad, also provide numerous examples of Muhammad discussing or enacting these two values in his life. The following hadith offers guidance to Muslims and suggests that those who practice patience and contentment are most favored by Allah: “Whenever God loves a devotee, He subjects him to ordeals. Should he endure patiently, God singles him out; should he be content, God purifies him.”

Patient and Contentment in Sufism

Sufism, considered the mystical dimension of Islam, views patience and contentment as central tenets to draw closer to Allah. The ultimate goal of practitioners of Sufism is a sense of oneness with Allah. According to noted scholar, Fritjof Schuon, a sense of contentment plays an important role in achieving this spiritual state. Sufis also consider patience an integral trait. Echoing the precepts of the Quran, Sufis believe prayer and patience are synonymous. Jelaluddin Rumi, a famous Sufi and poet from the 13th century, states this quite eloquently in verse: “Practice patience; it is the essence of praise. Have patience, for that is true worship. No other worship is worth as much. Have patience; patience is the key to all relief.”

References

About the Author

Jim Booth is a writer living in Los Angeles. He is currently pursuing graduate work in Philosophy and Religion. The study of faith, in all its various guises, has been a paramount pursuit for him. He has published work in 'The Seattle Review (2005),' 'Rattle (2003),' and 'Zouch (2011).'

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images