The previous two dimensions in part one of Sabr were purely from the perspective of the personal life of a Muslim. We continue with the third and fourth dimensions cover the kind of Sabr needed in the Islamic work. No matter what dimension of sabr we talk about, we must always remeber, that our Prophet Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam provided the best examples in all of them.
Sabr in the Islamic Work
The most important Sabr expected of Muslims is the determination, endurance, fortitude, perseverance, steadfastness and constancy that the Muslims must demonstrate in fulfilling their duties of establishing Islam in their own lives, in their communities and in their societies with a vision to implement Islamic world order of peace, justice and security over the whole globe. This work — which all believers are obligated to undertake firstly to establish a global community of believers and then to maintain it is a very perilous work beset with hardships, challenges and risks. It requires a lot of endurance, fortitude, tenacity and perseverance (Sabr). Practising Sabr In the Islamic work is the basic requirement of faith.
The Islamic work has two distinct stages that call for two kind of Sabr, each relative to a different stage of Islamic work.
1. The first stage of Islamic work is spreading the word of Islam, seeking commitment of people to the Islamic work and organizing and mobilizing those who respond positively to the Islamic Da’wah. This work continues until the majority of the people of a selected society have become workers of the Islamic movement resulting in the establishment of an Islamic state or kingdom of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala.
As soon as a believer sincerely dedicates himself to and embarks upon an organized Islamic mission, tests and tribulations start in full force. The more dedicated and effective the efforts are, the harder the persecution is. The persecution starts with verbal abuse progressing to psychological, financial and physical abuse, imprisonment and sometimes leads up to attempts on one’s life. Depending upon who is the object of Da`wah and where the Da`wah is being given, the perpetrators of the persecution can be people who call themselves Muslims or they can be non-Muslims. Some of the problems are even caused by those who are companions of the Islamic workers. It may be due to their lack of experience or vision, or due the gullibility or influence of negative propaganda of the people against the Islamic movement.
The negative reaction from non-Muslims is understandable and expected, but opposition from ‘Muslims’ is very discouraging, injurious and problematic. As soon as a believer stands up for Islam, people expect him to be perfect according to what they think Islam is about. The moment the worker differs in any respect from their viewpoint or the moment he makes a small mistake which every human being is prone to, all his selfless efforts and the high standard of his character are disregarded and forgotten. People overlook their own major sins but the Islamic worker’s small error of judgement becomes the biggest concern in the world. Backbiting, baseless accusations and false stories start flying against the person all over without even his knowledge. His words are twisted, motives doubted, and even the best of the action flawed. The most popular accusations are usually: ‘He is greedy for leadership or fame’ or ‘he thinks he is better than others’ or ‘he has caused disunity in the community’. But this is just the beginning, If the Islamic worker remains strong and continues his work with dedication, it becomes much more nasty.
The Sabr during this work, at the basic level which is the corollary of faith, is to continue to work steadfastly for the mission, enduring all the verbal, physical and financial abuse as well persecution, torture, oppression, imprisonment and loss of respect, wealth and property without retaliating, fighting back, and showing any weakness, reduction in efforts or giving up. Sabr at the level of Ihsaan is enduring the aforementioned abuse and persecution, while continuing to wish for the guidance and well being of the people with care and conviction, without slowing down in the missionary work and enthusiasm; without making any compromises whatsoever; and without hating the tormentors.
The Messengers of Allaah have set excellent examples of this Sabr. Moosa (Moses) `alayhissalaam, demonstrated a good example of Sabr on the problems caused by Banee Israaeel, the members of his Islamic movement, with their nagging questions, superficial objections, foolish arguments, short-sighted suggestions, undue demands, improper expectations, lack of firm commitment, half-hearted support and weakness in obedience. To discourage repetition of that kind of behaviour, Allaah Subhanahu wa Ta`aala commanded,
“O Believers, do not be like those who abused Moosa; then Allaah cleared him from what they said. And he was, in the sight of Allaah, honourable.”
“And when Moosa said to his people, ‘O my people, why do you abuse me when you surely know that I am the messenger of Allaah to you?’ When they deviated, Allaah caused their hearts to deviate.”
Eesa (Jesus) `alayhissalaam, was the best example of those who practised Sabr on the reaction of the so-called Muslims, Banee Israaeel (who were supposed to be and claimed to be the believers), to his call for the Islamic movement and revival. He was sent to revive Islam without bringing any new Sharee`ah. So, he tried to bring them from petrified, ritualistic Islam to the true spirit of the dynamic Islam that results in the establishment of the kingdom of God and that converts every believer into a missionary for the establishment for the supremacy of the Islamic way of life, but he was rejected and persecuted. So much so that they plotted to kill him, siding with the pagan Romans.
Our Prophet, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam demonstrated best of Sabr in all of the situations described above giving us a vivid picture of what a perfect and ideal Sabr looks like. The most outstanding example of Sabr in the way of Allaah Subhanahu wa Ta`alaa demonstrated in the face of persecutions from non-Muslims was that of our Prophet’s 13 years in Makkah and his experience in Taaif. That was humanity at its best, Sabr par excellence and Ihsaan without a parallel. To prepare for this, he was admonished at the very outset of the mission,
“And practice Sabr for the sake of your Lord.”
And then he was reminded,
“Rejected were the messengers before you, and they continued to practise Sabr while they were being rejected and persecuted, until Our help reached them.”
“And practice Sabr, certainly Allaah does not let the reward of the Muhsineen be lost.”
He indeed excelled in what he was commanded. The same is expected from us. Although we may not be able to reach that level of excellence, our goal is to strive towards that level. We all have an obligation to revive Islam as a movement and we are bound to face all three kind of difficulties mentioned in this section requiring us to exhibit appropriate Sabr in response to all of those circumstances. The Prophet, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam did warn us about this situation,
“A time is going to come on people when remaining steadfast on Deen will be like holding a burning coal in one’s hand.”
When asked what should we do in those circumstances, he said:
“Just as did the companions of Eesa Ibn Maryam: they were sawed into pieces, they were hanged on the crosses. Death in the obedience of Allaah is better than the life in disobedience of Allaah.”
Often, when Kuffaar become blinded by their hatred and anger against Muslims, they violate every principle of human decency, break every ethical rule or moral code, use every deceitful and immoral tactic and they viciously persecute and savagely torture Muslims. This has always happened in the past and continues to happen today, though unashamedly they lay claims to civilization, freedom and human rights. However, despite observing this vicious phenomena or experiencing the deceit and torture at their hand, a Muslim continues to practise Sabr by strictly following Islamic values and moral code in their treatment of Kuffaar.
Thus, the true believers stand up for Islamic mission and, when they face the persecution, they say:
“And why should we not rely upon Allaah while He indeed has shown us our ways? And we shall certainly practice Sabr on the persecution you inflict on us.”
2. Once an Islamic state or the kingdom of God is established to conduct the affairs of the community of believers according to Islamic values and Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala’s rule, Kuffaar usually attack such a state with their full military might to destroy and annihilate the Islamic state. They usually do not give up until either their own power is eroded or Islamic state is destroyed. If the Islamic state survives by withstanding the onslaught and by eroding the power of Kuffaar, then they try to put obstacles in the way of the Islamic state’s ability to expand and to bring the rest of the humanity under the law of Allaah Subhanahu wa Ta`alaa. Whether it is a war when the Islamic state is trying to survive or whether it is a war put up to stop an Islamic state from liberating other people from the rule of Kufr, the believers are supposed to demonstrate Sabr by fighting bravely with valour, without showing any weakness and without retreating, surrendering, running away or giving up despite the intensity of battle or casualties. This Sabr pertains to the Madani stage of the Islamic movement. Again, the most excellent example of this Sabr was demonstrated by our Prophet Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam and his devout companions at battles of Uhad, Ahzaab and Hunain.
At the beginning of the Madani stage, keeping the inevitability of onslaught of Kuffaar over the fledgling Islamic state, Muslims were prepared to face the inevitability by the following command:
“O Believers! Seek strength through Sabr and Salaah, verily Allaah is with those who practice Sabr. And do not consider those who are killed in the way of Allaah dead, but alive; however, you do not understand. Surely, we are going to test you through things like fear, hunger and loss of wealth, lives and produce. And give the good news to those who practice Sabr -those who, when they encounter troubles, say we are for Allaah and to Him we are going to return.”
They were also told:
“You will surely be tested in regard to your possessions and your lives; and you will surely hear from those who were given the Book before you and from those who equate others with Allaah much hurtful abuse.”
This is the most emphasized Sabr in the Holy Qur-aan. In this regard, Muslims were commanded:
“O Believers! Practice Sabr, outdo others in practising Sabr, and be prepared to face the enemies so that you may be successful.”
“And We shall test you until We know those who perform Jihaad and those who practice Sabr (remain steadfast); and We shall test to appraise your state.”
“Do you think that you will enter Jannah without Allaah testing as to who are those that perform Jihaad and that practice Sabr.”
And the Prophet, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam admonished, while addressing people in one of expeditions:
“Do not wish war, rather ask Allaah for peace and security. However, when you confront the enemy, practice Sabr (fortitude and perseverance) and know that Jannah is under the shade of the swords.”
And Muslims are assured:
“Allaah is with those who practice Sabr.”
Regardless of the type of circumstances and causes of difficulties, Sabr is an essential quality of a believer. Sketching the personality of those who truly have Taqwa, Allaah mentioned:
“And those who practice Sabr in hardships, physical afflictions and during the war.”
Although Sabr is a basic requirement of faith expected of all Muslims, the difficulty of the task is well recognized:
“And if you practice Sabr and keep Taqwa, that is quite a resolute, high calibre of the tasks.”
“O my son! Establish Salaah, enjoin good, forbid evil, and bear with Sabr whatever befalls on you, indeed, that is quite a resolute, high calibre of the tasks.”
Hence the reward promised to those who practice Sabr is equally outstanding:
The people who practice Sabr will be entered into the beautiful, everlasting Jannah and angels of Allaah will welcome them with: “Peace be upon you for the Sabr you practised. Excellent indeed is the final home.”
“And He will reward them for their Sabr in the form of Jannah and silk, reclining on raised thrones wherein they will not see sun or cold.”
“Those who practice Sabr will be rewarded their recompense without measure.”
They will be rewarded not according to their average, but according to the best of their performance:
“We will certainly reward those who practice Sabr according to the best of their actions they used to perform.”
The practice of this standard of Sabr is not possible without collective efforts of the Ummah and mutual support and reminder towards each other. Hence, it is incumbent upon believers to enjoin each other this Sabr. Without it, (according to Soorah Al-`Asr) loss is not insured, salvation is not promised and success is not assured.
(Anas in At-Tirmidzee)
(Mu’aadz Ibn Jabal in At-Tabaraani)
(Aali Imraan 3:186)
(‘Aali Imraan 3:142)
(‘Abdullaah ibn Abee Owfaa in Bukhaaree and Muslim)
(Anfaal 8:46, 66)
(‘Aali Imraan 3:186)