Among the instruments listed for the Prophet to put in the toolbox was patience:
“And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance.” (Chapter 73:10)
In the next chapter, Allah says: “But for your Lord be patient.” (Verse 7)
For the rest of mankind too, Allah urges us to be patient.
“Indeed, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Chapter 103 verses 2 and 3)
As we’ve seen from science, this loss is not only in the hereafter, but in this world as well.
Once upon a time, during extreme difficulties, Muslims asked “when is the victory of Allah?” Until they were told that the victory of Allah was near. Waiting out life’s hardships like this demonstrates the third kind of patience. It’s the same class of patience that a cancer patient has while waiting to get cured.
One war-time leader we can learn from regarding patience, restraint and self-control is Saladin who retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders (1099 – 1187).
“Anatomy of Peace” a book by the Arbinger Institute of the United States tells a riveting story about Saladin.
To transmit the true flavor of his story, I’m going to quote copiously from chapter 3 of the book.
“The contrast between Saladin’s taking of Jerusalem and the Crusaders’ taking of Jerusalem,” Avi continued, “teaches an important lesson: almost any behavior – even behavior as stark as war – can be done in two different ways.”
The Crusaders Way
Page 20 of the book told the story of how the European Crusaders did it:
“In June of 1099,” Yusuf began, “Crusaders from the West laid siege to Jerusalem. After forty days, they penetrated the northern wall and flooded into the city. They slaughtered most of the city’s Muslim population within two days. The last of the survivors were forced to carry the dead to mass unmarked graves, where they piled the corpses in heaps and set them on fire. These survivors were then either massacred or sold into slavery.
“The Jews, although not so numerous, fared no better. In the Jewish quarter, the inhabitants fled to the main synagogue for refuge. The invaders barricaded the exits and stacked wood around the building. They then torched it, burning all but the few who managed to escape. These people were slaughtered in the narrow streets as they attempted to flee.
“The brutality extended as well to the local Christians who officiated at Christian holy sites. These priests were expelled, tortured, and forced to disclose the location of precious relics, which were then taken from them.
“So began nearly two centuries of strife between invaders from the West and the people of the Middle East. In the minds of many in the Middle East, today’s battles are a continuation of this ancient battle for the Holy Land. They view American and European powers as crusading invaders.”
Yusuf continued, “let me contrast Saladin’s recapture of Jerusalem with the Crusaders’ initial invasion. In the spring of 1187, after the Crusaders had broken a truce, Saladin called upon the forces of Islam to gather in Damascus. He planned to march against the occupiers in a unified effort and drive them from their lands.”
“If I might,” Elizabeth stepped in once more, “who was occupying whom was not entirely clear. As I mentioned before, each side viewed the other as an occupying force.”
“Right,” Yusuf said. “Sorry for the imprecision.” Resuming, he said, “Saladin sprung a trap on the occupying-err, rather, Western-forces near the Sea of Galilee. A few escaped, including a leader named Balian of Ibelin. Balian escaped to Tyre, where via messenger he made a surprising request of Saladin: he asked whether he could go to Jerusalem and fetch his wife and bring her back to safety in Tyre. He promised he would not take up arms in defense of Jerusalem. Saladin agreed.
“However, upon arriving in Jerusalem and finding there was no one to lead its defense, Balian begged Saladin to let him out of his commitment. He wanted to stay and lead the resistance against Saladin’s army. Saladin not only allowed it, he sent an escort to lead Balian’s wife from Jerusalem to the safety of Tyre!”
“The siege of Jerusalem began on the twentieth of September,” Yusuf continued. “Nine days later, Saladin’s men breached the wall close to the place where the Crusaders had flowed through almost ninety years earlier. Saladin put his men under strict order not to harm a single Christian person or plunder any of their possessions. He reinforced the guards at Christian places of worship and announced that the defeated peoples would be welcome to come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage whenever they liked.
“As a way to restock the treasury, Saladin worked out a ransom structure with Balian for each of the city’s inhabitants. His men protested that the amounts were absurdly low. But Saladin was concerned for the poor among them. So much so, in fact, that he let many leave without any ransom whatsoever. He sent widows and children away with gifts. His leaders objected, saying that if they were going to let so many leave without any compensation, they should at least increase the ransom for the wealthy. But Saladin refused. Balian himself was allowed to leave with a rich sum. Saladin even sent an escort to protect him on his journey to Tyre.”
Yusuf looked around at the group.
“He sounds disturbingly weak to me,” Lou said.
“Yes,” Yusuf said, “so weak that he was the most successful military leader of his era and remains revered to this day.” “He’s still weak,” Lou insisted. “And soft.”
“Why do you say that, Lou?” Elizabeth interjected.
“Well,” Lou began, “you heard what Yusuf said. He let all those people take advantage of him.”
“You mean because he spared their lives?”
“And let them make off with the treasury.”
“But they weren’t in it for the treasury,” she answered.
“They were trying to establish a lasting victory.”
“Then why not get rid of their enemies?” Lou objected.
“Let them walk away and you just allow them to fight another day. Trust me, I fought in Vietnam. We would have been massacred there if that’s what we had done.”
Pettis spoke up. “We were massacred in Vietnam, Lou.”
Lou’s back went rigid. With eyes smoldering, he turned hard on Pettis. “Listen Pettis, why don’t you stick to what you know, hmm? You have no idea what Vietnam was about-or about the heroism our men showed there.”
“Air force,” Pettis responded. “555th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Two tours.” He looked calmly at Lou. “You?”
To read more of the fascinating story of Saladin, I encourage you to get a copy of “Anatomy of Peace.”
You see how one leader was able to make so much difference through self-restraint?
Patience is so important in Islam that many Muslims are familiar with this expression: “Assabr jamil (Patience is beautiful.)”
Indeed, a man came to the Prophet and asked for advice.
“Don’t get angry,” the Messenger of Allah replied.
“Advise me,” the man said again.
“Don’t get angry,” the Prophet repeated.
The man made the same request for the third time and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave him the same counsel.
He was so patient that when a man urinated in his mosque and his companions were trying to rough him up, he stayed their hands.
How do we teach kids patience?
In conclusion, let’s see two ways you can teach children self-control.
You can promise them a treat. Then tell them that they can either enjoy it now, or wait one to two hours later to get double of it. This was the set up of an actual research.
Two, you can give them a goal. Once they meet it, they get a prize.
Indeed patience is beautiful!
It has the power to give you super human abilities. The patient individuals also fulfill their goals compared to the hurrying impatient people. Additionally, it delays your aging and improves both mental and physical health.
Most importantly, the patient person is also more likely to go to Heaven.
This chapter is concluded.
(This is a chapter in the book “Social Science of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” by Ibraheem Dooba)
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