Patience is typically depicted as an act where you’re supposed to restrain from anger and suppress the bottling rage inside you. Your face would turn red and your palms would become sweaty from holding that frustration within you so that you would not get into a fist fight or a heated, endless argument with someone. If you’ve done this before, you should give yourself some credit because it is not easy to let rationale dominate our emotions, especially when you were on the brink of blowing up.

Given the extreme nature of anger, it is essential for extreme cases such as to fight against dictators and oppressors. For instance, it is not normal to be patient when the basic human rights of the vulnerable groups of people are taken away. Of course, the way to do it effectively is a whole different and complicated topic. Basically, our anger should be motivated by the passion that is stimulated by the sense of wrong, rather than it is a part of our self-benefit and personality. Because no one wants to be around the walking ticking bomb, right?

Patience is also pictured as someone who remains still in the times of hardship when on the inside they are struggling to completely accept their situation. It is someone who has the choice to make a change with their lives, but chooses not to because they’re being “patient”. There is also a misconception that patience is to accept the fate that was given to you by God, without trying to change the condition when you have the choice to do so in the first place. Everyone has the choice and will to change.

Only in a state when a person is completely helpless regardless of how much effort they have put to change their situation, it is only then appropriate to practice patience. As stated in one of the sixth principles of iman (faith) in Islam, Muslims must believe in al-qadha wa al-qadar (the divine decree and the predestination) which means to wholeheartedly submit to the fate that was destined to us by Allah.

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be short-sighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know the time needed for the crescent moon to be full” – Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love.

In terms of linguistic, Sabr (patience) holds a beautiful meaning as it comes from the word cactus in Arabic. The first instance when we think about cactus is that it can prevail in the desert; it can persevere even in drought and extreme heat. What’s even more profound is that cactus secretes sweet water. It means, even in the harshest condition and the most unbearable situation, they persevere to still benefit – they quench thirst. To us, patience is more than the mere act of acceptance but rather, it is making the best out of a difficult situation to benefit other people, even as little as a random act of kindness. This is what it means to have beautiful patience.

“So endure patiently, with beautiful patience” [Surah Al-Ma’arij:5]


Syaza is a freelance writer whose life revolves around coffee, cats and heartwarming stories.