The Patient - Aṣ-Ṣabūr

Aṣ-Ṣabūr, The Timeless, The Forbearing

The Patient - Aṣ-Ṣabūr - Aṣ-Ṣabūr

Sabur comes from sabr (patience) (ص-ب-ر), and the root means to confine or contain (الحبس). So to have sabr is to contain oneself from acting rashly. Imam Al-Ghazali, may God have mercy on him, also says that when God Almighty brings about an action, He does not delay it out of procrastination like a lazy person would, nor does He speed it up out of haste. The other dimension of God's patience with us is His appreciation for and patience with our baby steps. A mother carries her child all the time until he starts to walk. When he takes two steps, his parents are excited, cheering him on, even though he falls after those two steps. It might take him months to walk properly. But they are by his side, helping him. Very few parents would give up on their child because he falls after taking every few steps. Most parents are lovingly patient even when their child is slow to walk. God Almighty is far above any analogy, but to bring the message home, this is God Almighty with us. He is Al-Sabur. He is not quick to punish the heedless or even the sinful, and He is not impatient with those of us who are slowly but surely on the path. He is patient when we stray, and makes the path still open to us when we come back. There is a beautiful wisdom in the statement of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) ﷺ: “The best actions are those which are small and consistent,” [Sahih Bukhari & Muslim]. It is better than what is grand yet inconsistent, and eventually fades away.

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