Ali-on-PatiencePatience is consent to the present moment; Patience is crowned with faith. Ya Sabur.

True patience comes from the acceptance of the unfolding of time. Most of the time we don’t realize that we are in the world of time. Rather than being content with the present moment we are rushing from one moment to the next, from one situation to the next. The Prophet said, “Haste is of the devil.” This may sound like a rather strong statement, and yet we must search for its real meaning and apply it to our lives. Is our hastiness sometimes a lack of trust, a dissatisfaction with simply being awake in the present moment?

Another hadith tells us: Live for the things of this world as if eternity were before you; and live for the things of the next world (Akhira, eternity) as if you might die tomorrow.

Surah Asr tells us that “everything is in loss,” except those who joined together for the mutual teaching and encouragement of truth and patience.

What benefit can there possibly be in rushing through some moments to get to others? Every moment is the perfect gift of the divine, manifested for our benefit. Moments of difficulty and challenge are moments in which the soul has the potential to develop and awaken new qualities. Knowing this we can be completely open to each moment accepting it as it is with gratitude.   

Yet another hadith tells us: “How remarkable the faithful one’s affairs are, and such a condition is only for the faithful: If something good happens, he thanks God and that is to his benefit. If something bad happens, he endures it and that is to his advantage.”

Patience is referred to countless times in the Quran, and one of the central ayats is this one: Seek help in patience and prayer and this is a hard thing for all but the humble in spirit.


Waista `aeenoo bi as sabri wa as salah wa innaha lakabeeratun illa `ala al khashi `aeena.

And so the task remains for us: How will we develop patience in more and more aspects of our lives? Imam `Ali said, “I will become so patient that even patience will tire of me.”

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi expresses the futility of trying to deny and escape the present moment, of refusing to see and accept what is right now. Patience is accepting where we are in the present moment in order to see more clearly, and this leads to what we mean by faith: knowing that grace manifests in all circumstances and that the present moment is the teaching for right now.

Patience Is Crowned with Faith

If you are running away in hope of some relief,
in that direction, too, a calamity comes to meet you.
No corner is without wild beasts;
there is no rest but in the place
where you are alone with God.

Even the narrow cell of this world’s inevitable prison
is not exempt from the charges for visitors
and the cost of a housewarming.

By God, if you flee into a mouse-hole,
you will be afflicted by someone
who has the claws of a cat.

People thrive on fantasy if their fantasies are beautiful,
but if their fancies show anything unlovely
they melt away like wax in front of a fire.

If amid snakes and scorpions
God keeps you with the imaginings
of those who are spiritually fair,
the snakes and scorpions will be friendly to you,
because that imagination is the elixir
that transmutes your copper into gold.

Patience is sweetened by this kind of imagination,
since in this case the imaginings of relief come to mind.
Such relief enters the heart from faithfulness:
weakness of faith is despair and torment.

Patience is crowned with faith—
where one has no patience, one has no faith.
The Prophet said, “God hasn’t given faith to anyone
in whose nature there is no patience.”

[Rumi, Mathnawi II: 590-601, translated by K. & C. Helminski]

God is the most patient of those who are patient, and that is why we call upon Allah to bring forth the patience we have deep within our own essence. And if we are especially fortunate, we may find we have companions on the way of patience, sincere friends with whom to travel this Way.

Qur’an 18:(28) And contain thyself in patience by the side of all who at morn and at evening invoke their Sustainer, seeking His countenance, and let not your eyes pass beyond them in quest of the beauties of this world’s life: and pay no heed to any whose heart We have rendered heedless of all remembrance of Us because he had always followed [only] his own desires, abandoning all that is good and true. (29) And say: “The truth [has now come] from your Sustainer: let, then, him who wills, believe in it, and let him who wills, reject it.”