Islam guides us in every facet of our life. It leads us towards forming a perfect society where everyone must know and respect other’s rights. Islam also recognizes that the path towards perfection is not without spiritual roadblocks.
Therefore, Islam provides us great spiritual tools in order to combat and remove evil forces that come in the path towards perfection. Once of such great spiritual tools is patience against sin.
Consider the two very prominent faces of Islamic History and compare them with each other. One of them is enlightened, honorable and exciting while the other one is hated and condemned. These two faces belong to two persons who have been offered exactly similar and equivalent opportunities. Or it may be said that they both travelled together and reached simultaneously at an intersection, and in action, each one selected a different direction.
One of them because of choosing the right path becomes the greatest and most honorable Islamic personality, and the another one, because of his choosing the wrong path becomes the most detested and deplorable face of Islamic history. One of them is Omar bin Sa’d who is the commander of the Omayyad army to suppress the rising of Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.). The other one is Hur bin Yazid Riyahi (Footnote: Hur on the morning of Ashura, came over to Imam Hussain’s (a.s.) camp and preferred to die as a martyr. (Ed.)) who is another commander of the same army and who had been dispatched earlier on an assignment to follow and keep strict vigilance on the movements of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and his followers, and had already committed an act of Aggression against the revolutionary army of Imam Hussain (a.s.).
Each of them started their march on the road almost simultaneously. The ruling Omayyad regime was being threatened by a revolutionary force. The revolutionary freedom-giving fire was behind the ashes all over the Hijaz and was about to ignite inside Iraq. Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.) considering the Islamic obligations and realizing great responsibility upon his shoulders had taken a giant revolutionary step by rising against the corrupt and dictatorial regime of the Omayyads. He took this giant heroic step to register forever in the history of Islam, the most practical and fundamental lesson for the coming generations.
This rising therefore was a dangerous and a serious threat for the ruling regime, and naturally it was forced to mobilize all the resources at its disposal to suppress and crush this revolutionary uprising. The above two persons (Omar bin Sa’d and Hur bin Yazid) were part of the vast resources of that tyrant regime, which were mobilized against this revolutionary movement and against its founder Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a.s.).
Therefore, in the very beginning both these persons manifests themselves as the two important pawns (of chess play) on the playground for the game which was actually being played by an usurper caliph (Yazid ibn Mua’wiyah). They were the mercenaries of the caliph to execute his decisions and commands in Karbala. But apart from that, they (Footnote: This has been explained by the lady Fatima daughter of Imam Hussain (a.s.) in her sermon at Kufa.) too voluntarily accepted this assignment for the sake of their love for self, love for material gains, and desires and temptations aroused by their animal instincts.
Omar bin Sa’d came to Karbala because of his obsession for achieving power and position. Since his birth he was ignorant about religion and faith. For him the promise made by the Caliph for the governorship of Rayy (presently the southern suburb of modern Tehran), was the most valuable and dearest thing than Yazid and obedience to his command.
Hur bin Yazid too started his assignment for accomplishing similar goals. Both of them were aware that whatever they were going to accomplish meant committing a sin and a major one. But human passions and transgression of instinct for power and ambitions did not allow them to ponder about the consequences of their would-be assignment (war with Imam Hussain [a.s.]), and ultimately put them on the road, which terminated into the most filthiest and beastly happening in human history.
Both of them were faced with the most critical and sensitive decisions of their lives. One of the road was leading them towards the sensual desires which are the same natural instincts such as love for power and ambitions, and the other one was leading them towards discharging their Islamic duty by joining the righteous forces of Imam Hussain (a.s.).
At this critical juncture, the thing which could have rescued both of them was supposed to be nothing else but patience. Yes! By practicing patience one may overcome these destructive selfish passions. These strange destructive forces can only be controlled by the power of patience. Patience may enable you to resist against the temptations for committing sins and transgression of the Laws of Allah.
At this sensitive and determining moment, Omar bin Sa’d could not resist against these deadly passions, and therefore failed. The knotted rope of love for power and position was fallen over his neck, and he was being pulled towards hell. Although being a powerful and strong person, he was helpless to offer any resistance about his being fallen into this disgrace. Eventually he was overcome with impatience and was vanquished by the motives of lust for power. And finally pulled by the rage of deadly instinctive passions, fell down all the way into the bottom of Hell.
Hur bin Yazid too encountered the same situation. He was being confronted with a critical dilemma. If he would have allowed himself to be led by the desires and passions of his soul, he would have completed the assignment satisfactorily (which was assigned to him by Yazid), and would have ignored the awakening inner voice of his conscience by believing himself to be only an executioner of orders issued by the caliph, and thus, could have achieved the highest position of power.
For him if the governorship of Rayy was not into consideration, certainly something equivalent to that was kept in mind. For he too, after all was a human being, and therefore a knotted rope of greed, desire, and rage of instinctive passions was tied to his neck and was pulling hi-m towards hell. He was pulled almost to the brink of fire i.e. the line dividing the two opposing camps in the plains of Karbala.
The camp of Hussain (a.s.) was manifestation of ready paradise, fountainhead of genuine Islamic values, splendor of human spirit, and the defender of real Islam. It was in a direct face-to-face confrontation with the Yazidi camp. Which was the manifestation of ready hell, the degradation and humility of mankind, the scene of hypocrisy, deceit and lies, and the bastion of ignorance which, in the name of Islam was imposed upon the society.
Yes! The negative forces of degradation pulled him up to these limits (i.e. brink of hell), but suddenly a heroic grand power, an awakening from within, at the right moment took control of him and rescued him from this sudden fall. It gave him, a severe jolt and sheared off the rope of desires and passions which was tied to his neck.
By offering resistance against this violent instinctive passion, and by remaining patient against this great sin, which was tantamount to waging war against the forces representing the total truth for the sake of forces which were the manifestation of total blasphemy, not only did Hur rescue himself, but jumped into the kingdom of paradise from the very brink of fire.
In the above event there is a lesson for those who are interested in in-depth studies of human history. It clearly shows the importance of this branch of patience (against sin), in organizing the great struggle between truth and falsehood, which ultimately determines the interpretation of history, and decides the destiny of a society.
Some other Examples of Patience against Sin
In order to study in detail the examples of this branch of patience, we must recollect a series of different kind of deviations and great sins. It will be proved that patience has played the most crucial role in each situation, such as follows:
A powerful strong mounted fist has been raised and is about to fall over the head of an innocent person, and there is absolutely -no obstacle in its path, is a scene requiring this branch of patience. The strong instinctive forces consisting of anger, pride, selfishness, and other desires, urge this raised fist to strike against the innocent person’s head. In this situation patience means offering resistance against these instinctive motives and to control oneself against committing this transgression.
Someone may have an easy access to lot of money and wealth, only if he could cross over the bridge, namely committing a murder, or indulging in a sinful act. Here the natural lust for the love of wealth, an extremely violent deviated instinctive force, takes control of the person to commit that crime. Here patience means offering resistance against these motives, and to ignore the potential gains at the cost of a crime or sin. This may be regarded as another example of practicing this branch of patience.
The sexual urges are extremely powerful and intense, which may be compared to a swamp, which swallows the elephants together with the elephant drivers. It is exactly for the reason that this super magical characteristic had been exploited as an easy and suitable means for humiliating and degrading the towering great human souls, by the enemies of human progress and exaltedness throughout the history. Patience in these situations means resisting the powerful sexual urges, by not indulging in a lower shameful sexual act.
Fear or danger are common characteristics which are common among ordinary people. It could be a product of many instincts or may consist of a single instinct. But in many situations it plays a key role in bringing all kinds of humiliation, insults, imprisonment, crimes and catastrophes. In many instances the weak individuals under the influence of fear or danger submitted themselves to perform the most lowly shameful tasks as well as committed horrible crimes, and ultimately lost their lives, wealth, position, honor, prestige, and children. In one instance they fell down from the highest peaks of human exaltedness and lowered themselves to become simply a tool without any determination in the hands of enemies. Endurance against these forces of violence and Corruption could be regarded as another scene for the display of this branch of patience.
Review of some Narrations
Here it would be worthwhile to ponder over some of the narrations regarding this branch of patience, which have been narrated by the infallible Imams, and are full of important revealing lessons. Asbagh bin Nabatah who is a companion of Imam Ali (a.s.) quotes from him as follows:
"There are two types of patience, one of them is patience during tragedies or catastrophes, which is very good and charming, but there is another type of patience, which is far better and more charming than the above, i.e. patience against acts forbidden by Allah." (al-Kafi vol. 2)
Narration No. 2:
Here Imam Ja’far ibn Mohammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) quotes the Prophet’s (p.b.u.h.), prediction of the state of affairs of his Ummah as follows:
"The people will face a period in which power and authority will come only through bloodshed and brute oppression. Wealth will be amassed by usurping the rights of others and by stinginess. Love will be realized only by giving up faith and pursuing carnal desires. Whoever should find that period should have patience in poverty because it will be better than faith, patience against grudge because it will be better than love, and patience against humility because it is better than honor. Allah will grant the reward of fifty truthful persons who believed in the Prophet". (al-Kafi vol. 2)
This prediction was witnessed by the Muslims of that time, during the shameful life of Mu’awiya and his son Yazid and their successor caliphs, wealth and other financial comforts could only be achieved by means of usurpation of the rights of the deprived, transgression of weaker classes, exploitation of masses, stinginess and restrictions. in financial dues, and indifference to the genuine demands of deprived masses. Or in other words the Prophet predicted that the natural development of the Islamic Ummah would not be such that each individual will be possessing plenty of wealth and material comforts without inflicting the least injury to the rest of the community. (i.e. the rest of the community would still have the fair opportunities to earn wealth and other material comforts). Rather gaining wealth and other material comforts, by a certain special class could only be made possible by transgressing and exploiting the rights of the rest of the community. This prediction was also witnessed as the Islamic Ummah transformed into various social classes.
Popularity or fame could only be accomplished by discarding the spirit of faith from one’s life and existence, and by completely submitting to the carnal desires of the self. In other words the love of masses or corrupt leaders could be achieved only by practicing flattery, lies, hypocrisy, cheating, surrendering to desires and passions, deceiving and making people feel proud, covering up blunders, misportraying the realities and disregarding the famous notion of "Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi anil Munkar" i.e. encouraging good and discouraging forbidden acts, etc.
The above prediction by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is full of wisdom, foretelling the would-be state of affairs of the Islamic community in the near future, in which, the level of thinking and insight of the people will be lowered, Islamic values will decline, the Islamic judicial system will be degraded, and the general affairs of the Muslims will become chaotic.
It is of course obvious, that these happenings in the life of the Islamic community, which was founded on the pillars of real Islamic values, or in other words the train of that community which started its journey on the rails of Islamic thoughts and ideology, was not possible, without the active involvement and subversive acts of some powerful, hidden, and mischievous hands, operating to execute a calculated plan to destroy the Islamic community from within.
The above prophecy by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) clearly throws light about the usurpation of political power, which may be regarded as the most inhuman act in the history of Islam. Yes! The Prophet warned about these would-be occurrences. Alas! They happened too soon. When people appeared before the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.), they witnessed in his sayings and deeds, nothing but seriousness and decisiveness, for correcting the deviated state of affairs of the Islamic community by pulling all the violators and sinners before the court of law. And to obtain Allah’s justice for their violations and transgressions, to restore the lost genuine rights of the rightful owners. His brother Aqeel when approached him to seek a financial favour, had to face a red hot iron bar and was turned down with a sad reply. Aqeel or any other person, when he approached Mu’awiya, was welcomed with smiling face and open arms and rewarded with plenty of ready money.
It was therefore natural that persons whose conscience was not influenced by the logic of Islamic thoughts were more inclined towards Mu’awiya than Imam Ali (a.s.). Therefore, this consideration that ,Muawiya lacked fame and popularity during his rein is not correct. Notwithstanding the fact that people of Medina and Kufa, who were under the direct influence of the towering personality of Imam Ali (a.s.) and were familiar with the basics of Islamic ideology, the rest of the people of the Islamic lands, throughout Muawiyah’s rein, because of the suffocation of free thinking and enquiry, the Propaganda practiced by the Omayyad bands, special characteristics of the people for loving to be mercenaries of the regime, considered him a competent, respectable, and charismatic personality. They bestowed upon him the honorable title of "Khal-al-Muslimeen" (Footnote: Since Mua’wiyah’s sister Umm-e-Habibah was the Prophet’s wife, and like his other spouses was called Mother of Believers. With this misconstrued logic Mua’wiyah’s father Abu-Sufyan, a hard-core heathen would be called as "Grandfather of Believers" and his wife Hind, the eater of the liver of the Prophet’s uncle Martyr Hamza would be called "Grandmother of Believers"!) i.e. the maternal uncle of the believers.
Of course, this fame and popularity was achieved by means of special tactical conduct of Muawiya with the influential tribal chiefs who had considerable domination over the masses, and some manipulated them to lower their heads before Muawiya. For these services they were showered with unlimited affection, were blessed with plenty of wealth and power, and their hands were allowed to let open to commit all kinds of horrible crimes and tortures against the poor deprived masses who possessed no other shelter.
These chiefs, in order to be benevolent towards their "Lord of Affluence" (Vali Nemat), and in order to maintain the status quo, and to exploit the situation to their best advantage opened their tongues in praising him, and all of his faults and defects, or the type of faults he admired, were presented to the masses as his exalted qualities and arts.
This was the picture of the would-be state of affairs of the Islamic community as foreseen by the prophetic eyes of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Now in confronting with such a state of affairs and facing an incompetent and sinister regime, what are the obligations of the people? The answer to this question was provided by the narration in previous pages.
Anyone who happens to face that period as predicted by the Prophet,(p.b.u.h.) either in the near or distant future, must remain steadfast while facing poverty and indigence and should offer resistance against the instinctual motives for hoarding wealth and possessing other material benefits. While he had the option to act like his contemporaries, who by utilizing the usual means, were busy in accumulation of wealth and other material gains, and passed through this difficulties naively, as though nothing unusual had happened. He too, by accepting the filth, by indulging in crimes, submitting to insults and captivation, giving up his dignity, honor, and exaltedness, and turning his back against all the values and ideals, could have achieved the comfortable and luxurious life and therefore would have fulfilled his carnal desires.
He should close his eyes over the wealth, power and riches in his reach, at the cost of bringing poverty and destitution for thousands of people, as well as over the hot and delicious food for him, at the cost of hunger for unlimited number of destitute masses.
He should endure patiently for remaining lonely, unknown and blamed against the instinctive motives of desiring status, fame and popularity. While having the option of receiving the favor of ignorant masses or leaders with vested interests, by opening his tongue for flattery, praise, lies, deceit and shutting up his lips for supporting the truth, closing his eyes for encouragement of good and forbiddance of evil, and conscientiously electing to do otherwise. Realizing the divine obligations entrusted to him, and his personal duties, with full awareness he accepts demotion of his status, becomes hated in the eyes of tyrants, and lets his prestige and honor be usurped and trampled by the oppressors.
He should be patient and satisfied for possessing only lower social status and should tolerate deprivation from higher prestigious positions offering better material gains and power. He should not opt for accepting titles and important positions of power at the cost of committing inhuman shameful crimes. Allah Almighty’s reward for someone who practices the above advises in his deeds, would be equivalent to the reward earned by fifty righteous believers during the period of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
And therefore this heavenly saying which emanates from a celestial heart and whose value is tantamount to a divine revelation, while offering the most important and in-depth training, regarding social issues, also reflects the meanings and value of this branch of patience (against sin).
The following sources are used to prepare the above article. Some hyperlinks may not be still active.
1. Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamene’i, Discourse on Patience http://www.islam-pure.de/imam/books/patiance.htm