During our lives, we go through many trials and tribulations that can strengthen our faith. When we face a test of our patience, we can choose to take one of two paths. The first one is a more optimistic path that is full of hope and the second is a less hopeful path that lets difficult times get the best of us, perhaps even leading toward despair. God favors the former path, as it ensures our undeterred belief in and closeness to Him, as He mentions in the Holy Quran, “To exercise patience and forgive (the wrong done to one) is the proof of genuine determination.”1

To fully understand how to remain patient in times of adversity, we should look at the lives of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), such as Imam Hasan ibn Ali (p), who faced tremendous hardships throughout their lives yet maintained optimism. It is also important to refer to the Quran to see what it tells us about the benefit of living a patient life.

Patience in the Holy Quran

The Holy Quran says, “God does not impose on any soul a responsibility beyond its ability.”2 This verse clearly indicates that God does not test someone beyond what they cannot endure. When we are faced with adversities, it is important to recognize that we are capable of overcoming them and that God has not left us to face an impossible test. Another verse in the Holy Quran mentions that, “God loves those who have patience.”3 As difficult as it may be to remain optimistic when faced with calamities, it is important to exercise patience because hardships are not everlasting. God also commends the tenacity of those who are patient and promises great rewards for them: “Indeed the patient will be paid in full their reward without any reckoning.”4

The Patience of Imam Hasan

Every member of the Household of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) exercised patience in the face of adversity, and they did so with grace and elegance. One example can be seen in the case of Imam Hasan (p), who was once approached by a person from Syria. The Syrian man intended to publicly defame the Imam (p). He (the Syrian) quickly began to hurl insults at Imam Hasan (p) and tried his hardest to degrade him. The Imam (p) allowed him to speak for as long as he wanted, and even kept his followers from interjecting. Once the man had said all that he wanted, Imam Hasan (p) approached him and said,

“I believe you are a stranger. Maybe you have confused me with another person. If you ask for forgiveness, it is granted to you. If you ask for a means of transportation, we shall provide it for you. If you are hungry, we shall feed you. If you are in need of clothes, we shall cloth you. If you are deprived, we shall grant you. If you are being sought, we shall give you refuge. If you have any need, we shall fulfill it for you. And if you wish to proceed with your caravan, be our guest until you leave, it would be more useful to you, for we hold a good position, great dignity and vast belongings.”5

Upon witnessing the Imam’s calm demeanor and humanity, the man was stunned. He quickly realized that whatever he had previously heard about the Imam (p) was inaccurate. The repentant man turned to the Imam (p) and said, “I testify that you are God’s heir on His earth. God surely knows to whom He assigns His Message. You and your Father were the most resented of God’s creatures to me, but now you are the most beloved of God’s creatures to me.”6

This exemplary display of patience and compassion from Imam Hasan (p) toward his critic is a great lesson for all of us. When we encounter someone who wants to hurt us we should treat them with the utmost kindness and counter their ignorance with tolerance.

How to Strengthen Our Patience

The following are just some ways we can strengthen our patience and remain hopeful.

Remember God. – It is imperative to remember God’s mercy and compassion during difficulties. It is easy to give up hope and become pessimistic. Every human being goes through difficult times, but only those who remain steadfast in their faith are victorious. Narrations tell us that Imam Ali (p) said this about the reward of the patient ones, “They [pious ones] were patient a few days [a short while], and in consequence, they secured comfort for a long time.”7
Remember that adversities are temporary. – Good and bad times do not last forever. If you are facing hardships, know that they are transient. As God says in the Holy Quran, “After every difficulty there is relief. Certainly, after every difficulty there comes relief.”8
It is all a test. – Each misfortune is a test. It is a way for God to assess our faith in Him. If we go through life without facing any difficulty, then we will be completely oblivious to God’s generosity and kindness and perhaps take all of God’s blessings for granted. So, recognize that life has many tests as God says, “We shall test you through fear, hunger, loss of life, property, and crops. (Muhammad), give glad news to the people who have patience, and in difficulty say, ‘We are the servants of God and to Him we shall all return.’ It is they who will receive blessings and mercy from their Lord and who follow the right guidance.”9

1. Quran 42:43.
2. Quran 2:286.
3. Quran 3:146.
4. Quran 39:10.
5. Shaykh al-Kulayni, Al-kafi, vol. 2, p. 87.
6. Shaykh al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 43, p. 344.
7. Nahj al Balagha, Sermon 193, p. 479.
8. Quran 94:5-6.
9. Quran 2:155-157.

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