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'On Forbearance' by Imam Birgivi - what does forbearance mean


'On Forbearance' by Imam Birgivi-what does forbearance mean

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From the World Wisdom online library:
www.worldwisdom.com/public/library/default.aspx
CHAPTER 15
ON FORBEARANCE
orbearance is a kind of behavior superior to the suppression of anger.
When an adverse situation seems to violate our well-being, it creates a
nervous upheaval. Great effort is required for us not to manifest this
Fpheaval in anger, and it takes time for us to calm down. Forbearance is a
condition that prevents such upheaval altogether: it keeps the nervous sys?
tem in balance at all times. People who possess forbearance have patience
and gentleness of character. These are signs of faith and wisdom, which
enable such people to use their minds to govern their emotions.
The gentle in character hope for God's love in response to their forbear?
ance. Such response is promised by the Messenger of Allah, as we see in the
following prophetic traditions.
Hadrat `A'ishah, the beloved wife of the Prophet (r.a.) reported that the
Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s) said:
Allah's approval and love are due to whoever is gentle and resists anger.
(Isfahani)
Hadrat Fatimah, the beloved daughter of the Prophet (r.a.) reported
from her father:
God certainly loves the one who is well-behaved, well-bred, well-man?
nered, honest, and gentle, who does not expect anything from anyone
and is not envious of others. He certainly does not love those who use
foul language and are constantly asking and expecting favors from others.
(Tabarani)
The ones who are gentle also hope for the love of the Prophet, since
they are imitating him in his behavior. Ibn `Uyaynah related that one of the
private prayers of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s) was:
My Lord, enrich me in wisdom, beautify me with gentleness, honor me
with piety, and be good to me in preserving my health so that I may serve
others. (Ibn Abi Dunya)
The gentle person realizes that his ability to control negative emotions
creates a favorable condition for acquiring knowledge and wisdom, as
(according to Abu Hurayrah) the Messenger of God said:
When you wish to acquire knowledge, pray that you be given a calm
dignity and a gentle manner, whether you are learning or teaching. Be
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The Path of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.): A Book on Islamic Morals and Ethics
softhearted and put on your best behavior. Don't be one of those preten?
tious scholars who are arrogant and overstep the bounds of decency. That
will be a sign that your stupidity has vanquished your noble forbearance.
(Ibn Sina)
The one with forbearance is promised spiritual advancement by the
Prophet of Allah who said (according to `Ubadah ibn Samit):
Shall I tell you how Allah Most High will raise the spiritual status of people
and communities? That will be His blessing upon you if you deal gently
with the one who has offended you, if you forgive the one who has tyr?
annized you, if you are generous with the one who deprived you, if you
befriend the one who has abandoned you. (Tabarani, Bazzar)
There are many benefits for the compassionate, soft-hearted, mellow-
mannered faithful, and the fiery punishment of Hell will never touch them.
It is reported by Ibn Mas`ud that the Prophet asked his Companions:
Shall I tell you who is safe from Hellfire? The one who is humble, who
cares for all of God's creatures, and who serves them with gentleness and
dignity. (Tabarani)
The noble wife of the Prophet, Hadrat `A'ishah, reported that the
Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s) said:
To be compassionate and gentle is one of God's blessings. To be coarse
and stupid is one of God's curses. (Tabarani)
Jarir reported that the Prophet said:
The one who is deprived of compassion and gentle manners is deprived
of all good. (Abu Dawud)
Forbearance beautifies its owner and attracts God's love to him. Hadrat
`A'ishah related that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s) said:
Wherever there is gentleness, there is beauty. Wherever gentleness has
disappeared there is shame. (Muslim)
Forbearance is not a characteristic easy to assume. It becomes perma?
nent through long efforts in enduring controversy, injustice, tyranny, and
all other conditions that weigh heavily upon one's ego, and through cur?
tailing anger and the desire to retaliate. Many a pious man has declared
that he achieved forbearance by purposefully seeking the company of
obnoxious men and suffering their impudence, anger, and violence, prac?
ticing patience with them.
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On Forbearance
Abu Darda' reports that the Prophet said:
Knowledge is acquired by learning. Forbearance is acquired by suffering
the impudence of others without reacting. Whoever makes an effort to
obtain that which is good, God gives him good. Whoever is able to stand
controversy is saved from suffering. (Tabarani)
Every aspect of good character, such as generosity, humbleness, and
valor, is obtained by long practice in fighting corresponding faults, such as
stinginess, arrogance, and fear. The worst handicap to acquiring forbear?
ance is harboring doubts about the goodness in other people, especially
the other faithful, and imagining bad things about them. This suspicion of
one's associates leads to the terribly sinful state of doubting the goodness
in God.
Allah Most High says,
O you who believe, avoid suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a
sin. Do not look for each other's faults and slander each other. Would you
like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? (Hujurat, 12)
And according to Abu Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s) said:
Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is a lie. Do not seek to know each
other's secrets. Do not vent your feelings in reproaches or envy the lives of
others; do not slander anyone for what they are or for how they act. When
you give and take among yourselves, be fair: neither more nor less than is
due. Do not cheat each other. When one of you leaves a woman, another
should not propose to her until the first has actually departed. O God's
creatures, be like brothers! A Muslim is the brother of all other Muslims.
A brother does not tyrannize his brothers, nor leave them helpless when
they are tyrannized.
Then he pointed to his heart and said thrice,
This is where the fear of God should be--in your hearts. If you dare to
hurt your Muslim brother, that is sufficient to earn you God's curse. It is
forbidden by God to harm the property, the honor, or the physical being
of another Muslim. God does not look only upon your actions, but sees
also your thoughts and the intentions of your hearts. (Muslim)
Forbearance does not mean permissiveness. It is permissible, in fact it
is incumbent upon a Muslim to act for the sake and in the name of God
against people who are flagrantly and undoubtedly sinning, revolting
against God, committing indecencies, hurting others--in order to make
them stop. For God says:
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