The Quranic Word Series: Sabr

Today’s Quranic Word of the Day is Sabr = صَبْر

Sabr is commonly understood to mean patience but it is more than that. Patience is when we show restraint whilst dealing with a difficult situation. But sabr also contains the meaning of perseverance. Patience and perseverance are both needed for the heart to attain what it desires.

A poet said:

لَأَسْتَسْهِلَنَّ الصَّعْبَ أَو أُدْرِكَ المُنَى
فَمَا انْقَادَ الآمَالُ إِلَّا لِ

I will surely make difficulties easy till I get my wishes
But desires submit not, except to patient ones.

Also, Allah SWT has commanded believers to show a lot of perseverance and endurance with consistency. Combined with the fear of Allah, our efforts and struggles will lead to success in this life and the hereafter, as Allah promised:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
[Quran 3:200]

O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.


The Quran Mentions Different Types of Patience

Patience to Perform
Acts of Worship

It requires patience to perform acts of worship (ibadah). Other than faith, performing ibadah such as salah, fasting, and obligatory charity requires time, strength, and energy to execute them.

Thus, if someone is lazy and impatient in performing their ibadah, the ibadah may not be accomplished.


Allah says in the Quran:

وَالَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ –

[Quran 13:22]

And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good – those will have the good consequence of [this] home –

Learning the religion (like the knowledge of the Quran and Arabic language) is among the greatest acts of worship that require patience and perseverance, especially when we are new to it. These studies may seem hard and difficult at first, but they are not. What is hard is the patience to persevere through that initial learning curve, which once we get past, paves the way for an easier learning journey.

It is natural that people find it hard to be patient; it is even hard for the Prophets to be patient.

An example of this is the story of Prophet Musa (AS) when Allah directed him to Khidr to learn. Musa went to him and inquired:

قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَىٰ هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا

[Quran 18:66]

Moses said to him, “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?”

Khidr replied to him and said:

قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا . وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَىٰ مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا

[Quran 18:67-68]

He said, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?”

In the end, Prophet Musa was unable to exercise much patience and perseverance to continue and the little knowledge he learned is based on the perseverance he had. Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said in a hadith reported from him in Sahih Al Bukhari that may Allah have mercy on Prophet Musa. Had it been that he was patient and persevered, we could have learned more from this story.

This means we should keep trying and persevering even if we are struggling and we should have patience in difficult times and persevere in doing good.


Patience to Abstain from Sins

This is the type of patience we exhibit when refraining from the prohibitions of Allah, such as telling lies, alcohol consumption, illegal sexual intercourse, gazing at women not lawful to you, and so on.

Sometimes, the things that are prohibited will tempt our desires. It takes a strong mind and determination to avoid these prohibitions, especially when we desire them.

The strength and determination needed to abstain from sins is a form of patience, as the person knows that by fighting their desires now, they will gain a bigger reward later.


Allah says in the Quran:

فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تُطِعْ مِنْهُمْ آثِمًا أَوْ كَفُورًا

[Quran 76:24]

So be patient for the decision of your Lord and do not obey from among them a sinner or ungrateful [disbeliever].


Patience During
Afflictions and Calamities

When defining patience, most people will think of this type of patience. This form of patience is exhibited when one goes through a difficult event or period in life.

We have been guided to remain patient in the face of afflictions and calamities, and even more so when it first strikes. This form of patience is strengthened by the knowledge that all calamities are a test from Allah SWT.


Allah says:

لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِن تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

[Quran 3:186]

You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination.

The Prophet ﷺ said;

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ مَرَّ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِامْرَأَةٍ تَبْكِي عِنْدَ قَبْرٍ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ اتَّقِي اللَّهَ وَاصْبِرِي ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَتْ إِلَيْكَ عَنِّي، فَإِنَّكَ لَمْ تُصَبْ بِمُصِيبَتِي، وَلَمْ تَعْرِفْهُ‏.‏ فَقِيلَ لَهَا إِنَّهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ فَأَتَتْ باب النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَمْ تَجِدْ عِنْدَهُ بَوَّابِينَ فَقَالَتْ لَمْ أَعْرِفْكَ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّمَا الصَّبْرُ عِنْدَ الصَّدْمَةِ الأُولَى ‏”‏‏.

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet passed by a woman who was weeping beside a grave. He told her to fear Allah and be patient. She said to him, “Go away, for you have not been afflicted with a calamity like mine.” And she did not recognise him. Then she was informed that he was the Prophet. So she went to the house of the Prophet and there she did not find any guard. Then she said to him, “I did not recognise you.” He said, “Verily, patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.”


The Benefits of Patience

Love of Allah

Allah has informed us in the Quran that He loves those who are patient and steadfast. Allah says;

وَكَأَيِّن مِّن نَّبِيٍّ قَاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِبِّيُّونَ كَثِيرٌ فَمَا وَهَنُوا لِمَا أَصَابَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَمَا ضَعُفُوا وَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِينَ

[Quran 3:146]

And how many a prophet [fought and] with him fought many religious scholars. But they never lost assurance due to what afflicted them in the cause of Allah, nor did they weaken or submit. And Allah loves the steadfast.

Being a Leader

One of the benefits of being patient is that it nurtures leadership qualities. Leaders with the quality of being patient and having the certainty of faith will eventually direct the affairs of others with the will of Allah SWT. The Quran affirms this in the verse:

وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَكَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يُوقِنُونَ

[Quran 32:24]

And We made from among them leaders guiding by Our command when they were patient and [when] they were certain of Our signs.

Receiving Blessings, Mercy and Guidance from Allah

Being patient also brings a person blessings and mercy from Allah. Patience also opens the door to receive guidance. Allah says:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ . الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ . أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ

[Quran 2:155-157]

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.”


Allah promised those who are patient and persevere with acts of worship, abstain from sins, and are steadfast during the time of afflictions; His paradise. He says:

وَجَزَاهُم بِمَا صَبَرُوا جَنَّةً وَحَرِيرًا

[Quran 76:12]

And will reward them for what they patiently endured [with] a garden [in Paradise] and silk [garments].

May Allah SWT help us to be patient, persevere, endure, and remain steadfast in all our matters and admit us to His paradise. Ameen.


Conjugations of Sabr (صَبْر) found in the Quran

The Steadfast,
The Patient

Patience, Patiently

Persevere, Endure, Patient

Patient ones


Discover More Quranic Arabic Words

Do you now have a wider understanding of صَبْر and the benefits that صَبْر can bring to your life as promised in the Quran?

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  1. Hasfah

    Jazakallahu khairan I have loved the teaching especially now that patience is the only thing I need to my success

  2. Hania eman

    I like this type of info , wonderful learning website.

  3. bilal shabazz

    Thank you.

  4. Zeenatiqbalbhat

    Thank you


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