Sabr (Steadfastness)

Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi

Sabr is mentioned in the Qur'an in more than seventy places. This is because of the tremendous importance that steadfastness has in the deen. It has been said that every good action has a limited reward, from ten-fold up to seven-hundred fold, except for steadfastness whose reward has no limit. That is because of Allah's words "Only the steadfast are paid their reward without reckoning."

Allah mentions eight types of honour shown to the steadfast:

  • The first is love. Allah says, "And Allah loves the steadfast."
  • The second is help. He says, "Truly, Allah is with the steadfast."
  • The third is mansions in the Garden. He says, exalted is He, "They will be recompensed with mansions because of how they were steadfast."
  • The fourth is a full and ample reward. Allah says, "Only the steadfast are paid their reward without reckoning."
  • The other four are all mentioned in one ayah (in al-Baqarah) in which they (the steadfast) are given the good news. Allah says, "Give good news to the steadfast." And there is mention in the same ayah of mercy, compassion, and guidance as rewards for the steadfast ones. Allah says, "Those, there is on them mercy and compassion from their Lord and those they are the guided ones."

There are four aspects of steadfastness:

  • Steadfastness in affliction, which is the act of preventing the self from becoming discontented and impatient;
  • Steadfastness in good fortune, which is to bind it fast to gratitude, without overstepping the limits or becoming proud and self-important because of the good fortune;
  • Steadfastness in obedience by safeguarding it and becoming constant in it;
  • Steadfastness (in refraining) from acts of disobedience by withholding oneself from them.

Above steadfastness there is surrender, which is abandoning opposition and discontentment outwardly and abandoning dislike inwardly.

Above surrender there is contentment with the decree, which is the self's happpiness with the act of Allah; it issues from love, for everything the Beloved does is beloved.