Easier Said Than Done: The Art of Sabr (Patience) with People

Easier Said Than Done: The Art of Sabr (Patience) with People
Published On: 26-Feb-2024

Article by

Hafsa Shahzada

Yazid ibn Asad reported: The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said to me: “Oh Yazid, love for people what you love for yourself”.

In another narration, the Messenger (S.A.W.) stated,

“Do not treat people but in the way you would love to be treated by them.”

(Sahih, Musnad Ahmad, 16220).

Teaching of Patience/Sabr in Islam

Patience in Islam literally translates to endurance. It corresponds to two parts of faith (Imaan). One to perseverance and/or persistence, and the other to gratitude/thankfulness (Shukar). Sabr is a commendable personality quality that goes a long way in deepening our connection with the Almighty Creator, Allah (SWT), pushes us to speak and act upon the truth, and to bear with strength through challenges. The significance of sabr is further exemplified with how it is a recurring theme in the Holy Quran, and the term “sabr” appearing alongside eraaz (Arabic translation to avoidance), more than 100 times in the scriptures.

Patience is categorized into three core types:

●       Interpersonal patience

●       Life hardship patience

●       Daily hassles patience

For those struggling in interpersonal relations, this article will address some salient points in “Interpersonal patience”, and how one can effectively build patience and deal with other people.

Scenario 1: It is them. The external state of our surroundings. In layman terms trending nowadays, the individual we are corresponding with is “toxic” and struggles to maintain positive social relations on a whole, with you or others. Shared ahead are some psychology-based tools to cope with difficult people.

Possible Solutions:

●       Develop listening skills and empathy: This refers to us lending a ready ear and openness of mind to what the other person has to say, even if you do not agree with it. It is important to demonstrate acceptance, though not necessarily agreement, by simply nodding or injecting phrases such as "I understand" or "I see." Try to get a sense of the feelings that the speaker is expressing, and stay mindful of the emotional content being delivered as well as the literal meaning behind it.

●       Physical factors: Many people become impatient due to physical factors such as hunger, dehydration, or fatigue. Bear this in mind the next time you start to feel impatient with others. A simple remedy might be a snack and a glass of water for the next party.

●       Calmly confront the person in private:There's a chance that this person truly doesn't know their words or actions are leaving a sour taste on you. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and address the problem privately. Explain what's bothering you from their words or actions, and what you'd like them to do about it. Don't go on the attack. Tell them what it feels like, from your perspective, to be on the receiving end of this type of behavior. Use "I" statements, such as, “When you criticize me in front of our class peers, I feel humiliated and upset.”

Scenario 2: It is you: Your own internal state leaves you drained out and impatient with others.

Possible Solutions:

●       Identify impatience triggers: These could be specific people, words, or situations. Try to draft a list of things that cause you to become impatient. If you're having trouble identifying your triggers, stop and think about the last time you felt this way. What caused it? If you're uncertain, ask your social circle (friends, family, or co-workers) about your impatience. Chances are, they know what gets you "wound up" and stuck.

●       Self-awareness: It comprises the ability to look inward in order to accurately assess your behavior-and the thoughts and feelings that influence it. This internal state helps us understand our strengths and limitations and is a key factor as a leader in both personal and professional life to work with people.

●       Journaling: Try keeping a journal to record when you start to feel impatient. Write down the details of the situation, and why you are experiencing frustration. This can help you examine your actions and understand why you respond in this way.

In summary, both scenarios require us to have patience/sabr. You won't always be able to avoid the triggers that make you impatient. But you can learn to manage your reactions to them. The reward of sabr is huge and infinite, and Allah (SWT) is with those who are patient. Yes, we could flee from difficult people who we do not get along with, but how then can we be rewarded for Sabr if we do not have the opportunity to demonstrate it? One must be ready for all of life’s colors and tastes, the sweet and bitter ones.

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