There are times when misfortune and conflicts test us as human beings. Trials and tribulations are known to shape current matters and future realities. It is through experiencing divergent situations and managing struggles that personal outlooks and perspectives are defined.
Showing patience and steadfastness in times of difficulty can bring about a tremendous sense of honor, respect, and calm. Appropriateness in the manner of speaking, of listening, and of body language has a significant effect on the result of a conflict and its potential resolutions. Handling situations with hostility, aggression, and ignorance naturally will yield different results than if one were to approach a problem with open-mindedness, patience, and prayers. Oftentimes it can be an attempt to suppress anger and the desire to act rashly; however, that is the time when one should reflect on the situation and strive to calm flustered emotions.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) is reported to have said that showing patience during difficult times elevates an individual’s honor. He is also reported to have said that a strong person is the one who can control his anger and not the one who wrestles down another. In times of great adversity and struggle, it was the Holy Prophet (sa), and indeed, all the Prophets of God, who displayed exemplary perseverance in the face of immeasurable problems and obstacles.
The Holy Qur’an provides the following prayer for those who are patient in adversity:
“Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return’” (1).
By emulating the example of the Holy Prophet (sa), we, too, can strive to show endurance, determination, and steadfastness in our daily lives. Allah the Almighty carefully created the human anatomy in a way that, both mentally and physically, it has the potential to endure trials with stamina and persistence. Allah the Almighty designed the human brain to regulate mood and cognitive function in response to stressful situations. Chronic exposure to stress can result in the need for long-term management. In psychological terms, there are certain measures that human beings employ to manage stress, called coping mechanisms. Exploring this topic further, there are adaptive coping mechanisms and maladaptive coping mechanisms. Adaptive mechanisms are efforts made to relieve stress that is healthy for the body and expects a positive outcome. Some examples include exercise, therapy, humor, and positive reframing. Healthy ways of dealing with stress can also include working on a project, spending time with family, or taking a walk outside. Productive and engaging hobbies, sports, and interests that brighten the mind and encourage a sense of peace and structured healing have a way of managing stress in the best of ways. Maladaptive mechanisms are strategies used to manage stress that can prove harmful to the body and yield a negative outcome. Examples of these include irrational denial, substance abuse, and self-harm.
Meditation is a type of adaptive coping mechanism that facilitates a sense of tranquility, peace, and balance. It reflects the quality of displaying patience and steadfastness by encouraging a sense of mindfulness. The practice of Salat (daily prescribed prayer in Islam) yields remarkably similar benefits in that it encourages correct posture, increases circulation, and improves concentration through the cyclical movements involved in prayer and worship. The Holy Prophet (sa) is reported to have said: “verily there is a cure in Salat” (2).
When analyzing the postures that are performed in Salat, it is important to note that the physical limbs actively move while the brain is simultaneously engaged in concentration and coordination. As the physical body shifts from one position to another, the mind shifts from reciting one prescribed prayer to another. This action of recalling and reciting prayers in combination with moving the body from standing erect in its highest point down to full prostration on the ground encourages the most perfect sense of health for the mind, body, and soul. Channeling mindfulness through prayer and narrowing attention to focus on spirituality is the best way to create a harmonious internal and external atmosphere for the physical self. Salat and prayer to God with focus are undoubtedly the most incredible and effective ways to practice and enhance patience and steadfastness during times of ease and, especially, of difficulty.
As explained above, the presence of conflicts and negative experiences has a unique way of testing us and our perceived perspective of situations. It is through mindfulness, patience, and appropriate stress-reducing interventions that we can be encouraged to manage these difficulties with more ease. It is also important to understand that a life without strife or difficulty is not the purpose of human existence, rather it is the presence of our determination and willingness to push through and reach God that is the ultimate goal of our life. In the same way that diamonds are formed under intense heat and pressure so, too, are human beings capable of becoming gems by displaying strength, steadfastness, and patience in the face of adversity and trying times.
This article appears in the February 2022 print edition.
1. The Holy Qur’an (2:157)
2. Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Patience and Steadfastness in Everyday Life and in Difficult Circumstances (Friday Sermon), https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2010-11-19.html. [Accessed: December 21, 2021]
Last modified: January 2022