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How to get comfy with the 'P' word

Few words offered to a woman can cause such violent reactions.


I’m not talking about pulling up fists or preparing for battle, I mean revulsion. The shakes. Nausea.


The word I am talking about is: Patience.


You can really tell what experiences a sister has been through when you say the word ‘patience’ to her. If she nods and admits that she needs to be more patient, it may be one of the first times she’s been advised about it.


But if you are like many Muslim sisters, the word ‘patience’ has been used and abused, especially in regards to advising women in their marriages.


It is interesting to note that the Prophet Muhammad never advised patience to the sahaabiyaat who came to him with disputes about their husbands. He dealt with the issue, solved the problem. He didn’t turn women back to their homes, advising them to sit and wait for things to get better.

A major part of the problem is, as it is with other concepts in Islam, translation. The English word patience is largely understood to mean doing nothing at all. We are told ‘patience is a virtue’, yet demonstrating this type of patience we understand in the west can keep a woman in a miserable situation for far too long.


It can make a woman complacent to abuse, to threats, to neglect and finally a miserable life, one not approved our condoned by Islaam or the teachings. It takes a lot of effort to do nothing, and at the end of it most of this time is largely wasted. It is a waste to do something thinking you are getting reward.


Reward is for action. This is why Allah always mentions belief along with doing good deeds.

The reality of the word ‘sabr’ is closer to ‘grit’ in English. Grit means to do what is good, what you know is right, no matter what.


Photo by Erica Marx, Unsplash

Grit requires action, consistent, good action. Sabr is steadfastness, which means much more than waiting for solutions to present themselves. It means standing up for what is right.

Allah says in Surah al Asr what could mean, “By the fading day, man is deep in loss, except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth, and urge one another to steadfastness.”


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