Part 11 : Patience of the Holy Imams (a.s)

Patience is the best virtue of man, because Allah is with the patient ones:

Surely Allah is with the patient. (Surah Baqarah 2:153)

Patience means that when calamities befall man he refers to the Almighty and he does not utter a single word of complain. Some people start complaining about the Creator of the Universe at the slightest difficulty. For example, if there is too much rain they say: Allah is causing non-stop rain! Or: This rain is a punishment! If one has many children he starts a string of complains etc. There are many things regarding which man begins to complain against the kingdom of Allah. This is opposed to patience. But the patient ones may be afflicted with the greatest calamity but they would not utter a single word of complain against the Almighty God. There is no difference in their referral to Allah. They do not even slightly let go the reins of reliance. The high level of patience found in the Holy Imams (a.s) was such that its equal is not to be found in the Muslim world. Also, it is wrong to think that weeping in a calamity is impatience. Weeping is a psychological behavior. How can Islam promulgate a law against it? One who has an aggrieved heart would definitely cry.

Patience Of Imam Ali (a.s)

Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) was patient in all the calamities that befell Ahl ul-Bayt after the departure of the Messenger of Allah (S) from this temporal world. Actually it began during the lifetime of the Prophet (S) when people prevented him from writing a will in favor of Ali's successorship. After the sorrowful passing away of the Prophet of God the absence of the companions in the funeral was another fact that caused unhappiness to the Imam. Then the forcible insistence for pledging allegiance! The crashing of the burning door on the side of Fatima by a person well known for his ferocity as a result of which the unborn fetus was aborted. Then the deprivation of Amir'ul-Mu'minin from the right of caliphate. Rejection of the Quran he had compiled etc. They all were such terrible events that if they had befallen anyone else he would have either been fed up with his life and committed suicide or fought with the enemies. If not, then he would have started complaining about Allah Almighty. However, Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) did not do any of these.

Patient is one who, keeping in mind the circumstances restrains his desires for vengeance. The patient person has the consequences in his view and he does not give preference to a little gain in exchange of a larger benefit. In order to maintain patience in all such circumstances Ali (a.s) had to bear untold torture. He says thus in Nahjul Balagha: I remained patient while there was a thorn of sorrow in my eye and suffocation in the throat.

Ibne Abil Hadid truly said: At such a time a valiant warrior like Ali (a.s) chose to keep his sword sheathed. Only Ali could accomplish this feat.

We add here that: If the welfare of Islam had not been intended, nothing could have restrained the sword of Ali(a.s).

Patience Of Imam Hasan (a.s)

The patience exhibited by Imam Hasan (a.s) is such that it has no equal. The treatment people meted out to his respected mother and holy father after passing away of Allah's Messenger (S), is sufficient to make the sentiments of any mortal uncontrollable. However, the Imam remained patient at every, juncture. The intrigues that Muawiyah engineered against him or the cursing of Ali (a.s) from the pulpits for years. The slayings of innumerable followers of Ahl ul-Bayt. Instigating a mutiny in the Imam's army. Not following the terms of treaty for a single day. The amount that was agreed to be paid to the Imam every year according to the terms of the treaty was not even paid once. Poisoning of the Imam through his wife Judah binte Ashath. Such kinds of calamities befell him but the Imam bore all this in patience. He never became the initiator of any kind of mischief or turmoil. He could have also retaliated more severely but he did not allow the emotion of revenge to control his reason, and did not allow the blemish of bloodshed to taint his infallibility. Some battles fought against Muawiyah were all initiated by Muawiyah and defense became obligatory on the Imam.

Patience Of Imam Husain (a.s)

If we describe this epitome of patience it would make a whole book. No one had the patience of Imam Husain (a.s). If we leave all the incidents of his life and only consider the tragedy of Kerbala we would see that the patience of the whole world combined couldn't rival it. Prophet Ayyub (a.s) was very patient but his patience in comparison to that of Imam Husain (a.s) was like a drop in the ocean. The mountains of calamities that crashed on him in Kerbala and the hardships that surrounded him are well known to all. But at no time and under no circumstance the lips of Imam Husain (a.s) uttered any complaint. In the time of calamity the sentence he repeated was: We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. Can one in whose every vein of the body the spirit of patience flowed could be disconcerted with the calamities surrounding him? Rather as much the difficulties intensified as much Husain's face brightened. He became as much reliant on Allah. The world accepted that Husain is the Chief of the patient ones. In the matter of patience neither a prophet nor a saint could be his equal. If we did not have regard to brevity we would have written a whole book only on the patience of Imam Husain (a.s).

Patience Of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s)

The enemies of Islam committed such oppressions on Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) after the carnage of Kerbala, that only to imagine them makes the heart tremble. However the Imam remained patient in all those hardships. May be someone says that what else could the Imam have done, other than bearing all the things patiently? He did not have any army with which he could have retaliated. What strength did he possess that he could have exhibited?

We reply: He could at least have prayed to the Almighty to remove the calamities and hardships. He could have complained to Allah why He was not helping him. He could have cursed his enemies and prayed for their destruction. Agreed that at that time he was a prisoner of his opponents and could not do anything. But after being released from the prison he could have narrated the atrocities of Bani Umayyah and instigated the people to rise against them. He could have raised an army like Ibne Zubair. At that time even low scale propagation would have been successful, because injustice and oppression had made Yazid hateful to everybody. It was this same tragedy of Kerbala that was used by Ibne Zubair, Saffah and Mansur etc. to raise armies around themselves and to lay the foundation of their empires. The call of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) would have been a thousand times more effective. The whole of the Arab world could have been involved in the conflict.

But the fact was that the patience of Ahl ul-Bayt was intact. After being released from captivity they entrusted the revenge for the blood of Imam Husain (a.s) to the Almighty God and remained silent. Do not consider it cowardice. It was the most excellent kind of valour. Do not refer to it as weakness. It was the greatest type of patience. He wanted to show that though they allowed themselves to be destroyed they never could permit the perpetual bloodshed of Muslims. They never did initiate any conflict. Only when they are absolutely helpless and the enemies confront them wielding the swords and their remains no scope for reconciliation do they remove their swords from the sheaths and defend the truth.

Patience Of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s)

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) was also very patient and thankful. Many circumstances arose for him that anyone else would not have been able to bear, but he observed absolute patience and self-control. What can be said about others, some wretched relatives of the Imam himself caused trouble to him. They also made many efforts to cause disrespect to the Imam, but he observed patience. Hisham the ruler of Syria had restricted his movements and made life very difficult for him but he never forsook patience. He continued to act on the behavior of his holy ancestors.

Patience Of Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (a.s)

The narrator says: One day I paid a visit to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) when one of his sons was seriously ill. I had gone to see the ill child and I found the Imam standing at the door in an aggrieved state. Then he went inside and remained there for some time. When he came out again it was seen that his condition had changed and he did not seem as much worried as he before was. I thought that maybe the child was now better. I asked the Imam about him and he said that the child has passed away. I said, “Master! You were worried when he was alive but are no more aggrieved after his passing away?” The Imam said, “This is the practice of us Ahl ul-Bayt. We seem worried and aggrieved before the coming of a tragedy but when it actually occurs we submit to the Divine Will and we act with patience and accept with pleasure all that comes from Him.

“Satisfied with His destiny and accepting His command.”

This is the specialty of us Ahl ul-Bayt. What we pray from Allah, He accepts it. But if His wisdom does not agree to accept it, we reconcile to His Will and we never utter a word of complain to Him.

Patience Of Imam Musa Kazim (a.s)

The author of Rawzatus Safa writes that a descendant of Umar was the governor of Medina. He used trouble Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) greatly, and mentioned unbecoming remarks about Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s). The close companions of the Imam requested many times to permit them to slay this man. But every time the Imam restrained them and said, “Do not do that without my permission.”

One day the devotees of the Imam said that they could no longer bear the insults and high-handedness of the Governor. “For God's sake allow us to take revenge from him.” The Imam said, “All right, tell me where his house is and where you can find him?” The people informed him. At once the Imam mounted a horse and headed for his house. There was a blooming and green field that belonged to the governor. The Imam steered his horse inside the field and began to trample it. Someone reported this to the governor who came out at once and began using abusive language. The Imam did not pay any attention and continued to ride the horse all over the field. When the crop was absolutely destroyed the Imam came to the man and asked how much he had spent on it. He said: Two hundred dinars. The Imam gave him three hundred dinars and said, “Take this amount now and also be hopeful of the future crop. If Allah wills this time the harvest would be much more than your expectations.” Seeing the excellent behavior of the Imam, the fellow got up, kissed his hands and began to ask forgiveness of his past misbehavior. He said, “Indeed no one in the world is better or even equal to the descendants of the Prophet.” After this, the Imam returned home and related the whole incident to his companions.

Then he asked them, “Now tell me whether this act of mine was better or what you had intended?” They all said that what the Imam had done was much better. The Imam actually trampled his field so that he may know that by the auspiciousness of the steps of Ahl ul-Bayt of the Prophet there is increase in the fertility of fields. Their trampling was much beneficial than ordinary greenery.

Patience Of Imam Reza (a.s)

During the period Imam Reza (a.s) resided in Merv as the heir apparent of the caliph there was an Abbaside leader who was very jealous of him. He was always waiting for an opportunity to degrade the Imam in the eyes of Mamun, but he did not get any chance. One day he came to the Imam and criticizing the Shiite religion began to foul-mouth the Imam. The Imam asked him, “O Man! After all, what is your aim with this?” “To insult you!” he replied. The Imam said, “The special servants of Allah are never humiliated.” “I do not consider you among the chosen servants of Allah,” he said. The Imam said, “When did I ask you to consider me thus? But the One Whose servant I am considers me thus.” He said, “Show me a miracle and I will accept it.” The Imam said, “Is it anything less than a miracle that you are talking in such a bad way and I am maintaining patience and self-control? Can I not complain to the ruler and have you punished severely?” Hearing this the man became regretful and fell down at the feet of the Imam and said, “From today I have become your devotee. I had come with the intention to make you behave arrogantly with me so that I can fight you and defame you in the town. But I have become a devotee of your good behavior. The fact is that being on such an important position the patience and forbearance you have shown is impossible by anyone else.”

Patience Of Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s)

The officers of the Abbaside dynasty were highly jealous of Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) specially when he became the son-in-law of Mamun Rashid. The nobles of the Abbaside clan did not like that Ummul Fadl be married to Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) because they had intense enmity to the family of the Holy Prophet (S), but they failed to change the decision of Mamun. This failure made their opposition more severe. Now they began to poison the ears of Ummul Fadl and said to her in a taunting way: Your father has done a great injustice upon you. He has married you to a poor and destitution-loving man. You should have been given in marriage to a prince or a son of an officer. Ummul Fadl was herself of a haughty nature while these people instigated her day and night. The result was that from the first day of marriage she began to oppose the Imam. And then she gave so much trouble to the Imam that cannot be fully related. However, the Imam observed patience and self-control. Some of his relatives also used to trouble the Imam but he never opted for any retaliatory tactics.

Patience Of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s)

Imam Ali Naqi (a.s) resided in Samarrah for thirty years. During this period he had to bear every kind of hardship and difficulty at the hands of the Abbaside rulers. Especially at the hands of Mutawakkil, the most oppressive one. However, the Imam remained patient and thankful. Seeing the atrocities of Mutawakkil and the patience of the Imam the people were much astounded. In spite of the fact that the Imam had hundreds of visitors from among his Shias, he never mentioned his woes to them. If he had even slightly instigated his followers there would have been a revolution in the kingdom of Mutawakkil, because Samarrah and the surrounding areas were heavily populated with the Shias.

Patience Of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s)
Motamid the Abbaside ruler did not leave any atrocity undone on Imam (a.s). The limit was that during the time the Imam was in captivity no one was allowed to meet him. He was given to drink cold water for two years continuously. No more than two loaves of bread were rationed for him every day. He bore all these hardships with patience and self-control. Even after his release, he was not allowed to live a free life. Such a strict vigilance was maintained on him that nothing could be more severe. But he continued to be patient in every hardship. Who can be patient like Ahl ul-Bayt?

Though we have mentioned in brief one or two incidents connected with each of the Imams (a.s), it is a fact that the Holy Imams (a.s) underwent untold hardships and calamities all their life at the hands of the rulers and hardly a day passed in peace and comfort. But in spite of lifelong hardships those patient servants of the Almighty continued to thank Him.