What is sabr in Islam? Strength of a soul

Sabr in Islam means “to prevent and to conquer or arrest.” Thus, Sabr means to control our Soul from worry, control the tongue from thanklessness or complaining, and restrain our body parts from striking the face in times of distress, tearing our clothes, and so on.

Undoubtedly, any misfortunes and hardships that we face in this Duniya is a test for every believing soul. Everything Allah selects for us, either good or bad, is indeed for our benefit.

I personally feel a sense of strength and self-control when restraining myself from sins and other urges in life. Of course, it is not easy—the pain our soul goes through, the countless nights we cry on our pillows, and the same story every night when I pray Tahajjud and share everything with the Almighty Allah.

Indeed, He gives signs and guides me in ways that I only understand after they have happened.

Only those who endure patiently will be given their reward without limit.

Surah Az-zumar 10

Sabr in Islam meaning

The word Sabr means strength and power. It’s also used for a bitter herb, which is very bitter and distasteful, derived from this. The word Subr is similar and describes firm land because it’s hard and strong.

Another perspective suggests that the meaning of “sabr” is “to collect and to gather.” Therefore, a Saabir is someone who maintains composure, keeping their soul free from worries and anxiety.

In fact, the word “sabr” encompasses all three meanings: to hold back, to find strength, and to gather oneself together.

The true essence of Sabr lies in its nobility as a soulful quality that stops a person from engaging in what is wrong or unacceptable. It serves as a force within the soul, ensuring its well-being and stability.

Al-Junayd bin Muhammad was questioned about Sabr, to which he responded: “It is to swallow bitterness without showing any signs of distress.” Thun-Noon adds that Sabr require avoiding wrongdoing, remain calm when experiencing the hardship of a calamity, and portraying richness despite facing poverty. It has also been described as maintaining dignity during adversity with noble conduct.

Imam Ali stated that sabr is a mount that never stumbles.

Imam Ali (عليه السلام) 
What is sabr in Islam

Types of patience

Patience means that there is no difference in behavior in times of prosperity and adversity and that one should always be content.

Patience (Sabr) is of two types: Physical and Psychological. Each Sabr types may be optional or obligatory on every believing soul. In total we have four types of Patience.

  1. Optional physical Patience means being okay with working hard by choice.
  2. Obligatory physical Patience means enduring pain from beatings, sickness, injuries, or extreme weather, whether you want to or not.
  3. Optional Psychological Patience, such as refraining from doing ill-conduct that sacred knowledge or reason but it must not be a haram thing.
  4. Obligatory psychological Patience, such as enduring the pain of separation from one’s loved ones who are beyond his reach (Barzakh-Afterlife).

In a Hadith from Qatada

Allah made angels with reason but without desires. Animals have desires but no reason. Humans have both reasons and desires. So, if someone’s reason is stronger than their desires, they’re like angels. But if their desires are stronger, they’re like animals.

What is sabr in Islam quote

One can only achieve pure Patience with Allah’s guidance and realizing the goals by acquiring Taqwa and Tawakkul.

My dear beautiful brothers and sisters, Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala (the One Free of all Imperfection, the most High) said:

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin.”

 Surah al-baqara

Calamities on people in this Dunya can be such as:

    1. Fear: when people feel scared.
    2. Hunger: when people have no food, they start complaining.
    3. Loss of wealth: when people lose their money or things.
    4. Loss of lives: when people die.
    5. Loss of fruits: when crops don’t grow well.

    Allah tells us that people will face these troubles, but those who are patient will get good news.

    To provide you all with a more in-depth understanding of Patience, some Scholars say that Patience is:

    1. Patience in obeying Allah.
    2. Patience in avoiding bad things.
    3. Patience in accepting what Allah decides.

    The hardest but best type is obeying Allah no matter what, and this is where Taqwa (Piety) and Tawakkul (Relying on Allah) come. Avoiding bad things is next, and accepting Allah’s decisions is last.

    Being patient when bad things happen is important. People react differently:

    • Some complain (this is bad).
    • Some are patient.
    • Some accept.
    • Some are grateful (dua to thank Allah).

    Complaining is bad. It would be best if you did not complain because this is the opposite of Sabr. We should be patient and accept Allah’s plan.

    We must be content no matter what, and having full Tawakkul in Allah’s plan is the key to success in both this Duniya and Akhirah. 

    Being content means not feeling sad, even in hard times. It’s even better than being patient. Think about it this way why Allah have given so much importance to it? What would be the reward for it?

    Gratitude means thanking Allah even when bad things happen. People can be thankful for punishments being in this life, for the situation not being worse, and for getting more reward from Allah.

    These are the four reactions to bad things:

    The patient accepts Allah’s plan and asks for a reward. Saying, “Truly! To Allah we belong, and truly, to Him, we shall return.” shows good Patience.

    When someone asked Imam Ali (as) about faith (Iman), he said:

    “Faith stands strong on four pillars: Patience (Sabr), Conviction (Yaqin), Justice (Adl) and Struggle (Jihad-al-nafs).

    Imam Ali quotes

    Then he explained more: ‘Patience includes four qualities: Eagerness, fear, piety, and thinking about death.

    So, whoever eagerly wants Paradise will say no to bad things;

    whoever is scared of Hell will avoid sins; whoever is pious will handle life’s hard times; and whoever thinks about death will do good things quickly.'”

    How to strengthen Sabr?

    What is sabr in Islam quote

    In our journey, whether we feel worried or strong, it does not change our fate. We cannot avoid what lies ahead. Anxiety goes hand in hand with weakness, while strength walks alongside steadfastness. If anxiety had a father, it would be weakness.

    Conversely, if strength were questioned about its origin, it would answer steadfastness. Our actions are the horse we ride towards either paradise or hell. Steadfastness acts as the bridle and reins for this horse; without them, it would stray aimlessly.

    If you want to stengthen your sabr than one thing to know is very necessary that it is a practice if you do it daily and every second of your life than you will be the master in very less time.

    If you want to strengthen your Sabr, then one thing to know is essential that it is a practice. If you do it daily and every second of your life, then you will be the master in very little time. 

    The Soul has two forces: The force to proceed and the force to restrain. The true quality of steadfastness (Firm in belief) is to direct the force to proceed toward what is useful and restrain the force from what is harmful. Some power of control of people over doing what is good, and their firmness on it, is more significant than refraining from what is wrong and detrimental. 

    They are able to endure the hardship of performing good deeds but have no control over their motives of lust and become involved in what is forbidden. There are others whose power of control over violation is stronger than their endurance to the hardship of doing good deeds, and there are those who have no control over either.

    The best person is one who is capable of controlling himself in both situations. It has been observed that there are many people who persistently endure the hardship of keeping vigil at night in both cold and hot weather and observing the fast, but they are unable to control themselves from gazing at prohibited objects.

    There are others who restrain their gaze and do not pay attention to images, yet are unable to carry out the duty of commanding the good and prohibiting evil or struggling against unbelievers and hypocrites.

    Most people lack the determination to do one or the other. Very few have the ability to be steadfast in both circumstances.

    It is said, ‘Steadfastness is the control of the rule of intelligence and religion against the desire to fulfill one’s lust and passion.

    Human nature tends to lean towards what feels pleasant and desirable, but the thoughts inspired by intellect and faith resist it. This ongoing struggle (Jihad-al-nafs) results in fluctuating outcomes. The heart becomes the battleground, where Steadfastness, bravery, and determination serve as weapons in this conflict.

    Good patience and Bad patience

    The bad patience is to be patient in abstaining from Allah, His Love, and His Will because this prevents man from being perfect and doing what he was created for. This is the worst and the most difficult patience. There is no religious devotion greater than holding asceticism concerning what Allah has prepared for his followers, which no eyes have ever seen or ear has ever heard.

    Good patience is of two types: patience for Allah and patience with the help of Allah. Allah, the most high, says:

    Be patient ˹O, Prophet˺, for your patience, is only with Allah’s help. Do not grieve over those who disbelieve˺, nor be distressed by their schemes.

    Surah An-Nahl 127

    So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our ˹watchful˺ Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise.

    Surah At-Tur 48

    The patience with the help from Allah is more perfect. To be patient for the sake of Allah depends on being patient with the help of Allah. Allah the most High Says, “And do thou be patient.” Thus, He says: for thy patience is but with the help from Allah. This means that we cannot be patient without help from Allah. Moreover, we read in a Qudsi hadith that:

    “By Me, he hears; by Me, he sees; by Me, he strikes; and by Me, he walks.”

    This hadith refers to the believers who perform Tahajjud Namaz (learn Tahajjud) till Allah loves them. As a result of that, Allah will be with him in whatever he does. Whoever is not patient with the help from Allah is like the one who does not wish to be near Allah.

    Sabr Islam Quotes

    What is sabr in Islam quote


    • Arish Husain

      Assalam Alaikum beautiful people! someone who loves Prophet Muhammad and his family a lot. I like finding new ways to teach important stuff, so everyone can understand what Allah wants from us and His plans. We learn to listen for whispers from Allah, understand big plans, get ready for whatever Allah has for us, and try our best. I hope Allah's blessings guide us on this special journey.Allah hu Akbar!

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