I recently heard a part of a Hadith where the Prophet (pbh) said that “fasting is half of patience.” A lot of times we conceptualize Ahadith and aren’t able to actualize them until we live and experience it. And that’s where the real spiritual growth comes in – when we actively strive to live the Prophetic Sunnah. Something happens when we attempt to walk in his virtuous footsteps. A path of light and guidance unfurls and as we stumble through this path we trip over ourselves, try to cut corners, sometimes even stray off slightly – but yet, there is still wisdom in every fall. There is still a lesson in every attempted shortcut. There is still reward in every straying foot – if it turns back to Him with patience.
Just yesterday I lived through an experience that allowed me to actualize this Hadith. I have been a foreign student in Khartoum, Sudan studying Arabic for about eight months. For those of you who don’t know, Sudan is one of the hottest countries in the world. Five days a week I walk to school in 45 degree Celsius temperature. Sometimes the electricity in my hostel shuts off and that means no air conditioning. Sometimes at night they burn garbage outside and we have to turn off the air conditioning so we don’t breath in the fumes it’s bringing in. Sometimes the water even shuts off! There are around 100 women living in our hostel and we have two kitchens that have one gas stove each. And on top of that there is a gas and petrol crisis in this country. Life is not like it was in Canada to say the least. Now that we are fasting in Ramadan, the real test has come in. I live with two other foreign students from Somalia and we decided to split the daily tasks this Ramadan. One of the sisters cooks Iftar, the other Suhoor and I clean. So the other day – 40 minutes before Maghrib – my roommate comes in looking frustrated and holding a cooking pot. She starts telling me how the gas in the other kitchen has run out and she wasn’t able to finish cooking as the other kitchen stove is in use. My insides froze. A feeling of stress and frustration started to boil in me as my stomach turned in its own emptiness. I almost wanted to cry. She then reassured me that she will be able to finish cooking after Maghrib. I felt some relief but still was upset. I felt upset because I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. Am I just spoiled? I mean people in Yemen and Syria don’t even have food to break their fast with. Now I think I really am going to start crying. What is the point of this feeling? How easy was it for me to get caught up in wishing I was in Canada comfortable. But if I did, I’d completely miss a life altering lesson.
قُلۡ يٰعِبَادِ الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوۡا رَبَّكُمۡ ؕ لِلَّذِيۡنَ اَحۡسَنُوۡا فِىۡ هٰذِهِ الدُّنۡيَا حَسَنَةٌ ؕ وَاَرۡضُ اللّٰهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ؕ اِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصّٰبِرُوۡنَ اَجۡرَهُمۡ بِغَيۡرِ حِسَابٍ
Say, “O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” (Az-Zumar:10)
As I reflected on this verse, I started to shift my thinking. How can I take this opportunity to bring myself closer to Allah (swt) and gain reward out of my frustration? Maybe you’re tired because you work all day and you have trouble praying your Sunnah prayers. Maybe you had to deal with a frustrating client that pushed your buttons. Maybe you’re trying to raise a baby or toddlers and they keep you busy the whole day that you have a hard time finding time for Ibadaat. Maybe you haven’t been sleeping because you’ve been studying for exams all night. Maybe you have social anxiety praying in the Masjid. Maybe you can’t fast because you have to take medication. Maybe you’re trying to quit your bad habits this Ramadan. And of course the struggle of hunger added on to all of this.
All of these things require patience with perseverance. Make your struggle an opportunity for reward and an act of worship. Your patience is what will build and strengthen your character in this life and most importantly your Iman and love for Allah. How much sweeter does your food taste when you break your fast? Imagine how sweet the reward is for your patience in Jannah. You can’t even imagine.
يَـٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱستَعِينُواْ بِٱلصَّبرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
O you who believe! seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient ones (Al-Baqarah:153)
Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 6, Book of Supplications, Hadith 3519
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