Patience – A Reflection of Strength of Character

What does it mean to be patient?  What is Patience?

Let’s start with what it is not.  Patience is not 'longsuffering' – which is “long patient endurance of insult, abuse or mistreatment”.  

On the contrary, Patience in a person is an indicator of other powerful character traits, including persistence, fortitude and wisdom.

Sabr by Zulfiqar Rashid


Rumi’s description of Patience is perhaps the most apt, concise and insightful. 

Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing. It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day. Lovers are patient and know that the moon needs time to become full.” Rumi

I had to read this quote from Rumi a couple of times, and let it sink in.  Patience is not showing weakness.  Quite the opposite, it is a show of strength.

It takes patience, perseverance, and mental fortitude every day to get up in the morning for that run, or to spend those hours in the gym completing those reps.

It takes patience, resilience, and commitment to string together the words, and then edit them again and again, to shape them into that novel you always wanted to write.

An artist is almost infinitely patient with their creation - meticulously thinking through each stroke of the work of art, which direction it should be in, how much pressure should be applied to it, how long or short should it be – before the masterpiece is completed.

In addition to God-given skill, it takes an artisan jewelry-maker tremendous patience to create a beautiful necklace imbued with hundreds of years of tradition and history – with each charm and each glass bead handcrafted and put together lovingly for someone to wear over their modest tunic. 

We have all heard of Malcolm Gladwell, who synthesized the principle of ten thousand hours practicing a skill to get to a world-class level of excellence - to be the best of the best.

Ten thousand hours.  That means spending on that one thing which is your passion, in a very focused, persistent, and patient manner, 8 hours every day of the year, for about three and a half years.  Or 5 hours a day, for two hundred days a year, for 10 years.  Talk about patience.  This was tangentially corroborated by Edison when he said about finally finding the right material for his light bulb filament,

I haven’t failed.  I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work ”.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s another powerful explanation of what Patience is and is not, from Joyce Meyer.

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Patience has been an important virtue throughout human history, but as the pace of life continues to accelerate with each passing year, developing the habit of Patience has become a necessity for us to retain our humanity.

The Quran has numerous verses extolling the importance of Patience.

And be Patient over what befalls you” (31:17)

Be Patient; Indeed the best outcome is for the Patient ” (11:49)

So next time when we are getting upset at someone, be it our parents, children, friends, or a stranger, and they happen to stay composed, calm and collected, let us learn from them, and appreciate their patience and strength of character.  Let us be the ones who stay calm, cool and collected in challenging situations – the ones who are patient, with strength.

Blog by Zulfiqar Rashid

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