I wanted to go into my thoughts regarding the possible practical implications of a couple of verses from the Qur’an today,
And We certainly gave Moses the Scripture, so do not be in doubt over his meeting. And we made the Torah a guidance for the Children of Israel. (23)
And We made from among them leaders guiding by Our command when they were patient and they were certain of Our signs. (24)Qur’an 32:23-24
I’m aiming to have the first major heading be about the more technical aspects, with the second a simpler version that’s more practical for anyone to consider.
My Immediate Thoughts
There are a number of points about the verse worth touching on, of which I’ll try my best to link them together and have them flow. Hopefully it won’t look like the jumbled mess of notes that often float in my head.
The Significance of Leadership
Let’s start there. In Islam, there’s this concept of a Day of Judgement where God takes absolute authority of everything and sets them right. Until then, He tests the people by means of another to see how they act. What you don’t want is to land on the bad side because it’d mean that God’s authority would turn out to be against you rather than for you. This leads me to make mention of this verse,
And what is with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and the oppressed among men, women, and children who say,
“Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper”?Qur’an 4:75
The reason you want someone to lead is because each person has their own circumstances to consider, something I’ll get to a little after this. Among the roles of a leader is to act as the heart and consider their needs as a whole,
“The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”Riyad as-Salihin 224
With that out of the way, we might now find ourselves asking,
What’s the catalyst for which the people are brought together?
Linking Guidance to Patience
Like the Torah for Jews, the Qur’an was always meant to be a form of guidance for Muslims, something you’re introduced to pretty early on,
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah […]Qur’an 2:2
Its understanding is something you’re meant to build on as you go about living your life,
And those who disbelieve say,
“Why was the Qur’an not revealed to him all at once?”
Like that so We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly.Qur’an 25:32
I imagine the idea is that you’d read the Qur’an for guidance, and patience is what you need to continue to draw good from it. This continues to be the case until you’re known for the principles you’ve come to stand strongly for. In turn, you inspire in others similar values until you become a community of people who all hold the same values,
And let there be from you a nation inviting to good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.Qur’an 3:104
Weakness After Strength
The next verse to come after the one I’ve most recently quoted makes for a good start to what I wanted to touch on next,
And do not be like the ones who became divided and differed after the clear proofs had come…Qur’an 3:105
In Islam, where patience in the search for guidance leads to strength, needless conflicts lead to weakness,
… and do not quarrel, for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient.Qur’an 8:46
The thing about guidance is that, no matter where you are on the map, if you all share the same destination, you’ll all come together eventually. Your circumstances decide where you start from in the map, leading you to take routes different to those who began elsewhere. If you can tell they’re headed for the same destination as you, patience is the aspect that gives people the time they need to get on the same page.
For each is a direction toward which it faces. So race to good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth all together…Qur’an 2:148
How Patience Facilitates Progression, While Conflict Slows Us Down
That’s nice and all, but much like how it might play out in a school setting, it’s not always easy to make use of what you’ve learnt. You might have the capacity to make sense of what you’re being taught, yet have little to no clue of its use or how it relates to you. No matter who you are, it’s always worth finding ways to express what you know into something more practical. Let’s get into that here then.
If you want to acquire a new skill, you learn, then you try, you learn again, then you try again. This goes on and on as you get better at what you do. If you’re dedicated enough to it, people eventually take notice. You find yourself lending your expertise to some, inspiring others to either do what you do or be better at what they’re already doing, or be given suggestions by others on how you could take your skills further, whether that’s to do with how well you practice it or whether you could use it to take on a role in a cause you’d like to be a part of. A bunch of stuff could happen, but the point is, learning a new skill takes time. With time and dedication, it has the potential to grow.
On the other hand, doubt slows us down:
What if it fails?
What if I come to realise it isn’t worth it for me?
Do I even have the time to free up to pursue the skill?
There’s so much to learn, it feels like I’ll never get anything worthwhile with it.
In turn, you lower your standards, cutting corners left and right. You’re left with a shabby mess of everything that only proves its futility further. It’s called the pygmalion effect, but self-inflicted. To give you a more accurate sense of what that is, some researchers known as Rosenthal and Jacobson decided one day to tell a teacher that such and such students were intellectual bloomers after having had a class take mock tests, though they never told the teacher what the actual scores were. By the end of the year, the researchers had the same class take the same test again. They noticed a number of students had improved by a noticeable amount more than the rest. It so happened to be the ones they’d randomly classed as intellectual bloomers. They realised the teacher paid more attention to those believed to succeed.
The issue with conflict is that when you assume ill of someone, you tend to modify your actions to push for that outcome. To add to that, when you tell someone they know next to nothing and they’re doing it all wrong, you can confuse them and make them second-guess themselves, slowing down their progression. They get side-tracked into figuring out what’s wrong more so than building on supporting what’s already there, even though they mean the same thing. The difference is that you don’t tend to move as much when you fear something’s gone wrong, out of fear it’ll get worse. In contrast, sometimes it’s possible to mend something on the go; it might even be that they’ll find it’s possible to mend it only by insisting to go. From what I’ve come to observe, if they were sincere and you were encouraging, you’d have accelerated their progression instead. When we’re gentle with their mistakes, they’re gentle with themselves, so they become more hopeful of what’s to come. In turn, they’re driven to go again until they’re at peace with themselves.
When You Act Gracefully, You only ever Beautify Everything Around You
Sometimes we become so invested with right or wrong, it leads us to be harsh with ourselves and each other. There’s this line you can cross where it no longer drives us to be accountable and instead scares us from ever trying again. You only want to be aware of a flaw so much as to make amends in a matter, but not so much that you’re rubbing salt on a wound. Sometimes the saying, “No pain, no gain”, isn’t relevant because there’s nothing to gain from the pain except more pain.
I think it helps to remember that we were all young once. We didn’t know anything, we made mistakes, but we were determined and tried again. That’s how we learnt to walk. That process still applies to much of life, long into our adult lives–whether it’s to do with knowledge, wisdom, relationships or so much more–it helps to be gentle and patient with ourselves and each other.
That’s my take on patience and conflict anyhow. Although there’s more about this I’d like to get into, I feel like I’ve written so much already and this is already enough to go on, so God willing, maybe some other day. What I’m especially interested in hearing from you today though is, what other possible outcomes do you think might come from patience, what does it mean to gracefully patient?