As-Sabur / As-Saboor

(The Patient)

As-Sabur Meaning:

The All-Patient, The Restrained, The Forbearing.

Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is As-Sabur (in Arabic: ٱلْصَّبُورُ), The One who is most patient and enduring. He is not hasty in His actions but waits for the proper time. He has all the power to punish those who do wrong, but instead, He allows time for us to repent and change course to comeback to the right path.

Mentions of As-Sabur:
From Quran & Hadith

Arabic Root:
From the root sad-ba-ra (ص ب ر), which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to be patient, to be enduring, to endure trial or affliction with good manner, to be contented in trial or affliction without show of complaint, to make no distinction between comfort and affliction, to bear calmly, to persevere cheerfully, to be steadfast, constant, to restrain, confine, withhold from something.

Among the disputed names:
As we've mentioned in previous names, different scholars have different criteria for what qualifies as a name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. Of the 99 names, 81 are explicitly mentioned in the Qur'an. Therefore, there is not one agreed-upon list for the remaining 18 names. As-Sabur is one of those names which is not included by certain scholars. This list includes Ibn al-Wazir, Ibn Hazm, and Ibn al-Uthaymeen. However, others, such as Ibn Arabi, Imam al-Bayhaqi, and Imam al-Ghazali, have included this name in their lists.

Does Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ have more than ninety-nine names?
Alhamdulillah, we've reached the "last name" of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. We put this in quotes because Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ has many, many names, and there is no one definitive list. As we've mentioned about the disputed names, different scholars recognize different attributes of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ which they derive from the Qur'an and Sunnah. For example, Ibn Uthaymeen includes names such as Al-Jameel (The Beautiful One), Al-Jawad (The Munificent/Generous), Ash-Shafee (The One who Cures), At-Tayyib (The Pure One), Ar-Rabb (The Lord), Ar-Rafeeq (The Gentle), Al-Illah (The one who is to be worshipped). These names may already be familiar to you, and as attributes of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ they are completely acceptable.

Allah has ninety-nine Names, i.e., one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly will enter Paradise. [1] The analogy which is often quoted to explain this hadith is if you were to say I have ninety-nine dollars, does that mean that's all you have? No, that's all you may have in your wallet, but it's not all you have.

Ibn Mas'ud reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "If any Muslim is afflicted with distress and makes this supplication, then his supplication will be answered: O Allah, I am Your servant, the son of Your servant, the son of Your maidservant. My forelock is in Your hand, Your command concerning me prevails, and Your decision concerning me is fair. I call upon You by every one of the beautiful names with which You have described Yourself, or which You have revealed in Your Book, or You have taught to any of Your creatures, or which You have chosen to keep in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, to make the Quran the delight of my soul, the light of my heart, and to remove my sadness and dispel my anxiety." The Prophet said, "If he says this, Allah will remove his affliction and replace it with joy and happiness." [2]

We emphasize one part of the hadith, "...or which You have chosen to keep in the knowledge of the Unseen with You," which implies there are names and qualities of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ which are not known to man. If Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Kabeer (The Great One), we must realize the extent of His greatness can't be fully understood. So in studying these attributes, we only get a glimpse of His essence.

Exploring the name As-Sabur:
The name of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ As-Sabur, the patient. As we come to know from these attributes, Allah's blessings are immense. We are forever indebted to Him, and we could never reciprocate or do enough to equalize the blessings He's given us. The gift of life, our health, faith, and its sustenance in every moment is because of His will. In return, Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ commands from us very little, and even in that, we sometimes fall short. For example, even when we offer our Salah, it can be deficient. Our bodies go through the motion, our tongues say the words, but our minds remain preoccupied with worldly distractions. We're thinking of things we can't wait to do after our prayer is over instead of being present in our salah.

At other times we transgress the boundaries of acceptable behavior. We defy His command with things He has forbidden. In every situation, He has complete right to exercise His power and give an equal punishment, but He abstains, for He is Al-Haleem (The Forbearing / The Clement One). He withholds His right to convict and keeps the doors of repentance and forgiveness open. That is how merciful Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is. Even when there is reason to punish, He does not punish.

Imam al-Ghazali writes about this very nature of Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ to delay. This restraint is not like a lazy person who procrastinates or a rash person who hastens to retaliate. Rather, As-Sabur is the one who disposes of "each thing in its proper time, in the way in which it needs to be and according to what it requires." Everything is perfectly handled by Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ according to His definite plan.

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet ﷺ said: None is more patient than Allah against the harmful saying. He hears from the people they ascribe children to Him, yet He gives them health and (supplies them with) provision." [3]

Note, however, it does not refer to Him by the title As-Sabur but instead describes His essence or quality as being patient. Similarly, in the Qur'an, we'll see verses describing His nature of showing respite.

وَلَوۡ يُؤَاخِذُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُواْ مَا تَرَكَ عَلَىٰ ظَهۡرِهَا مِن دَآبَّةٖ وَلَٰكِن يُؤَخِّرُهُمۡ إِلَىٰٓ أَجَلٖ مُّسَمّٗىۖ فَإِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهُمۡ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِۦ بَصِيرَۢا

Wa law yu'aakhizul laahun naasa bima kasaboo maa taraka 'alaa zahrihaa min daaabbatinw wa laakiny yu'akhkhiruhum ilaaa ajalim musamman fa izaa jaaa'a ajaluhum fa innal laaha kaana bi'ibaadihee Baseeraa (section 5)

English Translation:
"And if Allah were to impose blame on the people for what they have earned, He would not leave upon the earth any creature. But He defers them for a specified term. And when their time comes, then indeed Allah has ever been, of His servants, Seeing." — (Qur'an 35:45)

The one who sees Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ as As-Sabur can only be increased in their love for Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. We see Him in the best light as a Lord who shows ultimate grace and patience for all of humanity. We see His treatment and gentleness as being caring, giving us a chance for redemption. A chance to turn back to Him if we've erred in any way. We should rejoice in knowing our creator is forbearing and does not hasten to punish even though it would be most just and deserving if He should.

Shaykh Tosun Bayrak writes, "patience is in Allah's Divine disposition; therefore, patient people reflect this honored disposition." But the question we ask is patience always a virtue? In a previous reflection, we discuss the character trait of acting fast with a sense of urgency. To understand the finiteness of our lives and to not delay any activity further than it needs to be. How can we reconcile that with the quality of being patient?

It requires discernment to know when to apply what. Should you wait to do good deeds? If something can be done now, would it be better to wait until tomorrow? Let's say you set a worthy goal for yourself. Should you stop pursuing it if the deadline you set has passed? Or imagine a scenario of your child learning to walk. Would you ask Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ only once to make it easy for them? If they didn't learn right away, would you just quit and say, "that's it, I guess she's not a walker."

A person should exercise this quality to abstain from things he/she desires but knows it does not serve them. This is obvious for things that are clearly forbidden in Islam but also pose a danger to your well-being (e.g., alcohol). But there exists a category that, on the surface, can seem enticing and offer some initial benefit. These can be very dangerous, it creeps in quietly, corrupting goodness without our knowledge. An example is the use of credit cards. There are real benefits to using cards, cash-back, points, security & safety, and building your credit score. If an unauthorized purchase is made, you can call and get it reversed, whereas, with a debit card, you're responsible.

Yet, somehow, all the stats around credit cards are scary. In 2021 55% of Americans had a balance on their cards month-to-month, 15% have been in debt for 15 years, and 6% or 14 million people have over $10,000 worth of credit card debt. This will likely only get worse with time. We live in a society where credit cards are a near necessity for most individuals. It would be best to be patient and restrained from using these "tools" when you don't need to. This can be hard because once you start transacting with a credit card, it opens the door for many troubles to walk right in. You can easily overspend what you earn on things you didn't need but want. It's a constant battle. But Anas b. Malik reported: The Paradise is surrounded by hardships, and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by temptations. [4]

In the Qur'an and hadith, many passages further encourage us to be patient (i.e., showing sabr). This includes patience in one's faith, patience/restraint in dealing with those who may try to harm you, and abstaining from foul language. It also extends to patience when dealing with some tragedy that has befallen you. The Prophet ﷺ said, "What wealth I have, I will not hoard from you. Whoever has forbearance, Allah will help him. Whoever tries to be independent, Allah will enrich him. Whoever tries to be patient, Allah will give him patience, and no one is given a better or vaster gift than patience." [5]

وَٱصۡبِرۡ وَمَا صَبۡرُكَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّهِۚ وَلَا تَحۡزَنۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا تَكُ فِي ضَيۡقٖ مِّمَّا يَمۡكُرُونَ

Wasbir wa maa sabruka illaa billaah; wa laa tahzan 'alaihim wa laa taku fee daiqim mimmaa yamkuroon

English Translation:
"And be patient, [O Muhammad], and your patience is not but through Allah. And do not grieve over them and do not be in distress over what they conspire." — (Qur'an 16:27)

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱسۡتَعِينُواْ بِٱلصَّبۡرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ

Yaaa ayyuhal laazeena aamanus ta'eenoo bissabri was Salaah; innal laaha ma'as-saabireen

English Translation:
"O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient." — (Qur'an 2:153)

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱصۡبِرُواْ وَصَابِرُواْ وَرَابِطُواْ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ

Yaaa aiyuhal lazeena aamanus biroo wa saabiroo wa raabitoo wattaqul laaha la'allakum tuflihoon (section 20)

English Translation:
"O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful." — (Qur'an 3:200)

Narrated Anas: The Prophet ﷺ said, "The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity." [6]

فَٱصۡبِرۡ صَبۡرٗا جَمِيلًا

Fasbir sabran jameelaa

English Translation:
"So be patient with gracious patience." — (Qur'an 70:5)

It was narrated from Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: "The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance." [7]

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari 6410
[2] Musnad Ahmad 3712
[3] Sahih al-Bukhari 6099
[4] Sahih Muslim 2822
[5] Muwatta Malik Book 58, Hadith 1850
[6] Sahih al-Bukhari 1302
[7] Sahih (Darussalam) Sunan Ibn Majah 4032

skip_previous play_arrow skip_next