The Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) once passed by a woman who was weeping next to a grave and he said to her, “Be mindful of Allah and be patient.” She said to him, “Go away from me! You have not been afflicted by a calamity like mine,” because she did not recognize who he was. Later she was told that it was the Prophet (PBUH&HP), so she went to his house and she said, “I did not recognize you.” The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said to her, “Verily, patience is at the moment when calamity falls.”(1)

Some beneficial points can be derived from this story. First, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had the emotional intelligence not to rebuke the lady when she was at her lowest point, even though she was less than respectful to him at the time. We should likewise show compassion and empathy to people who are suffering and overlook their faults, because in such a situation it is difficult to behave with the best manners.

Second, he informed her that true patience is to be patient in the instant that a calamity occurs. This can only be achieved by preparing for calamities beforehand, through spiritual exercises like prayer, silent meditation and reflection, and the remembrance of Allah. Such preparation softens the tough blow when it occurs, whereas being caught off guard by a sudden tragedy increases our likelihood of transgressing the limits. Allah promises a tremendous reward for those who can show beautiful patience at the first strike, i.e. at the moment when calamity falls.

The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “Allah Almighty says: O son of Adam, if you are patient and restrained at the first moment of calamity, I would not be pleased with any reward for you less than Paradise”.(2)

(By Justin Parrott (with minor changes))

(1) Sahih Bukhari, H.1283; Al-Ja’faryiaat, p. 208

(2) Sunan ibn Majah, H. 1597