In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Believers, be patient in adversity and let our patience never be exhausted, be ever ready and fear Allah so that you may prosper.
– The House of Imran, Aal Imran: 3:200
The Surah is an address to the believers which sums up the obligations imposed on them by the constitution Allah has chosen for them.
The surah speaks repeatedly about patience in adversity and fearing Allah. The surah also calls repeatedly on the believers to endure whatever hardship they have to face, to struggle and to foil the schemes of their enemies and never listen to the defeatists or to those who sow the seeds of discord within their ranks. That the concluding verse of the surah calls on the believer to be patient in adversity and to be always ready to sacrifice and to fear Allah makes it a most fitting conclusion.
Endure Test and Trials
Patience and perseverance are the essential nourishment for those who want to follow the path of the divine faith. It is a long and hard way, full of impediments. Only those who are always willing to sacrifice and endure persecution, test and trials are able to follow it. These need to be patient in the face of many difficulties. They have to resist their own desires, ambitions, weaknesses and hastiness. They have to persevere in the face of pressures which result from other people’s desires, weaknesses, ignorance, lack of understanding, perversions, selfishness, conceit and their impatience for quick results. They have to endure the high-handedness of falsehood and tyranny, the power of evil and the conceit of every boastful arrogant. They have to withstand the whisperings of Satan at such times when they are totally unhappy. They must persevere inspite of the fact that resisting all this can become extremely hard and can give rise to a variety of feelings: anger, exasperation, occasional lack of trust in goodness, despair of human nature, disappointment, frustration and even total despair. In addition to all this, they must also be patient and restrain themselves at the moment of victory, show their humility and gratitude when adversity is replaced by prosperity, suppress every motive of taking revenge or to exceed the limits of justice. They must maintain their relationship with Allah and submission to his Will in times of happiness and in times of hardship. They surrender themselves to Him with trust and reassurance.
To persevere in the face of all that and whatever else which faces anyone who embarks on following this long path calls for qualities which cannot be easily described. Words cannot express the true significance of this struggle. Only a person who has experienced such hardships can understand the full significance of such perseverance. The community of believers who were the first to be addressed by the Quran had experienced a great deal of all that and they knew very well what this address meant. They knew what sort of patience and perseverance Allah wanted them to show.
The Prolonged Struggle
This verse then calls on the believers to rise to a higher standard which is expressed in Arabic in a form of a verb, “to be patient” which signifies a highly enhanced effect. This means that the believers must face up to all this and must never allow their failings to get the better of them or submit to their enemies who try hard to exhaust their patience. The believers are called upon not to allow their patience to fail them despite the prolonged struggle. They must remain more patient and stronger than their enemies, be they the inner enemies in their own souls or the external ones who are the evil-doers. The case is thus described as a contest between them and their enemies and the believers are called upon to meet patience with stronger patience, effort with harder effort, determination with greater determination. When they have shown that they are stronger and more patient than their enemies, the outcome will undoubtedly be in their favour.