One of the important teachings of Islam is sabr, that is, patience. Patience is the key to all success. In the chapter Al-Baqarah (The Heifer), the Qur’an has this to say: You who believe, seek help through patience and prayer; surely, God is with the people of patience. (2:153)
Sabr, or patience, is neither a passive attitude nor any kind of inaction. According to the Qur’an, sabr, or patience, is superior action. When things are not to your liking, being patient is the equivalent of waiting for a better situation to materialize. When an unwanted situation arises and you refrain from the reaction, you are simply allowing things to take their natural course. So patience is like a strategy. One could even call it a master strategy. Our social sphere has many different elements, many of which, of their own, can lead to positive results, so if you take some abrupt action, you are not allowing time for such elements to come to your support. But when you keep your patience, it means that you are allowing all-natural factors to contribute to your success.
For example, if you find yourself in the darkness of night and you start crying about this darkness, you will be wasting your energy, for this kind of crying is not going to yield any positive result. But if you simply adopt the policy of waiting, then very soon morning will come and the whole atmosphere will brighten up.
Being patient does not mean not taking any action. It means planning your strategy, assessing your resources, and taking into consideration the relevant natural factors. That is right planning. In this world, planning takes care of fifty percent of the task, while natural factors take care of the other fifty percent. They are like the two wheels of the bicycle which revolve in perfect unison to carry the cyclist to his destination. Either one without the other would only bring about chaos and catastrophe. Being patient does not mean not taking any action. It means planning your strategy, assessing your resources, and taking into consideration the relevant natural factors. That is right planning.
Patience means wisdom-based thinking. If impatience is the result of unwise thinking, patience is the result of wise thinking. That is the secret of life and also the secret of wise planning. You cannot fight against nature, so you cannot afford the luxury of being impatient. Impatience means trying to achieve things on a unilateral basis. But that is impossible. On the other hand, having patience means doing things on a bilateral basis. And it is a fact that, in our world, unilateralism is an unrealistic approach, while bilateralism is entirely a wise approach.
The policy of wait and see is the best policy in this world, and it is this policy that is called patience. Impatience means: Don’t wait but jump into the situation without thinking about the consequences. The wait and see policy is the only wise policy in this world of competition and challenge. Every goal needs wise planning, for it is wise planning that leads to real success. And wise planning is that in which considerations other than your emotions have been taken into account.