Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) is reported to have said, “Have patience in obeying and in not disobeying God, because this world is only a short period of time; you don’t feel the happiness and sorrow of what has passed and don’t know of what hasn’t come yet. Therefore, I have patience for what is now as if you were happy.” In a world that drowns us with temptations and distractions from our ultimate goals in life, it is difficult to always remember and embody the patience and tolerance of the seventh Imam of Islam, Musa al-Kadhim (as), but it is in those times we must reflect on his hardships and the hardships of our Islamic role models to allow us to persevere.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) was titled al-Kadhim because of his abilities to hold his anger, forgive people, and endure against difficult conditions. He exemplified the patience that we should strive for that is necessary to be successful in this world. As fallible humans, we easily fall prey to turning to anger rather than patience when dealing with situations we were not anticipating. Imam al-Kadhim (as) was reported to have said, “Anger is the key to any evil.” Such a simple concept and lesson is easily lost in a moment of frustration. The anger we allow to seep into our soul tightens the chains around our character, restricting our ability to think clearly and calmly in times of frustration, ultimately limiting our potential. This anger and frustration often results in sins that we at times are not even aware we are committing, including such lowly acts as backbiting.
When we feel we are wronged, our nature can urge us to fight back with whatever tool we have, including attacking whomever it was that wronged us. Rather than provide seventy excuses for our fellow man when they have wrong us, we assume and take advantage of an opportunity to justify poor character or akhlaq (ethics) on our part. If Imam al-Kadhim (as) remained gentle and tolerant of those around him, including the Abbasid rulers that oppressed him and blunted his ability to teach Islam, eventually leading to his martyrdom, we are not excused in lashing out against others.
Our Prophets and Imams were tested with hardships that many of us could not imagine having to overcome. At times our obstacles seem to pale in comparison to the trials and tribulations that they endured.
Allah (swt) says in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 268, that “He [Allah] does not charge [test] a soul except with that within its capacity.”
As Muslims we seek refuge in verses like that, using them as motivation to fight through the struggle. However, rather than compare the difficulties of our obstacles to those of the infallibles, we should consider that their ability to overcome is simply greater and stronger willed for good than ours. Prophet Ibrahim (as) was tested with the sacrifice of his own son by the order of Allah (swt); Prophet Ayoub (as) was forced into isolation as all of his worldly blessings were taken from him one by one; Imam Hussein (as) marched his family to what he knew was an inevitable martyrdom. As followers of these individuals, we may never have the power to overcome tests of such magnitude, and God-willing we ask Allah [swt] to test us with that which we can endure; however, regardless of the severity of our trials, we should only look at the life and dedication of the infallibles as learning tools for us to overcome our hurdles.
Hadith source: (Tohaf Al-okool, P. 417); (Tohaf Al-okool, P. 416)