The original meaning of this word is: "to prevent and to subdue or arrest." Thus, Sabr means to restrain the soul from worry, control the tongue from complaining and restrain parts of the body from striking the face, tearing the clothes and so on.
Allah says (what means):
"Restrain yourself with those who call upon their Lord." Qur'an 18:23
"I restrained for this (hard work) a free soul that knew and kept steadfast when the soul of the coward was shaken; i.e., I restrained a soul that was aware of the consequences. It was the soul of a free proud man, not the soul of a slave without pride. It remained calm when the soul of a cowardly person was shaken."
In a hadeeth regarding a man who held someone while another person killed him, the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: 'The killer and the one who held [the victim] will be held in custody,' meaning, until his death.
Sabr is the word used when a person is held and detained for being killed. In an authentic narretion, the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade Masburah, i.e., a goat or chicken that is tied and shot until it dies.
It is said that the original meaning of the word is strength and power. The word Subr is also taken from the meaning, and applies to a fertile land, because of its hardness and firmness.
The third view is that its meaning is "to collect and to gather." Hence, Saabuir is a person who holds himself up and keeps his soul away from worries and anxiety.
Actually, the word sabr embraces all three meanings: to restrain, to find strength, and to pull oneself together.
The word is used in the first form (Sabr) to refer to being steadfast, in the fifth form (Tasabbur) to imply to try and attempt to be steadfast, in the eighth form (Istibar) to indicate making the effort to acquire steadfastness, in the third form (Musabarah) to mean holding someone in the state of steadfastness and in the second form (Tasbir) to imply to encourage someone to excercise Sabr.Book excerpt from: Excellence of Patience & Gratitude
By: Ibn Al-Qayyim
Published By: Darussalam
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