Al Huda Gem from Ayah 61 of Surah Al-Baqarah.
وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَى لَن نَّصْبِرَ عَلَىَ طَعَامٍ وَاحِدٍ فَادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنبِتُ الأَرْضُ مِن بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّآئِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا وَبَصَلِهَا قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِي هُوَ أَدْنَى بِالَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ اهْبِطُواْ مِصْراً فَإِنَّ لَكُم مَّا سَأَلْتُمْ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَآؤُوْاْ بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ذَلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ
And [recall] when you said, “O Moses, we can never endure one [kind of] food. So call upon your Lord to bring forth for us from the earth its green herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions.” [Moses] said, “Would you exchange what is better for what is less? Go into [any] settlement and indeed, you will have what you have asked.” And they were covered with humiliation and poverty and returned with anger from Allah [upon them]. That was because they [repeatedly] disbelieved in the signs of Allah and killed the prophets without right. That was because they disobeyed and were [habitually] transgressing.
I want to focus on the root word of Sabr (Saad-ba-ra). There is a saying in Arabic called ‘Sabara Daaba’ and it usually refers to the Sabr endured by a horse when it is tied without being provided with food or water. The owner does this to the horse, not out of cruelty or the intention of torture but to strengthen the horse. He wants to make the animal strong and train him for difficult times, to build endurance and stamina. Imagine if the horse was never put through any trial or hardship and simply ate, slept, and played. Would it be capable of fighting or taking on an enemy? No, not at all. So for such a horse who goes through trials, there is a storm building in his stomach and mind, he wants to react but Sabr stops him. He builds self-restraint and learns to cope with the difficulty. The example my teacher gave was that if you are being shouted at and someone completely degrades you or hurts you emotionally, what options do you have? You can shout back and react, or you can be like the horse–you can control yourself and literally zip your mouth. You can hold yourself back from reacting, why? Because it makes you stronger internally. Your sabr overcomes their anger and bi’ithnillah they will realize that as well.
So in essence, the Bani Israel were completely rejecting the option of having patience with the trial they were facing. While Allah blessed them with heavenly food, they complained and refused to acknowledge Allah’s blessings upon them. Allah ‘azzawajal was trying to strengthen them and prepare them for difficult times ahead, but no, they wanted a grocery list of items to eat despite what they had already been blessed with–Allah chose them over other nations, saved them from Fir’own, forgave them for their sin of worshiping the calf, gave them the Torah, and a Messenger to show them the straight path, 12 springs to drink from, Allah shaded them with clouds, gave them food without them having to toil or plant anything, and so many more signs, they even watched Fir’own drown before their own eyes, but still…they found room to complain and argue.
There are countless lessons we can learn from the nation of Bani Israel, but just looking at this example, SubhanAllah, it’s scary to think how closely we are following their footsteps. Abu Sayeed reported that the messenger of Allah said: “You shall follow the practices of those before you, inch by inch and mile by mile, to the degree that if they enter into the hole of a lizard, you will follow them.” He was asked: “O messenger of Allah, are they the Jews and Christians?” He replied: “Who else?” (Agreed)
Take a moment to reflect on yourself and how much Allah azzawajal has blessed you with. In the next few ayaat, Allah mentions how He shaded their nation with clouds over their heads so it wouldn’t be too hot or too cold for them. SubhanAllah! When have we ever thought about the clouds above us as a blessing of shade placed over us by Allah Almighty. Imagine if the skies were always clear and the sun shined on us day after day. How often do we complain over not having a specific type of meal or clothing. :( Just this morning, I was annoyed because my favorite cereal finished. Sigh. Lesson: ALWAYS say Alhumdulillah, and if you’re not saying that, then say Astughfirullah for the countless times you and I have looked passed our blessings.