But he had other pressing concerns. "Can you bring the hibiscus plants in from the patio?" asked the voice at the other end. "The winds might knock them over." [Translation from Urdu]
My husband's enduring commitment to his greeneries, despite my initial reservations about turning our home into a greenhouse (and taunts that his orchids were not showing any signs of bloom), is inspiring now that it's springtime and we're enjoying the fruits of his labor.
As a bonus, gardening cultivates the virtue of patience (sabr in Arabic) according to Ali, the husband of Fatima (one of the four perfect women) and a orchard grower himself. Now that's something we could use more of around our house!
God has promised success to those who practice sabr:
"O you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that you may prosper." (Quran 3:200)
And doom for those who don't.
"By the time! Verily man is in loss! Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in mutual teaching of truth and of patience and constancy." (Quran 103: 1-3)
Unfortunately, few people understand the true meaning of sabr, according to scholar Abbas Ayleya.
"People think sabr means we become patient and we just stay silent and quiet and tolerate and do nothing," Ayleya says. "Actually, sabr is the resilience and patience that you exercise when you are performing your duties and you continue to do your duties regardless of the resistance you face."
Indeed, every Prophet of God has bequeathed his successor the following advice: "Stand for the truth and be patient, even if it is bitter and inconvenient."
Sabr must be exercised during tests and turmoils, in obeying Allah's orders and in avoiding sins.
Asiya (one of the four perfect women) is a paragon of sabr. She remained a firm devotee of God despite being married to the ruthless Pharoah of Egypt who tortured her for her beliefs.
"And Allah set forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharoah: behold she said: 'O my Lord! build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharoah and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong!" (Quran 66:11)
The fearless people of the Middle East and Africa who continue their demands despite tear gas, bullets and other persecutions are living examples of those practicing sabr. Young Fatima, whose father was killed in Bahrain last month, was immediately back on the streets inspiring others onwards:
"I want to deliver my words to the entire world," she cried. "I am strong and brave, that's what my father always said. Now I have become braver and braver thanks to my father."