When you encounter a trial or a hardship, there is a level of patience you have to have whether you like it or not. That patience may or may not be rewarded, depending on your behavior. However, there is a level of patience that is only achieved by those who aspire to please Allah. That patience is called “Ihtisab” which means “seeking the reward.”
Why is this so essential to understand in Ramadan? Because the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) conditioned the forgiveness of Allah in this month with 2 things:
“Whoever fasts during Ramadan with Iman (faith) and Ihtisab will have his past sins forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
We all know what Iman is, but what makes Ihtisab so special here? In essence, if you really want the forgiveness of Allah, that needs to be demonstrated in your attitude. Usually Ihtisab is only mentioned in the context of the quality of your good deeds. So a person seeking reward from Allah will not just do the bare minimum, but instead seek to excel in his qiyam, quran reading, etc. But the concept is really far broader than that. To truly understand it, look at this hadeeth:
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) said: “Fasting is a shield, so when one of you is fasting he should not use foul or offensive language. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
In essence, what fasting teaches you to do is to not just tolerate trouble, but to see it as an opportunity.
That person that insults you is providing you with an opportunity to be praised by Allah. That person that asks of you is providing you an opportunity to having your requests answered by Allah. That hardship that strikes you is an opportunity to gain ease in the hereafter.
All of these things will occur regardless, but Ramadan is the perfect time to learn how to approach these occurrences. It also says a lot about who you are and what your priorities are.
So next time something happens: 1. Smile 2. Say al hamdulila 3. Count on the Divine to compensate you with something too amazing for this world to grasp.