The Importance of Time

“I have less patience with someone who doesn’t wear a watch than with anyone else, for this type is not time-conscious. In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure.”

– Br. Malcolm X

The holy month of Muharram marks the beginning of the new Hijri year of 1441. As we bid farewell to the previous year and welcome in the new year, it is an opportunity for Muslims around the world to reflect on what has passed and ponder on what will come to pass. It is the duty of the Muslim to observe Muhasabah, which means to reflect and self-examine one’s time spent in the past and how they plan to spend it in the future. As we welcome in the new year, it is a moment for us to reflect on the years that have passed us, to plan for the years that will pass us, and to realize that one day we too shall pass. As we usher in the new year, we must ask ourselves will we even live to see the end of the new year, and if so how many more years have been written for us by the decree of Allah (swt)? These are the questions we must ask ourselves not just everyday, but from the beginnings of our time in this world towards the end of our time. Every single human being, regardless of their religion, socioeconomic status, and race are unequivocally equal in one true aspect – time. We are all blessed with the same amount of time to wake up, to sleep, and to utilize our precious time to either our advantage or
disadvantage. The significance and vitality of time is emphasized heavily throughout the Qur’an. However, no other surah beautifully embodies the pure essence of time than does Surah al-Asr:

“By time,
Indeed, mankind is in loss,

Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth 

and advised each other to patience.

Surah al-Asr

It is agreed upon by some of the most notable ulema such as Imam Shafi and Ibn Kathir that this short yet powerful surah embodies the entire summary of the Holy Qur’an. In these short and simple verses, Allah (swt) reminds His creation that all human beings are at a loss, except for those who possess iman and commit their short lives towards righteous deeds. Furthermore, the successful believer will be the one that proactively exhibits haqq, the truth amongst his or her fellow believers. Lastly, the successful believer will be the one that observes sabr, patience in times of hardship, trials, and tribulations. In this surah, Allah (swt) reminds us that He has destined the outcome of success or failure for His creation through His miracle of time.
It was narrated by Ibn Abbas (ra) that our Messenger (saw) said:

“There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time.” Sahih al-Bukhari.

It was also narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (ra) that our Messenger (saw) said:
“Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health
before your illness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”

(Sahih Al-Albani).

In this hadith, the Prophet (saw) advises us to prioritize these five quintessential aspects of our lives:

1. Youth before old age
This is the period of one’s life when he or she is young and full of energy, enthusiasm,
and high aspirations to accomplish whatever their hearts desire. It is during these golden
years of one’s life when he or she must set goals for themselves and plan for their future,
whether it be attaining higher education, succeeding in one’s career, pursuing passions
and hobbies, and overall becoming a productive member of society. At the same time, it
is also the golden years of one’s life when he or she must plan for the next life in the
akhirah. For those that are still blessed to be considered in their youth, do not let these
crucial years of your life slip away by wasting your precious time. Utilize the energy and
enthusiasm Allah (swt) has blessed you with towards the empowerment of yourself, your
community, and towards the attainment of the infinite mercy of Allah (swt).
It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) that our Messenger (saw) said:

“A young person who grew up with the worship of Allah (swt), will be among the seven
who are granted shade by Allah (swt), when there are no shade but His.”

(Sahih al-Bukhari).

2. Health before illness
The human body was designed to undergo different phases of health throughout its
lifespan, and it is during the earlier years of life that most of us are blessed to be free of
significant illnesses and ailments. Nobody can guarantee what tomorrow will bring in
regards to our health, not even the most advanced of science and medicine. Our health
is a blessing from Allah (swt) that is mistakenly taken for granted far too common. The
Prophet (saw) emphasized his followers to be as productive as possible while our health
allows us to, while maintaining our health. This implies living a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, eating in moderation, and gaining an adequate amount of rest. The
physical body is a gift from Allah (saw) that must be nurtured and cared for properly.
It was narrated that our Messenger (saw) said:

“Whosoever begins the day feeling family security and good health; and possessing
provision for his day is as though he possessed the whole world.”

-Hadith Tirmidhi.

3. Wealth before poverty
There are days we are blessed to have little money and days we are blessed to have
more money. As the saying goes, money comes and goes. However, the wise person is
the one that invests their wealth for the future, no matter what that amount may be. Just
as we all strive to invest our wealth towards the wellbeing of our future in the dunya, we
must not forget to have a portion of that wealth invested towards our future in the
akhirah. This can be accomplished by donating sadaqah to those less fortunate,
providing for orphans, or donating to a local masjid. However much it may be, invest it
towards your future in the hereafter because at the end of the day your wealth is not
defined by your monetary reward, but your rewards from your good deeds.
4. Free time before no time
It is important for us to catch ourselves from wasting our precious time on fruitless
actions. Unfortunately, many of us have become experts and masters in the art of killing
time, as if our precious time is something that is easily disposable and can be simply
tossed away. In this day and age, it is not difficult in falling victim towards actions and
activities that bear no benefit for us in this world or the hereafter. This is not to say that
one should not abstain themselves completely from engaging in hobbies, sports, or
leisurely activities with their friends and family. In fact, it is highly encouraged so that a
healthy balance can be achieved between our worldly and spiritual development. At the
same time however, we must remind ourselves to enjoy our free time in moderation and
to not lose sight of our ultimate goal – the attainment of Allah’s (swt) Rahmah. As a
Muslim, we should strive towards becoming a productive Muslim that invests every
second towards self-improvement and growth for the sake of Allah (swt).
5. Life before death
Each and every one of us are given only one life to live in the dunya. As the days turn
into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years, and years turn into a
lifetime, all of humankind will be destined to stand in front of their Creator to take account of our time in the worldly life. There will come a time when our existence on this Earth will be forgotten and we will simply become a mere memory of the past. Whenever it is our time to move on from this world, we should have accomplished enough throughout our lifetime so that our good deeds and actions can speak on our behalf when we stand in front of our Lord. The irony about this entire hadith is that all of the five things our Messenger (saw) has reminded us to take advantage of are all bound by the same common factor – time. Whether it be our youth, our health, our wealth, our free time or our life, they are all bound by the time allocated to us, up until the point that our own time in this world diminishes. The basic premise of this hadith is to be proactive, productive, and to take advantage of our precious time.

As we embark on this new year, let us look back at our previous years and reflect on our achievements, our mistakes, and how we can grow as a productive Muslim. Let us look back at our previous years and reflect on how we can grow as an Ummah, whether it be locally within our communities, nationally throughout our country, and internationally throughout the world. Let us not take for granted the precious gift of time Allah (swt) has gifted us and make the most of it for our life in this world and in the hereafter. As one of the most influential leaders of Islam in the modern era once said:

“Don’t count the days; make the days count.” –

Br. Muhammad Ali

May Allah (swt) empower us with the ability to make every single of of our days count.

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1 thought on “The Importance of Time

  1. Assalamo alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh. Jazaak-Allaho kheran for this service of the Deen. But we all must protect our selves from the sins of the severest punishment. Taking pictures has the severest punishment.

    Like

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