"O my soul, it is only a few days, bear them patiently.A lifetime seems long but a flitting reverie"

~Imam Shafi~
" “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah and it will worry and be anxious if it is settled with people.” – Ibn al-Qayyim"....Say : "This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge" (Qur'an - 12:108) "Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, Al-Imran 3:84) . "And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),We would have seized him by the right hand;And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him" (Qur'an,Al-Haqqah 69:44-47) "Do they not ponder the Quran! If it were revealed from a source other than Allah,certainly they would have found,many contradictions."[Holy Quran 4:82] " O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did)" [Holy Qur'an, 84:6] Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." ~Holy Quran 6:164 Imam Malik (rh): “Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise.’ Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah and rashad (i.e. guidance).” Ibn Kathir (Ra) narrated: كان نقش خاتم عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه : كفى بالموت واعظاً ياعمر “The engraving on ‘Umar ibn al Khataab’s(Ra) ring was: “Sufficient is death as an admonisher O Umar”. ["Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaaya]. "When you fear the creation, you run away from it, but when you fear the Creator, you feel close to Him,& run towards Him.".Ibn Qayyim . "Allahumma la‘aisha illa‘aish-al-Aakhirah": 'There is no life but the life of the next world' "And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death)". (Quran 15:99) “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran: 29:69] "... And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return." ~ Al Quran 11:88
"Nothing in this world is really useful to you unless it has some utility and value for the next world"-Imam Ali(R)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Understand Time

There are two hadiths : the first sums up the whole attitude of Islam towards time; the second is a famous hadith which many have had trouble understanding.

Hadith 1
The Prophet (S) said: ”Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas in the Mustadrak of Hakim & Musnad Imam Ahmad. Sahih)

The scholars regard this as one of the core hadiths of the religion as it spurs one to right action in so many different life circumstances. It contains two key principles with respect to Islam’s approach to time management: a sense of urgency to our life and expressing thanks for our blessings.

The whole language of this hadith points to the limited nature of our life and how time is running out. In Surah al-Rahman, verse 26, Allah (Subhanahu Wa’Tala) beautifully states ”Kullu man alaiyha faan” (All that is on earth will perish); describing the essential reality that every moment that passes is a moment that brings our death closer; our lifespan is like an upturned sand-timer and the last grain could drop soon. So the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)reminds us to act quickly before old age, before sickness, before our money decreases, before we get too busy and before our death. In other words, we must act now before it’s too late.

This links to the second principle of shukr, or gratefulness. Each one of the five matters are five blessings of the highest magnitude: youth(which Arabs have traditionally defined as less than 40!), health, wealth, free time and life itself. Allah, Most Glorious, has informed us of the secret of keeping and indeed increasing our blessings: “If you are grateful, I shall certainly give you increase” (Qur’an 14:7). How then do we give thanks for these blessings? Beyond thanking Allah regularly with our tongues, scholars explain that true gratefulness is to “use the blessing for what they were intended for” or as Junayd al-Baghdadi (May Allah have mercy on him) explained at a mere seven years of age: “That one not disobey Allah using the blessings He has given.” So, for instance, we should spend our youth in seeking beneficial knowledge; our wealth in sadaqa; our energy to worship Allah more.

The last two matters mentioned in the hadith relate directly to time management. Our free time is what we have left to work with. In Surah al-Inshirah (94:7), an oft-recited verse, ”fa iza faraghta fa-nsab”, Allah commands us: ‘So when you are free, toil on [in worship]!’ After a hard day’s work in the office, kitchen or school our first inclination is to rest. Yet the Prophet(S, who had more responsibilities and hard work than many of us put together, was commanded to ‘toil on’. This is why we read of his long hours of Salah in the night to the extent that his feet swelled.

However, for the Muslim, whether it is the evening/morning, work-day/holiday, weekday/weekend, our goal and purpose for every moment should be to worship Allah in the best way possible. When we’re at work, we’re happy to work for the sake of Allah; when we’re home we’re happy to worship Allah. No doubt this is how the early Muslims, the scholars and the pious from every generation lived. I live next door to a local Imam and I can tell you that when he’s not at work with his wife teaching at the madrasa, he’s at home teaching Hifz to his children. Though you and I may be far from such incredible striving, we can at least ensure that a portion of each night is reserved for toiling in worship. Many Islamic leaders recommend even a few rakahs of Tahajjud before Fajr comes in. By devoting at least a small portion of each night, after our day’s work, to worship we can hope that our life, the fifth and final blessing mentioned in the hadith, is not wasted.

Hadith 2
“Allah said, ‘The son of Adam wrongs me for he curses Ad-Dahr (Time); though I am Ad-Dahr (Time). In My Hands are all things, and I cause the revolution of day and night’” (Al-Bukhari).

This hadith used to confuse me for many years until I asked one of my teachers for the meaning of the phrase ‘I am Time’ for I knew that Allah, Most High, is beyond time and does not resemble His creation. It was explained to me that the Arabs of the time of the Prophet (saw) were very proud people, especially proud of their strength, vitality, power, wealth and status. Since old age,and death would eventually erode all of these qualities they would grow despondent and curse time as they felt it ‘made them old’. Allah responded to this ignorant custom with this hadith qudsi, saying in effect, “I alone effect the changes in you (due to time).” Thus by cursing time, one is indirectly cursing Allah (just as one would be if you cursed destiny which is also only effected by Allah).

There is an immediate relevance to us here. Many a time, we find ourselves having a difficult situation or experiencing ‘one of those days’ where everything seemingly goes wrong. Sometimes, Shaytan overcomes us at such moments and we find ourselves thinking thoughts such as ‘Why does Allah create days like this?’. Na’uzu billah, such thoughts are like modern curses of time and we should guard against such words or thoughts. Indeed, if we contemplate the blessings of time in our times, there is much to be thankful for. Most readers of this article are living away from the many troubled Muslim lands where they are suffering carnage, warfare, famine, oppression or poverty.

Alhamdulillah, we are blessed with ample time and modern conveniences to efficiently use it. Let’s increase this blessing by toiling hard to use it in ways most pleasing to Allah.


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