The gift of time

Time” as the popular saying goes, “is precious”. The value of time is actually more treasurable than anything considered precious. Time is a very valuable resource that must not be misused. Imam Buhari reports on the authority of Ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “There are two blessings which many people fail to appreciate: (They are) health and free (ample) time for doing righteous deeds.”

Each time man has more than enough resources at his disposal, there’s always that tendency for him to squander part of it on trivial things, especially if the resources were not hard-earned. By the same token, many of us waste substantial part of our time on frivolous, inconsequential or non-profitable activities; owing to the erroneous belief that there’s plenty of time to spend on earth. If man were to live for two or more centuries in this world, he shall have little to profit from that longevity if he devotes sizeable part of the long life to other than righteous deeds. Allah (SWT) states in Quran 103 “By the time, verily man is in (a state of) loss; except those who believe and do righteous deeds; and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.”

The Prophet (SAW) said: “Mankind will remain standing on the Day of Resurrection until he has been asked about four things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it up, his property and how he acquired and managed it, and his knowledge and how he utilized it.” This is why, as individuals who appreciate the value of time, we should find it necessary to organise our time wisely. We should realize that every wasted moment is a lost opportunity tehat is irretrievable. Sooner than later, our time on earth will be up and we’ll have to depart this physical world to give account of our sojourn on earth. A believer should not waste precious time on things that will not bring him closer to his Creator. Activities that would neither benefit the individual, his society nor humanity amount to nothing but wasted time and efforts.

Our attitude towards time signifies the value we attach to it.  What a person does with his time illustrates what he or she does with his or her life. We thus need to organize our worldly and religious duties, without any of them overlapping the other. We need to arrange our priorities; putting the most important first. Our time should not exclusively and completely be reserved for worship and worship alone. Rather, it is worthwhile creating time for relaxation and physical exercises while organizing our time. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 28:77 “But seek (with the wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the home of the hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world…”

It is always time to engage in righteous deeds because there isn’t just enough time to do so, even though time on earth seems to man as though plentiful. Material time on earth would on the Day of Judgement appear as if man had lived and worshipped for less than a day. Quran 18:19 affirms “One of them said, “How long have you stayed (here)?” They said, “We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day.” They said, “Your Lord (alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here).”

One should expect to pass through this world but once. Any good that is worth doing or any act of kindness that is worth showing to any fellow creature must not be deferred. No act of righteousness or worship should be delayed because it has not been ordained by the natural laws of existence for man to pass through this earth twice. Life in this world is only but a gift of time from Allah (SWT). Time, just like life itself, is therefore, a privilege. It is thus important for believers to take advantage of the privilege offered by time to hasten to put forth righteous deeds. Allah (SWT), for instance, instructs believers in Qur’an 3:133 “Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous.” It is disastrous to imagine that old age is best time to be righteous. How are sure you would live to get old age?

We are encouraged by the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) to, as a routine; utilize some portions of our time for supplications and the glorification of Allah. According to a prophetic tradition related by Imam Muslim on the authority of Abu Dharr (RA), there’s with reward in every tasbih (saying Subhana-llah, meaning ‘Glory be to Allah’); in every takbir (saying Allahu Akbar, meaning ‘Allah is the Greatest’); in every tahmid (saying Alhamdu Li-llah, meaning ‘Praise be to Allah’); and in every tahlil (saying La ilaha ila-llah, meaning ‘There’s no deity worthy of worship except Allah’). There’s reward also in forbidding that which is wrong and exhorting others to that which is right. Even a good speech is rewarded by Allah (SWT).

One of the ways of managing time is for a Muslim to rise from sleep and go to bed early. Starting the day with prayers and the supplications enables one to earn Allah’s grace. Let us make it a routine to recite the Qur’an after Subhi prayer. Similarly, our time shall be well spent if we start every activity with Basmallah (saying Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim’ meaning ‘In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful’) and end it with Hamdallah (saying ‘Alhamdu Li-llah’ meaning ‘Gratitude is due to Allah’). Profitable use of time includes taking time to rest or sleep especially when signs of exhaustion become obvious. As we organize our time, we should remember to respect other people’s time.

Respect for time largely entails punctuality. Time has been defined for nearly all religious obligations in Islam including the five daily prayers, zakat, fasting and pilgrimage to Makkah. To be punctual at observing these rites at the time respectively specified for them is a requirement for their validity. Punctuality earns the individual respect and builds a positive reputation around his or her character. May Allah (SWT) guide us to organize our time wisely and profitably, amin.


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