Valuing the Asset of Time
By: Sheikh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat (hafizahullah)
Time is from amongst the greatest gifts bestowed upon mankind, for their very existence and everything that revolves around it is dependent on time. It is said, ‘Time is life and life is time.’ Despite its invaluable and precious nature, it is probably the most neglected of gifts. Many common pastime endeavours and entertainment activities are robbers of time and inadvertently, life.
Success in all spheres of a human’s life, whether religious or worldly, spiritual or physical, monetary or otherwise revolves around valuing time and utilising it most efficiently. All those who have made a name in history, have done so through valuing time. With ultimate and eternal success being dependent on the outcome of the Hereafter, our pious predecessors have all laid much emphasis on this reality, encouraging their students and associates to make most of their precious life and time and not let a single second go to waste.
My most beloved and honourable Shaykh, Shaykh-al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullah, continually encourages all his associates to value time, and has touched on this very important topic on numerous occasions, both in the Urdu and English languages, guiding many to realise its importance.
This booklet is a translation of the respected Shaykh hafizahullah’s book in Urdu titled, ‘Mata‘-e-waqt ki qadar’, which is a transcription of a speech originally delivered by the respected Shaykh hafizahullah. Being the first work of the respected Shaykh published in Urdu, it achieved much acclaim and recognition from Urdu-speaking ‘Ulama, and also the general masses from all sectors. The Shaykh hafizahullah in this booklet, through his simple, appealing, and most logical manner, elaborates on this topic by citing examples from the lives of our pious predecessors and giving practical solutions to overcome this problem.
I end conceding that it is not befitting someone like me who is unmindful of the very contents of this booklet to be writing a foreword on it. However, with hope in Allah that these few words bring about a positive change, I have put pen to paper. May Allah guide all those who read this booklet to value the asset of time and accept all the efforts of the respected Shaykh hafizahullah, lengthening his shadow over us so that we may benefit from him for many more years. Amin.
(Shaykh Mawlana) Ayadh Sidat hafizahullah
24 Safar 1433 / 17th January 2012
Foreword (Translation of the Urdu foreword from the original Urdu book)
From the blessed souls that have been chosen by Allah for the propagation and dissemination of Islam, in Europe, a leading personality is Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat (May Allah benefit the Muslims by granting him a long life full of goodness), who is blessed with the attention of our pious mashayikh, towards whom flock both the learned and the layman, and whose being is an illuminating light for all across Europe.
The respected Shaykh is the founder and director of the Islamic Da‘wah Academy in Leicester, UK. He is the chief editor of the monthly Islamic journal ‘Riyadhul Jannah’ and the founder, principal and Shaykh-al-Hadith of Jame‘ah Riyadul ‘Uloom, an Islamic higher education establishment also based in Leicester, UK. The Shaykh is a personality of pious disposition. He has great love and fervour for knowledge and its propagation, and is the possessor of an array of unique abilities and skills in the various spheres of lecturing, writing, teaching and spiritual reformation; his illustrious accomplishments are many in all these fields and, insha’allah, lasting. In addition, he is a true standard-bearer in the fields of teaching and tarbiyah (Islamic moral reformation) and capabilities of organisation and administration, leading to his institute achieving distinction in this regard.
He is a personality of great foresight who enlightens and nurtures, rather, creates talents in others. He is a manifestation of continuous striving and enthusiasm. Upon initially encountering him, his intelligence, forethought, magnanimity, ambition, and his nurturing, promoting and encouraging of the youth leaves a lasting impression on the heart and mind.
In this age, which can only be described as the autumn of humanity due to moral decay, he rules over the hearts of the people, especially the youth, who generally have apathy towards the concept of respect and honour for such venerable personalities. It is due to his sincerity, strong conviction, soft heartedness and cheerful disposition that he has captured the hearts and minds of the youth.
His kindness and its positive effects, his efforts day and night to bring about a moral revolution in the thinking and ideologies of the Muslim Ummah, especially the youth, are worthy of envy. His lectures and discourses instil a love for the Qur’an and Sunnah in the heart. They also create a broadness in one’s thoughts, strengthen one’s ‘aqidah and gain control over the listener’s realm of thought and streams of zeal. His words leave a lasting effect in nurturing and disciplining the intellect and thinking of the youth.
His outpouring and effluence of Divine Love, together with teaching the etiquettes of this path, makes a person recognise the ecstasy and the pleasure of feeling the closeness of Allah. His lectures comprise of delightful speech and eloquence, which are delivered spontaneously, and are a reflection of true passion and emotion. Due to every word being from the depth of the heart, they leave a significant effect. Along with the delightful speech, his every word is full of sincerity and Divine Love, the blessings of which are clearly visible just as the early morning dew on the petals of a flower. One feels the genuine concern of the heart shining through the beautiful garment of his words.
His audio lectures are in hundreds, from which is a lecture entitled ‘Valuing the Asset of Time’, which is in your hands in book format. The task of bringing the discourse into written form from audio was carried out by my respected Mufti Ibrahim Italwi hafizahullah, who is a lecturer of hadith at Jame‘ah Riyad ul ‘Uloom, Leicester. The respected Mufti is worthy of much commendation and accolade that he, together with his teaching commitments, gave attention to this important work and exerted much effort in accomplishing the task of bringing the Shaykh’s academic and reformative speech into book form.
What is this lecture? It is a lecture which is a cure for those who suffer from the malady of neglect towards time. It is an alchemy that makes the use of time, which could become a means of punishment in the hereafter due to its misuse, into a means of blessings. It is a lifeline for the many who are pre-occupied in futile endeavours. It is a trustworthy means for safeguarding the asset of time. It is a heavy down pouring cloud for cleansing those immersed in the dust of negligence and laxity. It is a parasite in the shell of the mollusc of life. It is an illuminating moon in the dark night of futility. It is an antidote for the venomous poison of wasting time.
I have penned these few words with this hope that I gain a connection to the Respected Shaykh hafizahullah’s valuable discourse; and that it will insh’allah serve as an encouragement for the transcriber to transcribe the remaining discourses and lectures of the Shaykh hafizahullah into book form. The reality is that my words have not done justice in highlighting the features of this discourse, and this foreword is akin to a patch of sack cloth on a velvet sheet.
Finally, I pray that Allah grant this book acceptance in His Court and make it beneficial in the Hereafter for the Shaykh hafizahullah, Mufti Ibrahim, and all those who assisted in any way. Amin.
(Shaykh Mufti) Umar Farooq hafiahullah, 9th Rab‘-al-Awwal 1427/7th April 2006
Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah)
Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) is the appellation of the great muhaddith, Imam Sulayman Ibn Ash‘ath As-Sijistani (rahimahullah). The Imam’s famous book, Sunan Abi Dawud, is classified amongst the most authentic compilations of Hadith. Regarding Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah), the muaddith, Musa ibn Harun (rahimahullah) commented:
“Imam Abu Dawud was created for the service of hadith in this world and to enter Jannah in the Hereafter.”
After reviewing a copy of the Sunan of Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah), Muhaddith Muhammad ibn Ishaq As-Saghani (rahimahullah) and Muhaddith Ibrahim Al-Harbi (rahimahullah) stated:
“The science of hadith has been made easy for Imam Abu Dawud, just as iron was made soft for Prophet Dawud (alayhissalaam).”
Such was the status and acceptance of Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) that once Shaykh Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah At-Tusturi (rahimahullah) – a leading pious predecessor who had the good fortune of benefiting from the company of the acclaimed Shaykh Dhu-an-Nun Al-Misri (rahimahullah) – visited Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah). He said to Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) that he had a need which he would only mention if the Imam promised to fulfil it. Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) promised that he would fulfil Shaykh Sahl’s need if it was within his capacity. Upon this Shaykh Sahl (rahimahullah) said:
“Please take out your blessed tongue with which you narrate the hadith of Rasulullah ﷺ so that I may kiss it (as a token of respect and honour).”
The Chosen Hadith of Imam Abu Dawud
I have collected five hundred thousand hadith of Rasulullah ﷺ, from which I have chosen four thousand eight hundred for inclusion in my Sunan. And from amongst this entire collection there are four such hadith, which if practised upon, are sufficient for a person to attain piety. They are:
1. “Actions are dependent upon intentions.”
2. “It is from the excellence of an individual’s Islm that he leaves L ya‘n (those things which do not benefit him).”
3. “A person cannot be a complete believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.”
4. “all is evident and arm is evident. And between these two are vague and unclear things.”
If we ponder upon these hadith, we will come to appreciate that they are in reality a summary of the whole Deen. The renowned scholar, Shah ‘Abd-al-‘Aziz Al-Muhaddith Ad-Dihlawi (rahimahullah) commenting upon this quartet states:
“The first hadith is sufficient to rectify one’s worship. The second hadith is enough for preserving the valuable seconds of one’s life. The third hadith is the fundamental principle when it comes to fulfilling the rights of the servants of Allah. And the fourth hadith, by virtue of exhorting abstinence from vague and unclear matters, is the underlying principle of taqwa and piety.”
The Chosen Ahadith of Imam Abu Hanfah (rahimahullah)
The acclaim and status of the great Imam of Fiqh, Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah), is such that the Imam needs no introduction. On one occasion Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) said to his son, Hammad (rahimahullah),
“From five hundred thousand hadith I have selected five; these encompass the whole of what is required for a person’s Deen.”
The great Imam selected the same quartet as Imam Abu Dawud, with the fifth hadith being:
“A true Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe.”
This hadith also contains a comprehensive message. If the underlying concept of this hadith was followed in the correct manner then we would see peace and harmony prevailing in our world.
When we compare the two aforementioned selections, it seems probable that Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) based his quartet of comprehensive hadith upon the quintet selected by Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah). This is possible as Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) was born fifty two years after the demise of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah). Also, Imam Abu Dawud’s (rahimahullah) admiration of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) and his lofty status can be easily gauged as he said:
“May Allah have mercy on Imam Abu Hanifah; for indeed he was a great Imam.”
From this introduction it is hoped that we can appreciate the significance and importance of the hadith which have been mentioned. The hadith which I wish to make the basis of my discussion is from among these hadith.
Sign of a Good Muslim
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“It is from amongst the excellence of an individual’s Islam that he leaves la’ ya‘ni (those things which do not benefit him).” [At-Tirmidhi]
This hadith teaches that the sign of a good Muslim is that he does not become involved in la’ ya‘ni. Thus, it is important to understand what constitutes la’ ya‘ni.
Any act which is futile is la’ ya‘ni; and futile acts are those that do not bring any benefit in this world nor the Hereafter. Consequently – keeping in mind the chosen ahadith of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) and Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) – in order for a person to be classed as a pious Muslim, it is necessary that he refrains from saying such things and from doing such actions which bring no benefit in this world or the Hereafter.
Upon further contemplation, we can appreciate that the individual who involves himself in acts of la ya‘ni is in reality wasting the precious moments of his life. We also need to realise that wasting time is indeed a great loss, for time is such a commodity that once it has been wasted it can never be re-acquired.
Achieving an Objective
In this world, every person has objectives which he wishes to achieve. For example, the objective of a businessman is to see his business prosper. Likewise, the objective of those who are infatuated with this world is to attain and hoard as much of this world as they can, whereas the prime objective and purpose of a Muslim’s life is to attain success and prosper in the Hereafter.
If we were to assess the lives of those who have set themselves an objective, then we will notice a number of things: such people never let other things distract them from fulfilling those tasks which will help them achieve their desired objective; they never allow even a single opportunity which will help them progress slip away; their resolve is such that they seldom become neglectful of their objective for even a single moment. These are things which intelligence dictates for those who have set objectives in life.
This is why a businessman will not be ready to meet or even speak to anyone without necessity during business hours. This is what intelligence demands, for it is only through such dedication that the businessman can achieve what he wants. Such people, as far as achieving their selected objective is concerned, are very intelligent. This is because, after setting a target, they value their time, spending it wisely with great care. As a result they reach the peak of success in their selected field.
When we consider the condition of the Muslim of today, it is indeed amazing. Despite being blessed with Faith, unfortunately, a Muslim does not even know what the objective of life is or even what it should be; he does not even realise that the precious seconds that he wastes are taking him ever so quickly towards the Hereafter and his final reckoning. He continues to remain in the slumber of negligence squandering his life in useless pursuits.
Thus, he becomes an example of the verse of the Qur’an which states:
“The reckoning of the people has drawn near to them, while they are in negligence, turning away.” [Qur’an 21:1]
It is very sad to see that we have drifted so far away from the beautiful teachings of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. We are either totally unaware of these teachings or we have limited knowledge; even the knowledge we have is fruitless for it is not translated into practice.
We have reduced Islam to a few rituals and customs, which results in us wasting hours upon hours in storytelling, political discussions, reading newspapers, talking about others, etc. These actions bring us no benefit whatsoever in this world or the Hereafter.
“Left behind is the practice of hadith, but the spirit of Bilal has disappeared.
The philosophy remains, but the direction of Al-Ghazali no more.”
“Even today, the takbir is called in the Masjid’s vicinity, O Anwar!
But the strength with which it used to stir the hearts has long been forgotten.”
It is because of this very carelessness that we as an Ummah are in a great loss, and because our priorities have changed we are living a life of disgrace!
A Sporting Interest
Interest in sports such as football and cricket is a common phenomenon of our time, and the obsession shown by its followers leaves one speechless. We should be shedding tears of blood, that we Muslims, who have been sent into this world as means of guidance, are ourselves wasting our precious lives in futile sporting interests.
We spend countless hours watching sport on the television and the internet or listening to sporting commentary on the radio. Do we ever remember Allah whilst involved in these past times? Are these useless past times anything but a means of distracting us from the remembrance of Allah?
Such is the negligence shown that not only is congregation missed, but salah is not read at all. If we do somehow manage to come to the masjid to perform salah then both within the masjid and throughout the salah the only thoughts that run through our minds are of the game that we are missing. If a match is being played at the time of Jumu‘ah salah, then coming for Jumu‘ah becomes difficult and burdensome. Neither do we arrive in time to listen to the khutbah, nor do we pray the sunnah salah. Do we think that our religion permits us to be involved in such activities which make us this neglectful of remembering Allah, and of reading salah and fulfilling our duties?
The gravity of the situation is further aggravated by the fact that not only are we devoted to sports, but we become devotees of sport stars and sporting professionals. We take these individuals as our role models. We copy the way they walk, the way they talk and the way they dress. We try to copy every aspect of our sporting idol’s life. Do we think it is permissible for a Muslim to hold such great adoration and affection for a person whose life totally contradicts Islamic values?
We need to realise that we are wasting our time in such a pursuit which brings no tangible benefit in this world or the Hereafter. Remember, to waste one’s time is to waste one’s life. And to utilise one’s time is to utilise one’s life.
Through remembering Allah for just a few moments we can attain limitless goodness. Think that just by reciting the Qur’an for a few minutes we can attain a mountain of reward. By saying Alhamdulillah once we receive enough good deeds to fill the scales on the Day of Qiyamah. By saying Subhanallah and Alhamdulillah we receive enough reward to fill the emptiness that exists between the heavens and the earth. Whosoever values time will tread the path to success both in this world and the Hereafter.
Our Pious Predecessors and their Valuing Time
The value of time in the eyes of our pious predecessors can be understood from the following few incidents:
Shaykh Dawud At-Tai (rahimahullah) was a great saint. It was his habit that whenever it was time to eat, he would break the bread into small pieces and soak them in water. Then, he would once again engage in his work until the bread had soaked up the water (and become like porridge), after which he would consume it.
When asked as to why he did this and not eat the bread with curry like others do, he said that he had calculated the time it took to eat the way he did and the time it took to eat bread and curry like others do. He noticed that as a result he gained the time to recite fifty verses of the Glorious Qur’an. Once he realised this worth, this became his practice so as to gain the extra benefit that little time offered.
Shaykh Sirri (rahimahullah) mentions regarding Shaykh Al-Jurjani (rahimahullah) that I saw him swallowing dried barley parchment. When I asked him regarding this habit of his, he said, “I calculated the time it took to eat curry with bread as compared to swallowing dried barley parchment, and found that I could recite Subhanallah seventy times! For this reason, for forty years I have not eaten bread and curry, sufficing on dried barley parchments.”
It is mentioned regarding Shaykh Salim Ar-Razi (rahimahullah), a pious saint from the 5th century, and also regarding Hafiz Ibn Hajar’ Al-‘Asqalani (rahimahullah), the famous commentator on the Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari, that when their writing instruments would become blunt and needed sharpening, then together with sharpening the instrument they would busy themselves in the dhikr of Allah. This was so that their time would be utilised in two profitable activities: dhikr and making preparations for writing, as that is also a virtuous act. Such was the value they had attached to time.
This realisation and understanding is also a blessing from Allah, for every individual does not possess it. It is a blessing which is gifted to those individuals who have tasted the sweetness of the love of Allah and are concerned with developing their Hereafter. Their state then becomes such that they are unwilling to give up their time for anything which will deviate them from their objective.
A Priceless Asset
Shaykh Mawlana Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) has narrated an amazing incident from the life of the renowned Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Adham (rahimahullah). Once, Khizr (alayhissalaam) came to visit Shaykh Ibrahim (rahimahullah) whilst he was busy in the dhikr of Allah. Following a brief greeting and exchange of pleasantries, Shaykh Ibrahim (rahimahullah) resumed his dhikr. Khizr (alayhissalaam) was astonished by Shaykh Ibrahim’s dedication. So he said to Shaykh Ibrahim (rahimahullah), “People wait many years hoping to get a chance to meet me, but they are unable to. I myself have come to meet you, yet you do not seem concerned in the least!” Upon this, Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Adham (rahimahullah) replied, “Only that person desires to meet you who has time in which he is free from desiring to meet Allah.”
We, on the other hand, are always free because we place no value on time. It is an obvious truth that from amongst all the blessings we have been granted, mn is the greatest. However, in one aspect, time is an even greater blessing than mn. This is because if we did not have time we would not exist, for life consists of nothing but time. If we were not alive and if we had not been created, then we would not have been able to benefit from the great gift of mn. Without the blessing of life we are unable to attain the wealth of mn, alh, fast, or communicate with Allah through supplication. Without life we are unable to attain the friendship of Allah, enter into Jannah or be blessed by seeing Allah in the Hereafter.
It is through the medium of time that we have the opportunity to benefit from all the blessings of this world and the Hereafter. If the moments of time which constitute our life were absent, then how would we have benefited from all these great blessings?
From this we can appreciate what a great asset time is. Consequently, the one who wastes this valuable asset in la’ ya‘ni is practically announcing that this priceless asset holds no value in his eyes.
Value of Time in Light of the Ahadith
There are numerous ahadith of the Prophet ﷺ which turn one’s attention towards making the most of time and not wasting it. Amongst these sayings are:
“The best amongst you is the one with the longest life and the best actions.” (Ahmad)
“The best person is he whose life is long and actions are good.” (At-Tirmidhi)
“Value five things before (they are overtaken) by another five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become occupied and your life before your death.” (Al-Hakim)
“Two favours (of Allahh) are such that many people are in loss regarding them: (they are) health and free-time.” (Bukhari)
The hadith means that many people incur great loss with regards free-time and good health, by not utilising them in acquiring the best of this world and the hereafter, especially the hereafter. The realisation of this loss only dawns on them when they become deprived of these two blessings.
From these hadth it is not difficult to appreciate the great emphasis that the Prophet ﷺ placed on valuing time. We can thus conclude that it is the desire of the Prophet ﷺ that we do not waste a single second of our lives in fruitless acts.
The Prophet ﷺ was more merciful than a mother and more kind than a father when it came to matters concerning his Ummah. He has shown us all those deeds which will take us closer to Jannah so that we can adopt them, and also all those deeds which will take us towards Jahannam so that we can avoid them.
“O people! There is nothing that will take you close to Jannah and away from Jahannam but that I have instructed you regarding it; and there is nothing that will take you close to Jahannam and away from Jannah but that I have prohibited you from it.” (al-Bayhaqi)
A Worthless Purchase
What a great favour it is of our beloved Prophet ﷺ that he clearly showed us the path through which we can acquire the everlasting bliss of Jannah, and save ourselves from the punishment of Jahannam. This is why, prior to undertaking any action, we should always ponder upon whether the action we are about to undertake is according to the teachings of our beloved or not. We should also think as to whether the action is going to bring us benefit in the Hereafter as well as this world.
Remember, if any action is of no benefit in either of the two worlds, then it is classed as la’ ya‘ni, and it is something which does not befit a Muslim. A Muslim knows and appreciates the value of time, so to engage in such an action will be a means of incurring great loss.
Imagine if an individual were to buy a worthless stone for a hundred thousand pounds, then, even though the stone is not something which will inherently cause him harm, every intelligent person will say that this individual has incurred a great loss. This is because this individual has spent his wealth on something which is of no worth whatsoever. Likewise, if a person were to spend valuable moments on something which albeit is not inherently harmful, but which at the same time does not bring any benefit, then every intelligent individual will say that this person has incurred a great loss. This is because he has spent the valuable asset of time upon something which will bring him no return, both in this world and in the Hereafter.
In the society in which we live, time is valued greatly; and it is through efficient use of time that great progress has been made. Time management courses, taught by experts, detail how an individual can make the most of his time. University graduates, company directors, lecturers and students spend money to enrol on such courses so that they can learn how to use their time wisely.
Our pious predecessors, through the company of their Mashayikh, had learnt the value of time. This is why, despite not undertaking a dedicated course on time management, they utilised their time so wisely that it is difficult to find examples with which to compare them. Without enrolling on such courses, through the company of the pious, they learnt not to waste a single second of their lives and how to spend their time in the most fruitful pursuits. With this training, they were able to undertake such great works and their accomplishments are so vast that what they were able to achieve is indeed astonishing.
How our Pious Predecessors Valued Time
Dr. ‘Abd-al-Hayy ‘Arifi (rahimahullah) narrates regarding his mentor Hakim-al-Ummah Shaykh Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali At-Thanwi (rahimahullah), “In the eyes of our respected Shaykh (rahimahullah), time held great value. It would appear that Allah had made valuing time part of Shaykh’s (rahimahullah) nature. He would ensure that each second was spent efficiently and his eyes would always be on the clock. Shaykh (rahimahullah) would follow a strict timetable, fulfilling each allocated action at its appointed time. It is through this strict discipline that Shaykh (rahimahullah) was able to produce a great treasure of scholarly works and deliver priceless advices which continue to be a means of guidance.” This is the statement of that person who saw Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) with his own eyes!
We can further understand the great importance that Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) attached to observing a timetable from the following famous incident. Once, Shaykh-al-Hind (The Shaykh of India) Shaykh Mawlana Mahmud-al-Hasan (rahimahullah) visited Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah). Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) was a student of Shaykh-al-Hind (rahimahullah) and held him in such high regard that he would refer to him as Shaykh-al-‘Alam (The Shaykh of the World). It so happened that Shaykh-al-Hind (rahimahullah)’s visit overlapped with the time that Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) had scheduled for writing. With great politeness, Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) mentioned to his teacher that this was the time he had allocated for writing and requested permission to fulfil this routine task.
Shaykh-al-Hind (rahimahullah) happily granted him permission. Even though the visit of his teacher entailed that Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) did not feel like writing, he did not forgo his regular practice. Thus he wrote a few sentences and once again returned to benefit from the company of Shaykh-al-Hind (rahimahullah).
Shaykh Mawlana ‘Ashiq Ilahi (rahimahullah) has written regarding Shaykh Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Sahranpuri (rahimahullah) that whatever the situation or condition, no change would be seen in the timetable or daily practices of the respected Shaykh.
The intense dedication towards religious work and the value attached to time by Shaykh-al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah) can be gauged from the fact that on occasions the respected Shaykh (rahimahullah) would not even realise that he has not eaten. It was only when some 30 hours would pass since his last meal and when the effects of hunger would begin to manifest as weakness that Shaykh-al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah) would remember that he had not had food.
His commitment to his work was one of the reasons that he received the special attention of the pious. In his autobiography, Shaykh-al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah) narrates how he would pay regular visits to Thana Bhawan for the printing of Badhl-al-Majhd (An Arabic commentary on the Sunan of Imam Abu Dawud rahimahullah). He would receive the final draft by Zuhr time and he would need to submit the edited version before leaving in the evening. Thus, the respected Shaykh (rahimahullah) would sit in a corner of the masjid reviewing the texts thoroughly until ‘Asr time. The public lectures delivered by Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) would also take place in Thana Bhawan at this time. Hence, Shaykh-al-Hadith Shaykh Mawlana Muammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah) would feel great deprivation at not being able to attend due to the demands of his research.
On one occasion Shaykh-al-Hadith Mawlana Muammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah) mentioned this feeling to Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) and said, “People come from far and wide to benefit from you, yet this unworthy one, despite being in close proximity, is unable to benefit from your lectures.” In reply Shaykh Ashraf ‘Al At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) commented, “Do not worry. Even though you are not in my company I am in your company. I continue to watch you and greatly admire your dedication. Indeed, this is the manner through which work is accomplished.”
Time is something to be valued greatly for it is time that is our greatest wealth. Whosoever utilises time well will be able to acquire benefit both in this world and the Hereafter; and whosoever wastes time will definitely face harm both in this world and the Hereafter.
Dr ‘Abd-al-Hayy ‘Arifi stated that it is through futile actions that the nur (spiritual light) of worship is lost.
The student of Imam Abu Thawr (rahimahullah) and the nephew and disciple of Shaykh Sirri (rahimahullah), Shaykh Ab-al-Qasim (rahimahullah) has commented that:
“If a servant of Allah indulges in la’ ya‘ni, it should be taken as a sign that Allah has shunned this individual.”
What a grave warning this is, may Allah safeguard us all.
Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali At-Thanwi (rahimahullah) has stated, “I say on oath that if a person were to ponder upon his futile actions, then he will definitely realise that these futile actions lead him to sin. For example sometimes people, without need, ask me when I am going to visit a certain place. Such unnecessary questioning troubles me; and to cause trouble to a Muslim is a sin. Indeed, there is no futile or unnecessary action whose border does not overlap with acts of sin.”
Consequently, we can understand that even though a futile action may be permissible in the outset, its eventual result will be that of committing a sin.
Those Who Valued Time
Those fortunate individuals who have safeguarded themselves from useless pursuits and valued their time have not only benefited themselves but also the Ummah at large. It is not hard to judge from the sheer volume and calibre of their accomplishments the great value they accorded to time.
The great Muhaddith Yahya Ibn Ma‘in (rahimahullah) transcribed one million hadith by hand in his lifetime. ‘Allamah Ibn Jarir At-Tabar (rahimahullah) wrote and published 358,000 pages of works related to Deen.
The Commentator on the Sahih of Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) and the author of the famed Riyad-as-Salihin, ‘Allamah An-Nawawi (rahimahullah) lived for only 45 years; yet if an assessment is made of the works he compiled, one can deduce that he wrote four pages of knowledge for every day of his life.
The author of Tafsir Ruh-al-Ma‘ani, ‘Allamah Al-Alusi Al-Baghdadi (rahimahullah), would normally teach 24 lessons a day. Whilst engaged in work of ifta and compiling his tafsir, the ‘Allamah would teach 13 lessons a day, and at night, after finishing all his other duties, he would continue to work on writing and researching for his tafsir. The next day he would pass on what he had written to the scribes. It is narrated that ‘Allamah Alusi (rahimahullah) would write so profusely that it would take a number of scribes ten hours to write what the ‘Allamah alone would amass during the course of just one night.
After the death of ‘Allamah Ibn-al-Jawzi (rahimahullah), only those filings and sawdust was used to warm the water for his burial ghusl which had been gathered from the quills and writing instruments used by the respected Shaykh to write ahadith. This was in accordance with the Shaykh’s bequest. Such was the quantity of this material that even after using it adequately to warm the water, there was some left behind. This was only the filings from the writing instruments with which the Shaykh used to write ahadith. So we can only imagine what quantity of filing and sawdust would have been amassed from the rest of the voluminous works that the Shaykh compiled.
The renowned Muhaddith, Ibn ‘Asakir (rahimahullah) compiled the ‘History of Damascus’, which consists of 80 volumes. Despite his demanding academic engagements, he was also extremely observant of other acts of worship. Out of Ramadan, the Shaykh would complete one recitation of the Qur’an weekly, whereas in Ramadan he would increase this to one complete recitation daily.
These are some of the achievements of our pious predecessors. They valued the precious moments of their lives and left behind such beneficial resources through which the Ummah will derive benefit until the Day of Qiyamah; and through the blessings of these resources, insha Allah, their good deeds will continue to increase.
The Common Factor
If we study the pages of history, we will find that it is through valuing and utilising time that success is achieved. This is the common factor found in the lives of all those who have acquired any form of success.
The value of time in the sight of such people can be appreciated from the following statement of Imam Khalil ibn Ahmad (rahimahullah):
“I find the time when I eat to be the most burdensome.”
The great Mufassir, Imam Fakhr-ad-Din Ar-Razi (rahimahullah), despite authoring two hundred books for the benefit of the Ummah, would comment:
“I swear by Allah! I feel great remorse from being deprived of academic engagement during the time I need to eat. This is because time is indeed a great asset.”
One group is of these pious predecessors, who despite valuing each second of their lives, would constantly feel remorseful upon the passage of time. The other group – the group to which we belong – is of those who exercise no restraint when it comes to wasting time. We do not let any opportunity pass wherein we can waste our time. Despite this, never mind experiencing remorse, we do not even have the slightest awareness of the loss that we are in.
The Only Regret
Remember, even after entering Jannah and being granted all the blessings of Jannah, the residents of Jannah will feel remorse upon the time they wasted in negligence whilst in this world. The Prophet ﷺ has said:
“The people of Jannah (after entering Jannah) will not have remorse over anything other than the time spent without remembering Allah.” (Al-Bayhaqi, At-Tabarani)
From amongst the wise sayings that Imam Ash-Shafi‘ (rahimahullah) collected from the company of the pious, one is:
“Time is a sword. If you do not cut it (by utilising it in good deeds), it will definitely cut you.”
When someone asked to speak to the renowned Tabi‘i, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd-al-Qays (rahimahullah), he said, “Stop the sun in its orbit for a while; only then (will I have free time) in which to converse.”
Time is passing by and it is an asset which diminishes continuously. It cannot be stored nor is there any method to stop it decreasing.
“Life is passing by, like the melting of ice.
Very quietly, slowly slowly, breath by breath.”
Each second that passes by is cutting a portion away from our life.
“O negligent one! The clock is giving you this call:
The seconds of the clock have reduced your life a little more!”
The great sahabi, Abu Ad-Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu) and the great tabi‘i, Al-Hasan Al-Basri (rahimahullah) once said:
“O son of Adam! You are but (a collection of) days: when a day goes, a part of you goes.”
A day that has passed will never return. Every morning at sunrise the day says:
“Whoever is able to do some good should do it, for I will never return to you.” (Al-Bayhaqi)
Just think! Our childhood days have passed; for many their youth has passed; others have reached old age and are waiting only for death to come. Allah says:
“ …Indeed, when the term appointed by Allah comes, it cannot be delayed…” [Qur’an 71:4]
Before that time comes, we should make the most of our lives. We should resolve that from now on we will not waste a single moment, and we will spend every second only in profitable ways.
A Poet says:
“After asking for a long life, you came with a short life,
Half was spent in aspirations, and the other half in waiting!”
Another Poet says:
“Initially, childhood delighted you with play for several years. Thereafter, youth made you insane.
Then, old age,
how it harassed you!
Finally, death will completely annihilate you.
This world is not a place of attachment. It is a place to take lessons, and is not a place of entertainment.”
Before death strikes, we need to value our life. We need to resolve, from today, that, insha ’Allah, we will no longer waste our time, not even a second in futile acts; and that we will invest every second in doing beneficial actions. May Allah accept our intentions and grant us great blessings in them.
In order to give a practical form to this resolution, hereunder are a number of beneficial points of guidance that are tried and tested and derived from the teachings of our pious predecessors. We should try to note them in our minds and implement them in our lives.
1. Organise Our Time
The first point is to organise our time. Our pious predecessors were very particular about scheduling their time effectively, for it prevents time being wasted. Therefore, we should make a programme for the whole day and night in the form of a timetable and adhere strictly to it. At any particular time, do only what you have assigned for that time, and do not delay anything from its appointed time.
Al-Hasan Al-Basri (rahimahullah) says, ‘Beware of taswif (procrastination).’
Do not put anything off until tomorrow, for ‘tomorrow’ is simply a deception and a diversion. Procrastination is the biggest cause of people’s neglect and failure. So make a habit of completing every task at its appointed time. In fact, strive for the enthusiasm to do tomorrow’s task today and today’s task now!
In connection with organising one’s time, I should also add that when you are confronted by two or more tasks, do the one that is most necessary and that promises the most beneficial outcome.
2. Abstain from Futile Activities
The second point is to abstain from futile activities and pointless talk. When we spend time in some mubah (permissible), non-beneficial activity, we argue that it is mubah and therefore harmless. Such thinking is flawed. A great loss actually occurs in that an extremely valuable asset is spent in an activity that has no benefit.
Before doing anything, we have a habit of asking ourselves whether it will bring any loss to our worldly life or our life in the hereafter. If the answer is no, we feel there is no harm in doing it, even though it may not be beneficial. This way of thinking is wrong. Before doing anything we should ask ourselves if it will be beneficial for our worldly life and our life in the hereafter. If the answer is no, we should stay away from it, for though the action itself is not harmful, but to spend a portion of life in an activity that is of no use in this world or the hereafter is in fact a loss. No one would spend money on something that brings no benefit. When spending money on something, people do not think about its possible harms; rather, they think about whether it will be of benefit or not. If it does not offer any benefit, people will not spend money on it.
From this we also understand that if we have to save ourselves from things that do not benefit us, how can there be any justification for spending time on things that are harmful in the world or the hereafter? Today, our youth are destroying their prospects for the hereafter and their worldly lives, through indulging in TV, internet, cinema-going and in reading indecent literature.
Sin and disobedience to Allah bring harm in both worlds, so save yourselves from them. There is nothing worse than disobedience to Allah when it comes to wasting time. May Allah protect us. Amin.
3. Unnecessary Gatherings
You should save yourselves from spending time in unnecessary gatherings, as the more you mix with people, the more time will be wasted in futile talk. Nowadays, we not only engage in useless, futile talk in our gatherings, we also indulge in major sins such as backbiting and slander. During weddings or while visiting the bereaved or the sick, people assemble for hours on end and waste time in unprofitable talk. Therefore, abstain from spending time in unnecessary gatherings and mixing with people.
4. Safeguarding the Tongue
Do not speak without necessity; when you have to speak control your tongue and think before you speak. Be brief in your speech and weigh your words before speaking. The tongue indulges the most in futility. Abstaining from mixing with people and engaging in dhikr will help in safeguarding the tongue.
5. Muhasabah (Self-Reckoning)
Fix a time daily and do muhasabah of the past twenty-four hours, so you know how your time is being spent; through this you will realise how much is being lost, and how much is being gained. If time has been spent in good activities, thank Allah and ask for the ability to do more. If it has been spent in wrong avenues, repent and make a firm resolution to keep away from such things in the future.
Insha ’Allah, implementing these strategies will prevent time being wasted.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that it is vital that we refrain from wasting our time in fruitless pursuits. Rather than engaging in useless talk and excessive socialising, we should invest the moments of our precious life in acquiring the pleasure of Allah.
Our time should be spent in worship, in developing our knowledge and in providing benefit to the society and community in which we live; no second of our life should be squandered in acts of sin or futility.
“Upon each breath, remember Allah, and fill your heart with nur. Be His, as long as you live; and be His, when you depart (from this world).”
May Allah grant us all the tawfiq and may He make us amongst those who truly value and benefit from the priceless gift of time.
Invaluable 90 minutes…
Shaykh Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat ḥafiẓahullāh on one occasion spoke on the theme of valuing time. As part of the talk, Shaykh very beautifully explained how much loss is incurred through futile activities. He took the example of watching or listening to 90 minutes of football and questioned what benefit 90 minutes bring to a person. The fact is that we don’t gain anything!
If we take into account alternative actions of virtue, we will very quickly realise the great loss.
Let us look at a few alternatives Shaykh mentioned:
• If you engage in reciting the Qur’ān for this length of time, you would on average recite 4 juz. Allāh grants 10 rewards for every letter recited. Imagine how many letters you would recite in 4 juz and multiply that by 10!
➡By reading 4 juz you could have earned yourself at least 400,520 rewards!!!
• Recite ‘Subānallāh walamdulillāh’. The Prophet said, “Subḥānallāh walḥamdulillāh fills the space between the skies and the earth.” Think for a moment how much reward you would gain from 90 minutes of reciting this.
➡It is possible to gain the reward which will fill the space between the skies and the earth 4,410 times!!!
• Recite ‘Subānallāhi walhamdulillāhi wa lāilāha illallāhu wallāhu akbar’. From a ḥādīth we learn that Jannah is a barren land and these glorifying words plant a tree for its reader in Jannah. During 90 minutes, you could prepare yourself a lovely forest of fruit trees.
➡In fact you could have planted 1,260 trees in Jannah!!!
• Recite Surah-Al-Ikhlās. In the ḥadīth it is mentioned that Surah Al-Ikhlās is equal to 1/3 of the Qur’ān. Hence, by reciting it 3 times you will earn the reward of reciting the full Qur’ān! Along with this, another ḥadīth explains that when a person recites Surah Al-Ikhlās 10 times, Allāh builds a palace for him in Jannah.
➡In 90 minutes you could have earned the reward of 270 Qur’āns and built yourself 81 palaces in Jannah!!!
• Recite durūd, the shortest version is ‘Ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam’. In the ḥadīth it is stated that for every durūd a person sends upon the Prophet, Allāh forgives 10 sins, grants 10 rewards and elevates the person 10 stages.
➡In 90 minutes you could have had 40,500 sins forgiven, 40,500 rewards granted and 40,500 stages elevated in Paradise!!!
So you thought it was just 90 minutes of harmless fun? Might be worth looking at the figures again and calculating how much loss you have incurred during every match.