Killing time is killing yourself
Our life is measured by the number of breaths.
By Muhammadrasul Saaduev : Imam of Central Jum`ah Mosque | Makhachkala / 29 Jul 2011
My dear brothers, today, I think, it is best to remember and reflect on the most important thing we have today – on time, its transience and its preciousness. What is the most precious thing you have? Someone might reply, it is their children, property, house, relatives, etc. But in fact the most precious thing for us after the grace of Islam is time. If we are unaware of that, we must learn and understand it, and remember it every day.
Allah in the Holy Qur’an often swears by the time of the day, and Allah only swears by something very precious, otherwise He would not have mentioned this in the Holy Qur’an and would not have sworn by it. He swears by virtually every time span there is: night, dawn, midday, sunset, only to focus our attention on the importance and preciousness of time for us:
وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَى
[سورة الليل: الآية 1]
“I swear by the night, as it conceals (the light).”
وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا تَجَلَّى
[سورة الليل: الآية 2]
“I swear by the day as it appears”.
[سورة الضحى: الآية 1]
“I swear by the morning”.
وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ ـ وَالْفَجْرِ
[سورة الفجر: الآية 2-1]
“I swear by the break of day, and the nights twice five”.
وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا ـ وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَاهَا
[سورة الشمس: الآية 2-1]
“I swear by the Sun and his splendour; by the moon, as she follows him.”
[سورة العصر: الآية 1]
“I swear by the afternoon”.
فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ
[سورة الإنشقاق: الآية 16]
“I swear by the (glorious) morning light”.
Again I want to highlight that the Almighty only swears by the most important and precious things to draw our attention to them. Unless we cherish and value time, our daily and public life and that of the Ummah will never change.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
[سورة آل عمران: الآية 110]
“Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind”.
But we can only become the best Ummah when we start to cherish all the gifts of Allah. As soon as we value and use these gifts, we become the “best” Ummah this Ayah mentions. And the greatest treasure for us, after Islam, is time. Mind that the time of Ibadah (five Salah) is associated with a certain time of the day. Five Salah at some random time are not enough, they have to done when it is strictly appointed. When they asked the Prophet (PBUH) about the best worship deed for the Almighty, he answered:
"الصلاة على وقتها"
“The prayer at its appointed hour.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said nothing about a prayer with ten Raka’ats or a different worship. He talked about a timely prayer. That is what counts. In another Ayah Allah says:
إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَوْقُوتًا
[سورة النساء: الآية 103]
“Prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times”.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan...We do not fast once a year at the most suitable for us time, we fast in Ramadan. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Do not fast till you see the new moon, and do not break fast till you see it,” i.e., Ramadan fasting is also at the strictly designated time. Take the Hajj, which is also performed at the stated time. The Qur’an says:
الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ
[سورة البقرة: الآية 197]
“For Hajj are the months well known”.
The Day of Arafat is the day, when all the pilgrims must be in the Plains of Arafat. If a pilgrim fails to be there, his Hajj is invalid, even if he has done every Rukn (term), Wajib (prescribed actions) and Sunnah (preferred actions). The Qur’an states that Arafat, Hajj, fasting and Salah should all be at the fixed time. Even Zakat should be paid once a year. What is all this for? It draws our attention to the priceless value of time.
Our ancestors appreciated time very much. The invention of the clock was a big event. In the squares, big halls, in public places, in the center of the cities the clock was always at the top. This shows each minute was cherished. Only due to this appreciation of time, the Islamic culture enlightened the entire dark medieval world, sharing knowledge with it. Why is there no culture now? Why is the Islamic world lagging behind? There is only one answer: because the Ummah does not appreciate time any more. The West, on the contrary, having no spiritual values, treasures the time on earth, uses each minute, and therefore is ahead of us in its development.
Onсe a Muslim and a man from Europe agreed to meet. The Muslim was late. The European man was taken aback and asked: “Do you establish Salah?” He replied: “Of course, I do, praise be to Allah.” The European man asked then: “Do you fast in the month of Ramadan?” – and the reply was: “Yes, I do.” He said: “Have you performed the Hajj?” – “Yes, I have,” – and then “Do you attend the Friday Salah?” – “Yes, I do.” Then the man from Europe said: “It is amazing, though your confession teaches you these great things, you do appreciate them!” Thus, the person who shared the story learnt to treasure time, as he was staggered by this remark.
When the Judgment Day comes, people will defend themselves by saying: “I did not know, I forgot, no one told me.” Allah will refute all their arguments in this Ayah:
أَوَلَمْ نُعَمِّرْكُمْ مَا يَتَذَكَّرُ فِيهِ مَنْ تَذَكَّرَ وَجَاءَكُمُ النَّذِيرُ فَذُوقُوا فَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ نَصِيرٍ
[سورة فاطر: الآية 37]
“Did We not give you an age in your life in which lesson could have been learnt by the one who wished to take lesson? And (furthermore) the warner had (also) come to you. So have a taste, because the wrong-doers will have no supporter.”
Allah says, those who waste their time are wrong-doers. The Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) also said, on the Judgment Day the feet of Adam’s son (PBUH) will not move before the Almighty without being asked about five: his life and how he spent his time, his youth and how he took advantage of it, his money, from where he had earned and for what he had spent it, his knowledge and how he disposed of it. See how this Hadith talks about youth. Youth is the most fruitful and active period in life, that is why we have to account for our youth. Do you know how you will be asked about your youth? Allah will inquire about your youth in detail: about every minute, each breath. What were you doing when you were perusing a magazine for hours, when you were spending the whole day before the TV switching between the channels, when you loitered in the streets, when you idled away time? All this will be asked on the Judgment Day. We need to appreciate our youth. It is unworthy of a man from the Ummah of Muhammad (PBUH) to waste time. What is our life? It is a chain of years. A year consists of months. Months consist of days. Days are measured in hours. Hours are comprised of minutes. Minutes are a sum of moments. Our life is measured by the number of breaths. Imagine that each your breath is a trunk box that has to be filled. On the Judgment Day all of them are opened. About a hundred of them are empty. One box has half hour spent on reading the Holy Qur’an, making make jamaat Salah, listening to a lecture. Then again come dozens of empty boxes and trunk full of sins or trash. Thus, we need to treasure time, value every breath, to assure these trunks are full. Imagine a man who picks up a money bill, crumples it and throws it away. What would we say to this person? This man is insane. The same is true about a person who dallies.
Righteous men valued time. We have their famous quotations about it. Hasan al-Basri, one of the Taabi'een, said: “Every day the sun rises it calls upon us, O people! I am a new day; I am an observer of your actions. Take advantage of me for I will not return until the Day of Judgment.” He also said: “O son of Adam (PBUH), you are nothing but a few breaths. Once one breath goes out, part of you goes with it. In the same way that part of you has gone, soon all of you will go.” We have to realize that time is life and life is a number of breaths that can never be retrieved.
The worst thing is when a person ends in the grave, in complete darkness, and he has done very little in life. His bitterest punishment on the Judgment Day is the sense that he did not have time to do anything. When he sees those, who achieved a lot, compared to what he could attain himself, he will feel burning, pain. It would be the worst ordeal for him. One of the Ulama said that every drop of sweat and every breath we take in life, if not taken for the sake of Allah, will lead to regret and sorrow on the Judgment Day. If you want to see the signs of Allah’s love or anger for you, it is enough to note what takes most of your time. If it is something good, besides Ibadah, if a person helps society, his family, others for the sake of Allah’s grace, then it is useful and is a token of Allah’s love to you. On the contrary, if a person carelessly wastes away most of his time, it is a sign of Allah’s wrath. Then you must wake up and dread the signs of the Almighty’s anger.
What is the origin of sin? Youth and leisure. A young and carefree person surely starts to sin.
The Qur’an has an Ayah about the Prophet Yusuf (PBUH). An official’s wife fell in love and harassed him. Other women found out that. What was wrong with that woman? This happened to her, because she was idle and carefree. Therefore we should not neglect our daughters. They must always be busy doing something. If there is no work, let her learn foreign languages, computer skills, needlework, driving; although we are not used to women drivers. She must be occupied with something useful. You can never leave a woman without work, for idleness is the source of all sins, all shortcomings. Our Ummah was built by the people who valued time, by the scholars, who wrote books day and night.
How many companies, factories, enterprises were in the red, because their workers neglected their duties, or did not show up at work! It happens so, that out of 8 or 6 hours of a work day a person works only15 minutes. The rest of the day is just chitchat, browsing magazines, etc. Do you think this man will not be punished for getting the salary he did not earn on the Judgment Day? He earned money only for those 15 minutes. On the Judgment Day he will have to account for the money paid for the hours he did not work. Do not assume this money is Halal (permissible), this money may be forbidden (Haram). Time should be appreciated, especially in youth. At an old age a man no longer has the same strength, and he cannot do what he did in his youth.
One day a person saw an old man coming into a mosque with his staff. Children ran up and entered the mosque before him. When he saw these children, he began to cry. Then the man asked him: “Father, why are you crying, what happened?” He replied: “I am crying because in my youth I did not go to the mosque, did not appreciate Salah. I see these kids running into the mosque, and I cannot return this time. It hurts and I cry.”
A religious person surely values time. If a person does not value time, it means he is not pious and religious enough. Some people just kill time. Young people commit wrongdoings out of idleness, they call it ‘killing time’. What they kill is not time, but themselves. They will pay a bitter price for that on the Judgment Day.
What are their current problems? Everybody is crazy about mobile phones: what screensaver one has got, what one downloaded or did not download, etc. they are mostly concerned about these phones, chatting, texting, etc.
I want to point out the people in our history who have been the light of the Ummah, who illuminated our Ummah, built it, and who valued time. There was a great scholar Al-Muhasiby, who said: “I wish that time could be acquired with money. If so, I would buy time… so that I could spend it serving Allah.” When he was asked who he would buy time from, he said: “From wasteful and ungrateful people.”
There was a well-known scholar, Imam al-Nawawi. He died at 40, never married, wrote 500 works. He spent most of his time on writing books. He said that he ate and slept only when he was totally exhausted. Once he was doing science and writing a book. His mother cooked him a meal and said: “Son, I made a meal for you to eat”, he said: “Mother, I cannot, I am very busy.” Then his mother came up to him and fed him. He did not even notice this. By the dawn he had finished his work and said: “Mother, what about food?” She replied: “Son, I fed you.” He said: “By Allah, I did not notice that.”
There was a scholar Ibn al-Jaza. One day a man stopped him and said: “Let’s play a game”, and described the rules. The scholar replied: “Stop the sun instead, these games are not for me.”
Ibn Aqil wrote a book composed of 800 volumes. No such book had ever been written in the history of mankind. And when Ibn Aqil got old, and was 80 years old, he said: “By Allah, I feel the same energy and determination as at 20.” He said: “Truly, I do not eat as you do.” They asked him: “How do you eat?” He replied that he took a piece of bread or wafer, moistened it with water, and ate it very quickly. Moistened food does not need thorough chewing. Hence it did not take time, and he almost swallowed it. He was unwilling even to spend time on chewing.
The history of Islam saw very young people who, nevertheless, reached very high. For example, the Prophet (PBUH) appointed his16-year-old Companion Usama bin Zayd a general and the commander of the army, which consisted of experienced Companions. The Prophet (PBUH) said that he was even worthy to be the ruler.
Muhammad Al-Fatih was a famous leader of Islam, who conquered Constantinople at 23.
Our master Sa’d bin Ma’az, a Companion of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with him) accepted Islam when he was 30 and died at 37. When he died, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Indeed, the throne of the Almighty shook when Sa’d bin Ma’az died.” What special deeds could Sa’d bin Ma’az (may Allah be pleased with him) do, after he accepted Islam at 30 and before he died at 37? How did he manage to make use of time so wisely, that his death shook the throne of Allah? When the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) carried him to the cemetery, they wondered why he was so lightweight, and the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Indeed, the angels were carrying his body, which is why you did not feel the weight.”
Our master Omar Ibnul-Khattab said his famous words about the value of time: “When could I sleep, oh Omar? If I sleep during the night, I will not fulfill my duties towards my Lord, and if I sleep during the day, I will not fulfill my duties towards my people!”
When a great scientist Abu Yusuf, a student of Imam Abu Hanifa, was on his deathbed, he fainted. Then he woke up and called his student: “Let us discuss with you a Sharia question: what do you think is the best way to perform Hajj, on foot or riding a horse?” The pupil was bewildered: “Teacher, it is not the best time!” meaning he is on his deathbed. Suddenly, Abu Yusuf became indignant and said:“By Allah, even if a single moment of my life was left, I would spend it serving Muslims!”
The history of Islam is full of stories about the Ulama, who spent their lives writing books. There were those who wrote 2000 books. There was Imam al-Ghazali and others who wrote plenty of books. Only these people helped to build the Ummah, which lasted 1,400 years. Unfortunately, the last 100 years, the Ummah has been a society of people, who do not progress, develop the Ummah, or give it impetus. We live only by the efforts of these great men. Even if there are young people, who allocate their time for the Ibadah, or try to comply with Shariah, they still do not value time.
One day a scholar was approached by two young men. Apparently, they were footballers or fans. They asked him a question: “Is it permissible when playing football to expose the Awrah?” The scholar replied, “My children, the Awrah of Islam has already been uncovered for years.” Thus he talked about the priorities that exist in Islam and need more attention.
When fasting, young people can sleep the whole day. Why? To kill time and not to feel hungry. It is also wrong. Every minute spent in vain is gone forever, and they will be very remorseful on the Judgment Day for having wasted the allotted time.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “The most excellent fast after Ramadan is in Allah’s month, Al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed, is the prayer during the night (Tahajjud Prayer).” The Prophet (PBUH) said that fasting on the day of Arafat washes away the sins of the last two years, and every day of fast in Muharram is equal to 30 days of fasting. The 10th day of fasting is the day of Ashura, and it is also advisable to fast on this day, as it also washes away the sins of the past. Also on this day, breaking fast after the sunset should be a celebration; and it is desirable to cook a plentiful meal for the family.
Let the Almighty fill our hearts with the love for time. May Allah make us value time. Of course, we cannot be like Imam al-Nawawi or Imam al-Ghazali. The times are different, and we are very weak. But we cannot sit in front of the TV for several hours in a row. We can spend at least an hour reading every day. We can be good professionals in our field, update our work skills. If every person evolves and pursues knowledge, the Ummah will recover and will not lag behind other world communities.