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The Problem Is You Think You Have Time

by in Soul on 18th July, 2019

Have you heard the phrase “killing time”? It’s a term used to describe the need to pass time quickly by doing something that is not that important. It usually refers to that bit of time we have just before doing something that is important.

Say if you’re waiting for your bus or train, perhaps it’s so boring waiting for a few minutes with apparently ‘nothing to do’ that you instinctively turn to your phone to browse through social media to “kill time”. Or if you have a long break from studies or work, you might choose to kill time by watching movies and Netflix before the work starts again.  Imagine, then, if we replaced the word “time” with “life”….because essentially our time is our life, and no-one would intentionally kill off their life, bit by bit, for the sake of an aimless activity.

Time is the most precious commodity we have.

You might have heard the phrase “Time is Gold”, but this too needs to be challenged because if one loses wealth, it is possible for that person to earn it again – time, on the other hand, cannot really be regained. The best we can do is learn from mistakes and better utilize the time remaining.

We are all gifted a fixed number of years, days, hours, minutes and seconds. One of three things happens to each second that passes: 1) it is unused, and therefore lost, and you can’t recover it in any way. 2) It is abused and channeled towards misdeeds that we will be held accountable for. 3) It is invested into the bank of the hereafter through good deeds, where its benefit multiplies, and through that investment, you also get a return in the Dunya through other forms of blessings (ie. barakah).

So to be aware of the value of time is to be aware of the value of your life on this earth.


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The Prophet (saw) gave the following valuable advice to Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari (ra).

“Oh Abu Dharr! Safeguard what I am advising You, You will be happy in this world and next.

Oh Abu Dharr! There are two blessings seriously taken for granted (misused) by mankind, health and spare time.

Oh Abu Dharr! Take advantage of five things before five things seize you; Your youth before Your old age, your health before your sickness, Your wealth before your poverty, your spare time before your being busy and your life before you death.

Oh Abu Dharr! Beware of Procrastination for you are (in) today and not (in) tomorrow. If there is a tomorrow for you, be tomorrow as you are today. If there isn’t a tomorrow for you, you will grievously regret the opportunity you missed today.

Oh Abu Dharr! How many a person there is who has met a day he didn’t complete! How many a person there is who waits for tomorrow who doesn’t find it!

Oh Abu Dharr! Had you known the exact period of time you will live and realize your fate, you would hate hopes and their deception.

Oh Abu Dharr! Be in the world as if you are a stranger or like one simply passing by as in a journey and count yourself as among the people of the graves.

Oh Abu Dharr! When you wake up in the morning don’t talk to yourself about tonight and when night has come don’t worry of the morning for surely you don’t know what your state will be tomorrow.”*

It Takes Effort

It won’t be easy to apply the correct approach to your time all in one go, but it’s important to start thinking about this – know that there are steps you can take to protect your time; it is possible to identify what is stealing your time,  and to reflect on ways in which it can be used more effectively.

In the past, people used to talk about TV as one of the biggest wastes of time – now social media and internet have pretty much taken over, which shows the attacks on our time evolve through different eras… just as it evolves, so too do we have to be smart in recognising and addressing the changing challenges. It is something young people are aware of and have been seeking advice on, but it affects everyone of all ages.

How can we curtail the negative effects of all these time-sucking practices around us? InshaAllah it is something we will explore in more depth in future articles.

But for now it’s worth just acknowledging that protecting one’s time requires both conscious effort and unconscious effort:

A) Conscious effort is to use your reason, regularly, to remind yourself of the time that is passing and to reflect on the use of whatever it is you’re spending your time on

B) The unconscious effort is your habits – the things you do (or don’t do) without having to think about it… and that takes practice, lots of it, until a positive action becomes habit and a part of your nature.

This relates to the point made at the start: often we find ourselves ‘killing time’ when we are waiting to start something that is, in fact, is important – a period which people label ‘downtime’. The problem with this approach is that by occupying ourselves with things that are not useful, not stimulating, but which still consume our energy and brain-space during ‘downtime’, we may end up reducing the ability of our mind and body to work at optimal levels when we are doing something important. We end up habituating ourselves to the procrastination and lethargic activity that characterizes our ‘downtime’, so that it becomes the norm not the exception and ends up affecting the way we approach other things in our life. The consequences of ‘killing time’ are thus greater than we realise.

May Allah enable us all to maximise the time given to us, and may it be a positive witness for us on the Day of Judgment.

*[A portion of the advice the Prophet (S) gave to Abu Darr (ra) recorded in Abu Dawud.
Extract from Makarim al Akhlaq: Chapter Twelve Section Five, Page 458
Compiled by Sheikh al Jaleel Radiyu al Deen Abu Nasr al Hasan bin al Fadl al Tabrasi.]

Article originally published here

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