By Dr Muzammil H. Siddiqi
Time: A Blessing and a Trust
It is He who made the sun a shining radiance and the moon a light, determining phases for it so that you might know the number of years and how to calculate time. Allah did not create all these without a true purpose; He explains His signs to those who understand. In the succession of night and day, and in what Allah created in the heavens and earth, there truly are signs for those who are aware of Him . (Yunus 10:5-6) We are at the end of 2012 and are ready to welcome a new year. We thank Allah for every moment. We pray to Allah to accept whatever good things we did during this year and forgive us our shortcomings and mistakes. We pray to Him to shower His blessings upon us in the coming year. May He keep us strong in our faith and help us do the righteous deeds. I would like to reflect with you today on the subject of time. Time is a great blessing of Allah. It is also His blessing that he taught us the ways to calculate time and to know the number of months and years. Calculation of time is part of human civilization and culture. It helps us to keep track of time for our worship, work and life. It helps us to learn about the past and plan for the future. Islam gives a lot of importance to time and reminds the believers to be conscious of time in their life. Islam does not emphasize only the calculation of time but it gives a lot of importance to quality of time. We should not only count time but also make our time countable. Unfortunately we human beings waste a lot of our precious time. It is said, that in a lifetime the average American spends about 184,000 hours (almost 21 years) watching television and /or surfing the internet. We also spend about 2-3 years’ time opening the junk mail or reading and deleting junk emails. A wise man once asked, ‘What is the most valuable thing on earth for a human being? And what is the worst thing on earth for a human being?’ For both the answer he gave was, ‘Time.’ Everything in this world, he said, is acquired in time. By losing time we lose everything, even ourselves. Allah reminds us in the Qur’an that in the movement of time and in the succession and variation (ikhtilaf) of the days and nights there are signs for those who wish to be mindful of Allah and grateful to Him (Al-Furqan 25:62). Each one of us has 24 hours every day at our disposal. There are those who use their time wisely and accomplish a lot. There are also those who waste their time. Time is a non-renewable and non-replaceable resource. If you lose your money you may get it back; if you lose any of your possessions you may find them or replace them, but no one can get back the time that is gone. Surah al-‘Asr of the Qur’an is a very short Surah.It does not take much time to read it or to memorize it. It, however, gives a very profound lesson and carries with it volumes of meanings. The whole human history is a witness to what is said in this Surah. Allah says, By the (passing) time, man is [deep] in loss, except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth, and urge one another to steadfastness. (Al-Asr 103) In several other Surahs we are reminded about the passing nature of time and how important it is to pay attention to every day and night, nay to every moment. Allah says: By the Daybreak, by the Ten Nights, by the even and the odd, by the passing night—is this oath strong enough for a person of reason? (Al-Fajr 89:1-5) By the enshrouding night, by the radiant day, by His creation of male and female! The ways you take differ greatly. (Al-Lail 92:1-4) By the dawn and by the night when it grows still. (Al-Duha 93:1-2) Time is a blessing (ni’mah) and it is also a trust (amanah) of Allah. It is reported in a Hadith, The Prophet –peace be upon him- said, ‘Do not abuse Time, because it is Allah who is time.’ (Muslim, 2246) The scholars say this is a metaphorical (majaz) way of speaking. The meaning is that it is Allah who has created time and it is He who has given it to you. It is important that we use every moment wisely and do good and useful things. If we do wrong we should not blame time but ourselves. Islam teaches us that we should manage our time in a proper and balanced way. Some time we should devote to our Lord and Creator by doing the acts of worship, remembering and thanking Him. Some time we should give to ourselves taking care of our physical needs. Sometime we should spend in study, Halal earning and useful work. Sometime we should give to our families, our spouses, children and for other social needs. Sometime we should give to voluntary and charitable work to help others. No time should be spoiled by committing sins or wasted in useless things. Let us not just count our days, weeks, months and years, let us make them countable and valuable in this life and in the eternal life. Let us make them blessed for us as well as for others. We have to be conscious of every moment of our life and keep in mind that we shall have to give the account of every moment. On the Day of Judgment Allah will ask: He will say, ‘How many years were you on earth?’ They will reply, ‘We stayed a day or a part of a day, but ask those who keep count.’ He will say, ‘You stayed but a little, if you had only known. Did you think We had created you in vain, and that you would not be brought back to Us? (Al-Mu’minun 23:112-115) The Prophet –peace be upon him- explained this: Mu’adh ibn Jabal reported that the Prophet –peace be upon him- said, The feet of any person shall not move from their place on the Day of Judgment until he/she is asked about four things: about his life, in which deeds he spent it? About his youth, how he utilized it? About his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he spend it? About his knowledge, what did he do based on it? (Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, Hadith 16569) These are very serious questions. No one can avoid answering them or give false answers. Let us use our time in such a way that on that Day we would not regret or be ashamed, and embarrassed by our answers. May Allah bless us and keep us on the right path. Ameen. (Khutbah at Islamic Society of Orange County – Safar 15, 1434/December 28, 2012)