All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, the Omnipotent, Most Powerful, and 1 bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allāh alone without partners, Whom we worship and invoke for help. I bear witness that Muḥammad is Allāh’s slave and Messenger, the best Prophet and the Leader of all those who fear Allāh. O Allāh! Grant Your best blessings and mercy on Muḥammad, his progeny, his Companions and all those who followed them with excellence until the Day of Judgment.
Dear Brothers and sisters in Islām! Are we making the best use of time in this life? Are we fulfilling both our religious and worldly responsibilities? Are we even conscious about how we are using our time? These are some of the questions we should be asking ourselves to make best use of our time and to get most from our lives. This is crucial because we have at best only a few years to live. Considering the various phases of our lives individually, the available time may be even shorter. Will we do things differently if we knew how much remaining time we had in this life?
What if our remaining time is very little? Each heart beat taken draws a person nearer to his or her grave. This is the reality of time allotted to each one of us. Imām Ḥasan al-Baṣrī used to say, “O Man, your life comprises of a few breaths that can be counted. With every breath that you draw, a part of your existence has diminished!”
In today’s Khuṭbah, we shall be looking at how to make best use of our time. We ought to know that time is one of the most valuable assets that we have. The wise people make use of this asset carefully and sensibly. Sūratu’l-‘Aṣr begins with Allāh (SWT) swearing by the time. The first verse says Wal-‘Aṣr, which has been variously translated as ‘by the time, ‘by the flight of time’, ‘by the passage of time’, ‘by the time through the ages’, and so on. All these expressions show time to be something that is fleeting; that is running out. The word ‘Aṣr refers to time that passes swiftly.
In a beautiful Ḥadith, our beloved Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) advised us to take advantage of five things before five, before time takes them away from us.
إغْتَنِمْ خَمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْس شَبابَكَ قَبْلَ هَرَمِكْ وَصِحَّتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقَمِكْ وغِنَا كَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِكْ وَفَرَاغِكَ قَبْلَ شُغْلِكْ وَحَيَاتِكَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِكْ
Seize the opportunity of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.
Those who have run out of time because of their age or illness will tell us its value and importance. Ask the terminally ill who have been given only a few months to live. They will tell us how productive they would get if they got more time. The reality is that our lives are too busy and our daily routines too engaging. Nevertheless, we must pause to assess what we are earning or what opportunities we are missing, as the time allotted to each one of us keeps shrinking.
One of the ways to ensure that we use our remaining time in this life effectively is to be mindful of our purpose in this life. As Muslims, we believe that Allāh not only created mankind but clarified their purpose of being here in this world. Questions related to the purpose and meaning of life has engaged philosophers for centuries. The foundation of our Islamic beliefs does away with the need to get entangled in the philosophical implications of this topic. Islamic principles make it clear that Allāh created life.
Allāh created this universe and the rules that embody it. And the purpose of life is to worship, obey and submit to Him without associating anyone or anything with Him. Among the many verses in the Qur’ān that make reference to this, let us consider just two of them. In Sūratu’d-Dhāriyāt, Allāh says,
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except that they should worship and obey Me. (Q. 51:56)
And in Sūratu’l-Mu’minūn, Allāh says,
أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ
Do you think that We created you without any purpose and that you would not be brought back to Us? (Q. 23:115)
Needless to explain, a sense of purpose can help in reconciling the many complex questions and issues that aren’t always that easy for us to comprehend. It helps to instill the energy that we need to keep moving irrespective of the challenges that we face and to adhere to a system of living that we believe was designed by the Creator for His creation.
Secondly, we should become more action oriented. Declaring faith without translating it into good actions is meaningless. Admonishing the believers in Sūrat al-Ṣaff to put their words into practice, Allāh says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ تَقُولُوا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ
O you who believe, why do you say what you do not do. It is most hateful to Allāh that you say what you do not do. (Q. 61: 2-3)
There are numerous verses in the Qur’ān where the mention of faith is coupled with the need to do righteous deeds. We will be judged on what we do. Our faith is incomplete without us following it up with good actions. What is it that prevents us from taking action or from failing to accomplish enough? We should ask ourselves if we could have accomplished more by this time in our lives. As it turns out, many of us fall victims to procrastination. We wish to do something; we make plans, but very often lack the discipline or the courage to act. The result is that time passes without us accomplishing much or not as much as we could have achieved. Refocusing to become more action oriented will help us in accomplishing more thus making our lives more fulfilling.
Thirdly, we should not concern ourselves with unnecessary matters. A Ḥadīth tells us,
مِنْ حُسْنِ إسْلَامِ الْمَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لَا يَعْنِيهِ
From the perfection of a person’s Islām is that he leaves alone that which does not concern him.
Today, we find ourselves exposed to a wide range of information outlets waiting to distract us from key priorities. Sunk in the satellite TV, the internet, the smart phones, and various other forms of social media network, we can end up wasting useful time by soaking our minds with information that we usually can do without.
While a lot of such information may satisfy our curiosities and habits of gossip, they take up valuable time and drain our energies. Indeed, we’ll be lucky if after wasting time on the various media channels, we come out without committing any sin by watching lewd and obscene images or listening to vulgar music or both. We must become selective in using modern techniques and equipments of science and technology based on what benefits us. The Prophet (SAW) used to make a du῾ā’:
اللَّهُمَّ انْفَعْنِى بِمَا عَلَّمْتَنِى وَ عَلِّمْنِى مَا يَنْفَعُنِى وَ ارْزُقْنِى عِلْماً يَنْفَعُنِى
O Allāh! Benefit me with what you taught me and teach me what will benefit me, and provide me with knowledge that will benefit me.
أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say this and ask Allāh for forgiveness for me and you, so invoke Him for forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين
All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon ou¬¬r Master Muḥammad, his pure family, companions, and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.
Brothers and sisters in Islām! Don’t forget the remembrance of Allāh. Many of us make the mistake of taking advice about remembering Allāh as merely a spiritual one and seeing no connection with the real world. Instead, we should remind ourselves that our success in this life related to our work, our earnings, our family, our health and all other aspects of life is tied to the remembrance of Allāh, both in our prayers as well as at other times during the day. Consider what Allāh tells us in Sūrat al-Jumu’ah,
وَابْتَغُوا مِنْ فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
And seek the bounty of Allāh, and remember Allāh much, that you may be successful (Q. 62:10)
And listen to what Allāh tells us Sūratu’l-Munāfiqūn,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
O you who believe! Do not let your wealth or your children distract you from remembrance of Allāh. Those who do so will be the losers. (Q. 63:9)
In a Ḥadīth, the Prophet (SAW) said:
Should I not inform you of the best of deeds, and the most sanctifying of deeds before your Lord, which does more to raise your positions (with Him), and is better for you than the disbursement of gold and money, or battle with the enemy?”
The companions said: “Indeed inform us.” He (SAW) then said: “Remembrance of Allāh.”
Taking the time to pause and reassess of how we use our time can help us refocus, reprioritize and reenergize. It can also prevent us from going to extremes where we focus on certain priorities of life more than others. It is thus time to reflect on these principles in our actions and accomplishments. Brothers and sisters! I am not only preaching. I am also inviting myself and you to reflect individually and collectively as to how to make best use of the precious gift of time given to us. We have got to strive to change ourselves for the better. Does not the Qur’ān say –
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ
Allāh does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves. (Q. 13:11)
May Allāh give us the tawfīq to make best use of the precious gift of time given to each one of us. Allāhumma Amīn.
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأمُرُ بِٱلعَدلِ وَٱلإِحسَٰنِ وَإِيتَايِٕ ذِي ٱلقُربَىٰ وَيَنهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلفَحشَاءِ وَٱلمُنكَرِ وَٱلبَغيِ يَعِظُكُم لَعَلَّكُم تَذَكَّرُونَ
Surely Allāh enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others) and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful. (Q. 16:90)
O Allāh, please confer Your blessings and grant peace upon our Prophet Muḥammad (SAW), his family and all of the companions. May Allāh have mercy on the honourable martyrs of our country and those of the coalition and gather them with the righteous.
May Allāh make their dwelling with the ones upon whom Allāh has bestowed favour of the prophets and the steadfast affirmers of truth, O the Most Gracious the Most Forgiving.
Written By Imam Mubin Olatoye Raji