General / Motivational

Wasting Time

WASTING TIME: SOME POINTS

1. The Blessing of Time:

  • Time is a blessing.
  • Time is a mysterious gift from Allah.
  • But time is finite: we do not have ‘all the time in world’. Once it’s gone it’s gone.
  • And like all blessings and bounties, we take time for granted, i.e. we waste time not thinking that we are doing it in such activities and engagements as:
  1. TV, i.e. excessive watching.
  2. Internet (social networking sites like Facebook, browsing, online role-playing games, consoles, etc.).
  3. Idle talk, gossip, chatting, etc.
  4. Pursuit of unbeneficial knowledge.
  • In a noble hadith, the Prophet (saw) said:
From Ibn `Abbas: “There are two blessings which many people lose: [They are] health and free time.”[1]

نعمتان مغبون فيهما كثير من الناس : الصحة والفراغ

  • The fact that good health and time has been given by Allah out of pure Grace and Mercy (rahma) necessitates gratitude and thanks (shukr):
“[…] and thanking [Allah] means following His commands and to stay away from his prohibitions and whoever fails in that is the greatest loser…”[2]

…و من شكره امتـثــال اوامـره و اجتناب نواهيـه ، فمن فرط في ذالك فهو المغبـون…

  • Through time and good health we achieve, obtain and acquire many things that enrich our lives, e.g. time/health enable us to make friends, time/health permits us to learn knowledge, time/health enables us to work, etc.
  • Failure to obey Allah’s commands and implement them in our lives means we have wasted our time in doing other things and thus misused the bounties given to us.
  • Time is utilised for servitude to Allah within the limits, rules and permissions He has laid down.
  1. 2. The Seriousness of Time:
  • Imam Ibn al-Qayyim offers a wonderful metaphor for the year (al-sana) as a sprawling tree and highlights the worse consequences of wasting time that leads to the disobedience of Allah:

فإن السنة شجرة، والشهور فروعها، والأيام أغصانها، والساعات أوراقها، والأنفاس ثمارها. فمن كانت أنفاسه في طاعة فثمرته شجرة طيبة، ومن كانت أنفاسه في معصية فثمرته حنظل

“A year is like a tree: the months are its branches; the days are its limbs; the hours are its leaves and breaths are its fruits. He whose every breath was spent in the worship of Allah has reaped the fruits of the tree but he whose every breath was spent in disobedience to Allah, his fruits are poison”.[3]

3. The Reality & Characteristics of Time:

  • Time elapses and is irretrievable.
  • Time ticks swiftly.
  • Time is valuable/precious.
  • Time in a sense is a person’s age, lifespan > this is what changes.

4. Importance of Time:

  • Wasting time is harmful.
  • Wasting time is unproductive.
  • Wasting time is unbeneficial.
  • Wasting time is a means for degeneration and not regeneration, i.e. loss and not progress.
  • In another noble hadith, the Prophet (saw) said:

اغتنم خمسًا قبل خمس: شبابك قبل هَرَمك، وغناك قبل فقرك، وفراغك قبل شغلك، وصحتك قبل سقمك، وحياتك قبل موتك

“Take benefit of five before five: [1] your youth before your old age, [2] your health before your sickness, [3] your wealth before your poverty, [4] your free-time before your preoccupation, and [5] your life before your death.”[4]
  • This hadith above also indicates that utilisation of time will be judged by Allah and hence its utilisation falls within the realms of free will and accountability (our sphere of control).
  • In fact, Allah having created humans beings to worship and to come to have knowledge of Him will account all people for how they spent their earthly life.
  • In yet another hadith, the Prophet (saw) said:

لا تزول قدما عبد حتى يسأل عن عمره فيم أفناه، وعن علمه فيما فعل فيه، وعن ماله من أين اكتسبه وفيما أنفقه، وعن جسمه فيما أبلاه

“The feet of a servant will not touch the ground until he asked about his life and how he spent it; his knowledge and how he acted upon it; his wealth and how he acquired it and spent it and his body and hw it was used…”[5]
  • Further explanations of the hadith quoted above on the blessings of time and health are:

وقال الطيبي: ضرب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم للمكلف مثلا بالتاجر الذي له رأس مال، فهو يبتغي الربح مع سلامة رأس المال، فطريقه في ذلك أن يتحرى فيمن يعامله ويلزم الصدق والحذق لئلا يغبن، فالصحة والفراغ رأس المال، وينبغي له أن يعامل الله بالإيمان، ومجاهدة النفس وعدو الدين، ليربح خيري الدنيا والآخرة وقريب منه قول الله تعالى: {يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَى تِجَارَةٍ تُنْجِيكُمْ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ} الآيات. وعليه أن يجتنب مطاوعة النفس ومعاملة الشيطان لئلا يضيع رأس ماله مع الربح.

“al-Tibi said: The Prophet (saw) likened those who are accountable before the law (mukallaf) to a merchant (altajir) who has capital and seeks to make a profit whilst also preserving his capital. His strategy to do that is to look for those who will [correctly] deal with him, will be honest and will try to be smart so he is not cheated. Good health and free time are our capital, and we should deal with Allah with true belief, striving against the ego-soul (nafs) and the Religion’s enemy so that the best in this world and in the Hereafter may be attained. This is close to what is mentioned by Allah (Most High): {Shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from a painful torment…}.[6] One should avoid following the dictates of the ego-soul and the Shaytan otherwise both capital and profit will be lost”.[7]
  • Thus, wasting time is really a strategy of spiritual loss.
  • Wasting time can jeopardise one’s salvation in the Hereafter.
  • The consequences of wasting time are extremely serious.
  • `Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak relates a story from the great tabi`i (‘successor’) Hasan al-Basri (ra):

أبو عمر بن حيويه وأبو بكر الوراق قالا أخبرنا يحيى قال حدثنا الحسين أخبرنا عبدالله بن المبارك أخبرنا عبدالوارث بن سعيد أبو عبيد عن رجل عن الحسن أنه كان يقول ابن آدم إياك والتسويف فإنك بيومك ولست بغد فإن يكن غد لك فكن في غد كما كنت في اليوم وإلا يكن لك لم تندم على ما فرطت في اليوم قال وحدثني غيره عن الحسن أنه كان يقول أدركت أقواما كان أحدهم أشح على عمره منه على دراهمه ودنانيره‏.‏

“…Abu `Umar b. Hayuwayh and Abu Bakr al-Warraq both said: Yahya informed us and said: al-Husayn related to us that: `Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak informed us and `Abd al-Warith b. Sa`id Abu `Ubayd from a man from al-Hasan [al-Basri] saying: ‘Children of Adam! Beware of procrastination (al-taswif)! For each day today belongs to you not tomorrow. If tomorrow were to be for you, then be in it like you are today otherwise if it is not then do not feel regret over what you have lost during the day.’ [`Abd Ibn al-Mubarak] said: others related to me from al-Hasan that he said: ‘I saw a people and how one of them was the most careful about his life than about his Dirhams and Dinars’.”[8]
  • This report by Imam Hasan al-Basri indicates the dangers of procrastination, delaying things, wasting time, not seizing the moment.
  • He saw a man from a tribe that gave more vigilance, more importance and more serious consideration to time and spending time beneficially than money itself.
  • This is the attitude of the believer: he seeks the pure pleasure of Allah and relegates everything else to that.
  • Possible strategies a believer could has available to utilise time productively:
  • Engage in more dhikr (‘remembrance’) of Allah.
  • Engage in more nafila (‘supererogatory prayers’).
  • Be riveted to the Qur’an.
  • Learn fiqh (‘Islamic legal rulings’).
  • Be involved in Islamic da`wa work.
  • Frequent gatherings of knowledge.
  1. 5. Lessons:
  • Be like the clock: keep ticking in the service and worship of Allah.
  • Manage time: time requires utilisation and planning.
  • Hasten to do good deeds: opportunities are always lost but not often given again.

Peace and blessings be upon our Master Muhammad, His family and his Companions.

S. Z. Chowdhury


[1] Bukhari, Sahih (#6412), Ahmad, Musnad, 5/74 (in reverse order) and Abu Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliya’, vol.3, p.87 and many others.

[2] Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, vol.3, p.2810.

[3] Ibn al-Qayyim, Kitab al-Fawa’id, p.214.

[4] al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak (#7846).

[5] Tirmidhi, Sunan (#2602).

[6] See Qur’an 61:10.

[7] Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, vol.3, p.2810.

[8] Ibn al-Mubarak, Kitab al-Zuhd, p.51 (#8).

One thought on “Wasting Time

  1. Pingback: al-Nawawi: A Lesson in Time and Devotion to Knowledge | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

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