A Lesson in Time and Devotion to Knowledge
Imam Ibn al-`Attar, one of the main students, servant and close associate of Imam al-Nawawi, studying with him for many years and gaining expertise in the Shafi`ite school, reports the following regarding his teacher:
ذكر لي شيخنا رحمه الله أنه كان لا يضيِّع له وقتا، لا في ليل ولا في نهار، إلا في الاشتغال بالعلم، حتى في الطريق يكرر أو يطالع، وأنه دام على هذا ست سنين، ثم أخذ في التصنيف، وكان لا يأكل في اليوم والليلة إلا أكلة بعد عشاء الآخرة، ويشرب شربة واحدة عند السحر، ويقول أخاف أن يرطب جسمي ويجلب لي النوم
“Our Shaykh (may Allah have mercy on him) informed me that he never spent his time, whether day or night, except that he was busy with knowledge; even on the road he would be reading and revising. He continued like this for six years after which he then began to write books. He never ate during the day or the night, except a meal towards the end of `Isha’ (night) time and he drank only once just before dawn. He would say: ‘I am afraid that my body may become hydrated and be overcome with sleep…’”
- Our scholars were the most devoted of people when it came to acquiring beneficial knowledge. They were extremely heedful of time and its importance. They were careful not to waste time, i.e. spend it in some preoccupation that would not benefit them either in knowledge or in bringing them nearer to Allah.
- The dawah carrier should follow in their footsteps of our righteous scholars and emulate the sacrifices they made. He will be inspired and motivated.
- The dawah carrier must also be vigilant of time – he must be aware of how important it is and thus not to waste it. He is engaged in the highest priority of calling to the resumption of the Islamic way of life by working to establish the Khilafah and therefore it is not a luxury for him to spend it recklessly.
- The dawah carrier should avoid useless matters that will distract him or busy him with what will not profit him – even if they may be in origin permissible (mubah). May Allah allow us to use our time effectively. Amin.
 As quoted in `Affani’s Salah al-Umma fi `Uluw al-Himma, 4:175.
 On the virtues of seeking Islamic knowledge see for example the post https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/the-virtues-in-seeking-knowledge/
 For more on wasting time and its dangers, see https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/wasting-time/ and https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/imam-al-shafii-and-sufis/.
 See Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim’s superb advice at https://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/ibn-al-qayyim-10-useless-matters/