Time passes very fast and it speeds up all the time. Some people are aware of that speed and try to make the best use of their time, while others behave as if there were no problems. Which group do you belong to?
Are you one of those who spend hours in front of the TV, speak empty words, act lethargically and watch soap operas and films rather than helping others, improving themselves or even sometimes doing the cleaning? Are you one of those who ‘kill time,’ in other words?
Or are you one of those who know that time is precious and that time lost can never be recovered and is therefore careful to use every minute and even every second in ways that will be beneficial to all?
We need to remember one point here; some people make good use of their time, but do so for this world. They sleep less and avoid idle talk, but only in order to make better use of this world. Believers, on the other hand, take the life of the Hereafter as their yardstick and act in the knowledge of the value of their lives in this world. This difference of intention is exceedingly important, yet there is a grave danger also facing believers.
Work or school life and family relations of course occupy everyone’s time; we all have to set time aside for such basic needs as eating, cleaning, sleeping or resting. The important thing in doing so, however, is to remain aware and never forget that time lost can never be recovered.
There is no such thing as ‘another time’ for believers
Although believers know that the Hereafter exists and behave accordingly, they mistakenly divide their lives into ‘time for worship’ and ‘other times,’ so much so that they only remember the temporary nature of this world and the existence of the Hereafter at times of worship. At all other times they may be caught up in this world and spend their ‘time’ on wasteful pursuits and thoughts. Yet once we subtract the seven or eight hours we sleep every day, we are left with the considerable period of sixteen or seventeen hours a day.
Let us look at where and how this valuable time is wasted:
Time wasted on pointless thoughts
The main thing that people waste their time on are empty thoughts that never get one anywhere but that occupy one throughout the course of the day. These include preparing plans and defenses against a situation one thinks will be against one’s interests or calculating whether the talk and jokes going on around one will damage one’s career prospects.
One can cite many more such examples depending on the place and the circumstances but the outcome is always the same. None of them are of the slightest use. One the contrary, they are a total waste of time.
Time wasted on ‘if only’
Something else that people waste time on is regrets they devote much of their lives to and ideas consisting of ‘if only.’
People who fail to fully comprehend that everything is under the control of Almighty God ignore the perfection of destiny in the face of unwelcome events and they may spend hours every day on thoughts filed with regrets. Yet everything that happens to them does so within a destiny ordained by God, Whose knowledge enfolds all things. There is no way to alter these events by saying, ‘if only.’
Time wasted on empty talk
A significant part of time wasted is spent on empty talk. Examples of this include gossiping, mocking other people, spending hours talking about food recipes, fashion or soaps, or unending discussions about football. Other examples include negative analyses of politics, national or global, even though one never gets involved oneself, the sole aim essentially being to have an argument.
As revealed by Almighty God in the words, “…Remembrance of God is greater still …” (Surah al-‘Ankabut, 45), the most auspicious talk for attaining the Hereafter is talk of God. All talk other than that intended to earn God’s approval, mercy and Paradise is foolish and hollow, and will therefore represent a waste of time. The way that believers should behave when empty talk is going on is described thus in the Qur’an:
“When they hear worthless talk they turn away from it …” (Surah al-Qasas, 55)
Time wasted thinking one has a lot of time
Another point that generally misleads people is the way that they put off worship and other virtuous deeds by thinking, “I am young, and I have plenty of time for worship later.” Since these people regard death as something far-off and remote, they see no harm in spending their days in pointless and empty activities.
Examples include people who spend hours online for no purpose, who spend more time on domestic chores and sports than they need to, who sleep more than the seven or eight hours a day the body needs, who read the same news stories over and over again in newspapers and magazines, who waste hours watching TV and who literally lose themselves while shopping.
Some people regard going on holiday or the weekends as an opportunity to do nothing and think about nothing: In fact, it is much better to engage in good works in the place one goes to on holiday and to think about the signs of God’s creation that can be seen there.
Let us be like someone traveling through this world
It is very important to know the value of time because someone who wastes that time will never think properly and will be unable to properly appreciate death, Paradise and Hell. Yet everyone is invariably heading toward death; believers know this and act in the knowledge that everything in the world is created as a test. They reflect on their own weaknesses that God shows them during the day and turn to matters that will draw them closer to Him.
In one hadith our Prophet (pbuh) says this of the importance of our time in this world:
Ibn Umar relates: “The Messenger of God (pbuh) took my shoulder and said, ‘Be like a stranger or traveler in this world.’ Ibn Umar said. ‘Do not wait for morning when it is evening, and do not wait for evening when it is morning. Be prepared for sickness when you are healthy. And be prepared for death while you are alive’.” (Bukhari, Rikak 2; Tirmidh,, Zuhd 25 (2334))
Let us not forget these valuable words of our beloved Prophet, and let us remind everyone of them. In the same way that someone on a journey does not waste any more time than necessary on comfort stops but carries on straight ahead to his destination, let us act in the knowledge that this world is indeed nothing but a temporary abode.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Harakah Daily & Al Hikmat Magazine (USA):