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Importance of Time in the Life of the Muslim

Everything, when lost, can be regained, except time. If it is lost, there is no hope to regain it. That is why time is the most precious thing that can ever be possessed in this life.

Islam is a religion that acknowledges the importance of time and appreciates its seriousness. Allah Almighty says (what means): {Indeed, in the alternation of the night and the day and [in] what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth are signs for a people who fear Allah.} [Quran 10: 6] Islam distributed its great acts of worship over the parts of the day and the seasons of the year to form an accurate, precise system that organizes the Islamic life and measures it with minutes, from the rise of dawn till sunset. Allah Almighty says (what means): {So exalted Is Allah when you reach the evening and when you reach the morning. And to Him is [due all] praise throughout the heavens and the earth. And [exalted Is He] at night and when you are at noon.} [Quran 30: 17-18]

Man's lifespan is his huge capital about which he will be asked on the Day of Judgment. He will be asked about how he spent it and how he dealt with it. It was narrated in Jami‘ At-Tirmithi that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) said: "The feet of a slave will not move on the Day of Judgment until he has been questioned about four things: his life – how he spent it; his youth – how he consumed it; his wealth – from where he earned it and how he spent it; and his knowledge – how he acted upon it."

Time has characteristics that are specific to it. They include the following:

- Its quick passage: Time passes like the clouds. No matter how long man lives in this life, his life is short, as death is the end of every living creature. When Nooh (i.e. Noah), may Allah exalt his mention, was asked: "O the longest living prophet, how did you find this world?" He said: "It is like a house that has two doors. I entered from one of them and got out through the other." This is what the Quran expressed, by mentioning one's regarding of his lifespan as short, upon death and on the day of Judgment. Allah Almighty says (what means): {It will be, on the Day they see it, as though they had not remained [in the world] except for an afternoon or a morning thereof.} [Quran 79: 46]

- Whatever goes by thereof does not return and cannot be compensated for: every day, hour, or moment that passes cannot be regained and thus cannot be compensated for. This meaning was expressed by Al-Hasan Al-Basri may Allah have mercy upon him when he said: "Every day calls, saying: 'O son of Adam, I am a new creation and I am a witness on your deeds, so take provisions from me for if I pass, I do not return until the Day of Judgment.'"

- It is the most precious thing that man can ever own: the preciousness of time is attributed to the fact that it is the container of all deeds. In fact, it is the real capital of man, whether the individual or the society. Time is not only gold as the common proverb goes, but it is more precious than gold, pearls, and coral. Time is life. Indeed, man's life is nothing but the time that he is given from the day of his birth till the day of his death. Al-Hasan Al-Basri may Allah have mercy upon him said: "O son of Adam, indeed you are nothing but some days…whenever a day perishes a part of you perishes." That is why we should be keen on benefiting from time. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez may Allah have mercy upon him said: "Night and day consume you, so consume them." Al-Hasan Al-Basri may Allah have mercy upon him said: "I saw a lot of people who were keener on their times than you are on your money." ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, used to hit his feet with his whip when night came and say to himself: "What did you do today?"

From among the blessings which many people are heedless and ungrateful about, and ignorant of its value, is the blessing of leisure. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) said: "There are two blessings that many people fail to make the most of: good health and leisure." [Al-Bukhari]

That is why the predecessors used to dislike for a man to be free and not preoccupied by the matter of his religion or the matter of his worldly life. ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "I dislike that a man is free and not preoccupied by the matter of his religion or the matter of his worldly life."

There is no doubt that man loves life and loves to live long, and rather forever, if he can. Long life is considered one of the blessings of Allah Almighty, if one uses it in supporting the truth and doing righteous deeds. At-Tirmithi narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) was asked: "Which among the people is best?" He said: "The one who lives a long life and does righteous deeds."

The truth is that the real life of man is not the years that he spends from the day of his birth till the day of his death. Rather, his real age is determined according to the good deeds recorded for him by Allah Almighty. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "I never regretted something like I regretted a day whose sun has set in which my life decreased and my good deeds did not increase."

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