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Imam Zijad’s Corner: Time (Al ‘Asr) and Its Importance in Islam

 

Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (r) that the Prophet (S) said: “There are two blessings which many people incur loss and they are a) good health and b) free time [for doing good deeds].”(Bukhari)


عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ نِعْمَتَانِ مَغْبُونٌ فِيهِمَا كَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ، الصِّحَّةُ
وَالْفَرَاغُ ‏”‏‏
Source: Bukhari
Transliteration: “Ni’matani Maghbunun Fihima Kathirun Minannasi: As Sihah Wal Farag.”

One of the important points of the Surah Al ‘Ast is the notion of time.
There are three important aspects of time that we should be aware of:
1) Time is the greatest blessings we were given by the Creator

2) Our time is spent fast

3) Whatever is gone will not come back until the day of Judgement

So firstly, time is the most important asset, blessing and gift bestowed upon us!
Actually, time is life itself! We are number of days. As one day goes by, part of us ends with it, as explained by Hasan Al Basri.
Each one of us is given credits of 86,400 seconds in a day and each day opens a new account.
If we fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is ours, because “the clock of age” reduces life by the tick of every passing second.

Secondly, our time is spent fast!
The lesson of the story of Nuh a.s tells much about the reality of life in Duniya and the speed of passing of our life. Even though he lived 950 years, when he was aske d about his life in Duniya, he said that it was like a house with two doors…through one he entered and through
another he exited.
The Qur’an cautions us: “And on the day when He shall gather them together, it will be as if they had not stayed (in Duniya) but an hour of a day.” (Yunus 45)
And lastly, whatever of our time passed will not come back but on the Day of Judgement!
Hasan Al Basri taught us that “Every day when Fajr approaches, a caller calls, O son (child) of Adam! I am a new day and a witness of your deeds, so seize the opportunity of me. Indeed, if I pass, I will not come back till the Day of Judgment.”
That is why we believers are asked to prioritize our time.
We are obliged to value and thus evaluate every moment of our life.
We are asked that every moment be filled with productive activities.

Our role-model Muhammad (S) gave us the guidance in this regard when he asked us to have time for:
a) ‘Ibadah;
b) accountability (putting your books in order);
c) relationship with other creation of Allah and
d) time to secure the necessities of life. (Ibn Hibban)

If we would really like to be productive believers than we must divide our tasks into fouressential categories:

• Urgent and Important and must be done NOW!
• Not Urgent but Important and we can decide when we could do it!
• Urgent but not Important and we may delegate them to someone else to do them!
• Not Urgent and Not Important and all we need to do is dump them!

As we explained earlier, time is a precious resource.
It is a measure of passing of our life.
It is irreplaceable; unlike wealth.
Time once lost, cannot be gained back.
It is something you cannot have enough of.
It is something to be respected (yours and time of other people).
If not managed well, it could be a source of stress.
Thus, believers are obliged to plan our activities and use our time wisely.
Subhanallah!

The Surah opens with a reference to the Time, which is presented here to show that a human being is in loss if he/she fails to realize the real significance of the time given to him/her before he/she departs from this world…before the allocated time expires.
The first message of the Surah is very clear in this oath the Almighty started the Surah with:
“Insan’s (human being’s) single greatest asset in life is the time at his/her disposal.”
Various commentators have offered different viewpoints of the meaning of Al ‘Asr.

Here are two of their viewpoints:
a) it metaphorically indicates that we do not have time to waste and
b) it indicates bygone days wherein humanity has already shown these truths.

While all these interpretations have merit, Al ‘Asr is interpreted mostly to be telling us that there is no time to waste!
Whatever ‘Insan” achieves during his/her short sojourn upon the Earth is crucial for his/her future in the life to come.
In short life of Duniya (this earthy life), one can achieve eternal bliss and peace, if he/she would use time wisely and in accordance with the laws laid down for him/her by the Creator.
A misuse or neglect of this gift, on the other hand, can lead human beings to disaster and unhappiness.
The word time is used for the past as well as for the passing time in which the present, in fact, does not signify any long stretch of time.
Every moment, when it has passed, becomes past, and every moment of the future, when it is passing, becomes present, and when it has passed, becomes past…

The oath by the time also means that human history testifies that the people who were without these qualities eventually incurred loss, and in order to understand the significance of the oath by the passing time, one should understand that the time which is now passing is,
in fact, the time which has been given to every single individual and every single nation so it is up to them how they would deal with their allocated time.