My dear brothers and sisters, there is one aspect of life if used wisely will give us success in this world and the hereafter, and if used foolishly will give us loss in this world and in the hereafter. Verily, this is time, for in the words of the great Egyptian scholar, Hasan Al Banna, “Time is life itself.” In other words, the very quality of our lives is determined by the way in which we use our time. If we spend most of our time merely enjoying ourselves and pleasing our lower desires, then life itself will be useless, unproductive, and no better than the life of cattle; and we will return to our Lord with nothing but unfulfilled promises and potential. But, if we spend much of our time in devotion to Allah (swt) and doing good deeds, then our very living will be worthwhile, beneficial, and dignified; and we will return to our Lord joyous, having fulfilled the purpose of life.
This is why Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an, “By time, verily man is in a state of loss! Except those who believe, and do good deeds, and practice patience, and practice truth.” And so, the only way that we can make time a friend rather than an enemy is if we use time for increasing in faith, doing good works, practicing patience, and practicing the truth.
In the words of hujjat al-Islam, Imam Al-Ghazali, “[Time] is nothing other than your life, and your life is the capital that you make use of to reach perpetual felicity in the proximity of Allah (swt).”
So, what are some practical steps that we can take to make better use of our time:
First, we simply need to become more conscious of the passing of time and how we use our time. We draw again from the wisdom of Imam Al-Ghazali who said, “Each of your breaths is a priceless jewel, since each of them is irreplaceable and, once gone, can never be retrieved.” And it is only by developing this type of an internal consciousness of time that we can move towards a more effective use of the limited time we have in this world. It is only when we guard time like a sacred jewel that we can truly make use of it.
Secondly, we must identify and recognize the priorities of life and divide our time by giving equal attention to each of those priorities. The Prophet Muhammad (s) said that a believer’s time should be divided into three parts: One part for rest, relaxation, and enjoyment; another part for working and earning a living; and another part for devotion to Allah. And the Prophet (s) warned against extremism in any part of life to the exclusion of another, saying that our bodies have a right over us, our souls have a right over us, and our families have a right over us. So, we must carefully examine the priorities of life in order to structure our time accordingly.
Thirdly, we must make a daily schedule for ourselves and strictly abide by it taking into consideration all of the worldly and religious obligations we have. Again, drinking from the ocean of Imam Al-Ghazali’s wisdom, he says, “You should not neglect your time or use it haphazardly; on the contrary, you should bring yourself to account, structure your devotions and other practices during each day and night, and assign to each period a fixed and specific function. This is how to bring out the spiritual blessing [baraka] in each period. But if you leave yourself adrift, aimlessly wandering as cattle do, not knowing how to occupy yourself at every moment, your time will be lost.” So, make a daily schedule and guard your time as you would guard a priceless jewel.
Lastly, constantly remind yourself that time can end without a moments notice, and that none of us are guaranteed a long life or good health to make use of our time. The Prophet (s) once took Umar (ra) by the shoulder and said, “Live in this world as if you were a wayfarer or a traveler.” And Umar (ra) used to add, “If you live till the morning, do not except to live till the evening, and if you live till the evening do not except to live till the night.” In doing so, a believer is more careful with his or her time and hastens to make good use of whatever remaining time they have left in the world.
In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, time is indeed the capital of our life, and only time well spent will allow us to draw nearer to our Lord and to taste success in this world and in the hereafter. As such, we must guard our time by becoming more aware of the way we spend it, by giving priority to the important things in life, by following a strict schedule that structures our lives, and by recognizing the fact that time is bound to end sooner or later for each one of us, and in the end we must all return to Allah to answer the essential question: “How did you spend your life?” The answer to this question will be determined by how use our time.
May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom to use our time wisely during this academic year and throughout our lives, and May Allah (swt) grant us full and virtuous lives so that we may be successful in this world and in the hereafter. O Allah! Make us among the wise who spent their time wisely in this world, and not among the fools who spent their time foolishly in this world.