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Too often we complain that we are being beaten by time. We all have suffered from its wounds and are a victim of this conquering victor. However, we can stand unbeaten by it; purely by taking the route of goodness and indulging in acts which are deemed worthy in the sight of Allah. Victory against this ever evading concept is for those that Allah mentions – those who spend their minutes in calling to goodness, by doing righteous deeds, waiting patiently and standing by the truth. How does one ensure that the precious minutes are well spent?
A timetable in our daily life is key. Do not become subservient to time whilst you can master over it. Lay out your duties in order of importance. Allocate these tasks into timeslots. The left over time and the time that one can catch in between can be filled with the lesser important tasks. It is said that shaytan has no timetable. Pondering over this statement one is reminded of the popular proverb: “an idle mind is the devils workshop”. If one plans the day, they enable continuous activity. If there remains a great portion of time where one is not occupied, there is danger of heeding to the whispers of the shaytan. In occupation, one is engaged with the task at hand, hence saved from hearing the whispers of the lower self pushing forward suggestions of grave and dark misdeeds.
An effective timetable requires constancy. The notion of having a daily plan and a routine is repelled by us with the notion that if everyday is encrusted with the same activity, boredom is the ultimate result. It is sad to think that we have planted such thoughts within us. With everyday seeming to be the unchanged - the same routine - we become exhausted and seek to find fault with everything at hand.
The people of the past adhered to consistency, yet they never tired. Their secret was simple; in everything they did, they sought to do it better. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be please with him) would express that nothing depresses him more than the sight of the sun dipping into the horizon and knowing that a day has passed by and he has not increased in good deeds. It is not befitting to complain about the monotony of everyday life when the reality is that there is much about us that needs to change.
Greater change and achievement can be attained through consistency. For instance salah; the five compulsory salahs are constant - the rakats, timings conditions etcetera are generally the same everyday. Our performance is what determines its difference. In one salah we may notice that our concentration span did not remain a very long time so in the next we will aim to make it last longer. In this manner, through constancy we achieve something great - khushu’.
Whatever you do, do it persistently. Create a timetable and abide by it consistently for through it time will be used up doing the necessary and avoiding that which may cause harm.
Often, mothers are instructed to create a routine for their children as it creates a sense of security and stability and they are able to discover their comfort time. Time is left unpolluted with their activities allocated neatly to set times; to the extent they feel hungry at one time, tired at another and so forth. In this way they are relaxed with the right proportion of sleep and good eating times. We should strive to adopt such routine ourselves. Confining oneself to a set bedtime is important. “[Allah has] made the night a covering, and made the day a source of livelihood”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to sleep after Isha prayer and awaken in the early hours, a little before the second crack of dawn.
An early sleep enables an early start to the day which not only aids in maintaining a good emotional state (as too often we are greeted by a grumpy start on account of inadequate sleep) but it also gives room to more time. If we feel that there is more time, the less haste we would have in our actions. Hence, our approach to the day will be without feeling rushed and in this respect more complete. A hadith narrates “haste is from the shaytan ” yet we have adopted a custom of constant rushing. Today our goal has become set on how we can reach the end, how we can race to the finish line without giving thought to how we can develop and create the best end.
In relation to the division of night and day, we need to ask ourselves how is it that we have convoluted time to the extent that we have mixed the function of the day with that of the night. We remain awake at night and sleep during the day. We have moved ourselves far from the sunnah to the extent that our very percept of time has gone astray. A good routine builds up physical strength, emotional well being and more importantly awakens a greater spiritual sense.
As with anything it is incumbent to make dua. Time may be managed in whatever manner one wishes, but unless the door is not opened by Allah, one will not be able to achieve anything. Hence, it is important to present all our cases to Him because our dependence is part of our slavery and it is for the Master to provide. Ask Allah to put barakah in time, to help you enable to make the most of it. Life is short - in this life we sow the seeds, our yield will not be known to us till the hereafter. Supplicate: “O Allah! Make the best of my life the end of it, and the last of my deeds the best one and the best of my days the day I meet with You.”
25 Rabi II 1433
Illustration by U. Shahid
Originally published in ijtima.org, issue 104, art. 48 (25 Rabi II 1433)