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Originally published in ijtima.org, issue 104, art. 49 (25 Rabi II 1433)
We are living in a world where we have adopted a numbering system. Everything is counted - from class ranges to buses; we live in an atmosphere of flying numbers. Ages, time, dates are all marked and followed by a calendar or a clock. Allah Ta’ala is Truth and swears by what is true. Indeed He swears by time - that which Allah swears by is elevated and time we are told is precious. Unfortunately, like the sand which slides through open palms, time flows into dust - our unconscious state fails to grasp it. Despite its constant measure, very rarely does one take hold of it. It is surprising how often we fall blind to the most obvious of things - how many times do we look upon the clock and count the decreasing hours unaware that each tick is the sound of our ever decreasing breath.
In surah ‘Asr, Allah Ta’ala immediately brings to attention the declining state of man - “man is in a state of loss indeed”. No loss is greater than the loss of 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 and waiting patiently and standing by the truth.
How often have we heard the notion “kill time”. Only the foolish will utter this - time is killing you whilst you plan against it! Even the most ardent of disbelievers testify to the destructible nature of time. They claim, “There is no life but our worldly life. We die and live, and nothing destroys us except time ." They are foolish in their belief that it is only the ages that destroy man. They are foolish in fearing nothing but time. They do not realise that it is in fact Allah who destroys them; [It is Allah who has gave us time, He controls it and is able to take it away].
Perhaps we have failed to realise that there is a number which sits above our heads - a number that is our time: the span of years, the stretch of seconds we call life. That time is limited. The number determined is the number we will stop at. After that, time is lost - there only remains vast eternity. Allah Ta’ala has commanded that we race towards goodness. We must run and run fast. Moments do not wait, they decline into the tide. Within a minute a memory is created. The ultimate factor underlying time is limitation.
Time should be divided between worship and occupying in that which is necessary in this world. “The people of Jannah will not regret anything except that moment void of the remembrance of Allah”1. That is the ultimate aim: to encompass every ticking minute with the remembrance of Allah by word, action or even a thought. With such an aim one will find that time has been reserved, placed into an account that is well secured. Even if one is not actively doing anything but sitting and contemplating upon the creation of Allah or reading tasbih is attaining great virtues and can conclude that time in this manner is being well spent.
Zikr is the golden key that opens the doors of success; a shield against the moving time. Whilst time is the tide that washes over you never to touch you with the same water twice, zikr is your steady aid that protects you from drowning in it. One who is in constant zikr will not suffer time loss.
It is necessary to be reminded that Zikr is remembrance of Allah in any form for often many have fallen into the error of leaving aside serious duties and responsibilities with the notion that it is compensated through time sat exclusively on the prayer mat in deep remembrance. One must take into consideration the hadith: “Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock” and ensure he works upon that which responsibility dictates. Carrying out the necessary duties with correct intention is worship. The extra time, void of any serious task should be taken up for exclusive zikr and optional ibadah. That is time most excellently spent. Make time for Allah and Allah shall make time for you. That is in essence planting the seed of barakah in your daily life.
So in this age of the clocks, when our eyes fall upon the moving hands let us remember that just like the escaping ‘ticks’ that we hear not twice, the breaths that we let out will not come for us another time. Once gone, it has left. The only returning is our return to Him.