Islam encourages Muslims to care for time, to utilize it and not to waste it. Besides, it holds them responsible for their time. The Righteous Salaf were aware of that responsibility, so they acted accordingly. Describing their care for time, Hassan Al-Basry said, "I saw those people and how they were more careful about their time than about their Dirhams and Dinars [i.e. their money]." [Abdullah Ibn-Al-Mubarak, "Az-Zuhd" (Asceticism), p.51.]
An important requirement for a Muslim's life is to be careful about time, to invest it wisely and to benefit from it. In this regard, Ibn-ul Qayyim says, "The highest, most worthy and most useful of reflection is what is intended for Allah and the Hereafter. There are various forms of reflection intended for Allah. One of them is reflecting on time duty and function and focusing entirely on it, for the knowledgeable one is the breed of his time. If he wastes it, all his interests are wasted, for all interests arise from time. If he wastes his time, he can never regain it." Also, Imam Shafi'i said, "Out of my company with Sufis, I benefited only two things, one of which is their saying: like a sword, time will cut you if you do not cut it. ..." In other words, if you do not spend time doing something useful, you are the loser by wasting it.
As expressed by Imam Hassan Al-Banna, "Time is life itself." This reflects Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah's saying: "One's time is in fact his age. It is the material of his eternal life either in everlasting joy or painful torture. It passes more quickly than clouds do. It is only the time one dedicates to Allah that constitutes one's real life and age. The rest does not count; the life he leads in it is only animal life. Compared to a life of indulgence in appetitive activities, false aspirations and negligence of Allah's remembrance - and at best in sleep and being idle - death is a much better alternative."
Time is considered a vehicle for work. According to Ibn-ul-Qayyim, "The year is like a tree, months are its branches, days are the branch sticks, hours are its leaves, and the breaths are its fruits. Therefore, if one's breaths are in obedience [to Allah and His Messenger], the fruits of his tree are good. If they are in disobedience, his fruits are bitter. The harvest is on the Appointed Day, when one's fruits are found out to be either good or bitter."
Such is the Islamic view of time, and such were the ways of the Salaf ways with it. How do we compare with them now?! Obviously, there is a big gap between the way they cared for time and the way we are wasting it. The sad and painful thing about us now is that "our nation has been improvising ways of wasting time at the public and the private levels. As a result, the world is already proceeding to the future without us, as if we were the 'orphans of history'. If such improvisation is not directed to investing and utilizing our time properly, the gap between us and the future will widen further, and we will remain importers and consumers of cultural products. Eventually, our survival will be entirely dependent on the producers of those products." [Khuldun Al-Ahdab, "Reflections on the Value of Time"] Therefore, Muslims must unite their efforts to identify weaknesses for treatment, and must give time its due attention as demanded by Islam.
The following are some of the most important duties demanded of Muslims:
- Ensuring benefiting from time
- Utilizing leisure time
- Racing for good deeds
- Learning from the passage of time
- Seeking the superior times
- Planning and organizing time
- Fulfillment of time commitments
- Necessary awareness of time wasters