How often have we come across people who keep saying“I have so many things to do, but I have no time.” On the other hand, we also come across people who say“I don’t know how to spend time” or“It has become so difficult to kill time.”These contrasting statements will distinguish between an achiever and a non-achiever. Seize your time, not kill it. How you spend your time – your days, your hours, your minutes – determines what you are and what you are going to become. In a single 24-hour day, we get 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. Our successes and failures depend upon how best we utilize our time.
Youth and Time
“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested” opined Seneca, the famous philosopher of Ancient Rome. When it is admitted that Time is precious, it is pertinent to find out how our youth are spending their time. This will not only reflect the present reality but will also have a bearing on future social stratification. Is our youth loitering on the streets for no reason or are they spending hours with a mobile phone or are they spending days in ungainful activities?Poet and lyricist Shailendra has very well expressed this predicament:
Ladakpan khel mein Khoya,
Javanee neend bhar soya,
Voheeqissa purana hai.
(Our childhood was lost in playing,
During youth, we slept freely,
And then in old age, we cried looking at the situation,
It’s the same old story)
It should be drilled into the minds of our youth that instead of simply whiling away time, they should invest the same in purposeful activities like academic studies, general reading, community/social service, economic upliftment, and religious education.
Time and Islam
The solar day we follow is made up of 24 hours as we all know. This is an undivided block like an uncut cake. Islam regulates this unorganized block by compartmentalizing it intofive time frames Fajar, Zohar, Asar, Maghrib, and Isha. How helpful this is to organize our schedules can be gauged from the fact that we commonly make appointments for meetings by saying “We will meet after Zohar” or that “Thefunction will be held after maghrib.” One of the best ways to manage one’s time from an Islamic perspective is to start by prioritizing one’s activities. This means setting goals and deciding which tasks are most important and which ones can be put off until later. Naturally, the Salath (namaz) gets the first priority, and the rest of the engagements are divided between the five times of Salath. Thus, a Muslim’s day is organized, systematic, structured, methodical, regular, and orderly.
Time and Tide Wait for None
It can be inferred from the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that Islam considers time as a very valuable resource. Believers are encouraged to be conscious of time, to recognize its importance, and to utilize it wisely. The present quickly becomes the past and the future quickly becomes the present. That is because Time neither stops nor moves backward, but it only moves forward. Human beings are aware of the swiftness of the passage of time. Don’t we always say: “How soon another Ramzan month has arrived?” or “Can’t believe that my children have grown so fast and have become adults” or “How soon I have reached the retirement stage.” We acknowledge the passage of time, but only in retrospect and by becoming nostalgic. But we fail to realize that the present time is also moving fast and there is a change taking place right now, although we may not be conscious of it happening. The continued changes are just taking us ultimately to the end of the road.
Time in Afterlife
When somebody lives up to ripe old age, we generally say that he was blessed with along life.However, the Qur’an tells us that on the Day of Judgement, the time spent on earth will appear like a day or even less:
He (Allah) will say, “How long did you stay on the earth by the number of years?” They will say, “We stayed for a day or for a part of a day.” So, ask the ones who count. (Surah Al-Muminun: 23: 112-113)
It has to be understood that the measurement of time on this Earth is very different from the measurement of time in our afterlife, including the intermediary time spent in Alam-e-Barzakh(the interval of time between the death of a human being and the Day of Judgement). The difference in the time frames is best understood by the fact that from sunrise to sunset on the Moon, there are 14.77 Earth days. While a solar day on Earth is 24 hours, it is 5,832 hours on Venus and 1,408 hours on Mercury.
Qur’an emphasizes that time must be utilized properly by us in this life and Allah swears by time in Surah Al-Asar:
“I swear by the Time, man is in a state of loss indeed, except those who believed and did righteous deeds, and advised each other for truth, and advised each other for patience”(Surah 103: 1-3). Ibn Kathir, a traditional exegete, explains that this Surah is a warning to believers not to waste time or they could be humiliated or even ruined. Commentators explain this verse of the Qur’an by giving the example of an ice seller. The ice seller has to be diligent and if he is neglectful, his entire capital will melt away. Thus, Time is akin to a capital in the life of a human being. He must invest the capital in doing good deeds, otherwise, he will be under loss and the loss will be irreversible.