HURRYING UP IN DOING GOODNESS

Our Lord says in the Qur’ān By the Break of Day”[1] and time of dawn acquires a special meaning for our lives. How are we going to fill our lives? How much are we going to work for ourselves and how much are we going to spend time for the needy and destitute? What are the Angels of deeds writing in our files for the Hereafter? A believer should carefully think about the answers for these questions and spend his time with the best deeds.

Allah Almighty swears by “time” and wants us to direct our attention on how we spend our lives.

Time is like a double edged knife. If it is spent according to the spirit of the Qur’ān and Sunnah, it becomes the means of reaching Paradise. However for those who spent their time in this world contrary to the spirit of Islam, it becomes a flood. A believer should not be like a log adrift in this flood.

It is impossible to retrieve the past or to go back in time. Time cannot be saved, borrowed, or sold. Even if we gave our entire wealth as collateral, we cannot postpone or bring forward our time of death even for a second.

Our life in this world, which is the preparation phase of the afterlife, is like a treasure. This is why it should be held dear and spent reasonably, because there is no compensation for losing this blessing. To waste our time for selfish desires like it will never end and to neglect and forget our responsibilities towards Allah the Almighty will be a cause for regret.

Life which is a bumpy road between cradle and grave is the sum of our breaths. This sum is unknown to humans but know to Allah the Almighty. Last breath is the most important one of our breaths in this world.

Last breath is the crossing point of our lives in this world to a new and eternal life in the Hereafter. It is a rugged and steep passage between the worlds. Every perceiving believer should contemplate deeply about that difficult passage and try to adjust his life according to the straight path of Islam.

Last breath which is the last episode in the play of life is like a clear mirror which shows everybody’s end. Humans will most clearly know who they are in that mirror. While spending such precious breaths of our lives on this temporal world we should not forget that we are continuously being recorded by Divine cameras. One day tape of our lives will be placed in front of us and we will be asked to watch it by the order of read your book.” Then we will once again recognize ourselves.

Since we don’t know the time of our last breath, today is the day to prepare for the eternal salvation. Today is the day to perform good deeds, which will be the provision for our afterlife.

In the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh), we are reminded that we will be questioned in the Hereafter from every single one of our actions in this world. Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) advises us to avoid heedlessness as follows:

“The feet of a servant will not move on the Day of Judgment until he has been questioned about four things): his life – how he spent it, his knowledge – how he acted upon it, his wealth – where he earned it and how he spent it, and his body – how he used it.” (Tirmidhi, Kitab sifat al-Qiyamah wal Raqa’iq, 1)

“Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied and your life before your death.”(Bukharī, Riqāq, 3; Tirmidhī, Zuhd, 25)

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HURRY UP IN DOING GOODNESS

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) delivered the message about the significance of hurrying up in doing goodness by many examples in his life. One of them is narrated by ‘Uqbah b. Ḥārith:

“I offered the ‘Asr prayer with the Prophet and after finishing the prayer he got up quickly and went to some of his wives and then came out. He noticed the signs of astonishment on the faces of the people caused by his speed. He then said,

“I remembered while I was in my prayer that a piece of gold was Lying in my house and I disliked that it should remain with us throughout the night, and so I have ordered it to be distributed.”(Bukharī, Adhān, 158, al-‘Amal fi al-Ṣalāt, 18; Nasaī, Sahw, 104)

In another hadith, it is stated that:

“Hurry up in giving your charities; because charity cannot avert the troubles.”(Ḥaythamī, Majma’ al-Zawāid, III, 110)

Just like the most virtuous time for prayer is to perform it as soon as possible, the most meritorious charity is the one given without any postponement. This prophetic deed has been manifested in the lives of scholars and Gnostics, who are the successors of the prophets.

Following anecdote from the life of Ḥasan al-Baṣrī  is a very good example for us.

A dervish asked for something from Ḥasan al-Baṣrī. He immediately stood up and gave his shirt to the dervish. People told Ḥasan al-Baṣrī:

“O Ḥasan! Why didn’t you go home and give the poor dervish something from your home?”

Ḥasan al-Baṣrī replied:

“Once a needy man came to the mosque and told me that he had been hungry. We procrastinated and didn’t give him something immediately. We left him in the mosque and went to our homes. When we came to dawn prayer, we saw that the poor man had passed away. Then we shrouded and buried the corpse.

Next day I saw a vision in which I saw the shroud which we buried the poor guy with. The words “take your shroud back, it is not accepted by Allah the Almighty” were written on it. On that day I swore that I would never keep anybody in need waiting and would take care of his needs.”[1]

Allah the Almighty manifests some facts to His friends. The object of this is to leave deep impacts in the souls and direct them to the straight path. As can be understood from the above mentioned story, the value of a good deed is in its punctual performance without any delay.

AN EXEMPLARY SCENE FROM THE LAST BREATH

Rabī’ b. Ḥaytham depicts someone’s sad state at his final moments who postponed his good deeds and did not purify his soul:

“A person gives his soul depending on the things that he loves in this world. Once I was with a man in his death bed. While I was repeating the Kalimah al-Tawīd (There is no god but Allah) next to him in order to have him say the same words, he was making some calculations with his fingers as if he was counting money.”

In other words, people usually postpone good deeds to perform them later, but even that “later” time comes, they still cannot find the opportunity to perform them. This is why Gnostics have understood the real meaning of the saying “those who say we will do it later are perished.”

Abū Ḥurayrah (r.a) narrates that:

“A man came to the Prophet and asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Which charity is the most superior in reward?” He replied,

“The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, ‘Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.’ And it has already belonged to such and such (as it is too late).”(Bukharī, Zakāt, 11)

In another hadith, it is ordered that:

“A man giving a dirham as sadaqah (charity) during his life is better than giving one hundred dirhams as sadaqah (charity) at the moment of his death.”(Abū Dawūd, Waṣāyā, 3/2866)

Inspired by the above mentioned facts, Sheikh Ṣādī advices as follows:

“Supply yourself your provision for the Hereafter in this world. Because after you die, your relatives get greedy and they do nothing for your soul. Give yourself out of your gold and other blessings today! After you die, you will lose all of them.

Those who take their own provisions for afterlife are the ones who win the prosperity. Nobody else but only I can itch my back by thinking my own goodness.

Put whatever wealth you have in the middle of your palm and give it to the places you need to give. I you cannot give, tomorrow you will bite your hand because of regret.”

It is a fact that not giving the wealth in charity in time and leaving it to the inheritors, who are raised without proper spiritual discipline and are unknown where to spend their wealth, becomes a great responsibility for the afterlife. And this is not something what intelligent believers would do.

How sapient the following advice of the companion of the Prophet (pbuh) Abū Dharr is:

“There are three partners in a property. First one is the owner of the property, in other words you; the second one is fate. It does not ask you whether it should bring you goodness or evil. And the third partner is your heir and he waits for to put your head down (or your death). When you die, he takes your wealth and you will face its reckoning. If you have the power, do not be weakest one of these three partners.”(Abū Nuaym, ilyah, I, 163)

The people, who think themselves rich in this world of imagination, will find themselves bankrupt when they die. They will wake up to reality in the morning of their death and realize that they will have nothing in their hands. Real richness is not go bankrupt with death. On the contrary, it means to have the eternal realm and wealth.

Jalal al-Dīn Rūmī says that:

“Life in this world is just a dream. To be the owner of wealth in this world is similar to find a treasure in a dream. Wealth in this world stays in this world through transferring it from one generation to the next.”

“Death wakes the heedless rich up by taking his life. That man cries for the pains that he endured for something that he did not actually own and he regrets; but it is too late.”[2]

After being buried in the earth, whatever happens to the poor, the same thing happens to the rich. There everybody finds whatever he did in this world. The capital of those who left this world, whether he is a slave or a king in this world, will be whatever they could take to afterlife. That world will be the place everybody will face whatever he deserves. Those who were oppressing sultans in this world will be the slaves of the Hereafter; and those who were pious slaves of this world will be the sultans of afterlife. All ranks and positions of this world will be nothing in the afterlife. There will be beneficial only obedience and sincere hearts.

At the head of the things from which Allah the Most High tests us in this world come life, property, and children. When these are employed for goodness, they become blessings; but when they are employed for evil, they become causes of pain and sorrow. Only the voice of religion can let us know what is good and what is bad and what is blessing and what is derogation for us.

It is stated in a verse that:

“O you who believe! let not your wealth, or your children, divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers. And spend out of what We have given you before death comes to one of you, so that he should say: My Lord! Why did You not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been of the doers of good deeds?” (63; 9-10)

The state of those who heedlessly destroy their lives is depicted in the following verse:

“And they shall cry therein for succor: O our Lord ! Take us out, we will do good deeds other than those which we used to do. Did We not preserve you alive long enough, so that he who would be mindful in it should mind? And there came to you the warner; therefore taste; because for the unjust, there is no helper.”(35; 37)

Imam Ghazālī makes the following advices:

“Dear Son! Think about you died today and sent back to this world. Think about how your excitement would be in such a situation. Therefore stay away from sins and everything other than Allah and do not waste even a moment your today; because, every breath is an invaluable blessing.”

This means we should consider that every page opened from the calendar of life is a new Divine extension given to us and so we should hurry up doing goodness.

EVERYBODY REGRETS

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) warns us as follows:

“There is nobody who dies and does not regret.” When he was asked what the regret was, he said that:

“If (dead) was a musin person (or someone who did goodness), he will regret for not increasing his goodness; and if he was a bad person, he will regret for not giving up evil and correcting himself/herself.”(Tirmidhī, Kitān al-Zuhd, 59/2403)

In other words, even righteous people will feel regret for not spending more the blessing they had in this world for the sake of Allah the Almighty. We cannot even find words to express the regret of the heedless people.

Behlul Dānā asks that:

“What is the most that can be found under the earth?” then He himself answers his own question:

“Regrets of the dead are the most things which can be found under the earth.”

Therefore we should run to do the deeds which consists of the pleasure of Allah and stay away from wasting our times with useless actions. We should live every one of our days like it’s our last day in this world and spend our time fully.

Allah the Almighty depicts the state of those servants who are in disappointment about properly using their times and shows them the way to save themselves from wasting their times and attain the Divine blessings:

“Therefore, when you are free (from your immediate task), still labor hard, and make your Lord your exclusive object.” (94; 7-8)

In other words, when we finish worship or a good deed, we should run to perform another one and do not let even a single moment pass without worship or a good deed.

How elegantly Rumī states that:

“The sign for the acceptance of our worship is to go to perform other good deeds, and run from one good deed to the other.”

Again this is stated in the following words of Rumī”

“Before death takes everything that was given to us, we should give everything that needs to be given.”

Since it was stated in the following verse:

“O you who believe! spend out of what We have given you before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, neither any friendship nor intercession, and the unbelievers– they are the unjust.” (2; 254)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says that:

“Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. During (that stormy period) a man would be a Muslim in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening or he would be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning, and would sell his faith for worldly goods.”(Muslim, Kitāb al-Imān, 186; Tirmidhī, Kitāb al-Fitan, 30: Kitāb al-Zuhd, 3)

Therefore while we still have the chance, we should hurry up in doing goodness. Preparing provision for afterlife must be the goal of every believer. It is necessary for us not to be deceived by the temporal pleasures of this world and not to forget that wealth is similar to a treasure found in a dream.

THE REAL POSSESSION OF A PERSON IS WHATEVER HE PREPARES FOR THE HEREAFTER

On one occasion the Prophet’s family slaughtered a sheep and distributed its meat. The Prophet (pbuh) asked: “Is there anything left from the meat?”

Aisha (r.ha) said:

“Just a shoulder bone is left to us”

“So then all of it became ours except that shoulder bone!” (Tirmidhi, Sifat al-Qiyamah, 35)

Abdullah b. Shihhīr narrates:

One day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was reciting the chapter takāthur(102) from the Qur’ān. When he finished his recitation, he said that:

“The son of Adam claims: My wealth, my wealth. And he (the Holy Prophet) said: O son of Adam. is there anything as your belonging except that which you consumed, which you utilized, or which you wore and then it was worn out or you gave as charity and sent it forward?”(Muslim, Kitāb al-Zuhd wa al-Raqāiq, 3-4)

In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah depicts one of scenes of Judgment Day as follows:

“And (no doubt) each one of you will stand in front of Allah and there will be neither a curtain nor an interpreter between him and Allah, and Allah will ask him, ‘Did not I give you wealth?’ He will reply in the affirmative. Allah will further ask, ‘Didn’t I send a messenger to you?’ And again that person will reply in the affirmative Then he will look to his right and he will see nothing but Hell-fire, and then he will look to his left and will see nothing but Hell-fire. And so, any (each one) of you should save himself from the fire even by giving half of a date-fruit (in charity). And if you do not find a half date-fruit, then (you can do it through saying) a good pleasant word (to your brethren).”(Bukharī, Zakāt, 9, 10: Riqāq, 31: Tawhīd, 36)

So everything which will face us in the afterlife, whether it is good or bad, is just the embodiment of our actions in this world. This is why our Lord warns us in the Qur’ān:

“O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah, and let every soul consider what it has sent on for tomorrow, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Aware of what you do.” (59; 18)

Sheikh Sādī says that:

“Intelligent people take their possessions and money with them while they are going to the other world. (In other words they give in charity for the sake f Allah) But the stingy ones leave their wealth in this world with feeling of craving for it.”

SAVE YOURSELVES FROM THE ILLNESS OF STINGINESS

Stinginess and staying away from infāq means throwing our life in the Hereafter in danger. In a verse our Lord warns us as follows:

“And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good.”(2; 195)

Property and a blessing, which is not spent as charity, is like an unfaithful friend. When time comes and life ends, it will show its disloyalty and will leave its owner alone and helpless. Those who expect loyalty from their wealth and potentials should spend them for the sake of Allah the Almighty and send wealth to Hereafter in order to meet them when they leave this world. In order to realize this, it is necessary to get rid of the stinginess of the self.

In fact in a verse the necessity of prevailing over stinginess for the sake of eternal salvation is stated as follows:

“… Whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones.”(59; 9)

However Devil resorts to different kinds of tricks and sows seeds of delusions into the hearts. He tries to deceive humans even though Allah the Almighty is the only giver of blessings. It is mentioned in a verse:

“Shaitan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to be niggardly, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.”(2; 268)

‘Alī (r.a), who knew the tricks of Devil very well, used to advice his governors altruism and generosity and warn them saying:

“Do not let the following people into your consultation assembly: a stingy person who scares you with the possibility of poverty and discourages you from giving in charity, a coward man who loosens your determination to do great things, and an ambitious person who directs you oppression and suggests you that greed is something good.”

Those who can save themselves from the stinginess of self and delusions of Devil know very well that their charity does not get lost; on the contrary it is waiting for them in the Hereafter. As a matter of fact it is stated in a hadith that:

“There are there attributes that I can talk about them by swearing, Know them well:

By giving charity, someone’s property would not decrease.

Allah will increase the honor of those who show patience towards the oppression they faced.

Allah opens the door of poverty for those who open the door of begging.”(Tirmidhī, Zuhd, 17)

Rumī expresses the fact that giving in charity does not decrease the amount of wealth as follows:

“A sowing of pure seeds in God’s earth, and then no income! (That is impossible.)”[3]

“Since this earth of mortality is not without produce, how should God’s earth be (without it)? That (earth of God) is a spacious place.”[4]

“Verily, the produce of this earth (of God) is infinite: even the least (produce) for a single seed is seven-hundredfold.”[5]

Every single moment of this life, which is a priceless capital for the Hereafter, is seeds of afterlife which will turn into diamonds of eternity. A person should sow these seed into the field of this world and harvest their produce in the Hereafter. However if he wastes these priceless seeds for the sake of their selfish desires, then they will turn into products of Hellfire. What a pity for those unhappy! The times which are adorned with the spirit of Qur’an and Sunnah, are the seeds of happiness which will take root in the eternal gardens of Paradise.

The wealth which is not given as charity is similar to those who are not loyal to their friends. While wealth spent for the sake of Allah is like a nice and loyal friend. This fact is explained in the following saying of the Prophet:

“What a wonderful friend the property is for a believer. Provided that he has given out of his wealth to the poor, the orphan and the wayfarer.”(Aḥmad, III, 21)

“On Judgment Day everybody will shade under the shadow of his charity.”(Ghazālī, Iḥyā, I, 626)

‘Ubayd b. Umayr explains this fact as follows:

“People will be resurrected with an extreme hunger, thirst, and nakedness. However Allah will feed those who fed those who are needy in the world; Allah will remove the thirst of those who got rid of thirst for the sake of Allah.”

Our Lord gives his good news to those who reach happiness in the harshness of the Judgment Day:

“(As for) those who spend their property by night and by day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward from their Lord and they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.”(2; 274)

In short we should turn infāq into our natural habits, try to be in an effort of infāq, know the value of our time and spend it doing goodness.

Our Lord says in the Qur’ān By the Break of Day”[6] and time of dawn acquires a special meaning for our lives. How are we going to fill our lives? How much are we going to work for ourselves and how much are we going to spend time for the needy and destitute? What are the Angels of deeds writing in our files for the Hereafter? A believer should carefully think about the answers for these questions and spend his time with the best deeds. He should accept the following words of Omar (r.a) as a principle of his life: “Question yourselves before being questioned”[7]

Just like the saying of Omar b. Abd al-Azīz:

“Wherever you would like to go in the Hereafter, make your preparations according to them.”

Let’s end this chapter by saying Amin to the supplication of Abū Bakr (r.a)”

“O Allah! The best part of our lives is its end; and the best part of our actions is its consequence; and the best day of my life is the day that I reunite with You!” [8]

Amin…

[1].      Qur’ān 89; 1

[1].      See Darir Mustafa Efendi, Yüz Hadis Yüz Hikâye, edited by S. Yıldırım – N. Yılmaz, Istanbul 2001, p. 157

[2].      Mathnawī, III, 2641

[3].      Mathnawī, IV, 1759

[4].      Mathnawī, IV, 1761

[5].      Mathnawī, IV, 1763

[6].      Qur’ān 89; 1

[7].      Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, I, 27

[8].      Ṣuyūtī, Tarikh al-Khulafā, p. 103