Human beings will feel obliged to think about how they should live this life on earth when they start contemplating with their souls the exhibition of divine power upon themselves and about the composition of the universe. The greatest truth that should concern a human being is the matter of “death”.
That magnificent moment of farewell is a great lesson for humans. The one who knows death does not dawdle with mortal pleasures and the one who knows that he is a traveler to the hereafter, is not deceived by the toys in this guesthouse and does not waste time playing with them. In a verse Allah Almighty says:
“We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, merely in (idle) sport: We created them not except for just ends: but most of them do not understand.” (Qur’an:59/38-39)
What good would it do for all mortal blessings to be given to one person who lived a peaceful and a happy life for a thousand years? In the end, is not the final place which that person goes to the dirt upon which we tread? Why do we, humans, not take heed of the fact that the freshness and health of every mortal being is continuously being ground in this mill called time? What a dreadful deception for eternal destiny, unaware of the hereafter, assuming that the compliments of this world which feed a selfish life are permanent, and that the toys of this world are real. As Imam Shafi puts it:
“Is it wise for caravans to build homes on a journey?”
A life lived in heedlessness with games in childhood, passion in youth, heedlessness in adulthood and yearning for the lost things in old age, is a sum of thousands of tremors and remorse.
But, death is waiting in ambush at every moment. What a sad waste of life and a bitter demise it is to wear out one’s life in worldly indulgencies, working for mortal pleasures in a state that is deprived of the thought of the hereafter. Those who destroy their time as if they will never die, will long for and repent the time wasted.
Those who surrender to the pleasures of their nafs constantly avoid contemplating the grave and what comes after it. They do this to be able to continue their lives in the context of the nafs.
For this reason, the death that will embrace them turns into a futuristic worry and a horrifying nightmare; every person wants to live in the world they dream about and cherish. Would a person, who ruins his/her afterlife by constructing this world, want to leave the mansion and go to the ruins? On the contrary, would a believer, who has constructed his afterlife, agonize in terror, seeing death as a nightmare?
Hadhrat Rumi shows the way of escaping captivity in this world and reaching eternal happiness:
“Do not embrace possessions so that when the time comes you can leave them easily. You can easily give them away and leave as well as gain sawab (blessings). Embrace the One who holds you tightly, He is the Awwal (The First, The One whose Existence is without a beginning), He is the Akhir (The Last, The One whose Existence is without an end).”
“Most people fear the death of their bodies. What they actually should fear, is the death of their hearts”
For each living being, the last breath one will take is predestined. It is not possible to set it aside or to lengthen life on this earth for a certain period of time. Time continues to flow in the manner that it was established, as it is adatullah (preordained – the rules and practices of Divine origin that govern the universe).
In this world, it is more or less possible to buy or get back almost anything. But this is impossible for passing time. While we find it hard to be indifferent to a piece of gold thrown into the trash, strangely, people are indifferent to wasting time (something that cannot be bought for tons of gold) in useless pursuits.
Fariduddin Attar counsels us and says:
“Four things cannot be brought back after they are out of one’s hands: words that have come out of the mouth suddenly, an arrow that has left the bow, an accident that has taken place and a life that has been wasted.”
A saintly person gave advice on how to value time without falling into heedlessness and how to spend our days properly:
“From time to time go to hospitals and visit patients. Contemplate and make shukr for the blessing of health you have and for not being ill like those who are suffering. From time to time go to prisons, contemplate the lives of the inmates that are full of misery. Think that murders are committed on the spur of the moment with recklessness and frenzy. On the other hand, think about those innocent people in prison who go through those difficulties and think that you could have been in their shoes. Make shukr to Allah Almighty that by His Grace you have not found yourself in these situations. Pray for their safety and freedom. And then go to the graveyards. Listen to the silent cries and laments that arise from the gravestones…Value your time before you lose it and realize that there is no use in regretting a lost life after death. Recite Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Qur’an) for those in the graves and then try to spend the rest of your days in hamd, shukr and dhikr.”
So a believer should try to live a pious life, never forgetting Lord Almighty. Allah says:
“And be ye not like those who forgot Allah. And He made them forget their own souls! Such are the rebellious transgressors.” (Qur’an:59/19)
Abu Abdurrahman as-Sulami, stated that the most shameful acts of the nafs are wasting time and constantly being with people who only worry about this world and he explained its cure as follows:
“Value time as the most precious thing in life and spend this valuable time with equally valuable things, like making dhikr of Allah Almighty, constantly being in a state of worship and working on nestling sincerity in the nafs. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “For a person to forsake those things that does not concern him, is from the beauty of his Islam”. (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 11)
In many hadith, the necessity of appreciating time and utilizing it with a heartfelt vigilance, are stated.
“Esteem five things before another five come upon you: Youth before old age, health before sickness, wealth before poverty, free time before busy time and life before death.” (Hâkim, al-Mustadrak, IV, 341; Bukhârî, Rikak, 3; Tirmidhî, Zuhd, 25)
“On the Day of Judgment, no man’s feet will move before he is asked about four things.
1. About life: with what did you destroy it?
2. About youth: where did you destroy it?
3. About possessions: Where did you earn it and where did they spend it?
4. About knowledge: What did you do with it?” (Tirmidhî, Kiyamah, 1)
“There are two blessings that most people are deceived in the use of: health and spare time.” (Bukhari, Rikak, 1)
In many verses the Lord Almighty states that there will be a reckoning in the hereafter for all the spiritual and material blessings He bestowed upon us. Scholars of Islam have different interpretations about the most important matters that will be the subject of the divine reckoning.
Ibn al-Mas’ud said, these are “security, health and spare time”, Muawiya bin Kurra said, “The most severe reckoning in the hereafter will be about free time”. (Bursavi, X, 504)
Imam Gazali’s warning about wasting time is an important admonition:
“Son! Assume you died today. You will be so sorry for the times you spent in heedlessness. You will say “if only…” but, alas!”
Junaid al-Baghdadi says:
“One day of this world is better than a thousand years of the hereafter, because the matters of gain and loss belong to this world. There is no gain or loss in the hereafter.”
Wasted time is a bitter loss, that cannot be compensated for. All the files belonging to the past have been closed. We can only seek refuge in Allah with prayer, repentance and asking forgiveness with remorse for those wasted times and trying to compensate, at least spiritually, for these losses.
The river of life flows very fast. Our mortal lives, which have been limited by divine will, are like drops that fill a glass. We should not forget that with each passing day, we move towards the end of this limited life; we are one more day away from this world and closer to our graves. We should bear in mind that, because the time of death is not known to us, we could meet Azrail at any time.
Devoutness is not just unique to the days of Ramadan or other special days; it is a lifetime of piety. We should try to spend our life, which has been limited, like we do in the month Ramadan, by Divine Will with the excitement and manners of being a servant of Allah Almighty, so that the hereafter will become a celebration for us.
On the other hand, the future is just as full of dangers as it is of glad tidings. We do not know if we will be alive for the next Ramadan, or how many leaves of the calendar are left in our lives.
May our Lord bless all of us with the state of servant hood until yaqeen (death) comes upon us and may He bless us to die as Muslims.
May He enable us to live a life void of squander and extravagance, to establish balance and moderation in our inner and outer lives and to beautify His blessings with charity and good deeds when He bestows them upon us.