Salam alaykum, may God’s peace and blessings be upon you all. My sincere apologies; it has been quite some time since I’ve last posted! Unfortunately, my job has not gotten any less stressful; I’m still as busy and overworked as ever, and I have not had a single chance to deal with my blog. But, alhamdilulah, nevertheless I’m very thankful to have a job and, to finally have a few minutes to sit down and post something.
I listened to a very good Islamic lecture recently, given by Sheikh Ahmed Haneef, that discussed the issue of procrastination. He describes procrastination as having two types: worldly procrastination and spiritual procrastination. To kick off his lecture, he mentioned a very long hadith in which Prophet Muhammad (saws) gives in-depth advice to one of the companions, Abu Dharr. Prophet Muhammad admonishes Abu Dharr to avoid procrastination in 5 specific areas. Each of these areas is quite profound, so I’ll just mention the first: we should take advantage of our youth before old age sets in.
Taking advantage of my youth is something I have thought about a great deal in the past few years. I was startled to realize that upon reaching my long-held ideal age of 25, time doesn’t stop there – the days, months, and years only continue to come, seemingly at an ever-increasing speed. Now in my late 20s, I’m looking back on my life and wishing I had done many things differently and that I had taken advantage of my youth and the numerous opportunities it afforded. Of course I recognize that I am still young, and I see each day now as being very valuable and precious. On the Day of Judgment, we will be asked to account for all of the time given to us in this life, so we shouldn’t spend it carelessly and thoughtlessly. There are countless things that those of us still in our youth are capable of doing that we may not have the opportunity to do later. Now, when I’m faced with a little bit of free time, I always try to fill it with important, meaningful, and necessary tasks as opposed to mindless and valueless activities.
Time is something constantly on my mind, as these days I never have enough of it. I have to always monitor my activities by constantly pushing myself to move faster in order to get through everything each day. The pressure of the clock as I go about each day is a constant reminder of the pressure of the rapid passing of the remaining days I have in this life. With this perspective, each moment holds much more gravity and value than it ever did before.
As Imam Ali ibne Abu Talib (as) wisely states, “to miss an opportunity brings about grief,” and that “opportunities pass by like clouds.” Opportunities to make valuable use of our time present themselves only once, and only for a fleeting moment, just like the passing clouds. Once the opportunity is gone, we are left with only the regret of not having acted differently, and the inescapable burden of knowing that we’ll never be able to go back and change it. It’s gone forever.
Although difficult to imagine, our lives do not stretch on and on indefinitely. On the contrary, our lives are short and our days are easily countable. Each moment that passes us by brings us that much closer to our end, and to the day we stand before God to account for how we spent our time here on earth. We should not look to this world only, but beyond what is directly in front of us to what lies after this world.
This world is merely a test in which we alone determine our hereafter. So, for those still in their youth, don’t think of the future as some far-off, abstract notion that will happen “someday.” No, the future is right around the corner, and your actions now will have a serious and lasting impact on your future circumstances. Do not occupy yourself with inconsequential, meaningless things, but instead, strive to prepare yourself for your impending future and the hereafter.