How to Safeguard Your Time
By Shaykh-ul-Hadīth Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
The great tābi’ī, Hasan al-Basri rahimahullāh once said:
A day that has passed will never return. Every morning at sunrise the day says:
Whoever is able to do some good should do it, for I will never return to you.
Just think! Our childhood days have passed; for many their youth has passed; others have reached old age and are waiting only for death to come. Allāh ta’ālā says:
…Indeed, when the term appointed by Allāh comes, it cannot be delayed… (71:4)
Before that time comes, we should make the most of our lives. We should resolve that from now on we will not waste a single moment, and we will spend each second only in profitable ways.
In order to give practical form to this resolution, there follow a number of beneficial points of guidance that are tried and tested and derived from the teachings of our pious predecessors. We should try to memorise them and implement them in our lives.
1. Organise your Time
The first point is to organise your time. Our pious predecessors were very particular about scheduling their time effectively, for it prevents time being wasted. Therefore, we should make a programme for the whole day and night in the form of a timetable and adhere strictly to it. At any particular time, do only what you have assigned for that time, and do not delay anything from its appointed time.
Hasan al-Basri rahimahullāh says, “Beware of taswīf (procrastination).” Do not put anything off until tomorrow, for ‘tomorrow’ is simply a deception and a diversion. Procrastination is the biggest cause of people’s neglect and failure. So make a habit of completing every task at its appointed time. In fact, strive for the enthusiasm to do tomorrow’s task today and today’s task now!
In connection with organising one’s time, I should also add that when you are confronted by two or more tasks, do the one that is most necessary and that promises the most beneficial outcome.
2. Abstain from Futile Activities
The second point is to abstain from futile activities and pointless talk. When we spend time in some mubāh (permissible), non-beneficial activity, we argue that it is mubāh and therefore harmless. Such thinking is faulty. A great loss actually occurs in that an extremely valuable asset is spent in an activity that has no benefit.
Before doing anything, we have a habit of asking ourselves whether it will cause any harm to our worldly life or our life in the hereafter. If the answer is no, we feel there is no harm in doing it, even though it may not be beneficial. This way of thinking is wrong. Before doing anything we should ask ourselves if it will be beneficial for our worldly life and our life in the hereafter. If the answer is no, we should stay away from it, for though it is not harmful in itself, to spend a portion of life in an activity that is of no use in the world or the hereafter is in fact a loss. No one would spend money on something that brings no benefit. When spending money on something, people do not think about its possible harms; rather, they think about whether it will be of benefit or not. If it does not offer any benefit, people will not spend money on it.
We understand something else from this too: if we have to save ourselves from things that do not benefit us, how can there be any justification for spending time on things that are harmful in the world or the hereafter? Today, our youth are destroying their prospects for the hereafter and their worldly lives, through indulging in TV, cinema-going and reading indecent literature.
Sin and disobedience to Allāh ta’ālā bring harm in both worlds, so save yourselves from them. There is nothing worse than disobedience to Allāh ta’ālā when it comes to wasting time. May Allāh ta’ālā protect us. Āmīn.
3. Unnecessary Gatherings
You should save yourselves from spending time in unnecessary gatherings as the more you mix with people, the more time will be wasted in futile talk. Nowadays, we not only engage in useless, futile talk in our gatherings, we also indulge in major sins such as backbiting and slander. During weddings or while visiting the bereaved or the sick, people assemble for hours on end and waste time in unprofitable talk. Therefore, abstain from spending time in unnecessary gatherings and mixing with people.
4. Safeguarding the Tongue
Do not speak without necessity; when you have to speak control your tongue and think before you speak. Be brief in your speech and weigh your words before speaking. The tongue indulges the most in futility. Abstaining from mixing with people and engaging in dhikr will help in safeguarding the tongue.
5. Muhāsabah (Self-Reckoning)
Fix a time daily and do muhāsabah of the past twenty-four hours, so you know how your time is being spent; through this you will realise how much is being lost, and how much is bearing fruit. If time has been spent in good activities, thank Allāh ta’ālā and ask for the ability to do more. If it has been spent in wrong ways, repent and make a firm resolution to keep away from such things in the future.
Inshā’allāh, implementing these strategies will prevent time being wasted.