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by Muslim Student Association of Canada and United States


            Perhaps you are aware of the riddle: "What is the longest, yet the shortest, the swiftest, yet the slowest, all of us neglect it and then we all regret it.   Nothing can be done without it, it swallows up all that is small and it builds up all that is great!"  It is - TIME.


            It is the longest because it is the measured eternity; it is the shortest because none of us have time to finish life's work; it is the swiftest to those that are happy, slow to those who are suffer.  Nothing can be done without it because it is the only theatre in which we live.  It swallows up into oblivion[1] all that is unworthy of posterity[2] and it build and preserves all that is great and unselfish.


            A successful man spends his time doing things that the failure is unwilling to do.  The average man finds it easier to adjust to the hardships of failure than to spend the time adjusting to the sacrifices that lead to success.  It means little to have goals and destinations in life, unless there is a time schedule attached to it.  When do you want to start for these goals and arrive at their destinations?


            We are of two categories; first we have the unfortunate, disenchanted group, who are always going to start something tomorrow.  Then we have that wonderful group, who are ready to start right now.  For them there is no tomorrow.  Yesterday does not exist and is just a cancelled check; tomorrow is only a primosory note.  Only today is legal tender and only now is negotiable.


            Killing time is not just a crime, it's murder!  If you must kill it, why not work it to death?  Whenever you say, I don't have time, all you are saying is, there are other things more important to me.  It just like a man who stands back at the Atlantic ocean and says, it ain't as big as I thought it was going to be.


            Every morning when we wake up, our pocketbook was filled with 24 hours. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) tells us that at the start of each day, the angels say "Oh Son of Adam! I am a new day and I witness your actions, so make the best out of me because I will never come back till the day of judgement."  Each day must be filled with things to be proud of. Unless we are ready to start right now , regardless of our good intentions, this time tomorrow, this time next week, this time 10 years from  now, we shall be still bogged down  in the quicksands of complacency, still listening to the siren song of procrastination.  We shall be frozen in the ice of status quo.


            In terms of money, if you make $12,000 annually, each hour is worth $6.15.  Calculate your wasted hour per day, per week, per month and then for a year.  There is no reason why you should continue wasting time by postponing today's actions.  If we let this day go unused, it lost forever.  Remember, today is that tomorrow we are going to do so much about yesterday and that this priceless day will , too soon, be a long, long time ago.  Let's live in the present.  Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived.  Make yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.


            Life is so constructed that we are not called upon to live but one day at a time.  Never bring the worries of yesterday into today or carry the troubles of today into tomorrow.  A wiseman once said, "I've had many troubles in my life over the past 80 years, but most of them never happened."  A psychotic man is a person who worries over troubles that never happened, instead of worrying over troubles that are going to happen, as normal people do.


            The meaning of time to some is the moment when opportunity is at its highest.  They put great emphasis upon good timing.  The time when the opportunity is most favorable, has special significance to many.  Advertising people tells us that there is nothing most powerful in industry, as an idea whose time has arrived.  If you can learn to recognize the right moment when it comes, and act before it goes away the problems of life become vastly simplified.  Time to others is simply a measure of yardstick of seconds, minutes, hours and years.   When think of time, they see either a clock or a calendar; it has only one dimension - length.  This is the shallowest concept of time.  No great masterpieces were created by those who give importance to this concept.   The tragedy of this concept of time is that it destroys initiative; discourage creative impulses and leaves too much to chance.   Parkinson law embraces the principle that a job expands to fill the time allotted to it.  If we have a full week to perform a task, it will require a week.  If we are given 10 days for its completion, it will require 10 days.


            Finally, we have those individuals who give real meaning to life by giving the great quality of depth to time.  To those people, time is no longer imprisoned by the clock or shackled by the calendar.   Their accomplishments are governed by a spirit of dedication and enthusiasm, not only by hours or weeks.  They believe strongly in what they are doing, they are drawn towards their goal of success by a powerful spiritual force, which does not even recognize time.  They have harnessed their hearts to a task they love and their work is a mission blazing with purpose.


            This third approach to time should be a challenge to us all.  The proper us of time determines the failure or success of the average employee today even more than the knowledge of his product or service.  The proper organization of time is certainly one of the first items on any formula for success.  The most difficult task ever found among groups is that of getting men to organize their time.   This is why every individual must spend some time at the beginning of the week planning, in detail, the exact schedule for that week.





            What do you do with those unused minutes; so called spare time?  Do you realize that books can be written, Qur'an and hadiths can be fully memorized and degrees may be obtained by a proper use of this spare time?



            Spare time may be the few minutes while waiting for traveling by a train, a plane or a bus.  Would you call this spare time or creative time?  15 minutes a day means 11 full days a year; 30 minutes a day means 22 full day a year, which is more that 1 month working time.  Some businessmen start out with the premise that no man can be successful in business unless he adopts the equation that time equals money.  We would never think of letting people steal our money and yet, we let people and things rob us of time.


            One salesman used to make $20 per hour.  He wanted to paint his house himself.  His friend asks him "If you were to select a painter would you employ an amateur at $20 an hour, or an expert at $5 an hour?"  The answer is obvious and yet, many of us take valuable time from our own business or profession to do work which could be done far better by other at much less cost.  When you must babysit, run errands or go shopping, be sure to translate your time into the dollar equation, before determining that you are the person for the assignment.


            A bar of iron worth $5, when made into horseshoes it worth $11.  If made into needle, it worth $355.  Transform it into knife blades and the value is $2,285.  Finally, spin it into ballast springs for watches and its value is enhanced to a quarter million dollars!




            A study made in Louisiana, points out that during a normal life of 60 years span, you'll spend 30 full days just dialing the telephone, think how much of your life will be spent talking on the telephone.


            8 days will be spent tying your shoes.  You'll spend at least 5 months waiting for buses.  Waiting for red lights to change to green while driving your car will take more than a month of your life, as will the time you spend at the barber shop.  You'll devote 4 years to nothing but eating and 3 months to brushing your teeth.


            It is estimated that a person born since the proliferation of television will spend 10 full years of his lifetime locked onto the tube, but only 2 years reading books.  You will sleep for 20 years of your life and spend something like 6 months in the tub or shower.  If you live and work in a big city, 3 months of your life will be spent riding elevators.


            These are everyday items we seldom think much about, but they take more of our time than one might suspect.  Just this partial list of those ordinary things to do, never think about, totals up to more that 40 years and six months!.......about two thirds of your life.


            During his working career a man will spend about 9 years earning a living.  That's working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 40 years……….which is the average working career for a man.  And that's not a bad deal.  9 years of work out of an entire life-time is quite a bargain.  You'll spend sound asleep almost 3 times as long.


            So the way the whole thing adds up = if you're going to have to do some of the things you want to do, you're going to have to plan it into your busy schedule.   If you wait for the right time to present itself, you might wait forever.

            When you put a doctors appoint, or business meeting, or special event on your calendar you keep it, as a rule.  Do the same with the time you want to set aside for things you want to accomplish. Set aside a certain time a day and then stick with it as best as you can.


            For example, by setting aside an hour a day just 5 day a week, they'll add up to 260 hours a year, or the equivalent of 32 full working days.  You can get a great deal accomplished in such a period of time: you could memorize many parts of Qur'an, learn speed reading techniques, acquire some specific skills, have the best looking yard in the neighborhood, learn a foreign language, write  a book, or pick up   a diploma, or make yourself some extra money.   But with the way time flies by…..taken up as it is by a thousand minor events, most of which do not contribute to our success or fulfillment as a persons… just have to schedule it and then stick with the schedule. And it's not easy.  Regret for wasted can become a power for good in the time that remains.  And the time that remains is time enough. 





            Follow these suggestions for a few days and you will be astounded at the results:


1.          Plan your day each morning by writing down the things to do, and check them off as they are done. (Look at the details in the  muhasabah)


2.          Never visit a friend without informing or calling him by telephone.


3.          Always have pencil and paper or a note book in your pocket so that you can jot down plans and ideas during spare times.


4.          Plan rest times and try to match them with prayer times.


5.          Utilize spare time by reading, memorizing or doing something constructive.


6.          When you make an appointment, be sure that both parties understand the exact time.


7.          Adjust your traveling time to the distance involve, making reasonable allowance for the unexpected so that you will arrive at the appointed time.


8.          Have all items on hand before starting a job, whether it be cooking, writing an article or preparing a speech.


9.          Avoid people who are thoughtless and selfish enough to steal your time.


10.        Never make   a trip in person if you can accomplish the same through a letter or telephone call.


11.        Fill your car with gas when you are passing your favorite filling station.  Avoid a special trip and by all means, never run out of gas.


12.        Keep proper change at all time for parking meters and telephone calls.


13.        If you have errands or shopping to do, make a written note of all items and plan your activities so that you will not double your journey but cover the least amount if distance.


            There are other item savers you can write down.  Finish up this list, try to use some of these suggestions.  We are not against rest and enjoyment but against wastage time. 

            Recreation itself means to recreate.  One of the greatest tragedies of modern living is that in our mad and feverish existence, we often let our bodies get so far ahead of our souls that it is doubtful if the two ever get together again on this earth.




"…..Your soul is sufficient this day to account against your self."  [al-Isra' : 14]


The following are some questions as a guide to our muhasabah.


1.          Have you read your daily amount of al-Qur'an?


2.          Have you perform your prayers on time?


3.          Have you enjoined good?


4.          Have you forbidden evil?


5.          How many prayers have you done in the mosque or/ in Jamaah?


6.          Have you prayed at night (tahajjud)?


7.          Have you done any extra prayers (sunnah)?


8.          Have you missed any appointment or been late to attend it?


9.          Have you offered any moral or material support (help) to anybody?


10.        Have you tried to bring your family closer to Islam?


11.        Have you done any backbiting or anything that irritates others?


12.        Have you done anything which is a disobedience to Allah (makruh)?


13.        Have you read about Islam (whether the past or present)?


14.        Do you feel that you have gained new Islamic knowledge everyday?


15.        Have you prayed fajar in mosque or in jamaah?


16.        Do you feel that you have done your prayer perfectly and that you are well pleased with it?


17.        Have you remember the present of Allah in any of your work and measured it by the scale of the hereafter?


18.        Have you hesitate after intending to do something?


19.        Were all your thought virtous?


20.        Have you remember Jihad, recalled your bai'ah (promise) with Allah and renewed the iltizam (commitment)?


21.        Have you practiced the proper do'a for eating, sleeping, leaving the house, etc in your daily affairs?


22.        Have you practiced any sports (riadhah)?


23.        Do you normally sleep with wuduk?


24.        Have you visited your neighbour, your relatives, your brothers, etc?


If you found that you have done well, praise Allah for His support.  If not ask for His forgiveness.



[1] Oblivion - condition of being forgotten.

[2] Posterity - generations coming afterwards, collectively.

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