Teacher’s Corner—Summer Advices: Timeless Threads
Summer is here! Alhamdulillahi Rabil ‘Alameen! School is finally out. No more getting ready for school early Sunday morning. No more last minute Surah memorization. No more hurriedly finishing of Sunday School homework. And no more worries of teachers yelling at you for not completing your assignments— for now at least.
Now that summer is upon us, our Sundays are now virtually free, and soon insha’Allah, the regular weekday school will also be on summer break. This means that the whole week will soon be open to free time, but with so much time on our hands, what will we do with it? Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala has blessed us with so much extra time, but do we do justice to this blessing Allah has bestowed upon us?
Even with all the time we have, I feel that, one of the greatest weaknesses in myself and in our communities is the inability to properly use our time. We have three or more months off from school; however, how many of us will seek knowledge, spiritually transform, or better their character? We have become so accustomed to mistreating time that it has become a societal norm, a zeitgeist in our community. This disease, in part, is largely a result of two things: our negligence and our nafs. Due to the shortening of our generation’s attention spans, I will only focus on our lack of knowledge of time. Our negligence arises from our minimal of understanding of what time is, and what it means to us.
Time is a blessing. Those who have it in abundance are fortunate. We all know this, yet, we never take the time to think about the importance of time as a concept in Islam. Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala considers it such an important treasure, that he weaves it into the very foundation of Islam. For instance, the name “Qur’an” implies that it is the book that is constantly recited, always, throughout time. In addition, its importance is further alluded to in Surah Al-Asr when Allah swears by time as He goes onto describe those people who will be at a loss in the duniya and akhira. And within our five pillars, Allah(SWT) shows us how any length of time given to us can be used to our advantage and for worship.
The fifth pillar, Hajj, we dedicate at least once within a lifetime. The fourth, Sawm or fasting, we dedicate to every year. The third, Zakat we dedicate to in a month, Ramadan. The second, Salaah, we dedicate to every day. The first, Shahada, we dedicate to within a single moment. Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala has made it so that, no matter how little time we think we have, it is never too little to worship or accomplish good, whether it be: a moment, a day, a month, a year, or a lifetime. Even though these lengths of time significantly differ, all these lengths are equal in their importance. The fact that Allah Azawajal has taken these pillars, these timeless threads, and woven them into the fabric of Islam only further shows the importance of time.
Our beloved Rasulullah صلي الله عليه واله وسلم also comments on the importance of time in a famous hadith recorded by Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak. The Best of Creation صلي الله عليه واله وسلم was reported to have said, “Profit from five things before five things overtake them: your life before your death; your health before your sickness; spare time before being occupied; your youth before old age, and your wealth before poverty.” We should take our beloved Nabi’s صلي الله عليه واله وسلم advice to heart and make use of our spare time before it becomes occupied with work, school, or family obligations.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi gave the following commentary on time: “Time is the principal capital of a person. One counts his wealth so why does he not count his hours? The righteous and the Gnostics of Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala count their breaths. Not one single breath leaves them without relying on Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala, without remembering Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala, without watching what comes from Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala. I am not saying it is necessary to count our breaths, rather count the hours—”Life is minutes and seconds.” Let us count the minutes and seconds and be mindful of the works that we fill our time with because this is what we will be shown on the Day of Judgement.”
We should be aware of the importance of time, its blessings, and its passing. Once we have these pieces of knowledge embedded within our hearts, it will become easier for us to use our time more effectively insha’Allah!
So now for the more “practical” aspect of this article. How can we use our time in the summer wisely? Here are a list of summer advices I was able to compile which I myself would also like to work on.
- Start the day early! Stay awake after Fajr and begin your morning with the recitation of surah YaSin after Fajr Salaat. As Ibn Ata’illah wrote in his Hikam: “Innal bidayati majalatuhu nihayat.” “The beginnings are the manifestations of the ends.” If you begin your day with the Baraka of the Qur’an, then insha’Allah, you will end your day with success and happiness!.
- Eat right! As someone I respect dearly once advised me, “Eat to live, do not live to eat.” The importance of balance in consumption is also found many places in hadith. For example: On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink, and one third for his breath.” Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah – Hadith sahih. Moderation in what we eat, and making sure we have a balanced diet is vital in making us stronger and healthier. This way, we will be able to do more ibadat, be less cranky, and be more energetic in all of our affairs insha’Allah.
- Exercise! Go outside and play! There are many sports available to get yourself involved in. Do not stay inside and only limit yourself to playing video games or watching movies. It is a permissible pastime; however, going outside and playing sports will give you more energy and make you happier. Also, it was a sunnah of Rasulullah صلي الله عليه واله وسلم and his companions Radi’Allahu Anhum to stay physically fit and engage in sports. A few Sunnah sports are wrestling, archery, swimming, and horseback riding. With all the free time you now have, give some of these sunnahs a try insha’Allah!
- Read! Islam highly emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge. When we are in regular school, subjects other than Islam are prioritized; however, our only exposure to Islamic education comes from Sunday School. Islamic Foundation Sunday School is only the beginning step of your Islamic education. Pick up some good reads to increase your Islamic knowledge; however, the books you read don’t even have to be about Islam. It’s ok to pick up some nice fiction, historical, or philosophy books to make oneself a more well rounded Muslim. If you would like advice on some great books for Islamic reading, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will give you a list of our favorite reads insha’Allah.
- Qur’an! Reciting the Qur’an provides tremendous benefits; however, it is also important that we also understand what we are reciting. What I would also like to advice everyone, is to pick up a good translation of the Qur’an and read it from cover to cover. Allah Azawajal, our Creator, is trying to speak to us through the Qur’an. Go ahead and read the translation, and while reading, imagine yourself in front of Allah Subahanahu wa ta’Ala as he is trying to speak to you and bring you closer to him. Insha’Allah, doors of knowledge will begin to open to those who seek Allah. Use this time to reestablish your connection to Allah and His most beloved Habib صلي الله عليه واله وسلم .
Insha’Allah, with these advices, we should be able to make the most out of our summer. It being the month of Rajab, Ramadan Shareef will soon start. We should try hard to use our time the best we can. There is no longer any excuse to be bored! May Allah Azawajal put Baraka in our time and allow us to use our time in a manner that will increase our love for Him and our Rasul صلي الله عليه واله وسلم .
– Br. Thymur Dogar