Khutbas by Imam Habib
Khutba on Importance of Time
الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي اقتضت حكمتُه أن يفضلَ بعض الأماكنِ والأزمان، وأن يأمر برعايته الإنسان، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدٌى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين. أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.
Allah has given us a wonderful precious gift and yet many of us treat it with disdain and do not realise its value or importance. He reminds us again and again of that gift and yet we pay little heed. He tells us again and again how it may be best employed and yet we waste and squander it. That gift is time - the moments, the hours, the days, the years which make up our lives. It is something that all too many of us take for granted and so fail to realise its value or recognise how important it is to make good use of it and not let it go to waste.
The valuable nature of time is clear from the Qur’an, for it is one of those things by which Allah Himself swears. Allah says:
والعصر إن الإنسان لفي خسر
the translation of which is, “By the late afternoon, truly man is in loss.” And He says,
والليل إذا يغشى والنهار إذا تجلى
the translation of which is, “By the night when it conceals and the day when it reveals.”
And Allah does not make an oath by a thing, except to draw our attention to its importance in the general scheme of things and to get us to reflect on it.
That importance is further confirmed by statements from the Messenger of Allah and from his noble Companions, for Muadh ibn Jabal narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,
لن تزول قدما عبد يوم القيامة حتى يسأل عن أربع: عن عمره فيما أفناه وعن شبابه فيما أبلاه وعن ماله من أين اكتسبه وفيما أنفقه وعن علمه ماذا عمل به
“A slave of Allah will remain standing on the Day of Rising until he is asked about four things: his lifetime and how he spent it; his youth and how he used it up; his wealth and how he acquired and spent it; and his knowledge and how he made use of it.” And it is narrated that Ibn Umar used to say,
إذا أمسيتَ فلا تنتظرُ الصباح ، وإذا أصبحتَ فلا تنتظرُ المساء ، وخذ من صحتِك لمرضِك ، ومن حياتِك لموتك
“When it is evening, do not await the morning, and when it is morning, do not await the evening. Take from your health for when you will be ill, and take from your life for when you will be dead.” In other words, “take advantage of the now and do not put things off to the future.”
Al-Hasan al-Basri, the great tabi’i, took it still further and considered man to be no more than the sum of the times granted him, saying,
يا ابنَ آدم، إنما أنتَ أيَّامٌ مجموعةٌ، كلَّمَا ذَهَبَ يومٌ ذهب بعضُكَ
“Son of Adam, you are nothing but a collection of days - every time a day passes, a bit of you goes with it.” Those times, those days and moments, that make up who we are, however, are not infinite. There are only a limited number of them available to us and so we cannot afford to let even a single one pass us by empty and unfulfilled. Every moment that passes is gone and can never be brought back. This is clearly illustrated by another statement of al-Hasan al-Basri,
ما من يوم ينشقُّ فجرُه، إلا وينادِي: يا ابنَ آدم، أنا خلقٌ جديد، وعلى عملِك شهيد، فتزوَّدْ مني، فإني إذا مضيتُ لا أعودُ حتى يومِ القيامة.
“There is no day that dawns except that it calls out: ‘O son of Adam! I am a new creation and a witness to your deeds. So take provision from me now because when I am gone, I will not come back again until the Day of Rising.’” And who knows how many more such days you will have in the future. None of us can say with certainty that we will be here tomorrow, let alone next year. No human being knows when and where he will die - that knowledge is Allah’s and Allah’s alone. Allah says:
وَمَا تَدْرِي نفْسٌ ماذَا تَكسبُ غدًا وَما تَدْرِي نفْسٌ بأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
the translation of which is, “And no self knows what it will earn tomorrow and no self knows in what land it will die. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”
The Romans had a saying: ‘Carpe Diem’ ‘seize the day’. We say ‘seize the moment!’ - do not let even a single second pass you by without your taking full advantage of it. Think back to when you sat your exams at school or university. Think of that sense of urgency and immediacy you felt throughout every moment of your sitting there, think of your attempt to fill every minute constructively and to not waste even a single moment. Our life here in this dunya is itself nothing more than an exam - Allah tests us and we either pass or fail - and then our results are revealed to us in our books on the Last Day. But this exam is not just for some job or piece of paper, no, it is for our ‘fate eternal’, it is for our Afterlife in the permanent domain. And there are no resits - once you have finished that exam, that is it. There are no second chances. So if we show such urgency over something whose outcome is of so little consequence, how much more urgency should we show in the time we spend for the greatest outcome that man could possibly hope for?
عن معاذ ابن جبل رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ماتحسّر أهل الجنة على شيء كما تحسروا على ساعة لم يذكرو الله فيها
Muadh ibn Jabal narrated that the Prophet said, “There is nothing that the people of the garden will regret more than the time they wasted not saying dhikruAllah.”
The best way of filling our time, ‘the correct answers for the exam’, are many but they all revolve around one element: dhikruAllah - remembering Allah in all things and working towards the Akhirah. This does not mean not working, not eating and not sleeping, but does mean doing them all for the sake of Allah, doing them in His name and to gain His pleasure. It does mean ensuring all those things are correct and in accordance with the Quran and sunnah. It does mean making use of every moment and not ‘killing time’ or wasting it doing nothing. If you do find yourself with free time, then realise it for the great blessing that it is and make full use of it.
Live in the moment and be fully aware of what it is you are doing. Follow the advice of Umar ibn al-Khattab and,
“حَاسِبْ نَفْسَكَ قَبْلَ أَن تُحَاسَبَ”
“Take yourself to account before you are taken to account.” Look back at what you did in the course of your day and see whether you made good use of your times or let them go to waste. Measure your actions against the sunna of the Messenger of Allah, and if you see that they fell short, then strive to use that information to help you manage and organise your time more efficiently for the next day. That is part of remembrance of Allah. Allah says,
يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلتَنظُرْ نفْسٌ مَا قدَّمَتْ لغدٍ، وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ، إِنَّ اللهَ خبِيرٌ بما تَعملُونَ، وَلاَ تَكُونُوا كالذِينَ نَسُوا اللهَ فأَنساهمُ أَنفُسهُم، أُوْلئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
the translation of which is, “ You who believe! Have taqwa of Allah and let each self look to what it has sent forward for tomorrow. Have taqwa of Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. Do not be like those who forget Allah so He made them forget themselves.”
So do not delay. Do it now - do not put it off until tomorrow. Do not allow any more moments to be wasted. Time passes quickly and when it is gone it is gone - it is not for nothing that we say ‘time flies’. Do not allow yourself to become one of those people described by Allah, who upon their death beds say:
رَبِّ لَوْلاَ أَخَّرْتَنِي إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُن مِنَ الصَّالِحِين
the translation of which is, “My Lord, if only you would give me a little more time so that I can give sadaqah and be one of the right-acting.” Their du‘as are too late. Allah says:
وَلَنْ يُؤَخِّرُ الله نَفْساً اذَا جَاءَ اجَلُهَا، واللهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
the translation of which is, “Allah will not give anyone more time, once their time has come. Allah is aware of what you do.”
Rather, be one of those who, when they come to their deathbeds, have no fear and no regrets, having recognised the value of their time and made use of it. They are the ones about whom Allah says:
لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ.
the translation of which is, “They will feel no fear and know no sorrow.”
May Allah teach us the true value of time and give us all the strength and knowledge to make best use of it.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله العظيم لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو التوّابُ الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.
The pull of the dunya is strong and distractions abound. Everywhere we look we are distracted and pulled away from the task for which we were created, to know and worship our Lord. In such a world of distractions it is difficult to maintain this awareness of time and its value. Events happen and we forget. Mankind is forgetful and weak. Allah says:
وَخُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
the translation of which is, “Man was created weak.“ And that is why He, in His infinite Mercy, has seen fit to remind us on a constant basis of the importance of time in relation to the Deen. Allah has structured the Deen, and in particular, the ‘ibadaat, the acts of worship, in such a say that we must remain aware of time and cannot forget it. Each act of worship is assigned its own specific time - the five prayers throughout the day and night, the Jumu‘a once a week, the zakat on wealth after the passing of a full year and Ramadan and Hajj at their designated points during the year. And more than that, Allah grants us times throughout the day, week, month and year when the reward for acts of worship is greater than normal and du‘as are more likely to be answered.
Some of these times are kept hidden, such as that of the saa‘at al-istijaaba - the time when all du‘as are answered - on the day of Jumu‘a and the laylat al-qadr - the night of power - in Ramadan. And the wisdom in those times being kept hidden is that it causes us to fill all of our times with dhikr and du‘a in order to guarantee that they coincide with those particular times.
Others of these times are made known to us, such as the last third of the night, the laylat al-bara‘a and the four Sacred Months. And the wisdom in those times being made known to us is that it gives us a timely reminder and causes us to refocus our efforts and renew our intention.
Today is the sixth of Sha’ban, the month, aside from Ramadan, during which the Prophet used to most love to fast, as Aisha narrated,
كان أحبَّ الشهور إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يصومه شعبانُ
“The month in which the Messenger most loved to fast was Sha’ban.” Indeed, so great was his esteem, so profound was his attachment to this month that he used to identify himself with it and refer to it as his month, saying,
رجبُ شهرُ الله وشعبانُ شهري ورمضانُ شهر أمّتي
“Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha‘ban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.” Many people tend to overlook this month, given that it falls between Rajab, one of the four sacred months, and Ramadan, the month of the obligatory fast. But it is a hidden treasure with great riches awaiting whomsoever takes advantage of it. For it is the month of forgiveness, when huge numbers of Allah’s slaves are set free from the Fire. And that is the reason why the middle night of the month is known as the night of Bara’a - the night when people’s slates are wiped clean.
And it is the month of the Decree, the month when our actions are presented to our Lord. And for that presentation, each and every one of us must strive to be in the best of states, so that we might find acceptance with Him. This was the understanding of the Messenger of Allah and this was why he so much loved to fast during this month. Indeed, he is narrated as having said,
أُحبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنا صَائمٌ، وفي رواية أخرى، وأنا في عبادة ربي وعمل صالح
“I would like my actions to be taken up while I am fasting,” and in another narration, “while I am worshipping my Lord and doing right action.” So fill this month with fasting and other forms of right action and do not let its moments go to waste. But do not go to excess, for there is no good in any supererogatory act that exhausts you and prevents you from doing the obligatory act that follows, the month of Ramadan. Use your hikma and your knowledge of your bodies capacity and do what you are able. That is the secret of this deen and the secret of unlocking the treasures of this month. May Allah grant every one of us the success to do that.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائكتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَليْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ.
وَارْضَ اللهُمَّ عنِ الخلفَاءِ الرَّاشدِينَ أَبِي بكرٍ وَعمرَ وَعثْمانَ وَعلِيٍّ، وَعن عائشةَ وسائر أزواج النبي، وعنْ سائرِ الصحابَةِ أَجمعينَ، خصُوصاً اِلأَنصَارَ منْهُمْ وَالمهَاجرِينَ، وَعنِ التَّابعينَ وَتابعِي التَّابعينَ وَمَنْ تبعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللهُمَّ اهدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسلِمينَ لما يُرْضيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سنَّةِ نبيِّكَ صلَّى اللهُ عَليْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللهُمَّ بارِكْ علَى المُسلِمينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفقهُمْ لِمَا تُحبُّهُ وَتَرْضاهُ يَا أَكرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللهُمَّ أَعزَّ الإِسلَامَ وَالمُسلمينَ (3) وَاخذُلِ الكفْرَ وَالكافرِينَ، وَانْصرِ المُجاهدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
اللهُمَّ لاَ تَدَعْ فِي مقامنَا هَذَا ذَنباً إِلاَّ غفَرْتَهُ، وَلاَ عيْباً إِلاَّ ستَرْتَهُ، وَلاَ مَرِيضاً إِلاَّ شفَيْتَهُ وَعَافيْتَهُ، وَلاَ مَسْجُوناً إِلاَّ طلقتَ سَرَاحَهُ، وَلاَ مُسَافراً فِي بَرِّكَ وَبَحْرِكَ إِلاَّ سَلِِمْتَهُ وَغَنِمْتَهُ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يامُرُ بالعَدْلِ وَالإِحسانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي القرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الفَحشاءِ وَالمنكَرِ وَالبَغْيِ، يَعظُكمْ لعَلكمْ تذَّكرُونَ، وَلذِكرُ اللهِ أَكبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.