Editor’s note: Islamic Insights is honored to host a short series on “Time Management” by Islamic Insights staff writer, Amir Ghafarian. The beginning of a new year invites us all to set new resolutions and goals. This New Year, commit to time management and increased productivity. This is two of three pieces aimed to give the momineen motivation to utilize their time more wisely, and insha’Allah, as a result, gain closeness to Allah (swt) and await the Imam (aj) properly.
In the first part of this series, we spoke of the necessity, courtesy of narrations from the AhlulBayt (as) and verses from the Holy Quran, of time-management for attaining success. It was said that the purification of the soul is a critical step, as it dictates the direction of the souls leaning. If this step isn’t taken seriously, it will show its effect on how consistent one is with their time management. Through becoming the master of our internal and external faculties, veils of deception, by-products of sin and lack of protection of the soul, will be lifted and we will see and hear what others cannot. Imam Ali (as) has stated:
Indeed, if you could see that has been seen by those of you who have died, you would be puzzled and troubled. Then you would have listened and obeyed; but what they have seen is yet curtained off from you. Shortly, the curtain would be thrown off. You have been shown, provided you see and you have been made to listen provided you listen, and you have been guided if you accept guidance. I spoke unto you with truth. (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 20)
One of the key demands of religion and reason from man, and of the most foundational steps towards self development and purification is ruling and guarding over the self. This is because an unguarded soul becomes a victim of his carnal desires and becomes shackled the deceiving ornaments of this world.
The Qur’an has ordered man:
“O you who have believed, upon you is [responsibility for] yours. (5:105)”
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ
Identifying the Goal of your Time-Management
One of the most important and fundamental aspects of time management is the identification of goals. Correct time management is that which a final destination has been identified and all other commitments are in accordance to it. Planning has to be done with foresight and consideration of all the aspects of the goal at hand, if not, it will be more harmful than not planning to begin with, because, the investment of all your energy and time will render itself futile. As an example: a determined pre-medical student’s ultimate goal is entering medical school. In order to achieve his goal, he realizes he must, through a principled schedule, make himself an unparalleled candidate for medical school dean of admissions to pick from. This student plans his weekends, weekdays, extracurriculars and involvements to be in accordance with this goal – lest he falls short of it. For a believing monotheist, having centralized the obedience of God as an ultimate goal, he caters all his worldly involvements (applying to medical school) in a manner which revolves around this final goal.
Outcome of Time-Management and lack thereof in the Hereafter
We have in hadith that “God has dedicated 24 boxes for every day. Every box represents one hour of the day, and they are in accordance to every hour spent during man’s life. The deeds of each hour are recorded in their respective box. The day the boxes are opened, if man finds flowing from a box the light of good deeds, his happiness will be so intense that if it were spread amongst all the inhabitants of hell, they would all faint from joy. Similarly, if he finds in a box darkness of evil deeds, his grief will be so intense that if it were spread amongst all the inhabitants of heaven, life would become miserable for them. And if he finds a box in regards to the time he spent heedlessly, then he will be overtaken by regret for having wasted an opportunity of doing good.” [مهدوی کنی، ص 346-347]
Imam Ali (as) has said: O servants of Allah, act now that your tongues are free, your bodies are healthy, your limbs have movement, and the opportunity for repentance is available and time is plenty; before your time is done and your death has come. [Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 196]
Now that we have understood the importance of time, it is fitting to view time-management in the lifestyle of the Prophet and the AhlulBayt (as) who are the lights of guidance and arks of salvation for the monotheists.
Importance of Time from The Perspective of the AhlulBayt (as)
The following narrations serve the purpose of exemplifying how to proportion one’s time, as solely dedicating it for worship of God through prayers is contrary to the path of AhlulBayt (as). A follower of AhlulBayt (as) must radiate perfection in all facets of his life and devote effort to all his obligations.
It has been narrated of the Prophet (saws) that when he would enter his house, he would split his time into three portions: a portion dedicated to his family, a portion dedicated for worship and connection with his Lord and a portion for himself and attending the needs of others. [مهدوی کنی، ص 346-347]
The believer’s time has three portions: A portion for connecting with his Lord; a portion for managing his livelihood; a portion for when he is free to enjoy what is lawful and pleasant. [Nahjul Balagha, Hadith n. 390]
The following narration displays the importance of efficiently managing time was to the AhlulBayt:
One day, the companion of Imam al-Sadiq (as), Unwan Al-Basri, visited him for some questions. After he had received answers to his questions, he remained in the presence of the Imam for no reason. After seeing this the Imam told him: “Surely I am a man with a purpose and a destination to reach. Therefore, I have dedicated a worship for every hour of my days and nights so do not keep me away from my worship.”
In this piece, we have addressed the importance of time-management by seeing the role it played in the lifestyle of the AhlulBayt (as) as well as the beneficiaries of it in the hereafter. In addition, we have identified the clarification of an objectively good goal as the determinant of a beneficial planning, of which without it, would defeat the purpose of planning. In the last part of this series, we will delve into practical measures of efficiently using one’s time and eliminating unnecessary factors that are nothing but time thieves. As always, the respected readers are advised, again, to reflect over the aforementioned verse and narrations in order to attain a deeper learning through a different lens.
Will ye not then reflect? (37:155)