Time Management in the Perspective of the Ahlulbayt and Qur’an, Part I

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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 one 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.

As Shia Ithna Ashari Muslims, we often call on the Imam of our time with numerous titles. Interestingly though, a lot of these titles, be it Imam Zaman, Wali-e-Asr, Imam-e-Asr or Saheb-Azaman, all have to do with the concept of time. At the same time, as his (aj) supposed Shias, we’re constantly drowning in the amount of time we waste on a daily basis. One who self-proclaims to be “awaiting” the return of a beloved must live a lifestyle in direct accordance to it. His worries, plans, mindset, day to day lifestyle and entire worldview must be different than those who are living aimlessly. There’s not a single person who wouldn’t agree with the phrase “time flies,” yet, very few individuals abide by this reflection and seek to optimize their time-management skills.

As supposed lovers and followers of the Ahlul-Bayt, divine individuals who mastered this virtuous skill, it is truly disheartening to see Muslim communities plagued by a culture of poor time-management that attributes little, if any at all, importance to time commitment. By attending a single Islamic event organized by a local mosque, one can testify to this fact. This indifference to time commitment has reached a worrying low in which if an event is set to commence at 8:30 pm, it is implicitly implied that it in reality, it will begin at 9:00pm.

An individual who’s earnestly striving to be amongst the Shi’a of Imam Mahdi (aj) must remain steadfast on how he spends every second of his life, so that through schematized planning he can prevent the wasting of a single opportunity to achieve the purpose of his creation; the praise and worship of He who is deserving of all worship. In order to correctly manage time, it becomes incumbent to initially refine your soul, so that your inclinations and desires in life align themselves with Islamic principles. So long as man’s desire for satisfying his carnal inclinations exceed that of his spiritual ones, he will not make any fruitful efforts in self-refinement, or disassociating from heedless worldly attachments, which are the leading factors in wasting time. Upon arriving at the pivotal stage of comprehending the paramountcy of following your spiritual inclinations and suffocating their ill-fated carnal counterparts, man will consequently see the importance of crafting a goal-oriented schedule, comprehensive of every aspect of his spiritual journey, so that not a second passes by negligent of it.

Sayyid Khomeini (ra), in his 40 Hadiths, describes the human being as consisting of two dimensions: the inner (باطن) and the outer (ضاهر). The inner and outer are consisting of differing faculties, both confronted by their own respective challenges. In order to attain felicity, he has to initially obtain control over his external faculties, the eyes, ears, hands and feet. Upon obtaining full control over his external faculties, they are never voluntarily used in disobedience to Allah. The next step is to obtain control over his internal faculties: his thoughts and imaginations. Through persistent guarding of one’s soul and filtration of what shines upon it, one obtains control over his internal faculty. Resulting from this exhaustive process is an individual who has absolute control over the self. The further along this journey one is, the more beneficial and impactful correct time-management will be, because, attachment and desire for worldly pleasures is what hinders it.

In order to correctly understand the dire pertinence of time and the importance of using it to our benefit, we must remind ourselves of the day in which all souls, deprived of the privilege of time, with regret and sorrow, say:

Lest a soul should say, “Oh [how great is] my regret over what I neglected in regard to Allah. (39:56)” [1]

أَنْ تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ يَا حَسْرَتَا عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطْتُ فِي جَنْبِ اللَّه

and also

“My Lord, send me back, That I might do righteousness in that which I left behind. (23:99-100)” [2]

حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ

لَعَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ

We ought not to read these verses as if they’re fictional or hyperbolic expressions of a distant occasion. We must read these verses with absolute conviction of them foreshadowing a future event – evoking an everlasting emotional contemplative commitment to it. So let us be amongst the people of reflection and not let these verses be a description of our state in the hereafter. Imam Ali (as) has accurately emphasised this by saying:

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. Take death’s approach as an accomplished fact and do not think it will come (hereafter) [3].

Having brought to light the state of those who wasted time and lived life aimlessly in the hereafter, the next matter to discuss is how do we avoid it? The purpose of creation is a straightforward matter that many know the answer to: the obedience and worship of God. It should however be needless to say that worshipping God isn’t solely restricted to passive forms of prayer and supplication. In the real world, any ambition of ours which is pursued for the sake of God, be it attaining a certain academic degree, landing a job, running a business and so on, aligns with the purpose of our creation.

So far, we have only spoken in theory about the importance of time management, by reminding ourselves of the state of those who wasted time in this world, based on the traditions of the AhlulBayt and verses from the Holy Qur’an. A following article will be dedicated for citing a few more vital narrations in regards to time-management and the correct way to plan. Many a times, as a result of inaccurate planning by not formerly clarifying goals, the planning can be more harmful than beneficial. In the meantime, I strongly encourage the readers to deeply reflect over what has been said, especially the aforementioned narrations/verses because there is much more depth and rich teachings to be taken from them.

اَللّهُمَّ ارْزُقْنا تَوْفيقَ الطّاعَةِ

Oh Allah! Grant us the opportunity of being obedient (to You)

وَ بُعْدَ الْمَعْصِيَةِ

And keep us away from disobedience.

وَ صِدْقَ النِّيَّةِ

Let us be sincere in our intentions;

وَ عِرْفانَ الْحُرْمَةِ

Provide us with the knowledge of what is sacred


Read Part II here.

[1] Surah Zumar Ayah 56
[2] Surah Mu’minun Ayah 99-100
[3] Nahjul Balagha Sermon 196

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Amir Ghafarian

Amir M. Ghafarian, born in Iran, has an unconditional affinity towards shawarma and kabob. He reads too, sometimes, and occasionally writes.

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