Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes the discourse between Himself and the reckless and negligent on the Day of Judgment:
قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ عَدَدَ سِنِينَ – قَالُوا لَبِثْنَا يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ فَاسْأَلِ الْعَادِّينَ – قَالَ إِن لَّبِثْتُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا ۖ لَّوْ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ – أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ – فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْكَرِيمِ
He (Allah) will say: “What number of years did you stay on earth?” They will say: “We stayed a day or part of a day. Ask of those who keep account.” He (Allah) will say: “You stayed not but a little, if you had only known! Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” So Exalted be Allah, the True King, La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Lord of the Supreme Throne! [Al-Mu’minoon 23: 112-116]
One of the righteous predecessors noted: life is short, do not shorten it with negligence. This is, certainly, true. Negligence shortens the hours and consumes the night. Hence the Prophet ﷺ said, “Two favors that many people are deceived by: health and spare time.” The lesson being that many people are healthy and have a lot of time on their hands yet their lives pass by quickly before them without their using them or benefitting anyone.
He also warned, “The foot of a believer will not move on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about four things and mention his life span and how he utilized it.” Life is, undoubtedly, a treasure, whomsoever spends it in obedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will find his treasure on the Day when wealth and sons will be of no avail but instead only those who returned to Allah with clean hearts. Thus, those who spent their lives in negligence, disobedience and play will on that Day regret in such a manner that will never be equaled thereafter. They will say, “Alas for us that we disregarded our lives.”
In effect, both the night and day are like riding animals that transport man to either eternal happiness or loss. Our righteous forbears used to take every initiative to preserve their time. There are strange stories about them concerning this matter. There were among them those who used to read the Qur’an and they were on the threshold of death. Such an example was Junaid ibn Muhammad. His sons said to him, “You are exhausting yourself.” He replied, “And should there be among the people one who exerts himself more than me?”
Al Aswad ibn Yazid used to stand in prayer for most of the night. Some of his friends advised him to relax at least for a small portion of this night. He told them it is this very relaxation he is in search of meaning in the Hereafter.
Sufiyan al-Thawri once sat in the Sacred Mosque speaking to some people. Then suddenly he arose terrified and said: we are sitting here and the day is doing its work. There were among our forbears those who used to divide their days and nights into hours. Hence, they allocated specific hours for prayers, recitation, remembrance, meditation, acquisition of knowledge, work and sleep. They ascribed no time for merriment.
As for their successors, they have been afflicted by the calamity of time-wasting. Except, of course, those to whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has shown mercy. They indulge in excessive sleep, idleness, aimless wandering, spending on amusements and sittings in which there is no benefit or in meetings which if they do not involve disobedience are definitely the cause of disobedience.
Among the greatest things that organize time and work are the five daily prayers. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala affirms in the Qur’an: “Verily, for all believers prayer is indeed a sacred duty linked to particular times [of day],” [4: 104].
The month of Ramadan is a school in which the Muslim’s time is organized and invested in matters that lead to closeness to Allah. Notwithstanding, some people do not know the meaning of fasting. They engage in ample negligence and deep slumber. They spend their days sleeping and their nights in wasted wakefulness.
O Allah! Preserve for us our lives. Plant our feet firmly on Your path, and make us obey You always. O Lord of all the worlds.
[BOOK: Thirty Lessons for those who Fast, Aa’id ‘Abdullah al-Qarni]