As the world sits back home and technology comes to a standstill, each one of us suddenly finds that he has a lot of time to work, entertain or enjoy togetherness with the family. For the Believer, this period is a period of test, opportunities to improve, make up for lost time, have sabr and still be grateful if one us is not struck by the Coronavirus. Islam has always reminded us to value our time and has provided a list of things to do before death pounces. The free time is to be used to ponder over ‘the to-do list’ but first comes the attitude towards life….
So remind, in case the reminder should benefit. [Sûrah Al-A’lâ, 87: 9]
TAKE YOUR LIFE SERIOUSLY
Why? The first verse of Sûrah Al-Anbiyâ (21:1),
[The time of] their accounting has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness, turning away.
specifies that each day we are heading towards death, most of us carelessly. The sûrah’s name is Al-Anbiyâ [‘the prophets’]; it has stories of previous Ummahs which did not take their prophets’ warning seriously. They were all doomed.
In what state you die is as important as in what state you live!
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed:
Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. During (that stormy period) a man would be a Muslim in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening or he would be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning and would sell his faith for worldly goods. (Saḥîḥ Muslim Book 1, # 0213)
When Allah puts humanity to the test, He does not expect them to sit and get entertained! Rather, He reminds us:
And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us]. Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts become hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing. [Sûrah Al-An’âm, 6:42-43]
Don’t ‘kill’ your time; use it beneficially.
Ibn Abbas (RA) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.” (Saḥîḥ Al-Jami’ #1077)
The above hadith fits well to the situation of pandemic lockdown and it comes as a test as Allah promises:
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. [Sûrah Al-Baqarah, 2:155)
THE FIVE BEFORE FIVE
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) named five things which one must cherish and be grateful to Allah for them. Being careless towards any of them may cause regret in the future.
Your Youth before your Old Age
The loftiest masterpieces in Islamic academics were contributed in youth. Imam Nawawi died at the age of 44, but by then he had written Al–Minhaj Al-Sharh Saḥîḥ Muslim and Riyâḍ Al-Salihîn, among 10 other voluminous books. His achievements were double that of a person who may be double his age but still not have attained the same. It is important that youthfulness should not be wasted on entertainment or idleness.
Your Health before your Illness
A majority of health-related issues are due to an unhealthy lifestyle and this includes bad diets and wrong sleeping habits. Many youths have survived a Corona attack due to their strong immune system whereas the elderly have succumbed. But bad habits like smoking and drinking can impair the immune system. Just a week ago the victims of CoronaVirus were healthy, today many of them are in their graves while the rest are struggling to stay alive.
Staying home during lockdown should not make you tempted to keep on eating over and above your normal days’ needs, for overeating can lead to severe complications. And chances are greater, that this sedentary lifestyle may impair your health and make it susceptible to falling victim to the CoronaVirus. The Qur’an reminds of an important dietary ethic:
Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, Allah likes not those who commit excess. [Sûrah Al-A’râf, 7:31]
Your Riches before your Poverty
Allah tested Prophet Ayub (AS) (Job) by taking away his wealth and he tested Prophet Suleiman (AS) by giving him wealth which He had not granted to anyone before or after him. Suleiman (Solomon) responded to Allah’s bounties by saying,
This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then [know] indeed, my Lord is Free of Need and Generous. [Sûrah Al-Naml, 27:40]
As Allah has promised, He will test us all and the test may include being struck by poverty. Most of us blow away the money with which Allah blesses us, spending it on stuff that is of little or no use. If poverty is a test, having enough money is also a test. Many people become poor because they waste their money Your money is a bounty, your technical knowledge and technological devices are bounties. How are you using them: gratefully or ungratefully?
Your Free Time before your Busy-ness and Work
How are you passing your lockdown time? Rather, I should ask: How are you utilizing your time during the most severe pandemic that humanity has ever seen in recent years? Most of the world is locked up inside their homes and many are ‘killing time.’ They call it ‘time pass’; however, there is no truth in ‘passing the time.’ In reality, either you are wasting your time or benefiting from your time.
Pools of suggestions and free advice are going viral as plans for watching videos or movies to pass their time, whilst others are just lamenting on the situation over social networks open to the world. For sure, this ‘killing of time’ won’t be beneficial for the Believers, either for them to come out from this testing period, or for their hereafter. Rather, it would be alarming and punitive for one to die in that condition.
Your Life before your Death
The CoronaVirus has exposed the weakness of human strength that no matter how equipped we are with technology and medical advancement, we are still incapable of resisting a micro virus if Allah sets it free upon us. Epidemics and pandemics are not only a punishment, but also reminders and an opportunity to value life before death. Such calamities can engulf the good and the bad—everyone, and Allah calls it a Fitnah, a trial. And no trial comes to people without Allah letting it teach the lesson for which it is brought into existence.
And fear a trial which will not strike exclusively those among you who have done wrong; and know that Allah is severe in penalty. [Sûrah Anfâl, 8:25]
HOW WILL YOU MANAGE YOUR LOCKDOWN DAYS?
The lockdown could be weeks and months—as well as millions of lives, including yours and mine. But as long as we are alive and safe, we must take up the leadership in our homes to make the lockdown productive, instead of going into depression mode. News of people sitting idle and sharing videos of suffering or memes is not the right way to pass your time at home. Some sunnah are vital to be implemented during crises.
- Observe this time with Sabr (patience).
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger, and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [Sûrah Al-Baqarah, 2:155-156]
- Dhikr-ullah (remembrance of Allah).
O you who believe, remember Allah with much remembrance. [Sûrah Al-Aḥzâb, 33:41]
The context of the revelation of this verse is The Battle of Khandaq when the Muslims were under tremendous hardship, surrounded by strong forces and there was a rebellion by the Hypocrites. At a time of distress, Allah revealed the above verse.
- Make Du’â’ (supplication).
Every hardship comes only after being permitted by Allah. We must seek Allah’s help in getting out of this crisis through the appropriate supplications. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
Whoever recites this supplication three times —every morning (after Fajr) and evening— will not be harmed.
lâ yadhurru ma’as-mihi shay’un fil’arḍi wa lâ fis-samâ’i
wa Huwas-Samî ‘ul-Alîm.
In the name of Allah, with whose name nothing is harmed on earth nor in the heavens, and He is the All-Seeing, the All-Knowing. (Abû Dâwûd 4/323; Al-Tirmidhi 5/465; Al-Tirmidhi 3/142; Ibn Mâjah 2/332; Ibn Bâz p.39)
- Be active in domestic chores and help the family.
Being helpful to your family is productivity. It is the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) to be cooperating with your family when at home. Do not demand your favorite delicious dishes but be content with simple food. Pray at home with family and talk to them. Do not talk on depressing topics but give hope as Allah says.
Give good tidings to the patient who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [Sûrah Al-Baqarah, 2:155-156)
- Do Istighfâr and Observe
Along with CoronaVirus, a financial catastrophe is also on its way. Unsure of how many days the lockdown will continue, it is essential that we have to arrange for the living. Rizq is in the hands of Allah: Tawbah and Istighfâr are a source for getting Rizq. Even Prophet Nûḥ (AS) told his people to repent, assuring them:
Allah will forgive your sins and delay you[r reckoning] for a specified term. [Sûrah Nûḥ, 71:4]
In Sûrah Al-Ṭalâq Allah guarantees:
And whoever has the Taqwa of Allah, He will make for him a way out and will provide for him, from a way he did not expect. [Sûrah Al-Ṭalâq, 65:2-3]
A LAST WORD
Whether we are dealing with a pandemic or just ordinary life, both hardships and ease are a part of life. Either way it is a ‘Win-Win’ situation for a Believer, says the Prophet (ﷺ) that hardships bring humility, and ease brings gratefulness:
Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is for no one except the believer. If something of good or happiness befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him.” (Saḥîḥ Muslim #2999)