بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I realize that this is a difficult time for all of us. Our brothers and sisters are literally bleeding to death and we feel powerless. But we know inshaAllah that the righteous will be victorious. We cannot become obsessed but we must not become complacent. We must not neglect our duties to ourselves, and to the Ummah. We need to be patient, we need to have faith, we need to take advantage of what Allah has given us because in Gaza, they cannot. InshaAllah the recently massacred spent their lives wisely. In addition to writing to our newspapers, rallying for peace and giving to emergency funds, perhaps the best way to spend our time now is by making dua. Make dua for Gaza, for Afghanistan, for Somalia, for Iraq, for Sudan, for peace. Bukhari & Muslim relate: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” The wonderful quote on our wonderful Isoc hoodies should also guide us to spend our time not just complaining, but actively pursuing change. At the same time, make good use of this month of Muharram, as it is the holiest month only second to Ramadan. When Allah (saw) asks us what we did during this crisis, let’s not have to say that we watched our favorite television series, deferred our responsibilities to others, or prioritized ourselves first.
It is practically obligatory to begin a tarbiya on time with Surah Asr so bismillah:
‘I swear by the time,
Most surely man is in loss,
Except those who believe and do good,
and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience.’
As Muslims, I think we have the answer to a key philosophical question: what is the purpose of life? In this surah, Allah subhana wat’ala tells us simply that the key to finding ourselves is in believing (worship), doing good, truthfulness, and patience.
Allah’s mercy on us in sending the prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is invaluable. The prophet’s way of life shows us the clear path to spending our time here on Earth wisely. Prayer alone provides us with the opportunity, literally, of a lifetime. Not only do we know that observing the daily salah is for the pious; we also have examples of other rewarding opportunities. Take advantage of tahajjud, nafl, taraweeh, istikhara…and subhanAllah we can never be lost! Allah has only commanded 5 daily prayers of us; imagine the devotion of the prophet (pbuh) to have prayed all of the sunnah, tahajjud regularly and extra to this during Ramadan. These mercies are there for your taking. Take them while you can for “there are two bounties of Allah wherein most people are deceived: health and free time.” (Bukhari)
‘And spend out of what We have given you before death comes to one of you so that he should say: My Lord! Why didst thou not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been of the doers of good deeds?’-Surah Munafiqun Ayah 10
It is always easy to say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow,’ but a truth in life is that we do not know when ours will be over. To prepare for the Day of Judgment, Allah has given us the here and now. This gift of time can be spent in innumerable ways but Allah knows best and Allah has made it easy for us to do good. In addition to prayer, this good includes getting involved in social issues, dawah, donating, volunteering, reading Qu’ran, being obedient to our parents…these deeds will speak for us on that Day. Another powerful hadith warns us:
“Lose no time to do good deeds before you are caught up by one of seven calamities awaiting you: a starvation which may impair your wisdom; a prosperity which may mislead you; an ailment which may damage your health; an old age which may harm your senses; a sudden death; the Dajjal (Antichrist); or Doomsday, which is indeed the hardest and most bitter.” (at-Tirmidhi)
This hadith harkens back to the ‘five before five’ hadith/tarbiya and its message is clear.
3-Honesty and Patience
To be patient means to take time, and Allah tells us to be patient with each other. It is important not to judge or become arrogant in our deen. Prophet Mohammad (saws) was the best of creation, and he was known for his honesty even before the revelations. Spending our time fabricating lies to serve our agenda, no matter how noble the agenda, is unlikely to be fruitful. Keeping each other humble and truthful requires restraint and good intentions. Our belief in Allah and that His Will will be can be a manifestation of our patience.
When I learned to pray, I was taught to do each salah as though it could be my last. This means not rushing, not getting distracted, and not procrastinating. To sum this all up,
“When you pass the day and arrive at the evening, do not expect that you will pass night and hope to reach morning, and when you arrive in the morning do not look forward to the evening. While in health, be ready for illness, and while alive, prepare for death.’ (Bukhari)