6 Rabi` al-Thani 1438
We have reached the first jumu`ah service of the New Gregorian Year 2017. In my khutbah today I would like to encourage us to make this New Year 2017 as productive, enriching and beneficial as possible. One way of doing so is by trying to manage our time more efficiently.
Time is a great gift from Allah. It is both a great ni’mah (blessing) as well as an amanah (trust or responsibility) and Islam teaches us that we should manage our time in a balanced and meaningful way. Interestingly, the Arabic words iman (faith) and amanah (trust) originate from the same root verb, amina. So we could say that by fulfilling our trusts, in this case managing our time effectively, we are also strengthening our iman (faith) and attaining aman i.e. goodness, peace and tranquillity. May Allah grant us the ability to fulfil this great amanah of time entrusted to us in a balanced and meaningful way.
The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s everlasting peace and blessings be upon him), was the best of creation and we can find great inspiration and wisdom from his life (sirah nabawiyyah). For Allah, the Lord of Guidance, exhorts us in surah al-Ahzab, chapter 33 verse 21 as follows:
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ
لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
In the Life of the Messenger of Allah you have indeed an excellent example for those whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who remembers Allah frequently. (Q 33:21)
In this khutbah I would like to share six lessons on time-management that we can draw from the Prophet Muhammad’s extremely productive and purpose-driven life.
The first lesson is that each day is an opportunity to live our life to the fullest. In order to achieve such a conscientious lifestyle the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) seized the opportunities of each new day. His philosophy of life is succinctly captured in the following prophetic tradition (hadith):
“Every day when the dawn breaks, two angels call out:
O child of Adam! I am a new day and I witness your actions:
so seize this new opportunity of this new day to do what is good,
because once I have gone, I will not return again
until the day of judgment.” (Al-Ma’thur of the Prophet pbuh)
Consonant with his philosophy of life he embraced each day with great vigour. He was meticulous in planning every aspect of his day. He prioritized tasks and he kept his appointments punctiliously.
The second lesson we can learn from the life of the Prophet (pbuh) is to try to have an early start to our day. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself was an early riser and advised us to do the same. He was so eager for his followers to heed his example that he used to make the following supplication:
“O Allah, bless my ummah in their early mornings (i.e., what they do early in the morning).” [Ibn Majah]
In response to the above advice it would be useful to schedule important tasks earlier in the day, especially those that require strenuous physical labour or mental exercise.
The third lesson centres on planning our day around the five daily Salawat (ritual prayers). This is highly recommended and will infuse great order and discipline into our lives. We should transfer the discipline of performing our salah at the appointed times to our daily routine. We can do this by making a greater effort to be punctual for meetings with our colleagues and by meeting job or educational tasks and deadlines timeously. Once we have fulfilled our most important obligation, namely the salah, the rest of our day will become easy for us. Furthermore, salah instills a contemplative dimension to one’s life and strengthens our willpower to live a purposeful life.
This leads me to the fourth prophetic lesson on time management i.e. prioritizing and being consistent about our affairs. If we were to examine the Prophet’s day we will find that it was divided into three main parts viz., spiritual development, family affairs and social affairs. In light of this prophetic guidance we need to figure out what the real priorities are in our lives. In other words, what are the most important things that we need to give time and attention to? What is a must-do and what is good or virtuous to do? Once we have worked this out then we need to allocate our time consistently to the affairs that matter. We need to plan for and schedule time for community work, for education and for attending to our parents, our spouses and our children on a daily basis because they are important and we should not neglect such high priorities.
The fifth lesson is to hasten in the doing of good. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had a great sense of urgency in doing good and warned us against procrastination. It is narrated by the companion ‘Uqba bin Al-Harith (may Allah be pleased with him) that once the Prophet (pbuh) offered the `asr prayer and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. Someone asked him as to what was the matter and he said:
“I left at home a piece of gold which was from the charity and I disliked letting it remain a night in my house, so I got it distributed.” [Bukhari]
Procrastinators do not appreciate time nor the means and the opportunities that Allah gives them to be productive. Each day has its own share of work and each time has its own share of obligations. We pray that Allah helps us to shake off our lethargy and complacency so we can become energized achievers.
The sixth and last lesson I would like to highlight is the Prophet Muhammad’s sensitivity to his companions’ time and needs. His khutab (sermons) were always brief, concise and powerful. To live up to this dimension of his sunnah we need to aim to arrive for meetings, classes and events five minutes before they are scheduled to start and if we are running late then we need to inform the other parties. Honouring time is part of fulfilling our promise, and breaking this promise not only causes an inconvenience to others, but we may also lose their respect.
In conclusion, I call upon all of us, including myself, to resolve to improve our lives by trying to live up to the above six prophetic guidelines on how to better manage our time during this New Year. Let us resolve to give more generously of ourselves by spending more quality time with our families and by investing more of our energy towards making a positive impact on the lives of those who are less fortunate.
In this sacred hour of jumu’ah, let us pray that Allah, the Hearer of all duā’s, allows us in the New Year to make use of our time more meaningfully, to fulfill our duties toward Him more devoutly and to grant us good health and prosperity. May the coming year be one in which we are safe from all kinds of calamities. May the New Gregorian Year 2017 bring us greater happiness, joy and peace with justice.