Sunday, April 22, 2012

‘Days Shall Testify For or Against Man’

A century or ten, 
After we are all gone! 
Who thinks of night at dawn?

-so ruminated the famous medieval Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh in one of his philosophical writings. Death is inevitable and unavoidable; it brings the curtain down even on the lives of the high and the mighty. A profound awareness about the vanishing of all our human agenda in this transient world may give one a sense of perspective on what to value and cherish and what to ignore and avoid.

As a spiritual order, Islam offers profound guidance on how to practically navigate our time in this slippery universe. The Prophetic traditions underscore the accountability of one and all to Allah the Almighty for all the blessings He graciously bestows on us. Believers ought to live with a wider consciousness and awareness about their manifold responsibilities and immortalise their days with the best of works. In his Friday Sermon of April 20, 2012 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius profoundly reflected on some of these themes. Life is transient and the lost moment never comes back. So, value your youth and health and knowledge and wealth before it all fades away. Respect your time and do good deeds so that the journey to the Hereafter becomes agreeable when it comes, exhorts the Messenger of Allah.

Read the Extracts from the Sermon:

“It is a divine blessing to have the heart rid of all afflictions and likewise to have the body free from all diseases. However men are deprived from this, as it is evident from this saying of the Holy Prophet (sa): “There are two blessings in which people are cheated: health and leisure time.” Thus, the Holy Prophet (sa) refers to people's attitudes to these two favours. They do not value them as they should; so much so that their free time is lost without being operated for the benefit of the affairs of their religion and their lives. That is the worst loss.

To urge the Muslim to enjoy his free time, to exploit every moment of his life and not to waste it, the Holy Prophet (sa) said “the feet of any human being will not move (from their place before the Lord) on the Day of Resurrection, before he answers to four questions: 1. What did he do during his life? 2. On what has he spent his youth? 3. Where has he earned his money and how did he spend it? 4. What has he done with his knowledge?

As for his words: “take advantage of five things before five things: your youth before your decrepitude, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your leisure time prior to your occupation and your life before your death”, it is a clear allusion that the Muslim must use time while it is still in full possession of his means, as he is still young, rich and available and before age, disease, poverty and worries affect him.

All the Reformers (Mujaddids) and the pious Caliphs (Khalifas) (ra) were desperate to fill their time by useful actions and good works. They hated laziness and idleness. It is reported that Al-Faruq, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra) has said: “I hate to see any of you indulge in idleness and laziness (with pleasure), both in matters of this temporal world as well as those of the hereafter.” It is also narrated that Abdullah Ibn Masud (ra) said: “I hate to see a man with no occupation, both in the affairs of this world as well as those of the hereafter.”

O my brothers and sisters, free time cannot be empty, it must be filled with either good or bad. He who therefore does not concern himself with (filling time with) good deeds (and truth) shall therefore concern himself with evil (and falsehood). Blessed is he who spends his free time to goodness and virtue, and unfortunate is the one who fills his free time with evil and corruption.

Allah the Most High has, among others, recommended for a Muslim to save time and accelerate the good works. He then says in His Holy Book: “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord” and He also says: “To each the direction toward which he turns. Then strive in good works.”

This world is the abode of action and work; it looks like a race track where rises the dust left by the strides of athletes: some of us rush in the only way of Earthly Delights, while others join in the same course the useful and pleasure, but they spend more time in good works without forgetting their share of worldly pleasures.

When the dust is cleared, the oppressor is then sorry (for losing his time in vain things and oppression). So if you have nothing that you have sown and then saw a reaper you will regret having missed the planting season. Hazrat Ali Ibn Talib (ra) is reported to have said, “The world goes away and the hereafter is coming towards us. Each dwelling has children, be of those of the afterlife and not those of this world, because today is action without being accountable (to Allah), and tomorrow will be account (with Allah) and not action”.

The Muslim should therefore be wary of vices that can deter him from accelerating the doing of good works, and these vices are weakness and laziness which make him postpone good deeds or be late in fulfilling them. The Holy Prophet (sa) has warned us against these vices and has supplicated Allah to protect him from these vices in these words: “O my Rab, protect me from weakness and laziness.” The Muslim must accelerate all favourable deeds both to his religion and his life here on earth. And that prevents him from being a burden on society. A saint compared the lazy poor wretch without work to the owl living in the ruins: he is not useful for anyone.

Each day that lies ahead in its path carries many lessons for the Muslim who can meditate about the creation of night and day. Allah (the Almighty) has said, “in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.”

Days testify for or against man, for they constitute the circumstantial supports where the individual operates. On the Day of Resurrection, they will be there to ask him to account. The Holy Prophet (sa) said: “There is not a single day that passes without questioning the son of Adam: ‘O son of Adam, I am a new creation and I will later stand as witness to everything you do today. So, try to accomplish good works in me and I will testify in your favour tomorrow. Because when I go away you will never see me again.’ Night shall say the same thing.”

The days are the papers whereon the actions are engraved. So immortalise them with the best works. Opportunities pass as the clouds pass, neglect is a perversion. Whoever takes laziness as mount, stumbles and falls. When negligence and laziness are married, pure loss is begotten. The life of man on earth is in truth, only days and hours, as I have always thought and analysed: What is life here on earth?

O son of Adam, you are only days. When one of these (days) goes, a part of you (also) goes along. Our heartbeats certainly tell us: Our whole life is only minutes and seconds. Curiously, the man seems happier to see pass the months and days to receive a salary, receive an annual leave, earn a university degree or another; poor him who does not know that these days which pass by are shortening his life span, and is bringing him close to the afterlife.

We are pleased to begin our day but each day we spend brings us closer to death. O my brothers and sisters, each time a day and a night is well spent by you in healthy pursuit, be it religion, body and money, thank God profusely. How many men are then stripped of their religion, stripped of their property, are stripped of their honour and broken in a day while you are enjoying health?

If I had to ask (Allah for something), I would ask for forgiveness and health. How many young people spend the night in bliss, and the next day wake up deprived of it? And know that the world is a day at a borrowed light; so that your trunk is vigorous, full of sweetness and greenery. Fate, one day shall strike it, and will turn it yellow (make it wither), so will the night, which makes daylight, disappear....”