By Azihan Ibrahim
“By the passage of time through the ages, surely mankind is at a loss. Except those who believe and who do good works and who enjoin in truth with one another and practice patience and perseverance.”
Qur’an, Surah al-Asr
How often do we blame time by saying that we don’t have enough of it? Whereas in reality it was our own fault for not managing our time the way we should. As narrated by Ibnu Abbas (RA), Rasulullah (SAWS) once said that there are two blessings that people lose: good health and free time. Time and health are the primary commodities that all of us posses and we often “sell” at a cheap price by not benefiting to the fullest and letting time slide away with no productive output. We tend to put aside important tasks simply because they are not urgent and make less important tasks more urgent.
Our Islamic traditions and teachings talk about time in great lengths. The fivedaily prayers put us on our toes all the time so that not a single prayer should pass by that we did not perform or did not remember. The Quran also speaks about time in different ways in various chapters such as Al Fajr, Ad Dhuha, Al Lail, and of course Al Asr.
In Al Asr, or The Time, Allah (SWT) warns us that human being are all at loss unless we fulfill the requirements that follow; which is to have faith, perform good deeds, enjoin truth, and enjoin perseverance. However, for so long we have been complacent about this simply because we believe that we already have faith and performed some sort of good deeds. It didn’t occur to us that what happens within the society that we live in is also our responsibility. Enjoining truth and then doing it with perseverance and patience require collective efforts. It is a community-wide obligation.
Our beloved Prophet didn’t just conduct classes, teach Quran, and ask people to pray. As a matter of fact, the unbelievers who opposed him at the time suggested that they would come and pray together with him if that is all he was up to. But as we know, the mission of Islam is far more than just prayer and some rituals. Islam comes to bring justice to mankind, to bring goodness out of people, and to liberate them from worshipping the creations to worshipping the one and only Creator. As such, Rasulullah (SAWS) himself was an activist. He negotiated, made treaties, and fought for freedom. He didn’t get it in Makkah so he went to Madinah and got it over there.
Needless to say, we are living in a very challenging time, especially as Muslims living in the west. Some of these challenges are predicted in the hadith of our beloved Prophet. In Sahih Muslim, Rasulullah (SAWS) said “Each and every prophet has warned his ummah about a problem that they would face and what I am telling you is that this ummah of mine; that it’s blessed era is the earlier era, and as for the later era, it is going to be afflicted with trials and calamities that you will find difficult to bear” Additionally, the Qur’an states in 29:2 “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested?”
The above examples are not an excuse for us to be despair and to live in sadness. It is meant to bring us back closer to Allah (SWT). People often equate challenges to afflictions, tribulations, and calamities that have befallen upon them; however, living in luxury while feeling smug and self-sufficient is another type of challenge. For some time now many of us have been living in our own comfort zones and not trying to bring goodness to the society we are in, as commanded by chapter Al Asr above. While others have been suffering and going through hardship; yet they remember Allah and increase their faith and worship. We, on the other hand, are buried and carried away in luxury and lavish lifestyle. May Allah protect us all and help us reclaim the actions of his commands to enjoin truth with perseverance and patience. May we Muslims always seek to bring the Islamic principles of justice and goodness to the society we live in.