In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The important thing about time has nothing to do with the way it is spent, but rather the way it is invested wisely. That is because if we spend time we lose it, but if we invest it, it will thrive and we will reap its fruits in the future of our life and the future of the rising generations. The question is: How can a Muslim invest his time? He can do that by applying the contemporary term "Time Management", so that he will not lose time.
Time in the Muslim's life is an ongoing worship, but according to the western terminology and materialistic theories, it does not go further than applying the motto "Time is money". By comparing this motto with the statement of Al-Hasan AlBsri that goes, "I have seen people who were keen on their time more than on their Dirham and Dinar", we deduce that time is more precious than money in the eyes of Muslims, for Muslims know that money can be compensated, while time cannot be reclaimed.
Dear brother, man is considered insane if he burns a big sum of money, and he is put under the care of a guardian to watch his behavior. In fact man is molded to regard time as more precious than money, and the prove is that he would sell his house even if he owns nothing else in order to go under an operation which might extend, as he assumes, his life for many years. Hence, the one who wastes his time is more insane than the one who burns his money.
Time Management is to do what should be done properly in time. Time is more precious than gold, better yet it is priceless, for time defines you as a human being. Moreover, time is one of the four main resources in business, which are: materials, information, individuals and time which is the most important among them.
When man is able to invest his time wisely, positively and skillfully, he will get the utmost outcome of the other resources, for when the individual manages his time effectively, he is actually managing his own life, his worship, his job and his worldly life.
Though time is very important, it is the utmost resource that is spent wastefully and the least amongst other resources that is used wisely either by groups or individuals. There are so many reasons for that, on top of which is the inability of man to realize the loss he will have upon misusing his time.
Time is a rare resource as long as man cannot reclaim it if it is wasted. Let alone, it runs fast, and it cannot be replaced. Thus, time is the most precious thing man might own. It is precious, because it is the means to seek knowledge, to do a job and to worship Allah, and these facts make time the real capital of man individually and collectively.
Depending on the abovementioned points, time is the backbone of life, and it is the ground on which civilizations are established. Although, time cannot be bought, sold, rented, borrowed, doubled, saved or manufactured, it can be invested and used wisely. Those who can manage their time to accomplish their jobs, to get acquainted with Allah, to worship Him and to draw close to Him, are the ones who know the value of time, and so they make use of every minute of it.
Actually, time management does not mean changing time, tuning it or developing it, but it means how to invest it effectively, and so wasting time in insignificant matters will be at its minimum levels.
Scientists empathized a long time ago that time passes in defined and constant speed, and that every second, minute or hour are similar to one another, that time moves forward and that time moves according to a specific controlled system in a way that it cannot be stopped, changed, increased and reorganized. In other words, time passes forward, and no one can delay it, advance it, accumulate it, stop it, replace it or reclaim it. Furthermore, time is a calculated resource that is distributed among people equally, and though people might differ in the fortunes they are born with (which are not equal), they all have the same 24 hours per day, the same number of days every weak and the same number of months every year.
Timewise, all people are equal regardless of the position they occupy and the social class they belong to. This leads us to the fact that the problem is not how much time every person has, but how he uses the available time and manages it; does he use it effectively and fruitfully in accomplishing the needed job or does he waste it in insignificant matters? Time management entails specifying the goals then fulfilling them. Allah says:
﴾Is he who walks without seeing on his face, more rightly guided, or he who (sees and) walks on a Straight Way (i.e. Islamic Monotheism).﴿[Al-Mulk, 22]
It is out of question that the one who aims at achieving a clear goal and a meaningful purpose is more rightly guided than the one who is heedless. Time is a great grace, and the Prophetic Sunnah supports what is mentioned in the Noble Quran that time is one of Allah's Graces upon His servants, that they are ordered to use it wisely and that they will be called to account for it.
((Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "There are two blessings in which many people incur loss. (They are) health and free time (for doing good).))
The meaning of "in which many people incur loss" is that only few are the ones who effectively use their time, for man might be healthy, but he does not have time, because he is making his living, or man might be rich, but he is not healthy, but if man owns them both (the health and time), he will most likely incline to laziness and will neglect obedience to Allah. As a result, he incurs loss which is like paying for something more money than its real price, and selling it at a cheaper price. Time is a big responsibility.
((Abu Barzah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Man's feet will not move on the Day of Resurrection before he is asked about his life, how did he consume it, his knowledge, what did he do with it, his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he dispose of it, and about his body, how did he wear it out."))
Time is the container of worship, since Salah, Zakat, Sawm, Hajj and other acts of worship are done at specific time, and they should not be delayed, and even doing some of them in the wrong time invalidates the entire act of worship. Because the acts of worship are related to time, time is the container of these acts of worship. Among the Prophetic As7adeth about encouraging Muslims to do their acts of worship in their specific time is the following:
((It is narrated on the authority of 'Abdullah b. Mas'ud that he observed. I asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) which deed was the best. He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Prayer at its appointed hour. I (again) said: Then what? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Kindness to the parents. I (again) said: Then what? He replied: Earnest endeavour (Jihad) in the cause of Allah. And I would have not ceased asking more questions but out of regard (for his feelings).))
The Prophet PBUH was very keen on his time, and he never wasted it without doing anything for the Sake of Allah or for the sake of his own maintenance.
((It is related that Husayn, son of Imam Ali, peace be upon them both, said: "I asked my father about how the Apostle of Allah PBUH, would spend his time indoors. He said: 'When he sought the refuge of his house he would divide his time into three parts; one part for Allah, one part for his family, and one part for himself. Then the part that was for him, he would divide between himself and the people; both those close to him and the general public, and he would spare all the time that he could for them.))
There are strong indications in the Prophetic Sunnah about the importance of time:
((Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah PBUH 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."))
In another outstanding Hadith the Prophet PBUH said:
((Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet PBUH said, "If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it."))
Ibn Al-Qayyim has a statement about the value of time in Muslim's life, he said, "Al-Arif (The one who is acquainted with Allah) uses his time wisely, for if he wastes it, he will waste all his interests which are related to time. When man loses time, he will not be able to reclaim it, given man's real age equals the time he uses wisely. Moreover, time is the essential means for man in his lifep to seek the eternal happiness or to end up in ongoing torment. Furthermore, life passes faster than the passing of clouds, so whoever uses his time for the Sake of Allah and in His Cause, this will be his real life and age and what is left is not counted, for he uses what is left like the animals use their time. Thus, if man spends his time in heedlessness, in following lusts, in false wishful thinking, in sleeping and in doing nothing, his death is better for him than his life. Since the only part of man's Salah he prays with a present mind is counted, what is counted in man's life is the time he uses for the Sake of Allah and in His Cause."
He who is oblivious of the importance of time will face two grave situations in which he will remember how valuable time is. The first situation is at his hour of death when he leaves the worldly life and starts his final journey towards the Hereafter. At this particular time, he will wish to be given a second chance to use his time wisely, and he will wish to be given respite even for a short time to fix what he has spoiled and to reclaim what he has wasted. Allah says:
﴾O you who believe! Let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whosoever does that, then they are the losers* And spend (in charity) of that with which We have provided you, before death comes to one of you and he says: "My Lord! If only You would give me respite for a little while (i.e. return to the worldly life), then I should give Sadaqah (i.e. Zakat) of my wealth, and be among the righteous [i.e. perform Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah)].﴿
The Divine Response comes as follows:
﴾And Allah grants respite to none when his appointed time (death) comes. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do. ﴿
The second grave situation is when every person is paid in full for what he has done (good or evil, belief or disbelief in the life of this world) and will be recompensed for what he has earned. At this time, the people of Paradise will enter Paradise and the people of Hellfire will enter Hellfire, and only then, the people of Hellfire will wish that they can go back to the life of the Divine Assignment (the worldly life), so that they might offer a good deed, but this is in their dream, for the time for offering deeds will be over, and it will be the time for calling man to account. Allah says:
﴾But those who disbelieve, (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism) for them will be the Fire of Hell. Neither it will have a complete killing effect on them so that they die, nor shall its torment be lightened for them. Thus do We requite every disbeliever!* Therein they will cry: "Our Lord! Bring us out, we shall do righteous good deeds, not (the evil deeds) that we used to do." (Allah will reply): "Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition, - could receive it? And the warner came to you. So taste you (the evil of your deeds). For the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) there is no helper."﴿
In the Quran, Allah warns people of heedlessness about by a severe warning. Allah says:
﴾And surely, We have created many of the jinns and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.﴿
Procrastination is one of the diseases that afflicts people, and man keeps saying, "Tomorrow I will do this", "One day I will do that", "I will repent later". Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Beware of procrastination, for you are living your day but not your tomorrow, and if you live till tomorrow, make sure that you will work for tomorrow the same as you work for today, for if you could not live till tomorrow, you will not regret what you postpone today. Hence, do not say tomorrow and do not say I will." When a notable scholar was asked for a piece of advice, he said, "Beware of saying "I will", for it is one of Iblis's (Satan's) soldiers." It is well said by the poet:
Increase your supply of Taqwah (piety) for you do not know
if the night comes you will live till the morning
How many the healthy men who died without illness are!
and how many the ill people who lived long are!
Man might live his morning and his night safely
While his coffin are woven without his knowledge
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds