To What Extent Should We Not Waste Time?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I know we will be asked about our time in this world.

Most of my family members do their obligations, but they “kill time.” They waste too much time on useless (though permissible) things. I advise them to use their time wisely for their Din or Dunya, but they say, “I already prayed and did my duties towards my family and read Quran.” Technically, they aren’t doing anything unlawful because they have fulfilled their prayers and parents’ duties, correct?

However, this is not recommended. A Muslim whose time on earth is short should use most of it per the many hadiths about taking care of our time and life before death. Is this approach correct, and to what extent should we not waste time?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him.

If Muslims avoid what Allah prohibited and fulfill what He made compulsory, they will be successful by the Mercy of Allah. Time is a tremendous blessing from Allah that should not be abused, but the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) encouraged us to be balanced and not make the Din difficult upon ourselves, and Allah knows best.

Make Sure to Meet Minimum Requirements

A Bedouin with unkempt hair came to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace)! Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards the prayers.” He replied: “You have to offer perfectly the five compulsory prayers in a day and night [24 hours] unless you want to pray Nawafil (supererogatory).”

The Bedouin further asked, “Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards fasting.” He replied, “You have to fast during the whole month of Ramadan unless you want to fast more as Nawafil.” The Bedouin further asked, “Tell me how much Zakat Allah has enjoined on me.” Thus, Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) informed him about all Islam’s rules [i.e., fundamentals].

The Bedouin then said, “By Him Who has honored you, I will neither perform any Nawafil nor will I decrease what Allah has enjoined on me. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “If he is telling the truth, he will succeed [or he will be granted Paradise].” [Bukhari]

Don’t Make Din Difficult

Abu Hurayra (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The religion [of Islam] is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigor, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course [in worship]; if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help [of Allah] at morn and dusk and some part of the night”. [Bukhari]

Balance in Din

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), who was the most God-fearing of all creation, encouraged us to strike a balance in life. Balance in Din does not entail balancing between permissible and impermissible deeds. Balance in Din means fulfilling the obligations of Din and doing as many supererogatory deeds as we can sustain without overburdening ourselves.

Hanzala Al-Usayyidi (may Allah be pleased with him), who was one of the scribes of Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), reported: I met Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) he said: “How are you O Hanzala?” I said, “Hanzala has become a hypocrite.

He said, “Far removed is Allah from every imperfection. What are you saying?” I said, “When we are in the company of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), and he reminds us of Hell-fire and Jannah, we feel as if we are seeing them with our very eyes. When we are away from Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), we attend to our wives, our children, our business, most of these things (about life hereafter) slip out of our minds.”

Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) said, “By Allah, I also experience the same thing.” So, Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) and I went to Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), and I said to him, “O Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), Hanzala has turned hypocrite.” Thereupon Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “What has happened to you?” I said, “O Messenger of Allah, when we are in your company and are reminded of Hell-fire and Jannah, we feel as if we are seeing them with our own eyes, but when we go away from you and attend to our wives, children, and business, much of these things go out of our minds.”

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always busy in the remembrance (of Allah), the angels will shake hands with you in your beds and your roads. Hanzala, time should be devoted (to the worldly affairs) and time should be devoted (to prayer)”. He (the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)) said this thrice. [Muslim]

How to Practically Strike a Balance

In your specific case, it appears that you are ahead of your family in spiritual devotion, and may Allah increase you. I want to encourage you to continue steadily and moderately, but while you may choose a stricter approach for yourself, based on your personal development, try to go easy on others, especially your family. If they fulfill their duties to Allah, praise Allah and lead by example for the rest, and Allah knows best.

I pray that this answer benefits and Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.