Organizing Time

Zaid used to complain about the shortness of his time, and became surprised at his friends who did many things like studying, practicing their hobbies and meeting their friends even though their time was the same.

One day, he presented this question to some of his friends. They told him: "The matter is clear. Organize your time, so that it will seem to be more."

For this reason, some hadiths (Islamic traditions) have divided time into hours and an hour, here, means time units and not sixty minutes. This means that there should be time for every action. Imam Ali (a.s.) is quoted to have said:

"The believer's time has three units: The period when he is in communion with Allah; the period when he manages his livelihood; and the period when he is free to enjoy what is lawful and pleasant…" Other hadiths add another unit and, that is, for visiting trustworthy friends who know our shortcomings. Commenting on the period of enjoying what is lawful and pleasant it can be said: In this period (of enjoyment), you will be able to perform other deeds.

Though this division gives man specific periods for his essential needs, it is not an inactive prescription. It may happen that man's needs become more numerous and varied, but the aim at the division of time is to organize it in such a way that an action does not extend over another action, or to use up all time while other actions remain un performed or left half performed.

Therefore, striving towards gaining one's livelihood is required to meet his material needs; approaching to Allah, through worshipping and glorification is required as a spiritual need; visiting one's friends is required as a social need; enjoying what is lawful is required as psychological need; and besides these hours, there should be another important period for seeking science and knowledge in order to meet one's theological and ideological needs.

What is important to mention here is that there should be a balance between these units of time in a way in which worldly actions should not cause us to forget the deeds relating to the Hereafter. And the wise among us are the ones who make all our deeds an obedience to Allah, the Almighty; even worldly actions. However, who sits before a computer without previously deciding how much time he should spend in that sitting, will surely find himself still sitting before its magic, small screen, after many hours passed.

And he who lets the doors of the meeting with his friend be wide open, will surely see that some conversations lead yet to others, and the meeting which was supposed to be finished in half an hour, lasts for two hours or more.

Indeed, organizing time, as we learn from the schedules of prayer, the appointed times of fasting, iftar (breaking of the fast) and the appointed days of pilgrimage (hajj), introduce us to the following benefits:

  1. The abundance of time and blessings which were unknown before the organization of time.

  2. It drives away from us both disorganization and the confusion in which we live as a result of the penetration of time and its negligence.

  3. It gives us a respected personality by our friends, companions and those surrounding us.

  4. It makes us live in the state of psychological contentment and spontaneous happiness in what we have achieved.

  5. It makes us control time and not be controlled by time, itself.

*A Work Schedule * Each of us is able to prepare a sheet of paper for himself and in which he records the timetable for his daily work. It is necessary to acknowledge the seriousness of observing the articles of the schedule; otherwise, it will become mere ink on paper. This method teaches us the following:

  1. Time should be organized in a such way as not to be scattered in digressions and forsaken conclusions, and where one can be wholly engaged in a particular work which, as a result, has an affect on the rest of the work.

  2. The above mentioned paper acts as a calendar which reminds us of the deeds which a wait us to be performed without delay, because tomorrow will impose on us a list of other new deeds, and a moment of our daily schedule will surely be affected on the timetable of tomorrow.

  3. It is possible to schedule even preparatory time for each action. This may seem difficult because it is impossible to estimate the time of some actions properly and exactly, but, with the passing of days, it will become a beautiful habit with which one gets used to.

  4. There is no harm in putting aside time we call "free" just for unexpected emergencies.

As Muslims, our responsibility is not limited only to worldly deeds, and, therefore, our Islamic schedule cannot be separated from our ordinary schedule except in some obligations. Our time can be organized in the following way mentioned by one of the supplications (du'as):

"…(Oh Allah) make us prosperous today, tonight, and in all days to use good and reject evil, give thanks for Your blessings, follow the Prophetic traditions, avoid innovations, enjoin good and forbid evil, protect Islam, debase and humiliate falsehood, assist and strengthen truth, guide those who go astray, help the oppressed, and comprehend the regretful."

Indeed, this schedule, though it is full of righteous deeds and the rejecting of evil, is not necessary to be a schedule for one day, rather, it is a typical Islamic day which needs determination, practice, and prosperity and guidance from Allah, the Exalted and the Almighty.

This schedule can be divided into its positive and negative subjects:

First: Positive Subjects

  1. (Using of good): It should not be only a sentimental trend inclining towards labour, rather, it should be changed into an action which benefits others.

  2. (Giving Thanks For Blessings): This means to reciprocate benevolence with benevolence, kindness with kindness and good with good. He who does not thank the creation (i.e. man), never thanks the Creator (Allah), and the best practical thanks is "Give thanks, O people of David!' Holy Qur'an (34: 13)

  3. (Following Prophetic Traditions): Because this is the right path brought by the Holy Apostle, Muhammad (s.a.w.), who says: "Say: If you love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you." Holy Qur'an (3: 31)

  4. (Enjoining Good): This because it is the way to increase the arena of doing good and the spreading of reform and benevolence in a society, which may positively reflect on the happiness of the society and its strength and welfare.

  5. (Protecting Islam): We should defend Islam and protect its principles due to its being the symbol of our dignity and the righteousness of our religion which represents our existence and identity.

  6. (Assisting and Strengthening Truth): To strengthen truth if it prevails so as to spread it throughout the world even more, and to support it if it is threatened by falsehood and oppression.

  7. (Guiding the Strayers): To guide through different methods of guidance the one who goes astray from the right path and to inform him his secure place if he deviated his destination.

  8. (Helping the Oppressed): This should be done by what Allah, the Most High, has granted us of capabilities such as: Wealth or responsibility or sciences because among the necessities of having belief in religion is to give assistance to the needy. "So woe to the praying ones, who are unmindful of their prayer! Who do (good) to be seen, and refrain from acts of kindness!" Holy Qur'an (107: 4-7)

  9. (Comprehending the Regretful): A poor man looks like a blind man who sees nothing but that of meeting his own needs, and his regret will come by the fulfillment of those needs.

Secondly: Negative Subjects:

  1. (Rejecting Evil): To give up evil means opening the way for goodness to be spread and evil to be straitened and decreased.

  2. (Avoiding Innovations): Because innovation (bid'ah) means to insert something which is not related to religion in the name of religion. It is a misrepresentation of Divine instructions and Prophetic Traditions (sunnah) and invents that which has not been said by Allah and His Apostle relating to religion, whereas, religion, itself, is innocent of it.

  3. (Forbidding What is Evil): This is done by any means be it by hand or by tongue or by heart, so that the followers of evil should not feel compelled to continue, where they might spread their abominations among the people.

One who observes this schedule, both positive and negative, will find that there is a balance in the movement of Muslim youth, demolishing evils and performing good deeds. In this regard, a Hadith, describing a true believer, says:

"Goodness is expected from him (a believer) and he is safe from evil."