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  • Time Management

    Jul 31, 2009
    There is a time to live and there is a time to die. From the time that a child draws its first breath, only Allah Almighty has the knowledge how many breaths the soul will take before it draws its last and final breath in this physical world. No mortal knows how long anyone will live. There are two broad categories simplified as follows:

    1. Some souls breathe only a few times before they depart this world; they are only here for a brief visit, innocent at birth and innocent at death: These are visitors from Paradise, sinless from their first breath to their last breath, bringing both joy and heartache to their parents and siblings (We should, however, always put in mind that Allah Almighty knows best).

    2. Other souls have a much longer life span in this world. The average healthy adult breathes 22,000 and their heart beats 104,000 times daily. A person who lives for an average life span of 70 years, has been given 560,000 breaths and 2.5 billion heartbeats. Each person's life is like a candle. Each person's candle has a different length.

    However, from the moment a child is born, the candle begins to burn, and each day, the candle gets shorter, just like life. The greatest mystery is that no one knows the length of their candle. No one knows if they have one hour left to live, one day, one week, one year, or ten years. Only Allah Almighty knows the answer. Each person's time will come at the precise moment that Allah Almighty has decreed, not a minute later and not a minute sooner. This is the decree as mentioned in the following verses:

    [And a soul will not die, but with the permission of Allah; the term is fixed] (Aal `Imran 3:145)

    [Say: You have the appointment of a day from which you cannot hold back any while, nor can you bring it on] (Al- Saba 34:30)

    The feeling we get when we say that "there is no time," stems from a subconscious conflict that occurs in each and every one of us. On the one hand, we need the time to earn a living and attend to our daily activities. On the other hand, we are aware on a subconscious level, that there is "too much to do," and too little time; we are also aware that because we have "too much to do," we have to find the time to do everything. This means that we have to start sacrificing some of the time from other activities, which are important, but not urgent, such as family time, sleep, prayer, and exercise, to devote to those activities that have to be done. We usually justify and rationalize our usage of time by telling ourselves that we will do something "later" or "one day." For example:
    Important But Not Urgent

    I know that I have to perform Hajj.
    I will do it "someday" when I am ready.

    I must visit or phone my parents.
    I will do it "later/next … (week, month, etc.)"

    I must spend some time with the children/my spouse.
    I will do it "later."

    I must exercise.
    I will start "soon/next month/someday."

    I must lose weight.
    I will start "someday/one day."

    I must stop smoking.
    I will start "someday/one day."

    I must plan for the hereafter.
    I will start "someday/one day."

    Unfortunately, we fail to realize that the road to "soon/later/someday" leads to the city of "nowhere." It is a false illusion that we use to deceive ourselves into thinking that right now we are too busy, but one day, when we get the chance, we will do the "important" things in life.

    However, if life is so uncertain and unpredictable, how do we know that we will ever get to that "one day"? Today is a gift, a kind of "present." We have to cherish this "present" that we have been given today, and we should not fool ourselves and wait for "someday." If you look at any calendar, you will find "Monday, Tuesday, etc." but no "Someday" — "Someday" does not exist! We have to start spending time on the important activities today.

    Seminars that run time management workshops make lots of money showing people how to manage time. What they do not tell you is that time management does not exist. We cannot "manage" time — we can only manage ourselves. It is only when we take stock of how we utilize our time on a daily basis, and then start changing our habits, only then can we have some hope of making more efficient use of the time available to us. When we make a list of what is important to us and then inculcate a new habit of daily focusing on the important issues, then, and only then, can we have a sense of the usage of time. If not, we will soon face the shocking reality that time is no longer on our side, and life has passed us by. It will be too late for regrets! We are essentially souls, on a brief physical journey, en route to an eternal spiritual existence. How do we prepare ourselves for our eternal existence?


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