Está en la página 1de 97



The Val^ie of Time

Shaykli .\\\ al-l ;\ali \l)(i (^luiddali



cAbd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah


Yusra al-Ghannouchi



S H A Y K H CA B D A L -F A T T A H A B O G H U D D A H was born in
Syria in 19 17. O ne o f the outstanding M uslim scholars o f the 20th
century, Shaykh Abu Ghuddah was a leading scholar in the field
o f hadith and Hanaf! school o f fiqh. H e studied in Syria and Egypt
specialising in Arabic language, hadith, sharfah, and psychology.
H e had many prominent teachers, among them Shaykh R agh ib
al-Tabbakh, Shaykh Ahm ad ibn M uham m ad al-Zaraqa, Shaykh
cIsa al-Bayanunl, Shaykh Ahm ad al-Kurdl, and the renowned
Ottoman Scholar Imam al-Kawthari. H e taught usul al-fiqh, HanafI
fiqh and Comparative fiqh at the U niversity o f Damascus. H e also
taught at the K in g Saud U niversity and Imam M uhammad ibn
Saud Islamic University. H e was buried in al-Baql’ cemetery in
Madinah 1997.

Shaykh cAbd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (1917-19 97), the author o f

the present w ork, was one o f the leading scholars o f the 20th cen­
tury, especially in the field o f hadith and the sciences related to
hadith. H e was taught by over 200 scholars, drawn from the fields
o f hadith, fiqh, and other Islamic disciplines. A m ong them was
the renow ned Ottom an scholar and expert o ffiqh, hadith, and the
science o f rijdl, Imam Zahid al-Kawthari. Shaykh Abu Ghuddah
taught usul al-fiqh, fiq h and comparative fiqh at the University o f
Damascus. H e also taught at the K in g Saud U niversity and Imam
M uhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.
T h e Shaykh was a traditionist (muhaddith) and scholar o f great
repute, w ith an in-depth know ledge o f the history o f scholarship
and scholars in Islam. H e has written extensively on different as­
pects o f hadith, fiqh and Islamic education, and his books are a
model o f objective historical scholarship. H e has created an ex­
traordinarily rich and detailed mosaic o f scholarship and learning
in the Islamic world.
As author o f numerous valuable books, he was eminently
qualified to undertake this present task, entitled The Value o f Time
in the Lives of Scholars. W e are fortunate to have this w ork under­
taken by him. H e has done extensive research to collect material


for this book and illuminate the precious examples from the past.
The aptitude w ith w hich he brings to life those great scholars and
works o f the past succeeds in bringing history to life and filling us
again w ith invigorating and inspirational thoughts.
The book provides vivid insight into a subject o f great im ­
portance, not only for students and scholars, but every human
being w ho regards time as a valuable gift from G od and is keen
to appreciate this gift. I cannot imagine that w e w ill ever have a
more profound portrait o f the value o f time and its appreciation
b y earlier M uslim scholars. This is a pioneering w ork in the sense
that according to m y knowledge, it is the first study that is exclu­
sively devoted to the value o f time.
In particular, the book highlights the value o f time in the field
o f knowledge and its people. It teaches us how to appreciate this
invaluable gift and blessing from God, and how to benefit from
it. It reminds us o f the need to manage our time well, and avoid
falling into excessiveness in speech, food, gatherings and meetings.
B y doing this w e can achieve the most eminent legacies, and the
best and most lasting o f deeds.
T h e shaykh reminds us how the pious predecessors and early
scholars, w ho are for us a model o f all good deeds and an example
for every virtue, valued this immense gift, and ho w every moment
o f their lives was calculated to be spent in the pursuit o f know l­
The Shaykh him self exemplified devotion to the service of
knowledge and the treasuring o f time. E ven while travelling he
w ould keep him self busy in reading or writing. O nce while he
was at the airport in Karachi, the flight was delayed, and rath­
er than waste time he read A nw ar Shah Kashm iri’s al-Tasnh bi
Ma Tawatara f l N uziil al-Masih to his students M ufti ShaficI and
Maulana Y u s u f Binnauri w ho w ere there to see him off. I re­
m ember w hen he came to England on the occasion o f the Sultan
o f Brunei prize cerem ony in his honour. I was at the airport with

Maulana Zahid al-Rashidi w hen he left, and w e spent the time

until his departure reading extracts o f al-Adab al-Mufrad o f Imam
T h e Shaykh’s writings em body the beauty o f the Arabic lan­
guage. His style is eloquent and flows smoothly keeping the read­
er absorbed. I hope its readers w ill enjoy this book and w ill benefit
from it.
T h e present English translation o f The Value o f Time from
the Arabic original by Yusra al-Ghannouchi is timely. T h e trans­
lator deserves congratulations in undertaking this great task and
thus helping the English-speaking w orld gain access to this pre­
cious w ork. T he publishers also deserve our gratitude for making
it available to the English reader. M ay Allah reward all those w ho
participated in its production, and guide us to benefit from this ef­

M oham m ad Akram N adw i

O xford Centre for Islamic Studies
O xford, U K
July 2003


All praise be to Allah, and that is sufficient a praise, and prayers

and peace be upon His chosen servants, at the forefront o f w hom
is our master and messenger, M uham m ad al-Mustafa, and upon
his family, his companions, his followers and all those w ho w ere
guided by them and follow ed them.
These are a few pages w hich I have written to elucidate, The
Value of Time in the Lives of Scholars, through w hich I wished to
highlight the value o f this immense blessing that is the setting o f
life, in particular in the field o f knowledge and its people, and how
it can give rise to amazing wonders, i f one knew how to benefit
from it, i f one managed one’s time well, and avoided falling into
excessiveness in speech, food, gatherings and meetings. Thus one
would achieve the most eminent legacies and the best and most
lasting o f deeds. O n e’s remembrance w ill be eternalized — due to
the benefit he has caused— along with the pious good-doers.
M ay Allah reward amply our pious predecessors and early
scholars, for they were for us a model in all good deeds, and an
example for every virtue. O Allah, guide us to follow their path in
all matters, and enable us to benefit from our lives and our times,
to use them in what makes Y o u pleased with us, and keep us away
from excessiveness in all matters, Y o u are indeed able to do all


things. A nd prayers and peace be upon our master M uhammad

and on his family and companions, and praise be to Allah Lord o f
the worlds.

Shaykh cAbd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah

R iyadh, Saudi Arabia
Ju ly 1982

x iv

This short title contains w ithin it many different meanings and is­
sues, all o f w hich merit discussion. For the value given to time by
philosophers is unlike that given to it by merchants, w hich is yet
different from the value given to it by farmers, craftsmen, soldiers,
politicians, young, old, and is yet valued differently by the stu­
dents o f know ledge and scholars.
I am only concerned— in this book— with the value o f time
to students and people o f knowledge, in the hope that this will
spur on the spirits o f our young students o f knowledge in these
days, w here the resolve o f students has weakened, and the indus­
trious students have becom e negligent, and where it has become
rare to find a student burning with desire to acquire knowledge.
Thus, genius qualities have disappeared and idleness and lethargy
prevail, and failure and backwardness have becom e apparent in
the ranks o f the people o f knowledge and the works that they
T h e blessings and favours bestowed by Allah upon His slaves
are infinite in number, and no human being is capable o f enumer­
ating nor understanding them, due to their number, permanence,
ease, and the continuous manner in w hich Allah bestows them,
and the different levels o f appreciation that people have for them.


Truthful indeed is Allah, as H e says, “ B u t i f you count the bless­

ings o f Allah, never w ill you be able to number them, man is in­
deed most unjust and most ungrateful.

Blessings are Primary and Secondary

Blessings are divided into two different kinds: primary and sec­
ondary. H aving an abundance o f wealth and knowledge, a strong
body, observance o f the nawafil [supererogatory acts o f worship]
such as w aking up to pray at night, and reading the Q ur’an fre­
quently, and follow ing the Sunnah o f the Prophet in bodily clean­
liness, perfum ing oneself—in the case o f men— w hen attending
a gathering and shaking hands w ith those you meet, entering the
mosque w ith one’s right foot and leaving it w ith the left, and re­
m oving harmful objects from paths and roads, as w ell as the many
other actions performed by the Prophet w hich are recommended
for us to emulate— all o f these are examples o f secondary bless­
ings, but they are great in the eyes o f those w ho know their true
Primary blessings are also numerous and infinite in num ­
ber, the first o f which is the belief in Allah the most Exalted and
the Messengers and Books sent by H im , and implementing His
commands and abiding by them. O ther blessings include having
a healthy body, eyes, ears and all other senses, which are the ful­
crum for man’s essence and the foundation from w hich he may go
forth and benefit from his existence.
T h e blessing o f knowledge is also a primary blessing that is
essential for the advancement o f humanity and its happiness in
this life and the next, for knowledge is a lofty blessing w hichever
form it takes; seeking it is a blessing, benefiting from it and ben­
efiting others by it is a blessing; preserving it and transmitting it to
the follow ing generations is a blessing, as is spreading it to people.
There are many other examples o f primary blessings, w hich I w ill
not m ention here out o f respect for the value o f time.
The Value of Time

O ne o f the primary blessings, or the loftiest and most pre­

cious o f all primary blessings is that o f time, for the discussion o f
w hich these pages have been assembled, particularly its value for
students and people o f knowledge. Tim e is the substance o f life,
the sphere in w hich man exists, the citadel o f his spirit, and his
subsistence— him benefiting him self and others. The H o ly Q u r’an
indicated the greatness o f this most primary o f all blessings, and
stated its supremacy over all the other blessings in many verses, o f
w hich I w ill m ention but a few. Allah, most Exalted is H e, said o f
His greatest blessing bestowed upon mankind:
Allah is H e who created the heavens and the earth and causes water to
descendfrom the sky, thereby producing fruits as food fo r you, and makes
the ships to be o f service unto you that they may run upon the sea at His
command, and has made o f service unto you the rivers; and makes the
sun and the moon constant in their courses, to be o f service unto you, and
has made o f service unto you the night and the day; A n d H e gives you o f
all you ask o f H im ; and i f you count thefavours o f Allah, you will never
number them. Man is indeed most unjust, most ungrateful.2

Thus, Allah has granted His creation the blessings o f day and
night, w hich are the blessing o f time that w e elucidate, and in
w hich w e elucidate, and through w hich this w orld passes from its
beginning to its end.
Allah, most Exalted is H e, says illuminating this highest o f
blessings in a second verse: A nd He has constrained the night and the
day and the sun and the moon to he of service to you, and the stars are
made subservient B y His command. Surely in this there are signs for peo­
ple who reflect, 3 Thus Allah indicated at the end o f the verse that in
these blessings are indeed pow erful signs for those w ho reflect and
A nd H e, the most Glorified, said:
A n d We appoint the night and the day as two signs. Then We make
dark the sign o f the night, and We make the sign o f the day sight-giving,
that you may seek bounty from your Lord, and that you may know the
computation o f the years, and the reckoning; and every thing have We
expounded with a clear expounding.4


And Allah the most Glorified said: A nd o f His signs are the
night and the day and the sun and the moon. Prostrate yourselves neither
to the moon nor to the sun; but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if it
is in truth Him Whom you worship,s
Allah extolled H im self as the Lord o f time and space and
whatever exists in them: “ U nto H im belongs whatsoever rests in
the night and the day. H e is the Hearer, the K n o w er.” 6

Allah Reprimands Disbelievers for Wasting their Lives

Allah the most Exalted addressed the non-believers reprimanding
them for wasting their lives, spending them in a state o f disbelief,
and not leaving their state o f disbelief to a state o f b elief despite
the blessings o f long lives that Allah bestowed upon them, as He,
the most Glorified, said: D id We not grant you a life long enough for
him who reflected to reflect therein? A nd the wamer came to you? Now
taste [the flavour of your deeds], for evil-doers have no helpers.7
H ence, H e, the most Glorified, has made the blessing o f a
long life a reason for one to reflect and ponder, and has made
one’s life as p ro o f against him, as H e has made messengers and
wam ers proofs and witnesses over him as well. Ibn Kathlr said
in his tafsir [exegesis] o f this noble verse: “ It means: D id you not
live in this life and have such long life spans that had you been o f
those w ho benefit from signs and w ho follow the truth you w ould
have done so in your lives?” Qatada said: “ K n o w that the length
o f one’s life is a p ro o f against him, so w e seek refuge in Allah from
being m ocked and blamed due to our long lives.”
A l-Bukhari narrated in his Saluh on the authority o f Abu
Hurayra that the Prophet <§£ said, “ Allah w ill not accept the ex­
cuse o f any person whose instant o f death Allah had delayed till he
is sixty years o f age.” Imam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad on the
authority o f Abu Hurayra that the Prophet said: “ W hom soever
Allah grants a life span o f sixty years, then H e will not accept any
excuses from him relating to the shortness o f his life.” M eaning

The Value of Time

that Allah has rem oved any excuses he might cite and he w ill have
no possible excuses, for Allah had granted him such a long life­

Allah Vows by Time

There are many m ore verses that draw our attention to the great­
ness o f this primary blessing, and it is sufficient for you to know
that Allah, the most Glorified, has vow ed by time in its different
phases in many verses in His N oble B ook, alerting us to the value
o f time, and advising us o f its importance. H ence H e, the most
Exalted, vow ed by the night, the day, the dawn, the morning,
the sunset, the forenoon, the afternoon, such as His saying: B y the
night enshrouding, and the day resplendent;8 and His saying: And by
the night when it withdraws, and the dawn when it shines forth ;9 and
His saying: And the night when it departs, and by the dawn as it bright­
ens;10 and His saying: So I swear by the afterglow of sunset, and by the
night and all that it enshrouds;" and His saying, By the dawn, and ten
nights;12 and His saying: B y the morning hours, and the night when it is
stillest;'3 and His saying: B y time, verily man is in loss.H
It is noteworthy that all matters for w hich Allah vow s by time
are o f the utmost importance, and that H e vow ed by time in two
very important matters, that is the reassurance o f the Prophet
that he had not been abandoned by Allah as claimed by the poly­
theists, and in asserting that all mankind is in loss except those
w ho believe and do righteous deeds. Allah said vow in g by time:
B y the glorious morning light, and by the night when it is still, your Lord
has not forsaken you, nor is He displeased.15
H e also said: By [the token of] Time [through the ages], Verily
man is in loss, Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and
[join together] in the mutual teaching o f truth, and of patience and con­
stancy. 16


Imam Fakhr al-RazT’s Commentary on the Value of Time

Imam Fakhr al-D in al-R azl, m ay Allah the Exalted have m ercy on
him, said in his tafsir o f Surat al-A $ r.
A llah vo w e d by lAsr— w h ich is time— because o f its w onders,
for w ithin it good and bad matters occur, health and illness, rich­
ness and poverty, and because its value and preciousness cannot
be m easured against anything else. F or i f yo u w asted a thousand
years in useless things, then repented and achieved happiness in
the last instant o f yo u r life, you w ou ld dw ell in Paradise for eter­
nity, and you w ou ld k n o w that the m ost precious thing in you r
life is that instant. T h us tim e is one o f the fundam ental blessings,
hence Allah v o w e d b y it, and H e, the Exalted, stressed that night
and day are opportunities w asted b y M an! A n d that tim e is m ore
honoured than space since tim e is a pure blessing w ith no defect
except that the loser to be blam ed is man.

That was some o f what was written in that noble book about the
value o f time and ho w it is one o f the fundamental and most im ­
portant o f blessings.

The Value of Time in the Sunnah

As for the blessed Sunnah, clarification o f this fact is even clearer
and more explicit. Al-Bukhari, al-Tirm idhi, and Ibn M ajah nar­
rated, on the authority o f Ibn cAbbas, may Allah be pleased with
both o f them, that the Prophet ^ said: “ There are two blessings
w hich many people lose: Health and free time for doing good.”
T im e is a precious blessing and a great gift, the value o f w hich
is only realised and benefited from by the successful guided ones,
as indicated by the noble hadith, “ w hich many people lose,” im ­
plying that only a m inority benefit from it, while the majority are
wasters and losers.

Protectiveness of Time by the Worshipper and the Wise

Imam Ibn al-Q ayyim , may Allah the Exalted have m ercy on him,
said in his book Madarij al-Salikin, w riting on the station o(ghirah

The Value of Time

[protectiveness] and its comprising several aspects, mentioned

ghirah over time saying:
Ghirah [regret] over any tim e that has passed! A n d it is a deadly
regret, for time passes fleetingly, and is difficult to hold on to,
slow to regain. T im e for the w orshipper is the tim e fo r w orship
and litanies, and fo r the murid (spiritual seeker) is tim e for draw ­
in g close to Allah and devoting his heart com pletely to H im .
T im e is the dearest thing to him ; he fears that it m ay pass w ithout
him achieving his desire! I f tim e passes him , he can never get it
back, for the time that follow s it has its o w n accom panying obli­
gations and opportunities, such that w hen one tim e is lost there is
no w ay to regain it.

A “ deadly regret” means that its effect is akin to the pain o f

being killed, because the regret o f hearts is deadly, particularly
when one is certain there is no w ay to regain what was lost. Also,
regret over loss is another loss, as it is said: busying oneself with
regret over time lost in the past is wasting the present time! Hence
it is said: Tim e is like a sword, i f you do not slay it, it slays you.
T im e passes naturally, ends automatically, so w hoever is not
aware o f his soul, his time w ill be lost, his loss will be great, and
his regrets w ill be severe. H o w w ill he feel w hen he realises, w hen
his loss becomes certain, the magnitude o f what he has lost? And
when he seeks going back and finds it impossible to regain what
he has lost? For how can yesterday be returned in a new day?!
But then there will be no escape [for them], and they m il be seized from
a position [quite] near. And they will say, “ We do believe [now] in the
[Truth]” ; but how could they receive [faith] from a position [so fa r off].17
And w hen he is deprived o f what he wishes and desires, and be­
comes certain that what he had purchased was not fit to be pur­
chased by a rational person, and there will be a barrier between him
and that which he desires.18
W hat regrets! T o the return to the like o f w hich there is no
way. A nd had their return been possible the regret w ould have
been bearable!


Events are short-lasting, they pass like the passing o f clouds, and
time w ith what is w ithin it passes, and all that remains is its effect.
H ence choose for yourself what w ill remain w ith you o f your
time, for the effect w ill surely remain, and thus to the happy ones
it w ill be said in Paradise: Eat and drink to your heart’s content because
of what you did in days gone by .'9 A n d it will be said to the wretched
ones in the Hellfire: [You have met thisfate] because you exulted in the
earth ivithout right and because you were insolent.20

A ll Benefits Derive from Time, Thus Whoever Loses it Can Never

Regain It
Imam Ibn al-Q ayyim also said, in his book al-fawab al-Kafi li Man
Sa’ala cA ni al-Dau>a’ al-ShafT [The Satisfactory Answer to the One who
Asked Regarding the Curing Medicine]:
T h e highest, noblest and m ost beneficial o f thoughts are those
that are fo r Allah and the H ereafter. W hat is fo r Allah is o f m any
types ... the fifth kind is reflecting on the obligation o f using time
and its function, and gathering all o f o n e’s resolve for that pur­
pose alone. F o r the intelligent one is the one w h o is conscious o f
his tim e, and i f he loses it then he w o u ld have lost all his interests,
fo r all interests derive from time, and w h en ever time is lost it can
never be regained!

A l-Shafic!, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “ I accom ­

panied the Sufis and I only benefited from tw o o f their sayings.
First, ‘Tim e is a sword; i f you do not slay it, it w ill slay y o u .’ And
the second: ‘Keep your soul occupied w ith good, otherwise it will
keep you occupied w ith evil.’”
O n e’s time is in fact one’s life, and the substance o f one’s
eternal life in lasting pleasure or o f a life o f suffering in severe tor­
ment. It passes faster than the passing o f clouds, and the portion
o f one’s time that was for Allah and w ith Allah is part o f one’s
life, w hile the rest is not counted as part o f one’s life even i f one
lived long, for one was living the life o f animals. For the one w ho
spends his time in negligence, desires and false wishes, and spends
The Value o f Time

most o f his time in sleeping and idleness, then the death o f such a
person is better for him than his life. A nd i f one has o f on e’s prayer
only that part in w hich one was conscious, as in the hadith, then
similarly what counts o f one’s life for one is only that w hich was
spent for Allah and w ith Allah.

The Salaf s Keenness to Gain Time and Fill it with Goodness

T he pious predecessors and those successors w ho follow ed their
w ay w ere the keenest o f people to gain time and to fill it with
good deeds, whether they w ere scholars or worshippers, for they
raced against the hours, and used every instant, being very careful
w ith their time, so that they may not lose any part o f it.

Hold the Sun So I Can Talk to You

It was narrated about cA m ir ibn cAbd Qays, one o f the ascetic
T ab icIn, that a man said to him: “ Talk to m e.” cA m ir ibn cAbd
Qays replied: “ H old the Sun .” W hat he meant was, “ Stop for me
the sun or prevent it from continuing its m ovement so that I can
talk to y o u .” For time is ever m oving, and does not return once it
has passed, such that its loss is an irreplaceable loss that cannot be
regained, for each time has its ow n actions to fill it.

Ibn M ascud’s Regret Over a Day that Passes of His Life

The eminent com panion "Abdullah ibn M ascud, may Allah be
pleased w ith him, said: “ I have never regretted anything as much
as m y regret over a day on w hich the sun sets and m y life span de­
creases w hile m y good deeds have not increased.”

Night and D ay are Ever Working on You, Thus Work in Them

The pious caliph U m ar ibn cA bd al-cAziz, may Allah be pleased
with him, said: “ N ight and day are ever w orking on you, thus
w ork in them .”


O Son of Adam, You are But Days!

Al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah be pleased w ith him, said: “ O Son
o f Adam , you are but days, such that with every day that goes by,
part o f you departs w ith it.” H e also said: “ I have seen people w ho
w ere m ore protective o f their time than you are o f your dirhams
and dinars” [denominations o f money].

Hammad ibn Salamah was Either Narrating, Reading, Glorifying

Allah, or Praying
Al-H afiz al-Dhahabl said in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, in the biography
o f al-Imam al-Muhaddith Hammad ibn Salamah al-Basri, al-Bazzaz
al-Khiraql: “ T h e Imam, scholar o f hadith and Philology Shaykh al-
Islam, was born in 91 ah , and died in 167 ah . H e was the first to
classify the sciences w ith Ibn Abi cArubah, and was very proficient
in Arabic, articulate and eloquent, a strict follow er o f the Sunnah,
and was a pious worshipper.”
His student cA bdur-R ahm an ibn M ahdi said: “ I f it was said to
Ham m ad ibn Salamah: ‘Y o u shall die tom orrow ,’ he w ould not be
able to increase his good deeds.” M usa ibn Ismacll al-Tabudhaki
said: “ I f I told you that I have never seen Hammad ibn Salamah
laughing, I w ould be telling the truth. H e was always busy, either
narrating the hadith, or reading, or glorifying (Allah), or praying,
and he divided his day between them .” Yunus al-M u ’addib said:
“ Ham m ad ibn Salamah died while in prayer, may Allah have mer­
cy on him .”

The M ost Burdensome Time for al-Khaltl ibn Ahmad is His

Abu Hilal al-cAskari said in his book al-Haththu cala Talabi al-
' Um wa’l-Ijtihadi f i Jam zih [Encouraging the Seeking o f Knowledge and
Compiling It]: “ Al-Khalll ibn Ahm ad al-Farahidl al-Basri, one o f
the w orld’s prominent intellectuals, bom in the year 100 ah and

The Value of Time

died in 170 ah, m ay Allah have m ercy on him, used to say: ‘The
most burdensome time for me is w hen I must eat.’ ” It is indeed
amazing to what degree he was devoted to knowledge! A nd how
precious his time was to him!

Abu Yusuf Discussing a Matter of Fiqh on His Death Bed

Here w e see the judge and Imam Abu Y u su f (Ya qub ibn Ibrahim
al-Ansari al-Kufi, later al-Baghdadi), born in 113 ah, died 182 ah,

may Allah have m ercy on him), the companion o f Abu Hanlfah,

and his student w ho spread his knowledge and madhhab, the judge
o f the three cAbbasid rulers: al-M ahdi, al-Hadi and al-Rashid, the
first to be called Qad! al-Qudat (the Supreme Judge), and also
know n as the Supreme Ju dge o f the w orld’s judges: w e see him,
on his death bed, during his last moments in this life, discussing
a matter o ffiqh w ith some o f his visitors, in order to benefit and
teach, and not wishing to lose the last moment o f his life w ith­
out m aking use o f it in benefiting him self and being beneficial to
others. His student al-Qadl Ibrahim ibn al-Jarrah al-Kufi, later al-
Misri, said:
A b u Y u s u f becam e ill, so I w en t to visit him , and found him un­
conscious. W h en he regained consciousness he said to m e: “ O
Ibrahim , w hat is yo u r opinion on this matter?” I said to him :
“ W hile yo u are in this state?” H e said: “ T hat is fine, let us discuss
it, perhaps one m ay be saved by it.” T h en he said: “ O Ibrahim ,
w h ich is better in the casting o f stones [during pilgrim age], to
do so w hile w alking or w h ile m ounted?” I said: “ M o u n ted .” H e
said: “ W ro n g .” I said: “ W alkin g.” H e said: “ W ro n g .” I said: “ Say
yo u r opinion, m ay Allah be pleased w ith y o u .” H e said: “ As for
the case w here one stops w here one should m ake supplication,
then it is better to do so w hile w alking, but i f it is elsewhere then
it is better w hile m ounted.” T h e n I left him , and as soon as I
reached the door o f his house, I heard crying, and he died, m ay
Allah have m ercy on him .2'

This is indeed the w ay o f the scholars and imams, for they say:


“ Seek know ledge from the cradle to the grave.” 22

Abu Yusups Son Dies, So He Delegates Someone to Wash Him

and Bury Him in Order to Attend His Circle
T h e great Imam Abu Y u s u f al-Qadl al-Alma I was a close compan­
ion o f his shaykh Imam Abu Hanifah, attending his study circle for
17 years (or, as some say, 29 years), never missing the Zuhr Prayer
w ith him nor leaving him except due to illness. M uham mad ibn
Qudamah narrated that Shujac ibn M akhlad once heard Abu
Y u s u f state: “ A son o f mine died, and I did not attend his washing
or burial, and left m y neighbours and relatives in charge o f that,
lest I should miss some part o f Abu Hanifah’s lecture and regret it
for the rest o f m y life.” 23

Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Sleeps but Little of the Night

A l-cAllamah Tashkobri Zadeh said in Miftah al-Sa'adah wa Misbdh
al-Siyadah [The Key to Happiness and the Lamp of Dominance]:
M uham m ad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani al-K u fi al-Baghdadl, the
Imam o f fiq h and hadith and the M ujtahid, the student o f Imam
A b u Hanlfah, born 132 ah, died 189 ah, m ay Allah have m ercy
o n him , did not sleep at night. H e used to have several books,
and w h en ever he becam e bored o f reading one, he w ou ld turn to
read another, and used to get rid o f sleepiness by using cold w ater
and w ould say: Sleep is indeed caused b y heat.

Isam al-Balakhi Buys a Pen for One Dinar

T h en the scholar Tashkobri Zadeh said: “ A nd cIsam ibn Y u s u f
al-Balakhi, the Hanafi scholar o ffiqh and hadith, w h o died in 215
ah , m ay Allah have m ercy on him , bought a pen for one D inar
in order to w rite w hat he heard im m ediately. For life is short,
and know ledge is vast, hence the student must not waste time,
and must make use o f nights and solitary times, and must seek
scholars and benefit from them, for not everything that is missed

The Value o f Time

can be regained!”
A n d I w ill not regain w hat I have missed
T h ro u gh “ H ad I,” “ I w ish ” or “ I f on ly” !

Muhammad ibn Salam al-Btkandi Calling: “One Pen for One

W e see M uham m ad ibn Salam al-Blkandl the shaykh o f Imam al-
Bukhari, w ho died in 227 ah , as a young student sitting in a circle
o f knowledge, w here his Shaykh was narrating and dictating. The
pen o f M uham m ad ibn Salam broke, so he ordered someone to
call: A pen for one Dinar [which was a great sum at the time],
and pens flooded towards him. (Narrated by al-Hafiz al-cA ym in
cUmdat al-Qdri.) His generosity was motivated by his knowledge
o f the value o f that precious time and also the value o f that w hich
fills it. Here is a scholar seeking knowledge w ho realised the value
o f time, and hence sacrificed his m oney for a pen.

cUbayd ibn Ya clsh Fed by His Sister for 30 Years so that He May
Write the Hadith
Al-H afiz al-Dhahabl narrates in Siyar A clam al-Nubala’ [Biographies
of the Prominent Nobles] in the biography o f the great scholar o f
hadith cU bayd B in Y a cIsh the shaykh o f al-Bukhari and Muslim,
the following: “ H e is the great scholar o f hadith, Abu M uhamm ad
cU bayd B in Y a cIsh al-Kufi al-M aham il! al-cAttar. A l-Bukhari
narrated on his authority concerning the raising o f the hands,
and M uslim in the Sahih, and al-Nasa’I, Abu Z arcah, al-Razl,
M uham m ad ibn A yyub al-B ajall... and many others. 'A m m ar ibn
R a ja ’ said: “ I heard cU bayd ibn Y a cIsh saying: For thirty years I
never had time to eat at night, m y sister used to feed me while I
wrote hadith.”


Ibn Ma cln Says to His Shaykh: Dictate It to Me Now Lest I Do

N ot Meet You Again
Imam Ahm ad and Imam Abu cIsa al-Tirm idhl narrated the follow ­
ing, and the version included here is that o f al-Tirm idhl:
cA b d ibn H um ayd narrated to us, and said M uham m ad ibn al-
Fadl said that H am m ad ibn Salamah narrated on the authority o f
H abib ibn al-Shahid, on the authority o f al- Hasan al-Basri, on the
authority o f Anas ibn M alik , m ay Allah be pleased w ith him , that
the Prophet Ufa cam e out o f his house— during his last illness—
leaning on Usam ah ibn Z ayd , w earing a Q atari cloak w hich he
w rapped h im self in, and he led them in Prayer.

Then al-Tirm idhl said after narrating this hadith:

cA b d ibn H um ayd [the shaykh o f al-Tirm idhl] said that
M uham m ad ibn al-Fadl said: “ Y a h y a ibn M a 'ln asked m e regard­
ing this hadith w hen he first attended m y circle. I said: ‘ H am m ad
ibn Salamah narrated it.’ So he said: ‘ C o u ld you dictate from you r
b o o k ?’ I began to get m y b o o k out, but he held m e from m y
clothes and asked: ‘D ictate it to m e from m em ory, I fear that I
m ay not m eet yo u again.’ So I dictated it to him , then got m y
b o o k out and read it to h im .”

The Scolarship of Yahya ibn Ma in in Hadith

In order to understand better this narration, I w ould like to men­
tion part o f the biography o f Imam Y ahya ibn M acIn. A l-H afiz
al-Dhahabi said in Siyar A'lam al-Nubala’ about him: “ H e is the
great Imam and scholar, the master o f Huffaz [memorisers o f the
hadith], the king o f Huffaz, the shaykh o f the scholars o f hadith,
A bu Zakariyya, Y ahya ibn M acin ibn cA w n ibn Ziyad ibn Bistam.
H e was not from the Arabs, but became allied with some o f BanI
M urr, and came to be know n as al-M urri, and al-Baghdadl by
birth, one o f the most prominent scholars o f hadith. H e was born
in Baghdad in 158 ah , and grew up there. H e started w riting
hadith at the age o f ten. His father M acIn was one o f the noble
scribes under Abdullah ibn M alik in charge o f the water tax, and
The Value of Time

left him i ,000,000 Dirhams, all o f w hich he spent on acquiring

knowledge o f hadith until he did not even have sandals to wear!
H e heard hadith from ‘Abdullah ibn al-M ubarak, Hushaim
ibn Bashir, IsmacIl ibn 'Ayyash, Sufyan ibn 'U yaynah, cAbdur-
R azzaq al-Sancani from Y em en , W akic ibn al-Jarh, Y ah ya ibn
Sacld al-Qattan, cA bdur-R ahm an ibn M ahdl, and many others, in
Iraq, Sham, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and al-Hijaz.
O n his authority, Imams Ahm ad ibn Hanbal, al-Bukhari,
M uslim , Abu Dawud, cAbbas al-Duri al-Baghdadi— the narra­
tor o f his teachings— Abu Z arcah al-R azl, cUthm an ibn Sacid al-
Darimi, Abu Y a cla al-M awsili, and many others w ho cannot be
enumerated, narrated.

Ibn M acin Wrote a Million Hadith by Hand, and Wrote Each

Hadith 50 Times
'A ll ibn al-M adini said that everyone’s knowledge went to Yahya
ibn M a'ln. cA bd al-Khaliq ibn Mansur said:
I said to 'A bd ullah ibn a l-R u m l that I heard som e students o f
Imdtth narrating some hadiths on the authority o fY a h y a ibn M a 'ln
and saying: “ It was narrated to m e b y the best o f narrators to have
ever existed.” Ibn a l-R u m l said: “ W h y should yo u be surprised? I
heard cA ll ibn al-M adin i say: ‘ I saw no one like him , and I do not
k n o w any m an w h o w rote as m uch o f the hadith as w hat Y ah ya
ibn M a c n w ro te .’ ”

M uham m ad ibn Nasr al-M arwazi said: “ I heard Y ah ya ibn

M acin say: ‘I w rote by hand 1,000,000 hadith.’”24 Al-D hahabl said
that he meant including repetitions, for he said: “ H ad w e not
written a hadith 50 times w e w ould not have learnt it.”

Any Hadith Unknown to Ibn M acin is Not a Hadith

Imam Ahm ad ibn Hanbal said: “ A n y hadith that is unknown to
Y ahya ibn M acIn is not a hadith. Y ah ya ibn M acIn is a man cre­
ated by Allah for this purpose, to reveal the lies o f the liars [regard­


ing hadith].” Abu Hatim al-R azl said: “ I f you see an inhabitant o f
Baghdad loving Ahm ad ibn Hanbal, then know that he follows
the Sunnah, and i f you see that he dislikes Y ah ya ibn M acIn, then
kn ow that he is a liar.”

Ibn M atin’s Saying: If Yon Write, Collect W hat You Write, and
If You Narrate, Search
Y ah ya ibn Ma in is the one w ho set a great m ethodology in seek­
ing and spreading knowledge. H e made the statement w hich be­
came the rule o f all scholars o f hadith in seeking knowledge and
narrating: “ W hen you write, collect [everything you hear], and
w hen you narrate, search and investigate.”

The Magnitude of the Books of Yahya Ibn M acin

Salih ibn Ahm ad al-Hafiz said that he heard Abu cAbdullah say: “ I
heard m y father say that Y ahya ibn M acin left behind 114 contain­
ers o f books, and four hibabs [large containers] full o f books.”

Ibn Ma 'in, the One who Rejected Lies About the Prophet
W henever Y ah ya ibn M a in w ent on Hajj, he used to go to
M akkah via Madlnah, and on his w ay back from M akkah he
w ould return via Madlnah. W hen he went to Hajj in 233 ah , he
entered Madlnah before Hajj at the end o f the month o f D h u’l-
Q icdah, and fell ill, and died seven days before the end o f the
month. People heard o f his arrival and his death, and the tribe o f
Banu Hashim brought out the bed on w hich the Prophet was
washed, and used it to prepare him for burial. People attended his
funeral prayer and buried him in al-BaqIc (where the Prophet and
prominent companions are buried), and the people said: “ Here is
the man w ho used to defend the Prophet o f Allah from lies fabri­
cated about him .”

The Value of Time

Commentary on the Story of Ibn M acm with His Shaykh

Muhammad Ibn al-Fadl
There are many precious lessons and dear benefits from the hadith
received by Y ahya ibn M acIn from his shaykh M uhamm ad ibn al-
Fadl. Y ah ya ibn M acIn, some o f whose biography w e have seen,
asked his shaykh M uham m ad ibn al-Fadl al-Sadusi al-Basri to nar­
rate the hadith to him as soon as he sat w ith him, and w hen he
began to narrate starting with: “ Harnmad ibn Salamah narrated
to us,” Y ahya said: “ I f possible from your book, please.” Y ah ya
did so only for further clarification and certainty, for Muham m ad
ibn al-Fadl is a trustworthy and competent scholar o f hadith, but
Yahya only wished for further certainty.
It was in the tradition o f the scholars o f hadith before the es­
tablishment o f schools and universities in the fifth century that the
shaykh w ould teach his students in the mosque, or in any spacious
place i f the mosque was not sufficiently spacious for the students,
or in front o f his house i f their number was small. M uhammad
ibn al-Fadl was narrating this hadith to Y ah ya ibn M acin in front
o f his house. W hen M uham m ad ibn al-Fadl got up to enter his
house and fetch his book to narrate from it, Y ah ya feared that
Muhammad ibn al-Fadl may be prevented by something during
that short time between his getting up to fetch his book from his
house and his return, and that he might not hear the hadith. So he
held on to him before he finished getting up and prevented him
from going to his house until he narrated the hadith to him from
his m em ory, out o f his great desire to hear the hadith and his fear
that something may prevent him from doing so. H ence he asked
him: Please dictate it from m em ory, for I fear I may not see you
again, for life has its interruptors, and I fear something may arise
and prevent our meeting. M uham m ad ibn al-Fadl then dictated
the hadith to him from his m em ory first, then entered his house,
collected his book and read the hadith from it a second time.
This story illustrated Imam Y ah ya ibn M acin ’s appreciation o f


the value o f time and his great desire to seek knowledge and attain
certainty, his racing to benefit, his avoidance o f delaying the op­
portunity to learn and benefit, and his fear o f any sudden interrup­
tion o f life.25
Through this short story, w e can see how Imam Y ahya ibn
M acin valued and gained time, and w e can understand ho w he
was able to write a million hadith by hand, and to travel around
many countries, to learn from scholars and narrate what he learnt
to thousands o f scholars and students.
Imam Y ah ya ibn M acin is not unique in this regard, and one
can say the same o f Imams cAli ibn al-M adlni, Aham d ibn Hanbal,
al-Bukhari, M uslim , Abu Daw ud, al-Tirm idhi, al-Nasa’i and oth­
ers like them.

The Cherishing of Knowledge by al-Jahiz, al-Fath ibn Khaqan

and Ismactl al-QadT
A l-Khatlb al-Baghdadi narrated in his book Taqyid al-Tlm, on the
authority o f A b u ’l- cAbbas al-Mubarrid:
I have not seen anyone w ho valued kn ow ledge m ore than these
three: al-Jahi?, ‘A m r ibn Bahr, the imam o f the m en o f letters,
b o m in 163 ah, died in 255 ah; al-Fath ibn K haqan, the ge­
nius w riter and poet, one o f the nobles, chosen by the ‘ Abbasid
C aliph al-M utaw akkil as a m inister and com panion, w h o had a
library containing the most sought-after books, w h o died in 237
ah; and Ism a'll al-Q adi, the M alik ! imam and scholar o iftq h o f
Baghdad, b o m in 200 ah, died 282 ah.
As fo r al-Jahiz, w henever he found a b ook he w ould read it from
cover to cover, w hatever b o o k it m ay be, to the extent that he
used to rent the shops o f the paper sellers and spend the night
there in order to read the books they stored.

A nd as for al-Fath ibn K haqan, he used to carry a b ook in his

sleeve or shoe, and w h en ever he w ould leave al-M utaw akkil to
go to the bathroom or for prayer, he w ou ld take the b o o k out
and read w hile w alking until arriving at his destination, and the

The Value o f Time

same on the w ay back, until arriving at his seat. W h en ever al-

M utaw akkil left for any need, he w ou ld bring the b o o k out and
read until the return o f al-M utaw akkil.

A s for Ism a'il ibn Ishaq al-Q adi, I have never seen him w ithout
finding him w ith a b o o k in his hand, or lo o k in g through books
searching for one to read, or dusting the books.

The Servant of Ibn Suhniin Feeds Him Dinner But He Does Not
Notice Because of His Engagement in Writing
Al-Qadi cIyad in his Tartib al-Madarik w rote in the biography o f
the M alik! scholar o f fiqh and hadith M uhammad ibn Suhun o f
Qayrawan, born 202 ah, died 256 ah, may Allah have m ercy on
A l-M alik l said: “ M uham m ad ibn Suhnun had a servant called
U irnn M udam . O n ce he was in her house, and he was busy w rit­
ing a b ook until the evening. W hen it was tim e for dinner, she
asked perm ission to serve dinner, but he replied: ‘ I am busy at
the m om ent.’ A fter w aiting for a very lo n g time, she started feed­
in g him his dinner until he finished eating, w hile he continued
w orking. H e then continued to w rite until the tim e o f the call
for D aw n Prayer. H e then said: ‘Last night I was too busy w ith
m y w ork , O U m m M udam ! B rin g that w hich yo u h ave.’ She re­
plied: ‘B y Allah, I fed it to y o u .’ H e said: ‘I did not n otice!’ ”

Philologist Tha lab Accepts an Invitation on The Condition That

He Finishes Reading His Book
Abu Hilal al-cAskari said in his book al-Haththu 'aid Talab al-Tim
wa’l-Ijtihadfi Jam cih:
It was related concerning T h a'lab - A hm ad ibn Y ah ya as-Shaybani
o f K u fa and Baghdad, one o f the leading scholars o f philology,
linguistics, literature, hadith and qira’at, born in 200 ah, died 291
a h — m ay Allah have m ercy on him — that he always had a b ook
he was reading. W h en ever he received an invitation, he w ould
ask for a leather carpet on w h ich he w ould sit and read.


Tha clab Dies After Being Run Over by an Animal While Reading
[According to Khallikan], the cause o f Th a'lab’s death was that he
left the mosque on Friday after zAsr Prayer, and he had hearing
difficulties. H e had a book in his hand that he was reading while
walking. H e was hit by a horse w hich pushed him into a hole. H e
was carried hom e in that state, suffering from severe head pains,
and died the follow ing day, may Allah have mercy on him .26

Ibn Jarir's Valuing of H is Time and His Determination to Write

a Tafsir in 30,000 Pages
Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, the imam o f the scholars o f tafsir, hadith
and history, the great M ujtahid, may Allah have m ercy on him,
was a sign from among the signs in his beneficial use o f his time
and gaining it and filling it w ith learning, teaching and writing,
whose works w ere truly amazing, not only in their number, but
also in their perfection and creativity.
T h e follow ing excerpts about the life o f this great scholar,
Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, are taken from the 56-page biography
written by the scholar Y aqut al-H am awi in his book Mu'jam al-
JJdaba’, and from what the scholar o f hadith al-Khatlb al-Baghdadl
w rote in The History of Baghdad:
T h e philologist ‘A ll ibn ‘ U bayd-A llah as-Sim sim i narrated, on
the authority o f A b u ‘ U m ar cU bayd-AU ah ibn A hm ad as-Simsar,
and A b u ’l-Q asim ibn cU q ayl al-W arraq, that A b u Ja far al-Tabari
said to his com panions: “ W hat w ould you think o f the w ritin g
o f a tafsir o f the Q u r’an?” T h e y said: “ H o w long w ill it be?” H e
said: “ T h irty thousand pages.” T h e y said: “ Lives w ould end be­
fore its com pletion!” So he restricted it to around three thousand
pages and dictated it in seven years, from 2 8 3 -29 0 ah. T h e n he
said to them: “ W hat w ould you think o f the w ritin g o f a book
on the history o f the w orld from the time o f A dam to ou r tim e?”
T h e y said: “ H o w long w ill it b e?” H e said: “ T h irty thousand
pages.” T h e y gave him the same reply. H e said regretfully: “ W e
are A llah’s and to H im w e shall return! R e so lv e s have died!” H e

The Value of Time

reduced it to the same length as the tafsir, and com pleted edit­
in g it on W ednesday, three days before the end o f the M on th o f
R a b c al-A kh ir in the year 303 ah.

Ibn Jarir Wrote Forty Pages Every Day

Al-Khatlb said: “ I heard al-Simsiml relate that Ibn Jarir spent forty
years in w hich he w rote forty pages every day.” His student Abu
Muhammad cAbdullah ibn Ahmad ibn J a cfar al-Farghanl w rote in
his book know n as al-$ilah, a book w hich he linked to The History
of Ibn Jarir. “ Som e students o f Ibn Ja rir’s counted the total num ­
ber o f days he had lived, from his birth to his death at the age o f
eighty-six, and divided the num ber o f pages o f his writings by
those days, w hich came to fourteen pages every day, w hich is only
possible for a man w ith the help and blessing o f the Creator.”

The Total of Ibn Jarir’s Writings is 358,000 Pages

Ibn Jarir was born in 224 ah , and died in 310 ah , and if w e sub­
tract the period before maturity estimated to be fourteen years, it
would leave Ibn Jarir seventy-two years in w hich he w rote four­
teen pages every day. And i f w e count the days in those seven­
ty-two years and multiplied them by the fourteen pages written
daily, the total written by Imam Ibn Jarir w ould be around 358
thousand pages.
His [books on] history and tafsir [Q ur’an exegesis] w ere each
around three thousand pages long, m aking them together total
around seven thousand. His “ H istory” was printed in eleven large
volumes, and his tafsir in thirty large volumes. I f you consider the
rest o f his writings, 351 thousand pages, you w ould realise the ex­
tent o f the writings o f this imam, w ho was like an encyclopedia
in his knowledge, like a publishing house in his writing, while he
was but an individual, w riting with his ow n pen on paper, and
spreading his knowledge and thought to the people as purified
sweet honey, and that w ould not have been possible w ere it not


for the fact that he used his time beneficially and knew how to
manage it and use it effectively.

Ibn Jarir’s Time Management

T h e judge Abu Bakr ibn Kam il-Ahm ad ibn Kam il al-Shajari, the
student and companion o f Ibn Jarir, said, describing ho w he, may
Allah have m ercy on him, ordered his times and activities:
A fter eating, he used to sleep in a short-sleeved shirt, rubbed w ith
sandalw ood and rosewater. T h e n he w ou ld get up to pray Zuhr
at hom e, and w o u ld w rite until 'A sr tim e, and w ou ld go out to
pray cAsr, then w ou ld sit teaching the people and correcting them
until Maghrib. T h en he w ou ld sit to teach ftqli until the last cIslta
prayer, then he w ou ld go hom e. H e used to divide his day and
night b etw een his personal interests, his religion, and people, as
guided by Allah, H igh and G lorified be H e.

Ibn Jarir Makes a Note a Little Before His Death

Ustadh M uhammad Kurdall w rote in his book Kunuz al-Ajdad
(Treasures of the Forefathers) on the biography o f Imam Ibn Jarir al-
Tabari: “ H e was not know n for having wasted even a minute o f
his life except in benefiting or giving benefit.” Ibn Zakariyya nar­
rated on the authority o f some trustworthy narrators that he was
in the presence o f Abu J a cfar al-Tabari, may Allah have m ercy on
him, before his death, an hour or less after w hich he died, w hen
he heard this du'a’ on the authority o f Ja cfar ibn Muhammad. H e
asked for ink and paper and wrote it down. H e was asked: “ In the
state you are in?” H e replied: “ O ne must not leave seeking know l­
edge until death.” M ay Allah have m ercy on him and reward him
for the benefit he has brought to Islam and the Muslims.

Ibn Jarir’s Lasting Legacy Through His Writings

This was a quick glance at the writings o f Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari,
m ay Allah have m ercy on him, w ithout enumerating and m en­

The Value of Time

tioning all o f their titles and topics, some o f w hich have survived
to this day. These are an eternal reminder o f him more so than
any number o f sons or grandsons could ever be, for they w ould
eventually disappear into the past and be forgotten, w hile these
writings remain a lasting legacy, after 1,10 0 years o f his death.
Imam Ibn al-jawzl was right w hen he said: “ T he scholar’s book is
his eternal child.”

Philologist Ibn al-Khayydt Fell into a Hole as He was Reading

While Walking
Abu Hilal al-cAskari said in His B o o k al-Haththu cala Talabi al-cIlmi
wa’l-Ijtihadi f i Jam 'ih: “ T h e philologist Abu Bakr ibn al-Khayyat-
Imam M uhammad ibn Ahmad ibn M ansur from Samarkand w ho
lived in Baghdad, died 320 ah , used to study at all times, even
while walking in the street, and many times was hit by horses and
knocked into ditches!”

Al-H akim al-Shahid Does Not Speak to His Visitors Due to

Preoccupation W ith Writing
In al-Samcani’s al-Ansab, he wrote on the biography o f al-H akim
al-Shahid A bu al-Fadl M uham m ad ibn M uham m ad ibn al-
MarwazI al-Balkhi, the Hanafi scholar and judge, w ho died as a
martyr in 334 ah , may Allah have m ercy on him, the scholar of
M arw and the greatest Hanafi Imam o f his time:
A bu 'A bdullah ibn al-H akim al-Shahid said: “ I have observed
al-H akim fasting every M on d ay and Thursday, not m issing the
night prayer w h ether traveling or residing. H e used to sit w ith his
inkpot and books, w hen he was the Sultan’s minister, and w ould
only grant permission to those he could not refuse entry, and
w ould continue his w ritin g until the visitor left. A b u ’l-'A bb as ibn
H am m uyah com plained o f him , and said: ‘W e go to visit him,
but he does not speak to us, he holds his pen and leaves us!” ’

A l-H akim Abu ‘Abdullah author o f al-Mustadrak said:


I attended on a Friday afternoon the lesson o f al-H akim A b u ’l-

Fadl. Prince A b u cA li ibn B ak r ibn al-M uzaffar entered, so he
stood up for him and did not m ove from his place, and sent him
aw ay saying: “ G o , O prince, for this is not yo u r day!”

The Numerous Writings of Hadith Scholar Ibn Shahln

Al-D hahabi w rote in Tadhkirat al-Hujfaz in the biography o f
scholar Ibn Shahln, born 297 ah , died 385 ah at the age o f 88,
m ay Allah have m ercy on him:
H e is the great imam, the scholar o f hadith o f Iraq, A bu Hafs
cU m ar ibn 'U th m an al-Baghdadi, kn ow n as Ibn Shahln, the
w riter o f m any books. H is student A b u ’l-H usayn ibn al-M uhtadi
B illah said: “ Ibn Shahln said to us: ‘ I w rote 330 books, including
al-Tafsir al-Kabtr, a thousand volum es, al-Musnad 1,3 0 0 volum es,
al-Tarikh 150 volum es and al-Zuhd o f 100 volum es.’ ” 27

Ibn Shahln Spends Seven Hundred Dirhams on Ink

M uham m ad ibn cU m ar ad-D aw udi al-Qadl said that he heard Ibn
Shahln say: “ I counted the price o f the ink I have bought to this
day, and it amounted to seven hundred dirhams.” Ibn al-Fawaris
said: “ Ibn Shahln wrote more books than anyone ever did.”

Philologist Mundhir al-Marwanl Known as “Study”

O ne o f the scholars o f the Arabic language became know n as
al-mudhakarah— study— because o f his great attachment to the
study o f the sciences o f the Arabic language w ith any scholar he
met. A l-H afiz ibn Hajar said in Nuzhat al-Albab j t ’l-al-Alqab: “ Al-
Mudhakarah is al-M undhir ibn cA bd-ir-R ah m an ibn M u'aw iyah
ibn M uham m ad ibn al-M undhir ibn cA bd-ir-R ahm an ibn
M u cawiyah ibn Hisham ibn A b d al-M alik, the AndalusI, the
M arwanL H e was know n by that name because he was fond o f
the science o f grammar and was a scholar o f the Arabic language.
W henever he met any o f his companions, he w ould say: ‘W ould

The Value of Time

you like to do some mudhakarah-study and revision o f Arabic?’

Thus he became know n as al-Mudhakarah. H e was mentioned by
Ibn Hazm w ho w rote that he died in 393 ah .

Abu N ucaym al-Asfahdnl Teaching While Walking

Al-H afiz al-Dhahabl wrote in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz in the biography
o f al-Hafiz A bu N u aym al-Asfahani Ahm ad ibn cAbdullah, the
scholar o f hadith, history and Sufism, born 336 ah , died 430 ah ,
may Allah have m ercy on him:
Ahm ad ibn M arduw ayh said: “ A b u N u Laym was at his tim e a
scholar sought b y all seekers o f know ledge. T h ere was no one
w h o had m ore kn ow ledge o f the hadith and o f chains o f narra­
tions than him . A ll scholars o f hadith used to travel to m eet him,
each o f them b eing allocated a day on w h ich he w o u ld read to
him (for verification) until the tim e o f Zuhr, and w h en he w ould
leave to go to his house, som e w ou ld also read to him on the
w ay, and he was never tired o f teaching. H e had no food other
than teaching and w ritin g.”

Al-Bayruni Learns a Point of Fiqh While on His Deathbed

In M ucjam al-Udaba’ o f Y aqut al-QamawI, it was written in the bi­
ography o f the great imam, the astronomer, mathematician, histo­
rian, philologist, the scholar o f many disciplines, Abu al-Rayhan
al-Bayrunl, M uham m ad ibn Ahm ad al-Khawarizm l, born 362 ah ,
died 440 ah , may Allah have m ercy on him:
A b u al-R ayh an was bent on seeking kn ow ledge o f all sciences,
devoted to the w ritin g o f books, addressing all sides and details o f
the matter, his pen seldom leaving his hand, nor his eye leaving
reading, his heart thinking, except on the days o f N ayruz and al-
M ihrajan, in order to prepare the necessities o f life, dedicating the
rem aining days o f the year to know ledge.

The scholar o ffiqh A b u ’l-Hasan All ibn cIsa al-W alwalijl said:
I visited A bu al-R ayh an w h ile on his deathbed, in his last m o­
ments, at the age o f seventy-eight, and he said to me w h ile in that


state: “ Y o u had told m e one day about the m atter o f maternal

grandmothers?” I said, out o f pity fo r him : “ W hilst you are in this
state?” H e replied: “ O you! T h at I leave this w o rld k n o w in g this
matter, w ou ld that not be better than me leaving it w hile igno­
rant o f it?” So I repeated w hat I had told him , and he m em orised
it, and he taught m e w hat he had promised. T h e n I left his house,
and soon after that I heard crying!

This great imam mastered five languages: Arabic, Syriac,

Sanskrit, Persian and Hindi, and he w rote on Astronomy,
Mathematics, M edicine, Literature, Linguistics, History and other
disciplines, over 120 books. T h e famous orientalist Sakhau wrote
about him: “ H e was the greatest mind know n in history.” T he
Science Historian Sarton w rote about him: “ A l-Bayruni was the
greatest o f M uslim figures, and among the w orld’s greatest scien­
tists.” See his biography and scientific contributions in The Arab
Scientific Heritage in Astronomy and Mathematics by Qadri Hafiz

Sulaym al-RazT Always Writing, Teaching, Reading or Reciting,

W ithout Breaks
In Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftarl by al-Hafiz ibn cAsakir, and Tabaqat
al-Shafiiyyah al-Wusta by Tajuddln al-Subkl, in the biography o f
Imam Sulaym al-RazI, one o f the greatest ShaficI scholars o f his
time, died 337 ah , may Allah have m ercy on him, it was reported
that al-Taj al-Subk! wrote: “ H e, may Allah have m ercy on him,
was very pious, accounting him self for time, not leaving any time
to pass by w ithout gaining some benefit, either writing, teaching
or reading, and he used to write extensively.
A l-H afiz ibn cAsakir said that Shaykh A b u ’l-Faraj al-Asfaraylni
narrated that he (Sulaym) w ent to his house and came back, and
said: “ I read a ju z ’ on the w ay .” A b u ’l-Faraj said: “ A l-M u ’ammil
ibn al-Hasan narrated to me that he saw Sulaym w ith his pen hav­
ing lost its sharpness, and while he was sharpening it, he was mut­
tering something and I knew that he was reading at the same time,

The Value o f Time

in order not to waste any tim e.” That is he was remembering

Allah so that no time w ould pass by without being used in some
beneficial act o f worship.

Al-Khatlb al-Baghdadl Reads While Walking

Al-H afiz al-Dhahabl wrote in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz in the biography
o f al-Khatlb al-Baghdadl the scholar o f hadith and historian o f
Baghdad, bo m 392 ah , died 463 ah , may Allah have m ercy on
him: “ A l-Khatlb used to walk holding a book he was reading.”
That is in order not to waste time and to make use o f the time
spent w alking by gaining some knowledge.

Imam al-Haramayn Eats and Sleeps Out of Necessity, Not Habit

In Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari by al-Hafiz ibn cAsakir, and Tabaqat
al-Shdficiyyah al-Kubra by Tajiddin al-Subkl, in the biography o f
Imam al-Haramayn A b u ’l-M acall cA bdul-M alik ibn ‘Abdullah al-
Juwayn! al-Nisapuri, the Shafici scholar o ffiqh and usill, the theo­
logian and great scholar, the shaykh o f Imam al-Ghazall, born 419
ah , died 478 ah , m ay Allah have m ercy on him, w e find the fol­
cA b d u l-G h afir al-Farisi said in his b ook Siyaq Nisapur. ‘Imam al-
H aram ayn, the pride o f Islam, the Imam o f all the Imams, the great
Scholar o f Shari'ah, w hose superiority is acknow ledged in the
East and W est, the likeness o f w h o m no eye has seen and never
w ill after him . I heard him say: “ I do not eat or sleep out o f habit,
I rather sleep w h en sleep overtakes m e w hether it is day or night,
and I eat w h en I need to w hatever time it is. H e found the great­
est pleasure in studying and seeking beneficial kn ow led g e.’”

Imam al-Haramayn Studies Under a Philologist at Age Fifty

Shaykh A b u ’l-Hasan cA ll ibn Faddal ibn 'A ll al-M ujashai al-
Qayrawani the philologist, came to us in the year 469 ah , and was


generously received by Imam Fakhr al-Islam w ho started to learn

grammar and study under him. T he Imam was then fifty years old,
and he used to take him to his house and read to him the book o f
“ Ikslr al-Dhahab fi Sinacat al-Adab” which he wrote. A b u ’l-Hasan
al- M ujashacI, used to say: I had never seen a lover o f knowledge
like this imam, he seeks knowledge for the sake o f know ledge.”

Ya qub al-Najtramt Reads While Walking

In Inbah al-Ruwat cAla Anbah al-Nuhat by al-Qifti, in the biogra­
phy o f M uham m ad al-Sa ldi ibn Barakat al-NahawI, from Basra,
then Egypt, born 420 ah , died 520 ah , may Allah have m ercy on
him, he wrote: “ W hen I was a boy, I saw Abu Y u su f Y a'q u b ibn
Khurrazadh al-Najlram l, walking. H e was a dark old man, with a
long beard, a round turban, and a book in his hand w hich he was
reading as he w alked.”

Ibn 'Aqtl and Ibn al-Jawzl, the Ultimate Examples in Good Use
of Time
A t the highest position in the list o f those w ho valued time and
appreciated its importance and preciousness, and w ho w ere deter­
mined to fill it with good deeds, to make use o f all moments, by
writing, thinking, remembering and reminding, are the two great
scholars o f Ha.nbn\l fiqh, w ho ranked among the greatest imams o f
the Muslims:
Imam A bu’l W afa ibn A q il al-Hanball, the student o f al-
Khatlb al-Baghdadl, and Imam A b u ’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzl, his stu­
dent, may Allah have m ercy on them. I include here some details
o f their lives:

Ibn AqTl: A World Genius

As for Imam A b u T W afa’ ibn cAqIl al-Hanball cAlI ibn cAqIl al-
Baghdadi, al-Hafiz ibn R ajab al-Hanbali in his “ Dhayl Tabaqat al-

The Value of Time

Hanabilah” wrote in his biography o f the former, “ he was bom in

431 a h , and died in 513 a h , he was one o f the best scholars, and
one o f the world’s geniuses, o f extreme intelligence and very vast
and multi-disciplinary in knowledge.”

Ibn cA qtl Does Not Waste a Moment of His Time

He used to say: I am not allowed to waste a mom ent o f m y life,
for even i f m y tongue stops reading and debating, and m y eyes
stop reading, I can use m y mind to reflect even w hen I am lying
down. A nd w hen I get up, I do so to write something that has oc­
curred to me, and I find that m y desire to seek knowledge at the
age o f eighty is greater than it was w hen I was twenty.

Ibn cAqtl Chooses Hard Cnist Softened with Water Rather than
Bread to Save Time
And I seek to shorten m y meal times as m uch as possible, to the
extent that I choose to eat hard crust m ixed w ith water rather than
bread, because o f the difference in ease o f chewing, in order to
save time for reading or w riting something that may be o f ben­
efit. For the greatest profit made in the eyes o f the wise people,
by consensus o f all scholars, is time, for it is a treasure in w hich
opportunities are used. For indeed duties are numerous and times
are fleeting.
Shaykh Ibn al-Jawzi said: Imam Ibn cA qil was always busy
seeking knowledge, searching for explanations o f ambiguous is­
sues and for the essence o f things, and he made his book know n as
“A l-Funun” (The Arts) a collection o f his thoughts and observa­

The Diversity of Ibn A qtl’s Disciplines and Writings


He had around twenty books on different subjects, the greatest o f

which was al-Funiin, which is a massive book containing immense


benefits in admonition, exegesis, jurisprudence, the fundamentals

o f jurisprudence, theology, grammar, linguistics, poetry, history,
and literature. It contains his debates, observations, his thoughts,
and the products o f his intellectual activity.

One of His Books, “Al-Funun, ” is 800 Volumes Long

Al-DhahabI said: “ N o one ever wrote a book bigger than this
book; I have spoken to people w ho have seen over 400 volum es.”
Ibn R ajab said: “ Som e have said that it is 800 volumes long.” 28

The Best Use of Time and W ay to Draw Closer to Allah is

Seeking Knowledge
He, may Allah have m ercy on him, wrote, in the introduction to
his book al-Funun:
Indeed the best w ay to spend time, to keep o n eself occupied,
and to draw closer to the Lord, G lorified is H e, is to seek k n o w l­
edge that takes one out o f the darkness o f ignorance to the light
o f A llah’s W ay, and that is w hat I kept m yself occupied w ith and
spent m y tim e in.

A nd I continued to com m ent on the w ords o f scholars w hich

I have learnt, from the essence o f books, and from the fruit o f
thoughts em erging from debates and discussions in the circles o f
scholars and gatherings o f pious people, hoping that som e bless­
in g m ay be con veyed to m e, w h ich w ou ld drive ignorance aw ay,
perchance I m ay achieve som e o f w hat others before m e have

A n d even i f the only im m ediate benefits w ere purifying tim e o f

b eing wasted in being occupied w ith bad habits in w h ich the
times o f the ignorant masses are spent, then it w ould have been
sufficient. A n d on Allah w e rely for guidance, and H e is Sufficient
and the Best o f those to be relied on.

The Value o f Time

Ibn cAqtl Says Before His Death: Let Me Delight in Meeting

Ibn al-jaw zl said that w hen Imam A b u ’l-W afa’ ibn cA q ll was
on his death bed, w om en began to cry. A b u ’l-W afa’ then said:
“ I had signed on A llah’s behalf—that is he used to issue fatawa
clarifying the ruling o f Allah on various issues and events be­
tween people- for fifty years— so leave me to delight in m eeting
H im .”
This eminent imam only left behind his books and the clothes
he was wearing, w hich w ere sufficient to pay for his shroud and
debts. M ay Allah have m ercy on him and reward him for his ser­
vice to knowledge.
D ear reader, reflect on how using one’s intellect, saving time,
self-discipline and spending time on seeking knowledge and good
can produce incredible results: books that are 800 volumes long,
the largest book in the world, written by one person, A b u ’l-W afa’
ibn cAqIl, in addition to many other books, reaching over twenty
books, some o f w hich contain ten volumes.

Little Things Add Up to a Lot, and Streams are the Gathering of

There is nothing more true or beautiful than what Imam
Bahauddin ibn an-Nahhas al-Halabl (Muhammad ibn Ibrahim),
w ho died in 698 ah , may Allah have m ercy on him, w rote, indi­
cating that by doing a little regularly it adds up to an immense and
amazingly great amount, as in the case o f A b u ’l-W afa ibn cAqll.
He wrote in the biography o f al-Suyuti in Bughyat al- Wu'at:
T o do a thing today, and the same tom orrow
G athering is the essence o f know ledge
T hus one m ay achieve w isdom
F or streams are but the gathering o f drops


Ibn al-Jawzi’s Writings Exceed 500 Books

As for Imam A bu’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzl (cAbdur-Rahm an ibn cAll al-
Hanball al-Baghdadi), he was born in $08 ah and died in 597 ah .

H e lived for 89 years and wrote over five hundred books.

The Necessity of Knowing the Importance of Time and Filling it

W ith the Best of Occupations
Here is some o f Ibn al-jaw zl’s biography in order to perceive how
he was very aware o f the excellence o f time and its value, and
how he saved time w hen he had visitors w ho lengthened their
visits. H e, may Allah have m ercy on him, wrote in his book Sayd
al-Khatir, and al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah o f Ibn M uflih al-Hanball:
O n e must k n o w the value o f his tim e and its great im portance,
so that he should not waste even one m om ent except in w orship,
and should use it for the best, in order o f priority, in speech and
action. O n e ’s intention to seek goodness must be ever present,
w ith no slackness, as m uch as the body is able to bear, for as the
$ahih hadith says: “ T h e intention o f the b eliever is better than his
action.” 29

Most People Waste Time in Useless Matters

Ibn al-Jawzl said:
I have seen the m ajority o f people m aking strange use o f time!
Spending lo n g nights in useless talk, or reading books o f ghazal
[love poetry] and entertainment, and spending long days in sleep,
and you w ou ld find them at the end o f the day by the river D ijlah
or in the markets [Ibn al-Jaw zl lived in Baghdad]. I likened them
to people chatting w h ile on a ship that is m ovin g fast w hile they
are unaware o f its m ovem ent! I found that rare w ere those w ho
understood the essence o f existence, and it is those you find gath­
ering their provisions and preparing for their departure. T hus be
ever conscious o f the passing o f tim e, and hasten to use it before
it is too late, and com pete against time.

The Value o f Time

Ibn al-Jawzi Seeks Refuge From the Company of the Idle

Ibn al-Jawzi said:
I seek refuge from the com pany o f the idle! I have seen m any
people w h o deal w ith m e as they are accustom ed to deal w ith
others by repetitive visits, and they call that a service! T h e y
lengthen their sitting, and talk o f things that are o f no concern to
us, m oreover containing backbiting. T his is som ething that m any
people now adays do; perhaps som e hosts require such talk, await
it, and m ay feel loneliness w ithout such visits, especially on the
days o f festivals and eid, w hen they visit one another, and are not
satisfied w ith congratulations and greetings but fall into w hat I
h ave m entioned before, w asting their time!

Pursued Activities that D id Not Hinder Attending to Guests

Ibn al-Jawzi said:
R ealisin g that time is the noblest o f things, and that using it to do
good is a duty, I disliked such behaviour and rem ained w ith them
torn betw een tw o things: I f I condem ned it, it w ould cause dis­
com fort for it w ou ld be against social customs, and i f I accepted
it, tim e w o u ld be lost! T hus, I avoided such meetings as m uch as
possible, and in the case o f such visits taking place, I spoke little
to hasten the departure. I w ould prepare tasks that did not hin­
der conversation, during these visits, so that time w ou ld not be
lost in vain. T h us I w ould, during such visits, cut paper, sharpen
pencils, and bind books, for these are necessary duties, w h ich re­
quire no great presence o f m ind or intellect, and busied m yself
w ith such activities during their visits, in order not to waste any
o f m y time.

Only The Successful Realise the Nobleness of Time

Ibn al-Jawzi said:
I saw m any people w h o do not k n o w the true m eaning o f life.
F o r there are those w h o have been blessed by Allah b y being rich
and not needing to w ork , and you find them sitting in the m ar­
kets m ost o f the day lookin g at people, w atchin g m any an evil
thing. Som e o f them enjoy playing chess, others pass their tim e


telling stories about the rulers and about the rise and fall o f pric­
es, and so on. I discovered that Allah, G lorified be H e, did not
guide people to the realisation o f the nobleness o f time and the
im portance o f times o f health, except the successful ones w hom
H e blessed and guided, A nd no one will be granted such goodness ex­
cept persons o f the greatest good fortune.10 W e ask Allah, Praised and
G lorified be H e, to guide us to k n o w the value o f tim e, and to
enable us to use it.

How the Salaf Conserved Time and Avoided Wasting It

T he early ones— the Salaf-—used to avoid wasting time. Imam
al-Fudayl ibn cIyad said: “ I know people w ho count the words
they say from one Friday to the next.” Some people came to a
man from the Salaf and said: “ W e hope that w e are not disturbing
you?” H e said: “ T o be honest, I was reading, and because o f you I
had to leave it!” A n ascetic came to al-Sariyy al-Saqati and found a
group o f people w ith him and said: “ Y o u have becom e the meet­
ing place o f the idle!” H e left and did not sit down.
I f the host is too soft, the visitor w ould wish to lengthen the
visit further, and the host w ould thus be harmed. There was once
a group o f people sitting with M a 'ru f al-Karkhl. W hen their stay
became too long, he said: “ T he angel o f the sun w ill not tire o f
leading it, w hen do you intend to leave?”

Glorious Examples of Good Use of Time by the Salaf

Som e o f the Salaf w ould use every m om ent o f their time. D aw ud
al-T a’i used to eat bread crumbs, and he used to say: “ T h e differ­
ence between eating crumbs and chewing bread is the reading o f
fifty verses.” 'Uthm an al-Baqillanl was always remembering Allah,
and he said: “ A t meal times, I feel as i f m y soul is about to leave
m y body, because eating keeps me away from dhikrV’ O ne o f the
Salaf advised his companions: “ W hen you leave m y house, go
separately, thus one o f you may read Q ur’an on his w ay, while
w hen you go together, you w ould be chatting.”

The Value of Time

K n o w that time is too valuable to have even one moment

wasted, for in the Sahih hadith, the Prophet said: “ W hoever
says, ‘ G lory be to G od, the M agnificent, and Praise be to H im ’
[Subhan’Allah al-(A zim wa bihamdihi] w ill have a palm tree planted
for him in Paradise.” H o w many hours does one waste thus miss­
ing abundant reward? These days are like a farm. Is it then wise for
one to stop planting seeds or to slacken in doing so?

Things that Help to Conserve Time

A m ong the things that help one to profit from time: Solitude
as much as possible, keeping to greeting and necessary talk with
those one meets, and eating little, for excessive eating causes one
to sleep for long hours and waste the night hours. W hoever looks
into the lives o f the Salaf, and believes in reward, w ill realise the
truth o f what I have mentioned.

The Great Resolve of the Scholars of the Salaf and the Excellence
of their Writings
The determination and self-discipline o f the early scholars were
high, w hich is reflected in their writings, w hich w ere the essence
o f their lives, despite the fact that most o f their writings have been
lost. This is because the ambition and determination o f students
had weakened, such that they became only interested in summa­
ries, and were not motivated to write lengthy works, and they
m oreover became content with studying a few books, leading to
the loss o f many books that w ere not copied!
T h e path to be followed by the student o f knowledge seeking
perfection is to read the various books, and he should read much,
for thus he w ould be inspired and stimulated by the knowledge o f
scholars and their great feats, w hich w ould motivate him to un­
dertake arduous w ork. M oreover, no book is devoid o f some ben­
efit to be acquired from it.
I seek refuge from the lives o f these contemporary people,


in w hom w e see no high aspiration to inspire beginners, nor any

great piety to inspire ascetics. I admonish you to study the biog­
raphies o f those before you and to read their writings, for reading
their books is like seeing them, as it is said:
I cannot see those hom es w ith m y eye
Perhaps I m ay see those hom es w ith m y hearing

Ibn al-Jawzl’s Thirst for Knowledge and Attachment to Books

Ibn al-Jawzl said:
I f I w ere to describe m y state, then I am never content w ith read­
in g books, and w h en I see a b ook that I had not seen before, it
is as i f I have found a treasure. I looked at the catalogue o f books
at the M adrasah al-N izam iyyah, and it contained around 6,000
books. I also looked at the in dex o f the writings o f A b u H anlfah,
the books o f al-H um aidi— M uham m ad ibn Fattuh al-AndalusI al-
Baghdadl, the com panion o f Ibn Hazm — and the books o f our
shaykh cA bdul-W ahhab al-Anm ati, those o f Ibn N asir, the books
o f A b u M uham m ad al-Khashshab w h ich w ere num erous, and
other books w h ich I was able to read.31 A nd i f I said that I read
20,000 books, then in truth it w ould be m ore, and I was then still
a student.

I benefited from reading those books b y observing the lives o f the

early people, and the extent o f their m em orisation, their determ i­
nation, their w orship, the diversity o f their disciplines, o f w h ich
one w ou ld not k n o w had one not read those books. T h us I dis­
liked the current state o f people and looked d ow n on the w eak
determ ination o f students now adays. A n d to Allah is all praise.

Every Soul is a Container so Let Not Your Container Be Empty

Imam Ibn al-Jawzi, may Allah have m ercy on him, also said in his
gentle letter o f advice to his son called Laftat al-Kabid ft Nasihat
al-Walad, urging his son to preserve his time:
K n o w , dear son, that days are but hours, and hours are but
breaths, and every soul is a container, hence let not any breath
pass w ithout any benefit, such that on the D ay o f Ju d gm en t you

The Value of Time

find an em pty container and feel regret!

B e aware o f every h our and h o w it passes, and only spend it in

the best possible w ay; do not neglect yourself, but render it ac­
custom ed to the noblest and best o f actions, and send to yo u r
grave that w h ich w ill please you w hen you arrive to it.

Ibn al-Jawzl Writes Four Notebooks Every Day

Al-H afiz ibn R ajab w rote in Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah in his bi­
ography o f Ibn al-Jawzi:
H e did not leave any discipline w ithou t w ritin g a b ook in it.
W hen asked about the num ber o f his writings, he said: “ M o re
than 340 books, som e o f w h ich contain tw enty volum es w hile
som e are only one n o teb o o k-lo n g.”

A l-M uw affaq cA bdul-L atif said: “ Ibn al-Jawzi wasted no

time. H e used to write four notebooks every day and w rote every
year between fifty to sixty volum es.”

Ibn al-Jawzl Wrote 2,000 Volumes by Hand

Al-Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al-H"ffaz and Ibn R ajab in al-Dhayl re­
ported that A b u ’l-MuzafFar, the grandson o f Ibn al-Jawzi, said:
“ I heard m y grandfather saying while on the pulpit, towards the
end o f his life: ‘I w rote with these two fingers o f mine 2,000 vol­
umes.’ ” Ibn al-W ardl wrote in Tatimmat al-Mukhtasar f l Akhbdr
al-Bashar. “ It is reported that the books written by A b u ’l-Faraj
ibn al-Jawzi were collected, and then the number o f days he lived
were calculated and the number o f books was divided by his life­
time, and it was concluded that he wrote nine notebooks every

The Pencil Shavings of Ibn al-Jawzl Used to Heat Water for

Washing His Body in Preparation for H is Funeral
Al-Q um m I w rote in al-Kuna wa’l-Alqab: “ T h e shavings o f Ibn
al-jawzl’s pencils w ith w hich he wrote hadith w ere gathered and


came to a large amount. H e had requested that they be used to

heat the water with w hich his body w ould be washed after his
death, and so it was done, and they w ere more than sufficient.”
Ustadh A h d ul-H am ld al-cAlw aji o f Iraq had written a book
entitled M u ’allafdt ibn al-Jawzl w hich was published by the Iraqi
M inistry o f Culture and Guidance in the year 1385 ah , in w hich
he enumerated Ibn al-Jaw zl’s books, w hich came to 519, vary­
ing in size from large 10-volum e books to small booklets— and he
missed some o f his writings.

Ibn Taymiyyah Said the Writings of Ibn al-Jawzl Exceed 1,000

In the introduction to M u ’allafdt ibn al-Jau>zl, al-cAlwajI wrote:
A l-H a fiz ibn R ajah al-H anbali w rote in D hayl Tabaqat al-
Hanabilah that Imam Ibn T aym iyyah said in his al-Ajwibah al-
Misriyyah: “ Shaykh A b u ’l-Faraj ibn al-Jaw zl w rote m any books
on m any issues. I had enumerated them and found them to be
over 1,0 0 0 books, and later I saw others I had not included.”

Al-Dhahabl on the Size of Ibn al-Jawzl’s Works

Al-DhahabI wrote in Tadhkirat al-Hujfaz, after mentioning a
number o f Ibn al-Jaw zl’s writings: “ I have not heard o f any schol­
ar w ho w rote as much as this m an.” Th en he reported the say­
ing o f al-M uwaffaq cA bdul-Latlf about Ibn al-Jawzl: “ H e wasted
nothing from his time. H e used to write four notebooks daily— in
addition to his duties o f teaching, compilation and issuing fatwds.
And he has made a contribution in every fold o f learning.”

Abdnl-Ghattiyy al-M aqdisl’s Management of Time

It is written in Tadhkirat al-Hujfaz in the biography o f al-Hafiz
cA bdul-G haniyy al-MaqdisI, born 541 ah , died 600 ah , may Allah
have m ercy on him, that the Imam, scholar o f hadith, Taqiyyuddln,
Abu M uham m ad cAbdul-G hanniyy ibn cAbdil-W ahid, al-
Maqdisi, al-Jamall, later al-Dimashqi al-Salihl, al-Hanbali, wrote

The Value of Time

1,000 books, according to Abu Tahir al-Salafl. H e w rote an innu­

merable number o f books, and he continued to write, narrate, and
worship Allah, until his death.
A l-D iya’ al-MaqdisI [his student] said that his teacher wasted
none o f his time. H e used to pray Fajr, then teach Q u r’an, and
perhaps he w ould also teach hadith. Then he w ould make ablution
and pray 300 rak at with al-Fatihah and Surat al-Falaq and Surat al-
Nas, until just before the time o f Zuhr. Then he would sleep for
a short time, then pray Zuhr, after which he w ould teach or write
until Maghrib. H e w ould then break his fast if he had been fast­
ing, then pray cIsha and sleep till midnight or a little later. Then
he would make ablution and pray, and repeat that, until just be­
fore Fajr. H e w ould make ablution seven times or more. H e used
to say: “ I like to pray as long as m y body is still hum id.” Then he
would sleep for a short time until Fajr, and that was his schedule.
He left behind over forty books, including some precious gems.
See his rich biography in Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah o f Ibn Rajab.

Al-Fakhr al-R azl Regrets the Time Spent Eating

The historian and doctor Ibn Abu U saybicah w rote in his book
cUyun al-Anba’ f i Tabaqat al-Atibba’, in the biography o f Imam
Fakhr al-DJn al-R azl, the scholar o f tafsir, usul, and theology,
M uham m ad ibn cUm ar, born in 543, died 606 at the age o f sixty-
three, may Allah have m ercy on him, author o f over two hundred
books, varying in size from a 32-volum e book such as his famous
tafsir, to short treatises. Ju d ge Shamsuddin al-K h u’I related to us
regarding Shaykh Fakhr al-D ln that he said: “ B y Allah, indeed I
regret spending time that could be spent seeking knowledge in
eating, for indeed time is precious.”

Ibn Sukaynah’s Conservation of Time and its Use in Good Deeds

Narrator and historian Ibn al-N ajjar wrote in Dhayl Tarikh


Baghdad, and al-Dhahabi in Siyar A'lam al-Nubala’ in the biogra­

phy o f Ibn Sukaynah:32
T h e Shaykh, Imam, scholar o f fiqh and trustworthy narrator o f
hadith, the great exam ple, the scholar o f Islam and pride o f Iraq,
D hiya al-D in A bu A hm ad A bdul-W ahhab ibn 'A ll ibn Sukaynah,
al-Baghdadl al-Sufi al-Shafi‘1, b om 519 a h , died 607 a h . H e was
the greatest scholar o f his tim e in excellence o f narration, k n o w l­
edge, perfection, asceticism, w orship, and good character, fo llow ­
in g the Sunnah and the w ay o f the pious predecessors.

Allah blessed him w ith a lo n g life, until he repeated all his narra­
tions m any times. H e was sought by students o f kn ow ledge from
all countries. H is times w ere preserved, his w ords counted. N o t
a a single h our passed w ithou t recitation o f the Q u r’ an, dhikr,
tahajjud, o r teaching. H e w ould forbid people from unnecessary
and unbeneficial talk or backbiting in his gathering. H e left his
house only to attend congregational prayer, E id or funerals, and
did not attend the com m on gatherings o f the people.

His student Ibn al-N ajjar said:

I traveled in the east and the west, and saw scholars, imams and as­
cetics, yet saw no one w h o reached higher perfection, was m ore
devoted to w orship, or had better character than him. I accom ­
panied him for tw enty years, night and day, and heard most o f
his narrations, and studied lo n g w orks under him and benefited
greatly from him.

Ibn Sukaynah Advises His Students: Do Not Say More Than

“Salamun Alaykutn”
Y ah ya ibn al-Qasim, the teacher at al-Nizam iyyah said that Ibn
Sukaynah was exemplary in knowledge and action. H e wasted
no time. W hen w e entered his gathering, he w ould say: “ D o not
add m ore than “Salamun Alaykum, ” out o f concern and desire to
use time for discussing and approving rulings.” Al-M adrasah al-
N izam iyyah was the most prestigious school in Baghdad at the
H o w amazing indeed! H e asks them to shorten the greeting

The Value of Time

md not to waste time with the usual compliments w hen people

tneet, and orders them to begin study and discussion after the first
greeting, in order to save time.

Ibn Taymiyyah al-Jadd (the Grandfather)

Among those w ho sought to save time, through unexpected ways,
was Imam Ibn Taym iyyah al-Jadd, A b u ’l-Barakat ‘Abdus-Salam
ibn "Abdullah ibn Taym iyyah al-Harrani al-Hanball, bo m 590 ah,
died 653 ah, m ay Allah have m ercy on him. Ibn R ajab al-Hanball
wrote in Dhayl Tabaqat al-Handbilah in his biography:
T h e Imam, recitor, scholar o f ftqh, hadith, tafsir, u$ul, philol­
ogy, the Shaykh o f Islam and faq ih o f his tim e, a prom inent
figure o f his tim e, our Shaykh A b u ‘Abdullah ibn al-Q ayyim
said: “ T h e brother o f our shaykh cA b d u r-R ah m an ibn cA b d al-
H allm ibn T aym iyyah narrated that his father said: ‘B efo re the
Grandfather— M ajduddin A b u ’l-Barakat— w ou ld go to the re­
stroom , he w ou ld say: “ R e a d this b o o k fo r m e, and raise yo u r
vo ice so I m ay hear y o u .’” ” This indicates his great desire to seek
and attain kn ow ledge and save his time.

Al-Hafiz al-Mundhin Copied 90 Books and 700 volumes by

Hand, Other Than His Oum Writings
Imam al-N aw aw i, may Allah have m ercy on him, w rote at the
snd o f his book Bustdn al-cArifin about the qualities o f some o f
the greatest prominent scholars under the chapter o f “ Ft Hikayat
Mustatrafah.” H e mentioned something he heard from his shaykh
ibout his shaykh Imam al-Hafiz cA bdul-cAzIm al-M undhirf, bom
in Cairo in 581 ah, died there in 656 ah, may Allah have mercy
Dn him. H e said:
I heard ou r shaykh and master, the great Imam, noble master,
trustworthy hafiz, rigorous precise scholar, the pious, virtuous,
ascetic, mujtahid, w orshipper, one o f the rare rem aining trust­
w orth y scholars o f hadith, the mufti, shaykh o f the imams and
muhaddithin, D h iy a ’ al-D ln A b u Ishaq Ibrahim ibn cIsa al-M uradi,


saying, “ O n W ednesday, the sixth o f Shaw w al o f the year 658

a h ,33 at the Madrasah al-Badara’iyyah in Damascus, m ay Allah
protect it, I heard Shaykh ‘ A b d u l-1A zim , m ay Allah have m ercy
on him , say: ‘ I scribed w ith m y hand ninety books and 700 v o l­
um es.’ ” This was w hat was authored b y other scholars on the sci­
ences o f hadith. In addition to this, he w rote m any m ore o f his
o w n works.

A l-H afiz al-Mundhiri Occupied by Knowledge at Mealtimes

O ur Shaykh said: “ I have not seen or heard o f anyone striving
harder to seek knowledge; he was ever busy with that by night
and day.” H e said, moreover:
I was his neighbour at the Madrasah, in C airo. M y house was
above his for tw elve years, and I never w oke up during any night,
at any hour o f the night, w ithou t seeing the light o f his lamp in
his house w hile he was studying, and even during the tim e o f eat­
ing, he was still busy w ith his books.

A l-H afiz al-Mundhiri Only Left the Madrasah to Offer

Congratulations or Condolences
H e also mentioned o f his rigorous study and conscientious re­
search and verification that w hich I am incapable o f describing.
H e said: “ H e w ould only leave the school to offer condolences
or congratulations, or for an important occasion, and for noth­
ing else, except for Jum ucah prayers, and w ould use all his time for
knowledge, may Allah be pleased w ith him, and w ith our parents
and all the M uslim s.”

A Dear Son of al-H afiz al-Mundhiri Dies, and He Follows His

Funeral to the Door of the Madrasah
Imam Tajuddln al-Subkl wrote in Tabaqat al-Shaftciyyah al-Kubra,
in the biography o f al-Hafiz al-M undhiri:
H e later taught at D ar al-H adith al-K am iliyyah, and he w ould
only leave it to go to Ju m tfa h prayer. H e even had an intelli­

The Value of Time

gent pious son w h o was a muhaddith, R ashlduddln A b u B ak r

M uham m ad, w h o died in 643 a h , and was one o f the prom i­
nent gifted scholars o f hadith, w h o died during his lifetim e. T h e
Shaykh led his funeral prayer inside the school, and fo llow ed his
funeral procession to the door, T h e n his eyes overflew w ith tears,
and he said: “ I entrust yo u to Allah, O m y son.” H e left him ,
w ith ou t leaving the school.

Ibn M alik Was Always Praying, Reciting, Writing, or Reading

O f the prominent imams, w ho used all moments o f their time,
even on their death beds while leaving this life, remaining at­
tached to seeking knowledge till the last moments before death,
was Imam Ibn M alik al-Nahw I, author o f al-Alfiyyah and other
prominent books o f philology, M uham m ad ibn cAbdullah, born
in 600 ah, died in 672 ah, may Allah have m ercy on him. In his
biography in Nafli al-Ttb, al-Maqarri wrote:
Ibn M alik, Allah have m ercy on him , read voraciously and was
quick in his revision and verification. H e w ould only w rite som e­
thing in his b o o k after verifyin g its origin, as is the case o f the
trustworthy great scholars. H e was only seen praying, reciting,
w riting, or reading. It was related that he w ent once w ith his
friends to visit Dam ascus, and w h en they arrived at their destina­
tion, they forgot about him for som e tim e. W hen they looked for
him , they could not find him , until they finally found him read­
in g som e books.

Ibn Malik Memorises Eight Verses of Poetry Before His Death

E ven m ore astonishing in his great attachment to knowledge is
that he memorized some poetry, about eight verses his son taught
him, on the day o f his death. This shows that one achieves accord­
ing to one’s aspiration and determination. M ay Allah reward him
greatly for this undying determination. H e died in Damascus in
672 ah, and was buried near the mountain o f Qasiyun. His grave
is still w ell-know n there, may Allah have m ercy on him.


Imam al-Nawawl D id Not Lie Down for Two Years

A l-H afiz al-Dhahabl wrote in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz in the biography
o f Imam al-NawawT (Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Hawranl):
H e is the unique Imam and scholar o f hadith, the master, Shaykh
al-Islam, master o f the pious ones, M uhyiddln A b u Z akariyya,
Y a h y a ibn Sharafiddln ibn M urri al-H izam l al-H aw rani al-Shafici,
the author o f m any beneficial books. H e was b om in 631 ah in
N aw a, H aw ran, cam e to Damascus in 649 a h , and lived at the
Madrasah al-R aw ah iyyah eating its bread. H e said: “ A n d I re­
m ained for tw o years w ithout m y side touching the ground .” H e
m em orized al-Tanbih in four and a h alf m onths, and read a quar­
ter o f al-Muhadhdhab in the rem aining months o f the year, under
his shaykh Ishaq ibn Ahm ad.

Al-NawawT Studies 12 Lessons Daily W ith Verification and

A-Dhahabl also said that his student, A b u ’l-Hasan ibn al-cAttar,
said that Shaykh M uhyiddln mentioned to him that every day he
used to study twelve lessons under his shuyukh covering the ex­
planation and correction: T w o lessons from al-Wasit (in the sci­
ence o f fiqh); a lesson from al-Muhadhdhab (also in fiqh); a lesson
on com bining the two $ahths (in the science o f hadith); a lesson
on Sahih Muslim; a lesson on al-Lumac by Ibn JinnI (on Arabic
grammar); a lesson from Islah al-Mantiq (on linguistics); a lesson
on conjugation; a lesson in usul al-fiqh, sometimes from al-Luma
o f Abu Ishaq and sometimes from al-Muntakhab o f Fakhr al-Din
al-R azl; a lesson on Asma’ al-Rijal, a lesson on usul al-din; and a
lesson on philology. H e said: “ I used to note everything related to
the lessons, explaining what is obscure, clarifying any ambiguous
expressions, correcting the language, and Allah blessed m y tim e.”

Al-NawawT Used to Eat One Meal Every D ay and Night

A b u ’l-Hasan ibn al-cAttar said:

The Value o f Time

O u r Shaykh m ay Allah have m ercy on him said that he never

wasted tim e, w h ether b y night or day, except in seeking k n o w l­
edge, and even w h en he was outside, he w ou ld always be either
repeating w hat he learnt or reading. H e did that fo r six years, af­
ter w h ich he started to w rite, teach, offer advice and benefit oth­
ers. H e used to eat only once every day and night, once after the
last cIsha prayer, and drank only once before Fajr, and did not
eat fruits and vegetables and said: “ I fear that it w ou ld soften m y
b o d y and m ake m e sleepy.” Furtherm ore, he did not m arry.

Al-N awawl’s Asceticism and Harsh Clothing, Food and Living

He dedicated him self to knowledge, writing and spreading know l­
edge, and to worship, litanies [amad\, fasting and remembrance,
bearing harsh living conditions in eating and clothing as a perma­
nent state, wearing a plain robe and a small turban. H e died in 676
ah, may Allah have m ercy on him, having lived forty-five years,
leaving behind many great writings w hich i f divided by the num ­
ber o f days he lived, they w ould com e to 4 notebooks every day.

Physicianlbn al-Nafis, a Pioneer in Medicine, Fiqh, and Time

O f the eminent scholars and prominent brilliant physicians w ho
used every m om ent o f their time recording thoughts and obser­
vations, at the strangest o f times, is the pioneer o f medicine in his
time, Ibn al-Nafis, o f Damascus, then Egypt. From his biography
in Rawdat al-Jannat by al-Khawanisari, quoting al-Wafl bil Wafayat
by Salahuddln al-Sadafl, w e quote the following:
H e is the noble w ise imam, the scholar ‘ A la’ uddln ibn al-N afis cAlI
ibn A b l H azm al-Q arshl, from the tow n o f Qarsh, w h o was born
in Dam ascus around the year 610 a h , died in C airo in 687 a h ,
m ay Allah have m ercy on him . H e was a pioneer in the science o f
m edicine, o f neither equal nor com parable intelligence. H e w rote
unique and m arvelous books on m edicine, including al-Shamil in
m edicine, the in dex o f w h ich indicates that it consists o f 300 v o l­
umes, as m entioned by some o f his com panions, o f w h ich he fin­


ished 80. H e w rote al-Muhadhdhab f i ’l-K uhl and Sharif Qaniin ibn
Sina in m any volum es, and other books on m edicine.

H e was w ell-versed in logic, and w rote a short treatise on it,

and w rote a com m entary on Ibn Slna’s al-Hidayah, w h ich is
a b ook on logic. H e also w rote on the sciences o f usul al-fiqh,
fiq h , A rabic language, hadith, Literature, and others. H e w rote a
good com m entary on part o f al-Tanbih b y A bu Ishaq al-ShlrazI
on the branches o f Sh afi'iyyah, from its beginning to the chapter
on “ S ah w ,” and he taught fiq h at al-M adrasah al-M asruriyyah in
C airo.

Imam Burhanuddin Ibrahim al-Rashldl said that w hen al-

cA la’ ibn al-Nafls intended to write, sharpened pencils w ould be
brought for him and he w ould sit facing the wall and begin to
write his thoughts directly, just like a flowing river. W hen the
pencil w ould lose its sharpness, he w ould throw it and pick up an­
other one, without wasting time sharpening it. H e used to write
directly, without revision.

Ibn al-Nafts and Ibn Wdsil Discussing Till Fajr

Al-Sadid al-Dum yatl, one o f his students in Cairo, said:
[Ibn al-Nafis] m et one night w ith Ju d g e Jam al al-Dxn ibn W asil,
and I was spending the night there. W h en they finished the last
clsha' prayer, they began their discussion, m o vin g from one sci­
ence to another, and Shaykh cAla al-D ln was discussing calm ly
w ithout any unease, w hile Q adl Jam al al-D in w ou ld becom e
tense, his vo ice w ould rise, his eyes w ould redden and his veins
w ou ld dilate. T h e y rem ained like that until daw n. W hen they
finished, Q adl Jam al al-D ln said: O Shaykh cA la al-D ln, as fo r us,
w e have legal matters and rules, w hile yo u have treasures o f all

Ibn al-Nafts Records Some Medical Chapters While Bathing

Another said:
Shaykh A ia’ uddln entered the bath in B ab al-Zahum ah, and in
the m iddle o f his bath, he came out to the area w here one left

The Value o f Time

o n e’s clothes, and asked for a pen, in k and paper, and started
w ritin g a paper until he finished it. T h e n he w ent back inside and
finished his bath. H e was a generous man, never keepin g from
benefiting others w hether b y day or night. A num ber o f princes,
as w ell as M uhadhdhab al-D ln ibn A b l H ulayqah, the c h ie f doc­
tor, Sh araf al-D ln al-Saghlr, the most prom inent physician, and
people from various classes used to attend his gathering at his
house. U n d e r his authority and that o f cIm ad al-D ln al-N abulsI,
physicians graduated in E gyp t and in C airo, w here he had built a
house. D u rin g his last illness after w h ich he died, som e o f his fel­
lo w physicians advised him to drink som e w in e, holding that his
illness w ou ld be cured b y it, but he refused to drink any and said:
“ I w ill not m eet Allah w ith some w in e inside m e .” H e did not
m arry. H e left his house, his books, and w ealth as an endow m ent
for the M an$uri hospital.

Ibn al-Nqjis Discovered the Circulatory System Seven Centuries Ago

T o summarise, he was a great imam, and many eminent scholars
said that he was the “ second Ibn Slna.” O ne must not forget that
Ibn al-Nafis is the one w ho discovered the blood circulatory sys­
tem, seven centuries ago, a great discovery in the field o f medi­
Despite his eminence and unique genius in medicine as well
as other sciences, he was humble, describing him self to his stu­
dents and graduates as al-Mutatabbib (the one w ho seeks or claims
to be a physician), w hile he was the pioneer o f medicine in his
age, as seen in an example o f his beautiful writing, a copy o f
which is shown in his biography in al-Zarkall’s book al-Aclam.

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah Left Innumerable Writings, Thanks to

His Good Time Management
Even m ore remarkable is the example o f Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taym iyyah A b u ’l- rAbbas Ahm ad ibn cAbdul-H al!m al-Harranl
al-Dimashqi al-Hanbali, born 661, died 728, may Allah have mer­


cy on him, at the age o f fifty-seven, leaving around five hundred

written volumes. H e could not have written hundreds o f books,
such that neither his companions, nor even the Shaykh him self
could count them, without complete use o f his time in learning,
w riting and worship.
In his biography by Ibn Shakir al-Kutbl in Fawat al- Wafiyyat:
“ His writings reached 300 volum es.” Al-DhahabI said: “ It is not
unlikely that his writings up to this day reach 500 volum es.” His
student Imam Ibn al-Q ayyim wrote a treatise on the names o f his
books, w hich was 22 pages long, in w hich he mentioned 350
writings, varying from large books to short treatises.
Shaykh Ibn al-Q ayyim , may Allah have m ercy on him, said in
his book al-Wabil al-Sayyib Min al-Kalam al-Tayyib:
T h e sixty-first benefit from dhikr [the rem em brance o f Allah]:
It gives o n e’s m em ory strength, such that w ith dhikr one can
achieve things one did not im agine b eing able to achieve. A n d
I witnessed o f the strength o f Shaykh-al-Islam Ibn Taym iyyah,
in his speech, in his habits, in his courage, and in his w riting, an
amazing abilityt H e used to w rite in one day w hat one w ou ld
copy in a w e ek or longer.

R egarding the number o f Shaykh Ibn Taym iyyah’s w rit­

ings, w e follow what al-Hafiz Ibn R ajab wrote in Dhayl Tabaqat
al-Hanabilah: “ As for his writings, they have filled the lands, and
surpassed the limit o f counting, such that no one can enumerate
them .”
D ear reader, such is the effect o f the effort o f a single person
in using his time. Those w ho know him hold that his writings are

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah Reads and Teaches During Illness and

T he reason behind this astounding richness in w riting is that
Shaykh Ibn Taym iyyah, may Allah have m ercy on him, never
stopped reading and discussing knowledge and teaching it, wheth­

The Value of Time

er in residence or travel, in health or illness. His student Imam

Ibn al-Q ayyim , may Allah have m ercy on him, w rote in his book
Rawdat al-Muhibbin:
O u r Shaykh Ibn T aym iyyah related to us: “ I had an illness and the
doctor said to m e: ‘Y o u r reading and discussion w ill m ake yo u r
illness w o rse .’ I replied: ‘ I cannot bear to stop that, and I consult
yo u r kn ow ledge, is it not the case that w h e n the soul is pleased
and happy, the body finds strength and can resist illness?’ H e said:
‘ Indeed.’ T h e n I said to him : ‘M y soul finds happiness in k n o w l­
edge, so m y b ody finds strength and I feel better.’ H e said: ‘T hat
is b eyond ou r treatm ent.’ ”

Al-Shams al-Asbaham Eats Little to Save Time

Al-H afiz ibn Hajar wrote in al-Durar al-Kamitiah, and al-Shawkanl
in al-Badr al-Talic, in the biography o f the scholar Imam Shams
al-Dln A b u ’l-T hana’ al-Asbaham (Mahmud ibn cA bdur-R ahm an
ibn Ahmad), the ShatTl scholar o f fitqh, usul, and tafsir, born in
Isfahan in 674 ah, died in Cairo in 749 ah, may Allah have m ercy
on him, the following:
H e studied in his hom eland, becam e w ell-versed and excelled in
all sciences. T h e n he came to Damascus after a visit to al-Q uds in
Safar 725 a h , w here his virtues and kn ow ledge astounded its peo­
ple. Shaykh T a q iy y al-D ln ibn T aym iyyah heard him and hon­
oured him greatly. H e once said: “ B e silent so that w e m ay listen
to the speech o f this noble m an the likes o f w h o m never entered
this land.” T h e n he m oved to C airo , w h ere he died. H e was
kn ow n for his attachment to know ledge and extrem e reluctance
to waste any o f his tim e, to the extent that some o f his com pan­
ions related that he deprived him self o f eating so that he w ou ld
not need to drink and hence w ou ld not need to relieve himself,
in order to save time.

Reflect on the value o f time in the eyes o f this noble imam, as a

result o f the value o f knowledge.


Al-Shawkam ’s Lessons Reached Thirteen Lessons Every Day

Scholar and judge al-Shawkan! (Muhammad ibn cAlI), the scholar
o f tafsir, hadith, fiqh, and usul, the w ell-know n author, born 117 3
ah in the tow n o f Shawkan in Y em en, died 1250 ah, may Allah
have m ercy on him, w rote in his autobiography in his book al-
Badr al-Talic talking about his childhood and education, using the
third person, in humility:
A n d his lessons reached thirteen every day and night. Som e w ere
lessons he attended b y his shuyiikh, and som e he w ould teach his
students, and he continued in that w ay for a period o f time. T h e n
he devoted h im self to teaching, w hereb y his studebw ould attend
over ten lessons by him every day, in m any sciences, includ­
in g tafsir, hadith, usul, grammar, philology, exegesis [tafsir], elo­
quence, logic, fiq h , philosophy and poetry.

A t the same time as he was learning from his shuyiikh and teaching
his students, he was also answering fatwa enquiries from the people
o f San'a’ and other towns for twenty years. H e was then appoint­
ed jud ge o f Sanca’ in 1229 ah for twenty years, until his death. H e
died, may Allah have m ercy on him, having written 114 books,
many o f which he mentioned in his autobiography.

A l-A liisi Wrote His Tafsir by Night While He Taught Thirteen

Lessons Daily
The Imam and Mufassir al-AlusI (Abu’l-T hana’ Shihab al-Dln
M ahm ud ibn 'Abdullah al-AlusI) o f Baghdad, the Mufti o f
Baghdad and the seal o f the mufassirin, he was born in 12 17 ah,
and died in 1270 ah, may Allah have m ercy on him:
H e was anxious to ensure his kn ow ledge increased every m o­
ment. H e did not tire o f gaining beneficial kn ow ledge, search­
in g for hidden rarities. H is day was spent addressing fatwa enqui­
ries and teaching, the early part o f the night in conversing w ith
friends and visitors, and the end o f his nights on w ritin g pages o f
his tafsir, w h ich he w ould give in the m orning to the scribes he
em ployed, w h o w ou ld take ten hours to edit and copy them.

The Value of Time

H e w ou ld teach fourteen lessons daily, w hile during those days

w h en he w o u ld be occupied w ith his tafsir and fatwa enquiries, he
w ould teach thirteen lessons from long books, and he continued
to w rite even during his final illness.” 34

His tafsir is a rare marvel among the books o f tafsir, and it is suf­
ficient to bestow prominence, excellence and knowledge on his
legacy. H e had written it by night as m entioned above, and it has
been said:
A n d m ake most o f the nighttim e for yo u r wishes
F or nighttim e is the day o f the shrew d ones

The Imam and author Abu Hilal al-cAskari said:

O n e w h o stays up by night for som e need is in fact at rest
O ne w h o spends his m oney in a good cause is in fact gaining it

Al-Faqcasl al-HamasT said:

Y o u w ill be as i f you lost not one night
I f in the end you achieved that w hich yo u sought

Ibn Nubatah al-Sacdi said:

Y o u w h o reproach m e for exhausting m yself
A n d enduring sleeplessness in the darkness o f night
I f a man aspires to the highest summits
T h e n the least o f losses w ill be good sleep

Another poet said:

H e loved the depth o f nights neglected by the heedless
As if the shooting stars o f the night w ere beautiful eyes

cAbdul-Hayy al-Luknaun Died at 39, His Books Exceeding 110

W e need not go far back in time. Imam A b d u l-H ay y al-LuknawI,
o f India, w ho died around one hundred years ago, in 1304 ah, at
the age o f thirty-nine, w rote over 110 books, varying in size from
large volumes to short treatises, all dealing with beneficial issues
and difficult problems.


The Sage of the Ummah al-Thanawi’s Writings Exceeded 1,000

T he Shaykh o f India, Maulana, the sage o f the Ummah, Ashraf
cAlI al-ThanawI w ho died around forty years ago, in 1362, aged
eighty-one, had written over 1,000 books. That is the bounty o f
Allah w hich H e bestows on w hom H e wills. That was achieved
thanks to preservation and good use o f time. Indeed those w ho
know the value o f time are the rare successful ones, w ho compose
great volumes o f w ork in their short lives.

Writings of the Early Scholars Show Their Conservation of Time

Here I shall mention what our shaykh and scholar Muhammad
Zahid al-Kawthari, may Allah have m ercy on him, said concern­
ing a number o f the most famous and voluminous tafslrs o f the
Q u r’an, the length and quality o f which indicate their writers’
great dedication to knowledge and their good use o f time, which
allowed them to write such books, about w hich one is amazed to
hear, let alone read.

Some of the Great Voluminous Books of the Early Scholars in

Tafsir and its Sciences
O ur shaykh wrote in his book Maqdldt al-Kawthari, regarding some
ways o f rendering service to the H oly Q ur’an:
W hat has been w ritten by the people o f know ledge in revealing
the precious meanings o f the H o ly Q u r’an cannot be enum er­
ated, from their different perspectives, in their emphasis o f nar­
ration, or interpretation, and the various arts and sciences o f the
Q u r’an, w ith their different approaches and backgrounds in em ­
phasising a particular aspect o f the marvels o f the H o ly Q u r’an.

I ask o f the honourable readers to allow m e to m ention some

w ritings o f the scholars o f this Ummah in this context as an exam ­
ple o f their great efforts in w ritin g such books. T h e tafsir o f Imam
A b u ’l-H asan al-A shcari k n ow n as al-Mukhtazan is 70 volum es
long according to al-M aqrizi in al-Khita(, w h ile the tafsir o f Qadi

The Value of Time

cA bdul-Jabbar al-H am adhani k n ow n as al-M uhit is 100 volum es

long. T h e tafsir o f A bu Y u s u f A b d al-Salam al-Q azw Ini, k n ow n
as Hadaiqa Thata Bahjah, was at least 300 volum es long. Its author
had made it an endow m ent and chose its headquarters to be the
m osque o f Imam A b u Hanifah in Baghdad, and later it was am ong
the books lost during the M ogu l invasion o f Baghdad! H o w ever,
I heard from one o f the scholars o f India that he saw part o f it in
the catalogue o f one o f the libraries.

A l-H afiz ibn Shahln has a tafsir by use o f liadlth w h ich is 1,0 0 0
volum es long. A l-Q ad I A b u B ak r ibn al-cArabl has a tafsir entitled
Anwar al-Fajr, w h ich is around 80,000 pages, and it is k n ow n to
exist in ou r lands— that is, the libraries o f Istanbul and T u rk e y—
but I have not succeeded in finding it despite m y lo n g search for
it. Ibn al-N aqib al-M aqdisI, one o f the shuyiikh o f A b u H ayyan
had a tafsir w h ich was around 100 volum es long, som e o f w hich
can be found in the libraries o f Istanbul.

A s for the largest tafsir to be found today— as far as w e kn ow — it

is the tafsir o f Fathul Mannan, attributed to the scholar Q utbuddln
al-ShlrazI, w h ich is 40 volum es long, the first o f w h ich is found in
D ar al-K utu b in E gypt, in w h ich one finds his plan for the tafsir,
and in the libraries o f M uham m ad As':ad and A li Basha— H akim
O ghli— in Istanbul one finds other volum es w h ich m ake up one
com plete edition.

T h e scholar M uham m ad al-Z ah id al-B ukhari w rote around 100

volum es o f tafsir, as w ell as al-Manhal al-$afi. T h e scholars o f this
Ummah w rote innum erable tafasir besides the aforem entioned
ones, from various perspectives. T h e y had also rendered a sim i­
lar service in com piling the narrations w h ich explain the Q u r’an,
and clarifying the details o f general issues contained w ithin it.

The Scholars Who Wrote Profusely

The scholar o ffiqh and usul, the researcher M uhammad al-Hasan
o f M orocco, may Allah have m ercy on him, in his amazing book
al-Fikr al-Sami f l Tartkh al-Fiqh al-Islami, in the biography o f Ibn
Jarir al-Tabari, w rote about “ the prolific authors” mentioning Ibn
Jarir, Ibn al-Jawzi, and others. I quote from what he wrote here,


some o f w hich w ill repeat what has already been said.

Ibn Jarir, the Greatest Author of Islam in terms of the Quantity

and Quality of His Writings
M uham m ad al-Hasan said that Ibn Jarir achieved excellence, w rit­
ing abundantly, but with perfection, w ith wide benefits. H e left
behind over 350,000 pages o f writing. This is the richest academic
heritage left, as far as w e know , so may Allah, the Best o f creators
be glorified. Thus he earned an elevated position, and none o f the
early scholars attained the extent o f his w riting combined with
perfection in quality and the benefit achieved until this day. Those
qualities w ere not found together in any other scholar, such that it
may be said that he is the greatest author o f Islam.

Al-Baqillam Does Not Sleep Until Writing 35 Pages

In al-Dibaj al-Mudhahhab it is written that QadI Abu Bakr
M uhammad ibn al-Tayyib al-Baqillanl prayed forty rakcat every
night, and w ould not sleep until w riting thirty-five pages from

The Numerous Works of Ibn Abu al-Dunya, Abu cAsakir, and

Ibn Shahln
Ibn Abu al-Dunya left behind one thousand writings. Ibn cAsakir
wrote his Tarikh [History] in 80 volumes. Al-SuyutI said the most
profuse author was Ibn Shahln, w ho w rote 330 books, including
his al-Tafsir composed o f 1,000 volumes and al-Musnad o f 1,500
volumes. A l-Suyuti said: “ A nd this is from amongst the blessings
o f contracting time like space, from the heritage o f al-Isra’ and
Laylat al-Qadr.” (Reported in al-Minah al-Badiyah.)

The Numerous Works of Ibn H azm and Ibn Abu Hatim al-R azl
Imam Abu M uhammad cAll ibn Hazm left behind 400 volumes o f

The Value of Time

writing comprising around 80,000 pages. Imam Abu Muham m ad

cAbd al-Rahm an ibn Abu Hatim al-R azl w rote many books in
fiqh, hadith and history, including his book al-Musnad comprising
1,000 volumes, w hich he mentioned in al-Tabaqat al-Subkiyyah.

The Numerous Works of al-Hakim al-Nisdpurt

Abu 'Abdullah al-Hakim , know n as Ibn al-Bayyic the author o f
al-Mustadrak cald al-Sahlhayn, wrote around 1,50 0 volumes, in­
cluding Takhrlj al-Sahlhayn, al- Ilal, al-Amali, Fawa’id al-Slmyukh,
Tarikh Nisapur, and others.

The Numerous Works of A bu’l-Hasan al-Ashcan

The writings o f Imam A b u ’l-Hasan al-Ashcarf reached fifty books
o f various sizes, mostly on discrediting deviant trends and sects,
which is am ong the most difficult and time-consum ing subjects.

The Numerous Works of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim , and

Taqiyy al-D ln ibn Taym iyyah wrote 300 books in diverse fields,
reaching around 500 volumes. His student Ibn al-Q ayyim wrote
around 50 volumes o f various sizes. Imam al-Baihaqi wrote 1,000
volumes, all original, beneficial, and unparalleled, and he fasted for
thirty years.

The Numerous Works of Muhammad ibn Suhniin al-M aliki

Muhammad ibn Suhnun, the famous Tunisian scholar left behind
his great tome o f a hundred volumes in fiqh, biographies, history
and other sciences, as w ell as Ahkam al-Qur’dn and others.

The Numerous Works of Abu Bakr ibn al-cArabl al-M acdrift

Imam Abu Bakr ibn al-cArabl al-M acarifi, buried in Fez, wrote his


volum inous tafsir in eighty volumes, as well as other books in­

cluding commentaries on al-Tirm idhi’s [hadith compilation], al-
Muwatta’ and Ahkam al-Qur’dn, as w ell as al-Qawasim wa’l-cAwdsim
and al-M ahsulft’l-Usiil, all unique books o f extraordinary quality.

The Numerous Works of Abii fa far al-Tahawi

Imam Abu Ja'far al-Tahaw i wrote many books, and w rote one
thousand pages on one question: W hether the pilgrimage o f the
Prophet ^jjjk was Qiran, Ifrnd or Tamattu'. A nd this is in no way
unique am ong the scholars o f Islam.

The Numerous Works of Abu Ubaydah, Ibn Surayj and Ibn

Habib al-Andalusi
The writings o f Abu cUbaydah— M a mar ibn al-Muthanna—
reached two hundred in various sciences. T h e writings o f Ibn
Surayj reached four hundred. The writings o f cAbdul M alik ibn
Habib the scholar o f al-Andalus reached a thousand books, men­
tioned in Nafli a l-Jlb .

The Voluminous Works of Some of the Early Scholars

T heir writings comprised many volumes. The book o f Ibn al-
Ja w z l’s grandson, M ir’dt al-Zaman, in history, is in forty volumes.
Tarikh Baghdad [History of Baghdad] o f al-Khatlb was fourteen
volumes long; al-Aghani twenty volumes long, while al-Kdmil o f
Ibn al-Athlr was made o f twelve volumes. Sharh al-Nabat o f Abu
Hanlfah al-Dlnawari was sixty volumes long, and the writings of
Y a cqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, know n as the philosopher o f the Arabs,
reached 231 books— and in fact exceeded 300 books— in philoso­
phy, medicine, engineering and many other sciences. H owever,
they varied in length from ten to hundreds o f pages, bearing in
mind the difficulty o f obtaining w riting material in their times.

The Value o f Time

The Numerous Works of Some of the Later Scholars Are Not

Equivalent to the Early Ones
As for the later scholars, w riting material was more accessible to
them, yet they did not reach the level o f their predecessors, such
as al-Hafiz ibn Hajar, author o f Fath al-Bdrl, al-Isabah, and others,
al-Dhahabi, or al-Suyutl, whose writings exceeded four hundred,
but most o f them w ere o f shorter length, dow n to a page or two.
Another scholar whose writings w ere even more numerous was
Shaykh A b u ’l-Fayd M uhibbuddln Murtada al-Husaynl al-Wasitl,
al-Zabidl al-Hanafi, w ho was born and brought up in India and
lived in Egypt. Sufficient are Sharh al-Qamus and Shark al-Ihya’ as
proof o f that, two w idely beneficial books w hich w ere popular in
the M uslim world, o f high quality and meticulous care.
That was a quick note regarding those w ho wrote profusely,
as narrated by scholar al-HajawI, may Allah have m ercy on him,
written in the context o f his m entioning the numerous writings o f
Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari.

Conserving One’s Time Lengthens One’s Lifetime and Enriches

One’s Legacy
What incited me to include that was m y wish to explain how that
immense flow o f abundant amazing books was written, and how
they w ere gathered. It was all thanks to valuing time, conserv­
ing it and managing it, without losing an hour or a moment. For
through good time management, one’s legacy grows and pros­
pers, and one’s lifetime is prolonged, and short times and lives
are blessed by Allah, w ho bestows His bounty on w hom ever He
wills, and H e is the O w ner o f M ighty Grace.
I conclude this section on scholars w ho valued their time,
making use o f every moment, benefiting and producing the
sweetest o f fruits o f knowledge, by including a b rief biography o f
al-Hafiz A b u ’l-Q asim ibn cAsakir al-Dimashql, for it should m oti­
vate one’s determination and wake up the heedless.


The Immensity of al-H afiz Ibn cAsakir’s Contribution to Islamic

A l-H afiz A b u ’l-Qasim ibn cAsakir al-Dimashql (cAlI ibn al-
Hasan), born in Damascus in 499 ah, died there in 571 ah, may
Allah have m ercy on him, made use o f every moment o f his time,
such that academic institutions are unable to print all his contri­
butions to Islamic heritage. H e w rote them alone, by hand. He
researched, wrote, classified, ordered, and edited them, present­
ing to people a lasting legacy, a w onder o f his vast knowledge and
amazing m em ory, strong determination and discipline, and talent
in abundant and unique writing. I include here a b rief overview
o f his biography taken from three books, restricting m yself to pas­
sages related to his wide travels, abundant writings, and use o f ev­
ery mom ent o f his time.
Historian and judge Ibn Khallikan wrote in Wafayat al-Acyan
in his biography:
[Ibn 'Asakir] was the most prom inent scholar o f hadith o f al-Sham
in his tim e, and one o f the most prom inent Fuqaha [jurist] o f the
Shaft''I madhhab. H e was particularly dedicated to the science o f
hadith and becam e k n o w n for it. H e strove hard in com piling
the hadith such that he gathered m ore than any other scholar. H e
traveled w id ely to various lands, m et with scholars, and was the
com panion o f al-H dfi? A b u Sacd cA b d u l-K arim ibn al-Sam canI in
his jo u rn e y. T h e num ber o f scholars he m et in various places in
the land o f Islam reached seven thousand.

H e was trustworthy and o f high morals, gathering hadiths and

their chains o f narration. H e studied in Baghdad, then returned
to Damascus, then traveled to Khurasan, and w ent to N isapur,
Harat, Isfahan, and al-Jibal. H e w rote m any beneficial books
and authenticated the chains o f m any hadiths. H e had deep
kn ow ledge o f hadith and was gifted in com pilation and w rit­
ing. H e w rote eighty volum es o f al-Tarikh li Dimashq [History of
Damascus], w h ich is a b ook fo llow in g the style o f Tarikh Baghdad
o f al-K hatlb al-Baghdadl, in terms o f his criteria in choosing
w h om to quote. Y e t it surpassed it m any times in size, scope,

The Value of Time

com prehensiveness, and benefit.

W hen that Tarikh becam e w ell kn ow n , our shaykh and scholar al-
H afiz Z a k iy y al-D ln A b u M uham m ad cA b d u l-cA zim al-M undhiri
the scholar o f [tadith o f E gypt, said: “ I believe that this m an made
the intention to w rite this b ook w h en he was mature enough to
think, and began to gather inform ation from that tim e, for other­
w ise life is too short fo r one to w rite such a b o o k after b ecom ing
preoccupied w ith teaching and narration.”

H e had spoken the truth indeed, fo r w h o e ve r contemplates the

Tarikh realises this. F or h o w could one find the time to w rite
such a b ook, considering it represents only w hat he finally se­
lected and authenticated fo llow in g several stages o f w ritin g and
innum erable drafts. Furtherm ore, he has other im portant writings
and interesting volum es.

The number o f books o f al-Hafiz A b u ’l-Q asim ibn cAsakir ex­

ceeded fifty books, including the 8o-volum e Tarikh Madinat
Dimashq, as mentioned above.

The Great Resolve of Ibn cAsakir and His Extensive Travels in

Muslim Lands
Al-Dhahabl wrote in Tadhkirat al-Hujfaz:
H e is the great Imam and scholar o f hadith, the M uhaddith o f al-
Sham , the pride o f the imams, A b u ’l-Q asim ibn cAsakir, the au­
thor o f m any books, including al-Tarikh al-Kabir. H e was b o m in
early 499 a h , and started learning hadith in 505 a h , under the care
o f his father and brother Imam D iya’uddin H ibat-U llah. H e stud­
ied hadith ... in Damascus, and traveled at the age o f tw enty, and
he stu d ied ... in Baghdad, th e n ... in M ecca, th e n ... in al-K ufa, ...
N isapur, ... Isfahan, ... M arw , ... H erat, and com piled al-Arbazin
al-Buldaniyyah— forty hadith from forty shuyukh from forty cou n­
tries. A n d the num ber o f his shuyukh reached 1,3 0 0 scholars,
w hich included over eighty w om en scholars. M any people nar­
rated on his authority, including his com panion on his jo u rn e y
A b u Sacd al-Sam 'ani.

Then al-Dhahabi enumerated his writings, w hich reached around


fifty books, and he dictated in circles o f knowledge 408 lessons,

each equivalent to a book. His son, the scholar o f hadith Baha al-
D in al-Qasim said:
M y father, m ay Allah have m ercy on him , regularly kept to
congregational prayer and to recitation, com pleting the recita­
tion o f the Q u r’an every w eek, and com pleting it every day in
R am adan. H e used to do ft ik a f [seclusion for worship] in the
eastern m inaret o f the M osque o f Damascus. H e offered a lot o f
supererogatory prayers and was often engaged in dhikr. H e dedi­
cated him self during the m iddle-night o f Shacban, and the nights
o f the tw o Eids to prayer and dhikr, and he brought him self to
account for every m om ent that passed! F or forty years, since his
shuyiikh granted him qualification to narrate and teach, he dedi­
cated him self fully to com piling and teaching even during his lei­
sure and solitude.

A l-H afiz A b u ’l - cA la’ al-Hamadhanl said:

A b u ’l-Q asim ibn cAsakir was k n ow n in Baghdad as a shining
flame, due to his intelligence, enthusiasm, and dedication. A b u ’l-
M aw ahib ibn Sasra said [to Ibn cAsakir]: “ D id our master see any­
one like him ?” H e replied: “ D oes not Allah say: Ascribe not purity
to yourselves.35 I said: “ Allah also said: A n d proclaim the grace o f your
Lord.” 36 H e said: “ I f one w ere to say, ‘M y eyes have never seen
anyone like m yself,’ he w ou ld have been truthful.”

Th en A b u ’l-M aw ahib said:

A n d I say I have never seen anyone like him , and no one w h o
was endow ed w ith all his qualities, such as fo llo w in g one mission
for forty years, always praying congregational prayers in the first
row — except w h en he had an excuse, regularly observing rtik a f
in the m onth o fR a m a d a n and the ten days o f D h u ’l-H ijjah, hav­
in g no interest in acquiring property and building houses; for
he avoided all that, and avoided seeking positions o f imams and
preachers, and rejected them w hen offered to him , and dedicated
h im self to enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, not fearing
the blam e o f any blamer.

The Value of Time

Ibn Asakir’s Dedication to Knowledge, His Numerous Shuyukh

and Shaykhat, and His Excellence and Conscientiousness
Imam Tajuddln al-Subkl wrote in Tabaqat al-Shafiiyyah al-Kubra
in his biography:
H e is the em inent Imam, the H afiz o f the Ummah, A b u ’l-Q asim
ibn cAsakir, and w e do not kn o w any o f his forefathers b y the
nam e o f ‘Asakir, but he was rather kn ow n b y that name. H e is
the servant and advocate o f the Sunnah, the imam o f the scholars
o f hadith o f his tim e, the seal o f the great HufFaz, the destination
o f the jo u rn eys o f seekers o f know ledge.

H e devoted him self to various sciences, occupying him self only

w ith kn ow ledge and action, the tw o accom panying him , and
w ere his sole desires. H e possessed a m em ory that missed no
point, a rigorous authenticator w ith ingenious w ays and criteria
and m eticulous perfection, equating him to his predecessors, i f
not excelling them, and a w idth o f kn ow ledge w h ich rendered all
else lacking in his presence.

H e learnt from m any people, and the num ber o f his scholars
reached 1,3 0 0 shuyukh and over 80 shaykhat [w om en scholars].
H e traveled to Iraq, then M ecca, then M edina, then he traveled
to the lands o f the non-Arabs. H e studied in Isfahan, N isapur,
M arw , T ib riz, M ihana, Y ab haq , K husrujird, Bistam , D am ighan,
A rrayy, Zanjan, H am adhan, Asadabad, Ja y y , Herat, B aw an , Bagh,
B ushang, Sarkhas, N u qan, Sim nan, A bharm M arand, K h u w ay,
Jarbazaqan, M ushkan, R u zraw ar, H ulw an, Arjish. H e also stud­
ied in Anbar, R afiq a, R ah b a, M aridin, M akisin and other cities in
m any lands, traveling far and w ide, not tiring from the length o f
the jo u rn e y , alone, except for his taqwa w h ich he took for a com ­
panion, and a determ ination w h ich aspired to the highest o f goals
as a precious prize.

His Shaykh al-Khatlb A b u ’l-Fadl al-Tusi said: “ W e do not know

o f anyone deserving this title o f al-Hafiz in this time except him .”
Ibn al-N ajjar said:
H e was the imam o f the muhaddithin o f his tim e, and the possess­
or o f the highest position in m em orisation and perfection, w ide
kn ow ledge o f the sciences o f hadith, trustworthiness and noble­


ness, high quality o f w ritin g and teaching, and the seal o f this

I heard ou r shaykh A bdul-W ahhab ibn al-A m in saying: O n e day

I was w ith al-H afiz A b u ’l-Q asim ibn 'A sakir and A b u Sa d ibn
al-Sam canI, seeking hadith and m eeting scholars. W e m et one
shaykh, and Ibn al-Sam anl stopped him to verify a hadith from
him , but w hen he came to the part w hich he w ished to read and
verify, he could not find him , and was distressed. Ibn cAsakir said
to him : W hat is the part you w ant to read? H e replied: the b ook
o f al-BaUh wa al-Nushur [Resurrection] o f Ibn D aw u d , learnt
from A b u al-N asr al-Z aynabi. H e said to him : “ D o not w o rry ,”
and he read it, or part o f it, from m em ory.

Shaykh M uhyiddin al-N aw aw I said about him, and I quote from

his handwriting: “ H e is the Hafiz o f al-Sham, or rather o f the
w hole world, the absolute imam, the trustworthy precise authen­
ticator o f hadith.”

Ibn A sakir’s Great Concern for His Learning

His son, al-Hafiz Abu M uham m ad al-Qasim related:
M y father had learnt from his shuyukh m any books o f w hich he
obtained no copies, relying on the copies o f his friend al-H afiz
A b u cA ll al-W azir, for w hat Ibn al-W azIr w rote dow n, m y father
did not, and vice versa.

I heard him one night talking to a friend o f his under the m o o n ­

light in the m osque. H e said: I travelled but it is as i f I had not
travelled! A n d I learnt but it is as i f I had not learnt! I thought
that m y com panion Ibn al-W azir w ill return w ith the books I
had learnt, such as $ahili al-Bukhari, $ahih Muslim, the books o f
al-Bayhaql, and others. B u t he resided in M arw and rem ained

I hoped that another friend o f m ine w ill arrive, one k n ow n by

the nam e o f Y u s u f ibn Farawa al-Jayyanl, or another one, A b u ’l-
Hasan al-M uradl, for he had said to m e: Perhaps I w ill com e to
Dam ascus and from there go hom e to al-Andalus. H o w ever,
none o f them cam e to Dam ascus, and I thought it was necessary
for m e to travel once again to study these great books.

The Value of Time

A fe w days later, a m an came to his house and said: A b u ’l-H asan

al-M uradl has com e. M y father w en t to him , w elcom ed him and
received him in his house, and he brought w ith him four boxes
full o f books he had copied. M y father was extrem ely happy, and
thanked Allah for facilitating the arrival o f w hat he had learnt
from him , w ithout further hardship, and saved him from travel­
in g again. H e copied those books, until he obtained that w hich
he sought, and he was such that w h en ever he obtained a part o f
it, it was as i f he had possessed the ow nership o f this w orld , may
Allah have m ercy on him and be pleased w ith him.

These were glimpses from the life o f this eminent imam: al-Hdfiz
ibn cAsakir al-Dimashqi, in w hich I perceived amazing marvels
and entertaining wonders. Had it not been for his conservation o f
time, and good use o f minutes and seconds, he w ould not have
been able to write those great huge beneficial works, w hich aca­
demic institutions are incapable o f printing today, let alone write
their likes. Thus, dear readers, let us all use every moment o f our
time, for it is the treasure o f blessing and goodness.

Careful Distribution of Activities According to the Time Suitable

for Them
W hat one must highlight here w hen considering time is that aca­
demic w ork must be given the right time that is suitable for it.
For some acedemic activities are appropriate for any time or state
o f mind, due to their ease, such as copying, light reading and the
like, w hich do not necessitate a free mind, complete concentra­
tion, and deep precise reflection.
O n the other hand, there are academic activities w hich can
only be fully achieved during times w hen the mind is free, w hen
intuition and understanding are apt, w hen blessings abound, such
as the hours o f late night, dawn, m orning, and the hours o f the
peace and quiet o f night and the complete emptiness and silence
o f space and time. These peaceful and blessed times must be tak­
en advantage of, in order to solve problematic issues and difti-


cult questions, to distangle complicated problems, to correct and

edit writings, to seek to clarify ambiguous obscure expressions, to
memorise texts, and the like.

The Best Times and Places for Memorisation

A l-H afiz al-Khatib al-Baghdadl wrote in his book al-Faqlh wa’l-
Mutafaqqih, regarding the best times for memorisation and the
most suitable places w hich facilitate the task:
K n o w that m em orisation has its times w h ich must be kept in
m ind by those w h o seek to m em orise, and that it has places
w here one seeking to m em orise must remain.

T h e best o f times are the late hours o f the night, fo llow ed by

the m iddle o f the day, then the m ornings rather than afternoons.
M em orisation b y night is better than m em orisation b y day, and
the times o f hunger are better for m em orisation than hours o f
satiety. T h e one seeking to m em orise should assess his state o f
hunger, fo r som e people are not able to m em orise in a state o f
extrem e hunger and thirst, hence they should quench it by som e­
thing light, and should not eat much.

As for the best places, then they are upper room s rather than
lo w e r halls, and any place that is far from distractions, w here the
heart is em pty from anything that m ay distract it and occupy it,
or overcom e it and prevent it from m em orising. It is not recom ­
m ended to m em orise near plants or greenery, nor near rivers, or
on the sides o f the road, fo r such places are seldom free from
things that prevent concentration and peace.”

His advice regarding places is different from that o f Abu Nasr al-
Farabl.37 A l-Q ad l ibn Khallikan w rote in his biography in Wafayat
al-A^yan: “ H e was a solitary man, not m ixing w ith people. During
his stay in Damascus he was mostly near rivers, or gardens, where
he wrote his books and received his students.”

Avoiding Noise When Memorising or Studying

Students o f knowledge are recommended to seek solitude and

The Value of Time

stay away from people and noise, because solitude facilitates clar­
ity o f thinking, and w hen the mind is clear and understanding is
correct. T h ey are seeing knowledge through the balance o f the
intellect, and this balance is extrem ely fine, and is affected by the
least o f desires or distractions, m aking it deviate from its proper
state. Thus in seeking specific and difficult matters o f knowledge
one must give careful consideration to the time and place, so that
comprehension may be achieved and conception and judgem ent
may be correct.
T h e Imam o f hadith and fiqh, Abu Sulayman Ham d ibn
M uhammad al-Khattabl, al-Busti, born in 319 ah and d ie d in 388
ah, may Allah have m ercy on him, said:38
W h en I am alone, m y m ind is clear, and I find
Thoughts as bright as lightening in the darkness
W h ile w h en m y ear is distracted by the clam our
O f the shouters, I becom e unable to articulate m y thoughts.
Some know ledge is o f little consequence, has minimal benefit, is
superflous (who absence is not considered a deficiency), has little
benefit, and the need for it is even less. Tim e should not be spent
on seeking such knowledge, nor should minds be preoccupied
with it. For preoccupation with the less-preferred things prevents
obtaining what is preferred and the better, and causes one to con­
sume time and energy and prevents one from achieving one’s
goals and wishes. Salih ibn cAbd al-Quddus w rote:39
I f you seek kn ow ledge, then k n o w that it is a burden,
H ence take care o f w hat you carry
A n d i f you find som ething better than it, then
Preoccupy yo u r heart w ith that w h ich is better.

The wise man must devote [his] keen mind and precious time to
better actions and the higher aspirations, in order to attain what is
most excellent and useful.


Fighting Feelings Boredom and Lack of Motivation

Ibu Hilal al-cAskari w rote in his book al-Hath cala Talab’l-'Ilm that
Ib n ja rw al-M awsili40 said: “ O ne should delay one’s lesson o f liter­
ature and poetry to his time o f boredom .” Ibn al-M uraghl41 said:
“ O ne must trick oneself in learning.”
He means that w hen one is bored or unmotivated, one
should not give in to that or interrupt one’s lesson or learning, but
should rather deal with his lack o f motivation and strive against
on e’s boredom, until he overcomes it and achieves vitality and the
revival o f spirit.

W ays to Overcome Boredom, Sleepiness, and Laziness

This may be achieved sometimes through such actions as chew ­
ing gum, leaving an enclosed room for open space, m oving from
one room to another, taking a quick cold or hot shower, drink­
ing a light drink, eating something light, talking to a friend, recit­
ing some poetry, reciting Q u r’an in a loud voice, changing one’s
posture, walking or going up, changing the subject or book being
studied, or similar actions. There is a suitable w ay for everybody,
and motivation has a key, which is not hidden from the intelligent
determined ones.

Need to Devote Oneself to the Important Matters Before the Less

Important Ones
A l-H afiz al-Baghdadl, may Allah have m ercy on him, said:
“ Know ledge is like seas w hich can never be contained and miner­
als w hich can never exhausted, so occupy yourself w ith the most
important o f it, for w hoever occupies him self with the unimport­
ant loses the important.”
That is what was refered to by al-A b b as ibn al-Hasan al-
cAlawI, w ho was one o f the prominent scholars and the ingenious
poets, one o f the companions o f the Caliph Harun al-Rashld and

The Value o f Time

then Caliph al-M a’mun, in his precious advice w hich I wish to in­
clude here fully for the deep insight and eloquent expression con­
tained in it.

A l- Abbas al-cA law i on Giving Priority to W hat is Important

A l-cAbbas, m ay Allah have m ercy on him, said:
K n o w that yo u r m ind cannot contain everything, hence dedicate
it to the im portant matters. K n o w that yo u r m oney is not suffi­
cient to enrich all people, hence devote it to the rightful people.
K n o w that yo u r generosity cannot be enough fo r all the people,
hence seek to reserve it for the people o f grace. K n o w that yo u r
night and day cannot satisfy all you r needs, even i f you strive
hard, hence divide them carefully betw een times o f w o rk and
times o f rest.

F o r occupying yo u r m ind w ith that w h ich is unim portant is un­

derm ining w hat is im portant,42 and the m oney yo u spend in use­
less expenses you w ill lack w hen yo u need it for necessary ones.
A n d the generosity you bestow on those undeserving o f it w ill
underm ine yo u w hen yo u are unable to bestow it on people o f
grace. Spend yo u r night and day on unnecessary matters and you
w ill regret it in times o f need.

These are glimpses highlighting the value o f time in the lives o f

those noble scholars and imams, only some o f w hom I have men­
tioned, and they were all the pride o f Islam, nay the pride o f hu­
T h ose are people w hose honor Allah raised
A n d no other honor excels it, h o w e ve r great it m ay be

Henceforth, dear reader, you shall not be astonished w hen you

hear or read that certain scholars w rote over a hundred books that
contributed to enriching every science, for the reason behind their
success is that they made use o f all their time, and avoided exces­
sive curiosity or were not heedless o f the passing o f time. T h ey
used every moment, minute and hour, and thus produced such
lasting legacies.


Scholars Who Wrote Fifty or a Hundred Books

Ustadh Jam il al-A'zam al-Dimashql, w ho died in 1352 ah, may
Allah have m ercy on him, wrote a book called cUqud al-Jawhar
f i Tarajim man Lahum Khamsuna Tasnlfan Fami’atun Fa Akthar
(The Pearl Chains, On The Biographies of Those who Wrote Fifty to a
Hundred Books and More), in w hich he mentioned many scholars
w ho w ere know n for the abundance o f their writings. H e men­
tioned Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Ibn al-Jawzi, al-N aw aw I, Ibn Sina,
al-Ghazall, Ibn Hajar al-cAsqalani, Ibn al-Q ayyim , cA li al-Qari,
al-M unaw i, !Abdul-GhanI al-NabulsI, cA bdul-H ayy al-LaknawI,
and others, whose works exceeded fifty books.
I f you read the biographies o f these noble scholars and those
like them, you w ill feel motivated by their lives to appreciate the
value o f time, to jo in their ranks i f you have the ambition and de­
termination, such that you do not leave this w orld except that you
have left behind thirty, forty, or fifty books. And Allah increases in
creation what H e wills, and H e bestows His mercy on W hom He
chooses, and Allah is All-Sufficient, A ll-K n ow er.

Useful Ways to Facilitate Gaining Time and Benefiting from it

In order to conserve time and gain it, follow the advice o f the ear­
ly scholars concerning the characteristics o f the seeker o f know l­
edge w hich qualify him to acquire knowledge and o f w hom ex­
cellence is expected: he must be fast at writing, fast in reading, and
fast in walking.43
B eing a fast walker enables the student to be able to visit all
the shuyukh in a short time, while being a fast w riter and reader
reduces the time spent on that w hich can be used for other tasks,
and to increase in knowledge. These characteristics undoubtedly
facilitate increasing knowledge and learning from scholars in the
shortest time and life.
I added to the above a fourth quality: that one must be fast
at eating, for i f he w ere not, and was instead slow and engrossed

The Value of Time

in eating, the time he saved through his fast reading, writing, and
w alking w ould be wasted through the length o f the time spent in
eating! Thus he w ould not know ho w to manage his time well,
nor how to benefit from the above advice.44

Eating, Sleeping and Resting for the Seeker of Knowledge Must Be

According to Necessity
Imam al-N aw aw i, may Allah have m ercy on him, wrote in the
magnificent introduction to his great book al-Majmuc:
[The student] must be concerned for know ledge, persevering
regularly in studying at all times, by night and day, in residence
or travel, and must not spend his tim e in anything other than
kn ow ledge, except according to necessity, such as eating, sleep­
ing, taking short breaks in order to dispel boredom , and other
sim ilar necessities.

A bu’l-W afa’ ibn Uqayl: I Strive to Shorten my Mealtimes

Imam A b u ’l-W afa’ ibn 'U qayl al-Hanball, may Allah have m ercy
on him, wrote:
I strive m y utm ost to shorten m y m ealtimes as m uch as possible,
to the extent that I choose to eat bread and w ith water, rather
than bread alone, because o f the difference in time in chew ing,
in order to save time for some reading or w ritin g some beneficial
m atter. Indeed, the best profit in the eyes o f the w ise ones, b y the
consensus o f the scholars, is tim e; for it is a profit in w h ich oppor­
tunities are sought; for tasks are m any, and times are fleeting.

Al-SuyiitT’s Explanation of H ow the Seeker of Knowledge Can

Gain Time
A l-IIafiz al-Imam al-Suyuti, may Allah have m ercy on him, high­
lighted the need o f the seeker o f knowledge to be fast at eating,
as w ell as w alking and writing, in order to conserve time, in two
verses o f poetry in w hich he said: “ O ur Shaykh al-Kinanl told us
about his father the famous preacher, w ho said, ‘Hurry, O seeker


o f knowledge, in three things: eating, walking, and w riting.’” 45

The shaykh al-Kinan! mentioned here is the imam and supreme
jud ge cIzziddln Ahm ad ibn Ibrahim al-Kinanl al-M isri al-Hanball,
m ay Allah have m ercy on him.

Lost Time Never Returns!

O dear reader, O wise intelligent perceptive brother, you must
preserve your time from waste, for the time that you live is a tran­
sient state w hich cannot be repeated nor returned. It is said:
W hat has passed has gone
and w hat is anticipated is un know n
A n d yo u have but the hour in w h ich yo u are living

Thus, seek to gain time and benefit from it, by organising your­
self and managing your times and tasks: as a student or teacher,
w riter or reader, listener or reciter, or as a worshipper. A nd do not
w rong yourself by killing time, wasting hours o f your life and m o­
ments o f your existence, w ronging yourself and being wronged,
seeking rest and laziness, and leaving noble deeds and elevated po­

Laziness is the Worst Companion and Love of Rest Brings Regret

Imam A b u ’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzl, may Allah have m ercy on him,
w rote in his gentle letter in w hich he advised his son, which he
called Laftat al-K abidfl Nasihat al-Walad:
Laziness in doing noble deeds is the w orst com panion! L o v e o f
rest and idleness leads to regret w h ich exceeds any pleasure, so
be aware and tire you rself for yo u r benefit, and regret w hat has
passed and w hat you have wasted. Strive to catch up w ith the
ranks o f the perfect ones as lo n g as there is a chance, w ater you r
tree so long as it has life, and rem em ber the hours you have wast­
ed, for they w ould be sufficient as a rem inder, as they w ere spent
on the pleasure o f laziness, w h ile opportunities for reaching noble
levels w ere wasted!

The Value of Time

M otivation may slacken and some time may be wasted, but when
encouraged it is revived, and motivation stops only because o f
lack o f determination and ambition. For w henever amibition is
high, it cannot be satisfied with little.
I f one is high he w ou ld aspire to attain the highest summits
W h ile those w h o are lo w are content w ith w hat is low est

Aspiring Noble Deeds and Perfection is a Sign of Nobility

Then know that seeking the virtuous deeds is the end goal o f
those w ho strive, and that there are varying levels o f good deeds.
There are people w ho see virtue to be asceticism, while others see
it as occupation w ith worship.
In fact, the highest virtues are none other than com bining
knowledge and action, for w hen they are achieved, the person is
raised to the highest status, for that is the aspired goal, and accord­
ing to one’s ambition, opportunities arise. Thus, your ambition
must be to seek perfection. Som e people restricted themselves to
asceticism, and others devoted themselves to knowledge, while
yet others combined complete knowledge with complete action.
H ow ever, not everything one desires is achieved, nor does every
seeker find what he is seeking, nor does every one w ho begins a
praiseworthy matter complete what he began! A nd not everything
one wishes for one achieves, or as the famous poet Abu al-Tayyib
A nd not every lover o f goodness is a doer o f it
N o r does every doer o f it com plete it!

But one must strive, and each w ill have that for which he was
created for facilitated for him, and Allah, G lory be to Him , is the
G iver o f Aid.

Most Important Ways to Gain Time

Indeed, the most important ways o f gaining time are: organising


one’s time and activities, avoiding idle useless gatherings, avoid­

ing excessive curiosity in everything, keeping the company o f the
serious, intelligent, time-conscious people, reading about the emi­
nent scholars and then motivating biographies— such as the afore­
mentioned ones— taking pleasure in gaining time and using it for
academic achievement, engrossing oneself in the pleasure o f read­
ing and increasing one’s knowledge and understanding. For that
makes one realise the value o f time, and motivates one to con­
serve it, to gain it and not waste it.

Time is Life
T h e righdy-guided teacher and adviser Hasan al-Banna, may
Allah have m ercy on him, said: “ W hoever knows the real val­
ue o f time knows life itself, for time is life.” T h e jurist and poet
cUm arah al-Yam am , w ho died in 569, may Allah have m ercy on
him, said in a poem , quoted in his biography in Wafayat al-Acyan
o f Ibn Khallikan:
I f yo u r capital is you r life, then bew are
O f spending it in w hat is not necessary,
F or betw een the alternation o f night and day
Is a battle, the arm y o f w h ich brings w onders

T he famous Egyptian poet Ahm ad Shawq! also wrote:

O n e ’s heartbeats say to him :
Life is but minutes and seconds.
H ence build for you rself a legacy after its death
F o r a m an’s legacy is a second life

Hafsah Bint Strin: Action is But During Youth

T h e real and effective period o f life is one’s youth, for youth is
the time for action and achievement, and production and contri­
bution, w hen strength is abundant, ambition is high, and diseases,
problems, and obstacles— due to few er commitments— are fewer.
The eminent T a b iciyyah Hafsah Bint Sirin used to say: “ O youth,

The Value of Time

exert yourselves while you are young, for I believe action is only
during youth.” 46
Imam al-N aw aw i w rote in his valuable introduction to his
important book al-Majmuc: “ T he seeker o f knowledge must seek
to learn during times o f leisure and vitality, and in a state o f youth,
physical strength, aptitude o f mind and freedom from preoccupa­
tions, before the symptoms o f incapacity.”

Imam Ahmad: “I likened Youth to a Thing I Had in M y Sleeve

Then It Fell ”

A long life shortens day after day, yet you often forget that it is
fleeting and will not return, so you do not use it and benefit from
it, and you think it is ever-long, lasting, slow, while the truth is
far from that. Imam Ahm ad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with
him, said: “ I only likened youth to something I had in m y sleeve,
then it fell!” 47 And he lived 77 years. For youth, even i f extended,
is little, and life, even i f prolonged, is short. M ay Allah bless him
w ho said:
T h e adhrn is made in the baby’s ear at birth
W h ile the prayer is delayed till his death
A sign that his life is short
Ju st like the tim e betw een adhan and prayer

Another said:
A n d betw een the b o y ’s birth and his death
I f one is honest w ith oneself— is a lifetim e
F o r w hat com es is like w hat has passed
A n d it is but yo u r little short time

The Spread of Intellectual Laziness Among Students Nowadays

It is unfortunate that intellectual laziness has become widespread
among today’s students, and they have com e to prefer rest and
idleness over striving and struggling. Luxury and all forms o f use­
less curiosity have becom e a purpose o f life for them, and plea­


sures have become a goal for them, such that they have no time
left for studying and seeking knowledge. Their state has com e to
resemble that refered to by Imam Ahm ad ibn Faris al-R azl, the
philologist bom in 329 ah, died 395 ah, may Allah have mercy on
him, w hen he said:
I f yo u are harm ed b y the heat o f sum m er
A nd the dryness o f autum n and the cold o f w inter
A nd yo u are distracted by the beauty o f springtime
T h e n tell m e: w hen w ill yo u seek knowledge?!

Al-AltisT and His Great Concern for Learning and Knowledge

The eminent scholar A b u ’l-M acall M ahm ud Shukri al-AlusI al-
Baghdadi, the grandson, man o f letters, w ho died in 1342 ah, may
Allah have m ercy on him, was know n for his extreme earnest­
ness and conservation o f his time. H e was distracted from his les­
sons neither by the heat o f summer nor the cold o f winter, and
his students w ere often criticised and reprimanded for their lack o f
punctuality. His student Shaykh Bahjat al-Athari said about him:
I rem em ber that I missed his lesson one day w hen the w eather
was very unsettled, the w in d was b low in g severely, it was raining
hard, and the ground was very m uddy— thinking that he w ould
not attend the lesson. W h en I cam e to school the next day, he re­
cited a verse o f poetry in an angry tone: “ A n d there is no good in
he w h o is obstructed by heat and cold .” 48

During Old Age, One is Busier and Weaker Than During Youth
Som e imagine that their days w ould be less busy in the future, that
there w ould be few er problems and obstacles, and that they will
have more free time than during the past youth. H ow ever, expe­
rience shows quite the opposite, dear reader, so let me quote to
you from the one w ho experienced that and concluded:
T h e older yo u get, the greater you r responsibilities w ill be, the
m ore relations yo u w ill have, the m ore restricted yo u r time w ill
be and the lesser y o u r energy. T im e is m ore restricted after youth,

The Value o f Time

and o n e’s b o d y is w eaker, health is less abundant, vitality is lo w er

and duties and preoccupations are m ore num erous and m ore se­
vere! H ence, m ake use o f yo u r tim e w hile it is available to you ,
and do not attach yo u r heart to the un know n, for each stage has
its o w n occupations, duties and surprises.

Some even stress the lack o f days o f happiness and the abundance
o f days o f hardship:
T h e y say life is all tw o days
O n e is pleasures and one is hardships
T h e y w ere not truthful, for life is one day o f happiness
A n d m any days full o f hardships and surprises

Youth is the Time of Striving and Pleasures, and Old Age is the
Time of Weakness and Problems
Action, striving, strength, glory, achievement and pure pleasures
are sought during the time o f youth, not during old age, w hich is
the time for illnesses, worries, troubles and problems, as the poet
Y o u th w here glory is achieved, in it w e find pleasure
W h ile there are no pleasures for the old

W hen old age and its illnesses affected Abu cUthm an al-Jahiz, the
famous author, he used to recite these two sad verses o f poetry
about the incapacity, weakness, and illness o f old age:
D o yo u hope w h en you are old to be
A s you w ere during the days o f youth
Y o u r soul has deceived you
N o used garm ent is like a new one49

Do N ot Be Idle in Worldly or Religious Matters

T h e successful wise person is the one w ho fills every second and
mom ent o f his present life and time w ith some beneficial action.
Sayyiduna cU m ar, may Allah be pleased with him, disliked idle­
ness and wasting time w ith no benefit. H e said: “ I dislike to see
any o f you idle, w ith no action for this fife or the hereafter!”


Time is the Most Precious Property, Yet the Easiest to Lose

M ay Allah have mercy on the pious minister and eminent scholar
Y ah ya ibn Hubayrah, al-Baghdadl al-Hanball, w ho was born in
339 ah and died in 560 ah, the shaykh o f Imam Ibn al-Jawzi, w ho
said: “ T im e is the dearest thing you can concern yourself with
conserving, while I see that it is the easiest thing for you to lose.”

A n Article by Ustadh Ahmad Am in on Use of Time and the

Effects of Losing it
I read an article by Ustadh Ahm ad Am in the w ell-know n Egyptian
author w ho died in 1373 ah, under the tile o f “ Free T im e” which
he included in his book Fayd al-Khatir, w hich I wished to include
at the end o f this treatise— w ith some editing— since it is very ap­
propriate and useful. H e wrote:
Thousands and thousands o f students are staying at hom e during
their fo u r- or five-m onth sum m er holidays. H ave their parents
reflected on h o w this long time m ay be spent on som ething that
could be beneficial for their bodies, minds, characters and their
country? A n d h alf this nation— w om en — rem ain at hom e. B u t
h o w do they spend their free time?

I f tim e is the means b y w h ich w e invest m oney, acquire k n o w l­

edge, and im prove health— h o w m uch o f it have w e wasted? A n d
h o w m any lifetimes are wasted in vain, w ith no action for this
life, nor for the hereafter?!

A m o n g the effects o f w asting time is the waste o f resources w hich

could have been invested had it not been for neglecting tim e and
ignoring h o w it could be used. F or h o w m uch fallow land could
have been cultivated, and h o w m any com panies could have been
established, and h ow m any various institutions could have been
built and m anaged b y using a portion o f free time?

A m o n g the consequences o f wasting time in our w orld is the un­

popularity o f books and abandoning o f reading, and contentm ent
w ith ignorance, for there are no spirits to feel the unbearability
o f ignorance, ju st bodies that find pleasure in rest! T h e effect in

The Value of Time

the realm o f finance is the same as that in the realm o f books, for
there too one finds the same satisfaction w ith litde, contentm ent
w ith the easy, stagnation and contentm ent w ith clerical w o rk and
jo b s that do not require any effort or use o f m ind. T h in k in g and
effort are for foreign w orkers w h o are energetic and k n o w h ow
to use their time.

I do not m ean by conserving tim e that it should be all filled w ith

w o rk , or that life should all b e seriousness and strife, w ith no rest
nor leisure, or that it should be gloom y w ith no laughter nor hap­
piness. R a th e r w hat I m ean is that free tim e should not exceed
times o f w ork , and that free tim e must not be the purpose o f life
w h ile w o rk is on the margin.

Furtherm ore, I m ean that free time should be subjected to the

rule o f m ind ju st like w o rk is, fo r through w o rk w e w ish to
achieve som e purpose, and free tim e must also be spent for som e
purpose, w hether fo r som e health benefit such as perm itted sports
or psychological pleasure such as reading, or spiritual nourish­
m ent such as night prayer, reciting Q u r’an and hadith, and super­
rogatory prayer and worship.

B u t i f o n e’s purpose is killing time, then that is no legitim ate pur­

pose, fo r tim e is life, and killing time is killing life! H ence those
w h o spend lo n g times playing chess or backgam m on or in idle
chatting o r illegitim ate entertainm ent, they are not w o rk in g for
a purpose that satisfies the m ind, like those w h o w ander around
cafes, clubs and streets, seeking to kill tim e, as i f tim e was one o f
their enemies!

T h e k ey to treating this problem is to believe that m an is able to

change his likes and dislikes as he wills, that is able to change his
taste as he wills, and can thus train his taste to like things w h ich it
has never tried, and to abhor things it had liked before. F o r most
people are able— w ith strong w ill— to divide their free tim e be­
tw een w hat w ill benefit them physically, m entally and spiritually.

It is unfortunate that the m ajority o f people believe that read­

in g light stories or cheap magazines is sufficient nourishm ent for
their minds, and consider it sufficient for their intellectual leisure,
w hile they are nothing but intoxicants for the m ind, and stim u­
lants o f sexual desires. A little patience and strength w ill prepare


one for serious study and beneficial reading.

E v ery cultured person is able to m otivate interest in som e seri­

ous field o f kn ow ledge w h ich he can study in depth, w hether it
is literature, b iology, physics, history o f a particulary era, or any
field o f hum an know ledge. H e could then feed his interest in it,
then devote a part o f his day for studying it, such that he becom es
a new person, w ith a particular strength, w ith a respectable char­
acter, and w ith som e benefit to bring to himself, to his people
and to others. T hus the ummah w ill be rich through its sons and
daughters, in all branches o f science, kn ow ledge and arts, relying
on each in their particular specialisation on some aspect o f life.
T h e gatherings o f people w ould then becom e o f higher standard,
their thinking w ill becom e m ore noble, their lives m ore dynam ic,
and they could learn from each other som e culture, know ledge,
literature, behaviour and valuing o f tim e. C ulture w ould then el­
evate, minds w ou ld expand, and life w ould becom e m ore noble.
V itality w ou ld increase and methods o f living w ou ld be m ore fa­
cilitated and prosperous.

People w ould feel that it is their duty to nourish their minds just
as they nourish their bodies, and that w ithout such nourishm ent,
they can have no life, and that such nourishm ent is impossible
w ithou t conserving time, gaining it, and optim ising benefit from
it. Society and all people w ould then prosper, in terms o f envi­
ronm ent, intellect, industry, production, contribution, and ben­

M ake it a habit to always ask yourself: “ W hat have I done in m y

free time? H ave 1 acquired som e health, wealth, know ledge, or
benefit for m yse lf or others?” Also question w hether yo u r free
time is subjected to the rule o f yo u r m ind, such that you had
som e praisew orthy purpose for w h ich yo u spent yo u r time? I f
that is the case, then you have succeeded, otherw ise, keep trying
until you do succeed. A poem states: “ T h e patient one is likely
to achieve his purpose / A n d the one w h o persists in knockin g is
likely to enter.”

T hus a little tim e dedicated every day for a specific task may
change the course o f yo u r life, and m ake you m ore upright and
elevated than you could imagine.

The Value o f Time

O urs is a nation that lives only a tenth o f w hat it should live, or

even less than that, w hether concerning its econom ic productiv­
ity, intellectual culture, or state o f health, w hile the rest o f its life
is spent in vain, filled w ith laziness and idleness, devoted to such
things as backgam m on, chess, idle chat, or sim ply nothing! A ll
that is required fo r it to live its potential is discovering a w ay o f
filling tim e fruitfully and subject it to the rule o f divine law and

Time is Life and is Dearer Than Gold

T h e rightly-guided teacher Ustadh Hasan al-Banna, may Allah
have m ercy on him, w rote in an article under the title o f “ Tim e
is L ife” :50
It is said: T im e is m ade o f gold!! T h at is true from the point o f
v ie w o f material value for those w h o only measure existence by
that scale, but tim e is life for those w h o think b eyond that.

Is yo u r life in this universe anything other than the time w h ich

passes b etw een birth and death? G o ld can vanish, but you m ay
acquire m any times w hat you lose. B u t yo u cannot return lost
tim e that has passed! T h erefore, tim e is m ore precious than gold,
and dearer than diam onds or any precious stone or any profit, for
it is life itself.

Success is not only dependent on a precise plan and suitable con­

ditions alone, but is furtherm ore dependent on the appropriate
tim e, and our forefathers used to w arn against prem ature as w ell
as belated decisions. Success ensues w hen an action takes place at
the m om ent appropriate for it, A n d Allah measures the night and
the day.$t

Thus, those most affected by loss and failure are the heedless!
M any are the jinns and men We have made fo r H ell: They have hearts
u/hereivith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears
wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, nay more misguided: fo r
they are heedless J *

A m o n g the most w onderful depictions o f the Prophet £§£ con­

cerning the value o f time: “ T h ere is not a n ew day that rises ex­
cept that a caller calls out: ‘ O son o f Adam , I am a n ew creation,


and a witness over yo u r action, hence take yo u r provision from

m e, for I shall not return until the D ay o fju d g m e n t.’ ”

Indeed, there is nothing in existence that is m ore precious than

time. T im es vary in their blessing and beneficial output and ef­
ficiency. T h ere are times that are m ore blessed than others, days
that are better in the sight o f Allah than others, and m onths that
are m ore noble than others. As a poem states: “ It is blessing
w h ich makes an eye excel its counterpart / A n d makes a day the
m aster o f another.” 53

T h e M essenger o f Allah guided us to the realisation o f the

value o f tim e and the w ay to benefit from it, in m any hadiths, in­
dicating that “ the b eliever is b etw een tw o fears: A past w h ich has
gone, w ith w h ich he know s not h o w Allah w ill reckon, and a fu­
ture that yet remains, for w hich he know s not what Allah has de­
creed.” T h us, one must take from o n eself [one’s life] fo r oneself,
from on e’s present life for the Hereafter, from youth before old
age, and from life before death.

T hus, O dear brother, m ake use o f tim e, for time is like a sw ord.
Abandon saying, “ I w ill,” and then delaying, for there is nothing
m ore harm ful than this, and ask Allah for guidance and success for
accepted deeds and beneficial time.

M ay Allah guide us and you, O dear reader, to conserve time

and fill it w ith pious actions and beneficial knowledge, and make
us among those aware o f the value o f time and life, such that they
do not w rong themselves, their country or their Ummah, and such
are the rightly guided.


I. Q u r ’an, 14 :3 4 .

2. Ibid, i : 4 32- 34-

3- Ibid, 16 :12 .

4- Ibid, 1 7 :1 2 .

5- Ibid, 4 i : 37 -
6. Ibid, 6 :13 .

7- Ibid, 35: 37-

8. Ibid, 9 2 :1 - 2 .

9- Ibid, 74 : 33- 34 -
10 . Ibid, 8 1 : 1 7 - 1 8 .

ii . Ib id , 8 4 :16 - 17 .

12 . Ib id , 8 9 :1- 2 .

13- Ibid, 93 : i - 2 .
14 . Ibid, 1 0 3 :1 - 2 .


15 . Ibid, 9 3 :1 - 3 .

16 . Ib id , 1 0 3 : 1 - 3 .

17 . Ib id , 3 4 :5 1- 5 2 .

18 . Ib id , 34 :5 4 .

19 . Ib id , 69:24.

20. Ib id , 4 0 :75.

2 1. T h u s w as the scholars’ lo v e fo r k n o w le d g e — se ek in g it and discussing

its questions and p ro blem s e v e n at the tim e o f le avin g this life! In Ibn
H a ja r’s b o o k Tawali a l-T a ’ ms bi Mcfcili M uham m ad Ibn Idris o n the
virtues o f Imam a l-S h a fic , he w ro te that Ibn A b l H a tim said he heard
al-M u z a n n i relate that it w as said to a l-S h a ficJ: “ H o w w o u ld y o u
describe y o u r lo v e o f k n o w le d g e ? ” H e said: “ W h e n I h ear a w o rd
I had n o t heard b efo re , the organs o f m y b o d y w ish th ey all cou ld
have the pleasure o f h earin g it lik e m y ears.” It w as said to h im :
“ W h at ab ou t y o u r co n ce rn fo r it?” H e said: “ It is lik e the co n ce rn o f
the gre ed y m iser in seek in g m o re w e a lth .” It w as said to h im : “ W h at
ab ou t y o u r seek in g o f it?” H e said: “ It is lik e the seek in g o f a m o th er
se ek in g h er lost o n ly ch ild .”

22. N o te that this statem ent is n o t a hadith o f the P ro p h e t ^ as som e

p e o p le thin k. T h e fact that its m e an in g is co rrect does n o t a llo w on e
to attribute it to the P ro p h e t £&, fo r all that the P ro p h e t said is
true, but n o t all that is true w as said b y him . T h e story ab out Imam
A b u Y u s u f m e n tio n e d ab o ve is rep orted in F a d a ’il A b l H anlfah wa
A shabih ('T h e Merits o f A bu H anlfah and H is Companions) b y A b u ’l-
cA b b as ib n A b u ’l - cA w w a m , p. 7 30 ; also reported in M anaqib A bu
H anlfah b y a l-M u w a ffa q a l-M a k k i, 1 :4 8 1 ; M anaqib A bu H anlfah b y
H afiz a l-D ln al-K ard ak l, 2 :4 0 5; and in al-Jawahir al-M udiyyah b y al-
H afiz al-Q arsh l, 1:7 6 .

2 3 . A l-M u w a ffa q a l-M a k k i, M anaqib A bu H anlfah, 1:4 7 2 .

24. T h e muhaddithln regarded an y statem ent b y the P ro p h e t as

w e ll as an y statem ent o f a co m p an io n o r tabicl o r an y tafsir o f any
am bigu ou s term , e tc., as that w h ic h is narrated w ith a soun d chain,


as a “ hadith,” and this is h o w the term is used here.

2 5. Imam a l-N a w a w i, m ay A llah have m e rc y o n h im , w ro te in the

in tro d u ctio n to his great b o o k al-Majmu‘ in the chapter o n “ M an n ers
o f the seek er o f k n o w le d g e ” : “ A n d a m o n g his m anners is that his
am b itio n should b e h ig h , such that he is n o t satisfied w ith little w h ile
m o re is possible, that he does n o t delay his tasks, that he does n ot
delay a cq u irin g a b en efit— eve n i f it is sm all— i f it is possible fo r h im ,
e v e n i f he feels assured that it co u ld b e acq u ired in an h o u r’ s tim e,
fo r d elayin g is harm ful, and he co u ld acqu ire fu rth er benefits at the
later tim e .”

26. Wajayat al-A!'yan, Ib n K h allik an , 1:10 4 .

2 7 . A v o lu m e (juz’) h ere is used as it w as b y the early scholars, w h ic h

n o w ad ays is e q u ivalen t to aro u n d th irty pages.

28. A sm all part o f it w as fo u n d , and printed b y D a r al-M ash riq in

B e iru t in tw o vo lu m e s, in 19 7 0 and 1 9 7 1 , edited b y D r. G e o r g e al-
M aq d isi.

29. T h is is part o f a w e a k hadith rep o rted b y al-T ab aran l in al-Mu'jam

al-Kabir, 6 :22 8 , o n the au th o rity o f Sahl Ib n S a 'd a l-S a cidI, m ay
A lla h b e pleased w ith h im . A lso rep orted b y a l-H ayth am l in Majmac
al-Zawa’id o n the sam e auth ority, 1 : 6 1 , 10 9 ; also b y a l-S u y u tl in al-
Jamic al-Saghir, 6 :29 2.

30. Q u r ’ an, 4 1:3 5 .

3 1. B y re ferrin g to those libraries and th eir catalogues, he m ean t that

h e read all the b o o k s con tain ed in them . T h e se w e re the greatest
libraries o f B ag h d ad at his tim e.

32. Ib n S u k ayn ah w as the Shaykh o f Ibn al-N a jja r.

33. T h e dating sh ow s that Imam a l-N a w a w i used to w rite the day,

m o n th and y e a r o n w h ic h he h eard an yth in g fro m his teachers, fo r
m o re accu racy and p e rfectio n .

34. Al-Misk al-Adhfar, M a h m u d S h u k ri al-A lu si, grandson o f the Imam,

pp. 7 -8 , 19 , q u o te d in al-Alusi as a Mufassir, D r. M u h sin cA b d u l-


H am id , pp. 4 3 , 97, 159 .

35. Q u r ’ an, 5 3 :3 2 .

36. Ibid, 9 3 :1 1 .

37. M u h a m m a d Ibn M u h am m ad Ibn T ark h an , the m ost p ro m in e n t

M u slim ph ilo so p h er, b o rn in Farab n ear C h in a in 2 6 0 , died in
D am ascus in 339.

38. F ro m his b io g rap h y in Yatimat al-D ahr b y his co m p an io n al-

T h a 'a lib l, 4:385

39. In his b io g rap h y in Lisan a l-M iz a n b y Ib n H ajar, 3 :1 7 3

40. A b u ’l-Q a sim U b ayd u llah Ibn M u h am m ad al-A sad l a l-M u 'ta z ill, a
m an o f letters, a linguist, a ph ilo logist, and a scholar o f p o e try , died
in 38 7 a h ; fro m his b io g rap h y in M u cjam al-U daba’ o f Y a q u t al-
H a m a w i, 12 :6 2 .

4 1. A b u ’l-F ath M u h am m ad I b n j a cfar al-H am ad h an i al-B ag h d ad l, a m an

o f letters, a linguist and p h ilo logist, d ied 3 7 1 a h ; from Bughyat al-
W ifa t o f a l-S u yu ti, 2 :7 0 .

4 2. O fte n d u rin g e xam periods, read in g irrelevan t texts that w ill n o t be

e xam in ed is m ade m o re appealin g to the student than readin g the
im p ortan t ones that w ill b e exam in ed . A n d this is fro m the w eakness
o f o n e ’s soul, d eterm in ation , and d iligen ce. F o r co m p u lso ry readin g
is d em an d in g and requires fo rebearan ce fo r its co m p letio n , and hen ce
is h e a v y o n the w e a k soul. In contrast, the u n re q u ire d k n o w le d g e is
lig h t o n the soul. So let the w ise o n e b ew are n o t to respond to the
desires o f his soul. F o r this is fro m the d ecep tio n o f Satan and his
lu rin g aw ay fro m the truth and that w h ic h is im portant. A n d A llah
is the G u id e .

4 3. A l-H a fiz M u h am m ad Ibn T a h ir al-M aq d isi said: I heard A b u Ism acil

al-A n sari sayin g: “ T h e narrator m ust b e fast at w a lk in g , w ritin g ,
and re ad in g ,” fro m the b io g ra p h y o f a l-H a fiz Shaykh al-Islam A b u
Ism acIl a l-H araw I al-A n sari al-H an b al! (A b d u lla h Ib n M u h am m ad )
w h o died in 4 8 1 a h , m ay A llah h ave m e rc y o n h im , in D hayl
Tabaqat al-Hanabilah o f al-H a fiz Ib n R a ja b al-H an b ali, m ay A llah


h ave m e rcy o n h im , 1:5 9 .

44. Al-Imam al-Q a d i Ibn 'Iy a d , m ay A llah have m e rc y o n h im , w ro te

in his b o o k al-Shifa’ bi Tacrif Huqiiq al-Mustafa, 1 :1 0 9 , A rabs and the
w ise have alw ays e xto lle d the virtu es o f eatin g and sleepin g a little
and sh un n ed excesses in them . F o r excess in eatin g and d rin k in g is
an in d icatio n o f greed , w e a k se lf-co n tro l and se lf-in d u lg en ce, as w e ll
as a cause o f b o d ily diseases, laziness o f spirit and clo u d ed visio n . In
contrast, fru g ality o f fo o d and sleep is an in d icatio n o f co n ten tm en t
and self-co n tro l, a cause o f health, clarity o f th o u g h t and sharpness
o f m in d. In addition , excessive sleep indicates w eakn ess and lack o f
am b itio n in the affairs o f this w o rld and the n e xt, causes laziness,
h ard en in g, heedlessness and death o f the heart, and w astin g o n e ’s
life in that w h ic h is n o t ben eficial. A n d excessive sleep is a result
o f excessive eatin g and drin k in g, as L u q m an w ise ly said: “ O Son!
W h e n the stom ach is full, the m in d sleeps, w isd o m is silenced,
and o n e ’s lim bs are relu ctant to w o rs h ip .” S u fy an a l-T h a w ri said:
“ S tay in g up the n igh t is acco m plish ed th rou gh eatin g little .” Su h n u n
said: “ K n o w le d g e is n o t fo r the o n e w h o eats until he is fu ll.”

'U m a r Ib n a l-K h a ttab , m ay A llah be pleased w ith h im , said: “ B e w a re

o f excessive eatin g, fo r it causes laziness in prayer, co rru p tio n o f
the b o d y , and diseases. A n d lim it y o u r eating, fo r that is fu rth er
fro m extrav ag e n ce , h ealth ier fo r the b o d y , and m o re co n d u civ e to
w o rsh ip . In d eed , the slave w ill n e v e r perish u n til he prefers his desire
o v e r his re lig io n .”

45. F ro m his b io g rap h y in al-Kawakib al-Sayyarah bi A cyan al-Mi’at al-

Ashirah b y N a jm u d d ln al-G h azzi, 1:2 2 9 .

46. F ro m h er b io g rap h y in $ifat al-$afivah o f Ib n a l-Jaw zl, 4 :24 . O n e

Tahdhib al-Tahdhlb o f Ib n H ajar, 12 :
m a y also read h er b io g rap h y in
409. A n em in en t tabiciyyah fro m B asra, a n o b le scholar o f hadith and
fiqh , the sister o f the em in en t tabiH scholar M u h am m ad Ib n Sirin.
Sh e liv e d 90 years, w as b o rn in 1 1 a h , and died in 10 1 a h , m ay A llah
have m e rc y o n her.

47. Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad b y Ib n a l-Jaw zl, p. 19 8 , first ed ition . Imam

A hm ad w as b o m in 16 4 a h and died in 2 4 1 a h , m ay A llah have


m e rcy o n him .

48. F ro m the in tro d u ctio n b y cA d n a n A b d u rrah m an a l-D u ri to

al-Am jad fim d Yasihhu bihi al-Istishhad b y al-A lu si, th e grandson.

49. F ro m his b io g rap h y in Tarikh Baghdad b y al-B ag h d ad i, 1 2 :2 19 .

50. M inbar al-Jum ucah l i ’l-Imam al-Shah id Hasan al-Banna, p.

co m p ile d b y M u h a m m a d cA b d u l H a k im K h a y y a l.

5 1. Q u r ’an, 7 3 :2 0 .

52. Ib id , 7 :17 9 .

53. D iw d n al-M utanabbi, 1:2 7 6 .

Uplands Business Centre, Bernard Street, Swansea, SA2 o D R , United Kingdom

Uplands Business Centre, Bernard Street, Swansea, SA2 o D R , United Kingdom
P.O . B o x 360009, Milpitas, C A 95036, United States o f America
© Awakening Publications 2004

T h is b o o k is in co p yrig h t. S u b je ct to statutory e x ce p tio n and to the

p ro vision s o f relevan t co llec tive lice n sin g agreem ents, no rep ro d u ctio n
o f an y part m ay take place w ith o u t the w ritte n perm ission o f
A w a k e n in g Pu blicatio n s.

First P u b lished in A p ril 2 0 0 4 / Safar 14 25

T y p e se t in B e m b o 1 1 / 1 4 [C P ]

A catalogue recordfor this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress cataloging in publication data