If one wants to appreciate time, then one needs to ask those who have lost the time. - NSTP file pic
If one wants to appreciate time, then one needs to ask those who have lost the time. - NSTP file pic

Who would believe that a year has gone by. As if it was only yesterday we celebrated the coming of new year 2021, but now it's gone, 365 days passed so quickly that we do not even feel it. Time has passed by so swiftly.

This is also one of the signs of the end of time. The Prophet (may peace be upon him) used to say that at the end of time, time passes so swiftly that a year is felt like a month, and a month is like a week, and a week is like a day while a day is just like a moment.

This is the reality that everyone must now admit. As if only yesterday we paid for the rental of our houses, and now is the time to pay the landlords again, likewise for other things as well.

There was a story of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi who passed by a market and saw a man shouting loudly: "I am selling time" again and again. He was perplexed how could this man sell time. He tried to get closer to him and finally close enough to see what he was selling.

He actually sells ice, and every second time passes by, the ice melts away. Al-Razi immediately realised the importance of time and said to himself, no wonder Allah swears "by the passage of time, that man is in grave loss" (Surah al-'Asr).

The saying that "time is more precious than gold" is true indeed for gold can be replaced, but not time. Time, once it is gone, it is gone and it can never be replaced.

But, not many people appreciate time, and only those who have lost time could well appreciate it. There was a saying in Arabic that "a blessing which is not appreciated on its existence, will be appreciated on its absence".

The Prophet also said that "two things most people do not appreciate: health and free time". If one wants to appreciate time, then one needs to ask those who have lost the time.

They say if you want to appreciate a year, then ask the student who failed in his first year university studies; if you want to appreciate a month, ask the mothers who lost their babies due to premature birth; if you want to appreciate a minute asked those who missed a flight due to being late; if you want to value the second, then asked those who missed an accident and cheat death by few seconds; and finally if you want to value millisecond, then ask the athletes who lost the gold medal.

Again, the importance and value of time is only felt by the persons who had experienced it.

Since time in Islam is so precious, it should not be wasted. There is no such thing as "I want to kill time" or "I do not know what to do" etc. Time is your capital. Man's life in this world if the age is not counted in years as customarily we do, in fact it can be reducible to how many million, billion or trillion seconds he has lived.

It shows that time is life, in reality. This prompts a renown classical scholar, Imam Hassan al-Basri to utter "O Son of Adam! you are just a mere aggregation of days, whenever a day has passed by, a part of you has passed too".

However, with the passing of time, it does not mean that we have to be pessimistic and sit idle without doing anything or waiting for the death angel to come.

A Muslim is always optimistic and always hopeful that it will be better in the future even when we are facing trials and tribulations such as the Covid-19 pandemic and many people got laid off. The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: "To be an optimist is the best of character, and to be a pessimist is the worst of character".

Now that it's 2022, let us have better resolutions than the previous years we have had where we only focused on worldly and physical matters.

This year we should have some spiritual and Hereafter-type resolutions such as "I want to have a better relationship with Allah SWT". What does that mean? It means if last year I always neglected five-time daily obligatory prayers, from this year onwards I will make sure I fulfil the obligatory dailies and other obligations.

What life is worth living if I do not have a better relationship with my Creator, the one who made us and gave us this life? What good is there if my Creator is not happy with me? Similarly, I want to have a better relationship with those around me, my families, my relatives, my friends and neighbours.

There was a saying "each year passes by, we are closer to Allah" (kullu 'am wa nahnu aqrabu ila-Lllah). Make sure that each year, we are also closer in our relationship with Allah.

There was a man on his death bed, when people asked him how are you doing, he said while in a state of dying, "by Allah I am in the best of condition".

People asked him, how could that be when you are dying? He replied, "if I continue to live, Allah is with me, but if I die, then I am with Allah". This is such an optimism that the man possessed that we all should emulate.

The writer is senior fellow at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM). He can reached at - [email protected]

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times