Hadith: Take advantage of five before five others

In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful. All Prayers and Blessings of Allah be upon our master, the most noble Prophet Muhammad.
The hadith we are discussing in today’s episode deals with the value of time, especially in the life of youth.
اغتنم خمسا قبل خمس : حياتك قبل موتك ، و صحتك قبل سقمك ، و فراغك قبل شغلك ، و شبابك قبل هرمك ، و غناك قبل فقرك
الراوي:عبدالله بن عباس و عمرو بن ميمونالمحدث:الألباني - المصدر:صحيح الجامع- الصفحة أو الرقم:1077 خلاصة حكم المحدث:صحيح
A reminder of the transience of life
We need to attend to this hadith with the intention of obeying the Prophet (SAWS) where he advises people to take advantage of five matters before five others: youth before old age, health before falling sick, wealth before poverty, free time before becoming busy and life before death. The hadith is a reminder of the transience and instability of life, hence the necessity of hastening to have things accomplished before it is too late. Many a time have we seen young people dying unexpectedly, others getting disabled due to some accident, while many others becoming homeless or penniless for one reason or another.
The importance of time in Islam
The hadith is probably addressed to the youth who, though in their prime, are heedless of these five matters. We often find young people “killing” their precious time by staying up all night and sleeping till midday, hanging out with friends, partying, etc. This attitude, however, has nothing to do with the concept of time in Islam wherein all acts of worship are associated with time. Take for instance the act of prayer, “Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours” (TMQ, 4:103 ). Fasting is to be observed for “a fixed number of days” (TMQ, 2:184) decided by moon-sighting. Likewise, hajj is performed in “well-known months,” (TMQ, 2:197) and zakat (mandatory alms-giving) is levied when you have a certain amount of property for one full year.
The significance of time is further illustrated in the Qur’an where Allah (SWT) makes different oaths by time in a number of surahs , “By time. Indeed mankind is in loss,” (TMQ, 103:1-2), “By the night when it covers; And (by) the day when it appears,” (TMQ, 92:1-2), “By the dawn; And by the ten nights,” (TMQ, 89:1-2) and many others. This shows the importance of time in Islam. We should regard time as our asset, our capital, so to speak, that we should guard and protect against being carelessly squandered. However, it is so saddening that many muslims are thoughtlessly wasting their time. They are quite oblivious of the fact that the passing seconds, minutes and hours of one’s life are drawing them nearer to the end and are just a mark of one’s ephemeral nature.
Remarkable examples of people aware of the value of time
Contrary to this reckless attitude, our history abounds in outstanding examples of people who were fully aware of the value of time. Abdullah Ibn-Mas’oud (RA) , the well-known companion of the Prophet (SAWS), used to express his utmost regret at a day wherein he wouldn’t be able to add to his good deeds. Al Hassan al-Basri is known for his wise saying that every single day would call out, “O son of Adam! I am a new day. I am witness to your deeds, so make the most of me for I will not return except on the Day of Judgment.” At the age of 16, Usama Ibn-Zayd (RA) was appointed by the Prophet (SAWS) as the leader of the muslim army which comprised such great companions as Abu-Bakr and Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA). The Prophet (SAWS) must have noted in him some special skills that made him deserve such a dignified post.
Not much older was Muhammad Ibnul-Qassim, an Umayyad general who began, at the age of 17, the conquest of the Sindh and Punjab regions. There is also Zaid Ibn-Thabet (RA) who embraced Islam at the age of ten, learned to read and write when he was 12 and finished memorization of the Qur’an at the age of 14. When he was 16, he learned Hebrew language to be able to deal with the Jews. At the age of 19, he became one of the writers of the Revelation and finally managed to gather the Qur’an when he was 21.
Having taken advantage of the five items in our Prophet’s (SAWS) hadith and paid special attention to the value of time, there is no wonder that the early muslims were leaders of the world. There were such remarkable figures as Ibn-Aqil who wrote “Kitab al-Funun” in 800 volumes, Ibn-Sina (Avicenna), Al-Razi, Ibnul-Nafis, and many others who all excelled in different fields of knowledge.
How to make use of one’s time
Our youth should take these astounding figures as their role models. It is a shame that with these as our forefathers, our nation is still lagging behind. Now let me ask our young generations how far they have made use of their time. Do you realize that your life is but a number of minutes and hours put together? Can you imagine how you will be facing Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment with these hours spent on fruitless matters? Remember that you will be held accountable for the long hours you have wasted on unnecessary phone calls, video games, football matches and the like. However, this does not mean that you are not allowed to have fun. You can have as much fun as you wish to renew your energy, but this should never be what your life is all about.
To make the best of your time, you should keep yourself busy, since it’s been said that idle time is the devil’s playground. Having failed to make you sin, Satan will be meddling in your free time and trying by all means to make you waste it unavailingly. He may try to make you forgetful, absent-minded or get you absorbed in daydreams to prevent you from becoming a good productive muslim. As a way out of this, you should have a daily to-do list along with a schedule of carefully planned activities for the whole year. It should include which skills or languages you should be learning, the books to be read, experience to be gained and the goals to be achieved by the end of the year.
In brief, we should all keep our dear Prophet’s (SAWS) advice in mind. We have to take full advantage of our youth, health, wealth, free time and our life in general before it is too late. May Allah reward our Prophet (SAWS) for his precious advice which we should all strive, to the best of our abilities, to act upon.


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