TEN… NINE…. EIGHT… Seven…
Trapped inside the four walls of a dark room, you wake up from a deep coma-like sleep to the deafening sound of an alarming countdown. Lost somewhere between reality and dreams, your heart suddenly drops to the ground when you notice that the red flickering light on this weird device is…. A BOMB?!
Despite your brain freeze, you gather that you only have a couple of seconds before the whole place blows up! So you RUN for your life, only to find that when you reach the door, you trip and fall straight on your face. Ya Allah! Turns out your leg is tied to your brother’s, who’s also confined in the same situation, except he’s sleeping peacefully like he’s got all the time in the world….
“Wake UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP” You shake him frantically.
“Hey! Five more minutes.” Your brother mumbles.
“No! We don’t have five minutes! God, we barely have five seconds! Get up NOW!”
Six… Five…. Four….
Your brother stumbles on his own chains, but you patiently soothe and encourage him. “You’re doing great, man! Keep going!”
You finally reach the door again, yet the same thing happens: your sister, who is also snoozing off in the corner of the room, immobilizes you both! Every one you’re connected to is strapped to someone else! The ‘Staying Positive’ theory won’t cut it in this scenario, will it? Except the strange thing is, the more people you wake up, and the more patient you are in explaining the truth, the countdown magically resets and you gain extra time before the ultimate explosion…
Words That Change Our Outlook
There’s a beautiful chapter in the Quran that most of us have memorized by heart. Imam Shâfi‘î spoke about it saying: “If these were the only verses sent to humanity, they would suffice. If people were to ponder on this chapter, it would amaze them.” The reason behind our existence, the truth about this world, and the keys to eternal happiness, all are summarized in the three ayât of Sûrat Al-‘Asr:
By [the passage of] time,
Indeed, mankind is in loss,
Except for those who have believed
and done righteous deeds,
and advised each other to truth,
and advised each other to patience.
Sûrat Al-‘Asr, 103: 1-3
We Are All Losers!
Allah ‘swears by’—or, calls to witness—the receding time that we have on this earth, and confirms that every single human being is falling short of something. It doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim or non-Muslim, man or woman, black or white, educated or illiterate, rich or poor, fat or skinny… If you’re still alive, the clock is ticking and you’re running out of time. We are all losing one thing or the other… health, money, status, opportunities, loved ones…
And most of all we are losing TIME, and that is one thing we can never get back, no matter how much we try. Sooner or later we will all die, and the ultimate Day of Judgment will strike, no doubt about it. Just like that ticking bomb that you were desperately trying to escape earlier in my fictional drama.
Winners Never Stand Alone
SubḥânAllah, balancing out that heart-pounding insight regarding the fleeting of time, there’s a counterbalance to the ‘Rule of Loss.’ There’s a certain group of people who aren’t losing anything with every ‘tick-tock’; in fact, they’re actually dubbed as ‘winners’!
These are unique individuals who have mastered the art of proficiency, and have channeled their efforts in all the right directions. So instead of struggling to reach the door, cursing the people bound up with them and dragging them back—and in turn, wasting more time in being angry and frustrated—they stay focused and patient. Once you realize the truth about this life—that we are all here to worship Allah alone and do good deeds—spreading the word is the key to survival.
This beautiful Ummah is interconnected, whether you like to admit it or not, and if you’re not participating in lifting it up, then I’m sorry to say that you’re a ‘Loser’ with a capital L. (Come on, don’t get offended! You know what I mean, right?)
A lot of scholars try to teach by scaring us with Hell-fire and eternal torture, and it sometimes makes people stubborn instead of proactive. That’s the exact opposite of leading them to fulfill their obligations towards Allah and society because it makes people run away! You need to be steadfast, yes, but also compassionate and considerate towards your followers, because you are a ‘Leader,’ also with a capital L. (We good now? Lol)
Leaders As Shepherds
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar narrated:
The Messenger of Allah œ said: Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children, and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property, and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. (Abû Dawud)
The above ayât of Sûrat Al-‘Asr, regarding the fleeting passage of time, urge you to move forward and help others on your way. The clock is ticking and there is no time to waste! Spread the word of Islam and bring back those who went astray. Start within your own ‘shepherding’ realm. The act of calling to Allah’s religion is not an optional choice; it’s an obligation for each and every Muslim hoping for Jannah in the Hereafter….
True Insight Indelibly Inscribed
It’s fascinating how, once you have gained a new realization, nothing can ever be the same again. The Quran is the one and only miracle that renews itself every time you reflect on its meanings a little deeper.
Now is the time to “run for your life”—towards the blessed path, but before you do, please, remember to take us with you….
(My thanks to Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan and Sheikh Yasseen Roshdy for their insight and inspiration regarding Sûrat Al-‘Asr.)