The Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Make the most of five things before five others: life before death, health before sickness, free time before becoming busy, youth before old age, and wealth before poverty.”
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are on this earth but for a short while, it is our temporal world. Some of us may be ‘lucky’ to live to a ripe old age of 100, while some of us won’t even get that far, or less. Who knows we may be gone today. Life is full of uncertainty; we all have our ambitions, hopes, and dreams for the future, yet we never know when the Angel of death will come knocking at our door. It could be today or tomorrow or whenever, but for sure there will be a knock on our door one day.
While we all know that our abode in this world is transient and temporary compared to the life that is to come. That life will be everlasting yet many of us seldom give thought to what we can and should do to earn a Heavenly life in the Hereafter. The Qur’an says: ‘Short is the enjoyment of this world; the Hereafter is the best for those who do right’ (Quran 4: 77). And; ‘Little is the comfort of this life as compared to the Hereafter…Do you prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter?’ (Quran 9: 38).
There are many verses in the Qur’an that make reference to ‘the beautiful mansions in the Gardens of perpetual bliss’ (Qur’an 9:72), in the Hereafter as opposed to this fleeting and temporal life. The question that should be uppermost in our minds is what can and what should we do to be among those who will be given that Eternal abode?
A Muslim is constantly reminded through his obligatory five times daily prayers that there is a time for us and there is a time for our Maker, in addition there are various other obligations previously mentioned, of fasting, Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca), reciting the Qur’an and other such acts of worship. However, apart from these physical acts of worship a Muslim is also obliged to lead a life that is in congruence with the guidance of the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) further said: “A person will not move on (on the Day of Judgment) until he has been asked about four things: his life and in what he spent it, his knowledge and what he did with it, his wealth, from where he acquired it and on what he spent it, and his body and how he wore it out.”
This means that we should involve ourselves in spending our time in the remembrance of Allah, living by His injunctions and commands, and also the lifestyle examples and practices as set by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This does not necessarily mean that we should leave our daily work obligations and other stations that we occupy in life and spend all our time in prayer. What is meant is that we should infuse into our daily lives and occupations the proper conduct, behaviours, morals, ethics, values and that all our actions are within the bounds of our religious belief and guidance.
Think about it, how often are we prone to delay and postpone doing things and say ‘I will do it tomorrow / next week’ but seldom do we add the word ‘Insha Allah’ – (if Allah so Wills). The Qur’an reminds us ‘nor say anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding if Allah so Wills’ (Qur’an 18: 23). There is a verse in the Bible that also says “you don’t even know what your life will be tomorrow. You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this ‘if the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that’.” (Bible: James 4: 14-16)
We can see from these verses that we need to recognize that we are but a traveller just passing through this world and the length of our time on this earth is uncertain and only known to our Lord, therefore we should take every opportunity to ensure that we make the time and effort to secure our place in the Hereafter. Time marches on, so do we, towards meeting our Maker.
But while we make efforts towards our Eternal life, we should not forget the value of time in this world. We are so ‘busy’, we go through our days involved in worldly affairs that some of us cannot even spend quality time with our families. Yes we have the stresses of our employment, office and other worldly commitments – but we need to step back and bring a balance into our lives.
People say ‘time is money’ and ’time waits for no one’; yes time is very precious and valuable. I want to share the following piece that I read elsewhere and I feel that it captures beautifully the essence and value of time. It is not about how much time we have but how we utilize and appreciate those precious moments that we are blessed with. It is only through recognizing these valuable lessons that we can begin to make the effort to bring back a balance to our lives.
To realize the value of ten years: Ask a newly Divorced couple. To realize the value of four years: Ask a graduate. To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam. To realize the value of nine months: Ask a mother who gave birth to a still born. To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper. To realize the value of one day: ask the editor of a daily newspaper. To realize the value of one hour: Ask those who are waiting to meet their loved ones. To realize the value of one minute: Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane. To realize the value of one-second: Ask a person who has survived an accident… To realize the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics To realize the value of time; think of the time spent with a loved one that you have lost To realize the value of a friend: Lose one.
Time waits for no one. Therefore we should savour and treasure every moment that we have. You will treasure and value it even more if you can share it with those special people around you. All these are worldly things and will always pass – they are temporary and not infinite like the Hereafter….. so let us make the time.
One of our Republic’s surviving founders – Archibald Mooketsa Mogwe – recently celebrated his 99th birthday. A top local civil servant at independence, Mogwe went on to make his mark as a government minister and international statesman.
Born Macheng-o-o-Moswaana near Kanye, to a notable Mongwaketse family of early LMS (UCCSA) converts, like his father and grandfather, the Hon. Mogwe was educated at Tiger Kloof, where he was a star pupil.
Prior to that he had schooled in Molepolole, Macheng and Kanye.
In 1944 he became a teacher at Kanye, subsequently spending a decade as boarding master of Modderpoort School in the Free State as well as Tigerkloof. Upon his return to Bechuanaland Protectorate in late 1950s, he served as an education officer. In the last months of British overrule he was one of only two Batswana promoted to senior
(super-scale) civil service positions. In 1967, he was appointed bySir Seretse Khama as his Permanent Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet.
Mogwe entered politics in 1974 as specially elected MP. He subsequently won a seat in the Southern District, which he held until 1994. As an MP he was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a post he held until 1985 when he was appointed as the Minister of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs, which he led until 1994.
On leaving politics, Mogwe was appointed as Botswana’s ambassador to the United States of America, where he served from 1995 to 1999. In retirement he has been an active farmer and worked closely with Sir Ketumile Masire during the brokering of the Congolese Peace Process in 2000-2003.
At a Presidential ceremony held in his honour last year, Mogwe observed that: “Those of us who worked towards the independence of our country could not have been absolutely certain about what independence would actually mean for us. What we knew was that we wanted to be counted amongst the nations of the world. This we achieved,”
Honourable Mogwe has been awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1965, Presidential Honour of Meritorious Service in 1971, Presidential Honour in 1974 and Golden Jubilee Award in 2016.
A Muslim is expected to be and should be a living example of the teachings of the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ (the teachings and guidance of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
He should follow these in all his worldly affairs, relations, and situations – starting with his relationship with his Lord, his own self, his family and the people around him. One of the distinguishing features of the (ideal) Muslim is his faith in Allah, and his conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls him, only happens through the will and the decree of Allah.
For the ease of writing this article I have made use of for want of a better word, the generic term ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ and the male gender, but it goes without saying that these standards apply equally to female and male Muslims.
A Muslim should accept, recognise and sense that he is in constant need of the help and support of Allah, no matter how much he may think he can do for himself. He has no choice in his life but to submit to the will of his Creator, worship Him, strive towards the Right Path and do good deeds. This will guide him to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in his private life.
This must the basis of his attitude towards this worldly life in his body, mind and soul. A Muslim should pay constant attention to his body’s physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. He needs to take good care of his body, promoting its good health and strength. For example he should not eat in excess; but he should eat enough to maintain his health and energy. Allah, The Exalted, Says “…Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Quran 7: 31]
The Muslim should keep away from alcohol, drugs and stimulants in fact the consumption of alcohol is prohibited for every Muslim. He should also try to exercise regularly to maintain his physical fitness. The Muslim also keeps his body and clothes clean, he bathes frequently.
The Prophet placed a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing. As a matter of fact that when a Muslim performs his daily five times prayers or even when he takes the Quran to read, the precondition is that he should be in a state of ‘purity’. Purity in this case means that he should have performed ‘wudhu’, which means that he performs the washing of his hands, face and feet. A Muslim is also concerned with his clothing and appearance but in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes.
As for his intellectual care, the Muslim should take care of his mind by pursuing beneficial knowledge. It is his responsibility to seek knowledge whether it is religious or secular, so he may understand the nature and the essence of things. Allah Says: “…and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Quran 20: 114]
The Muslim should not forget that man is not only composed of a body and a mind, but that he also possesses a soul and a spirit. Therefore, the Muslim pays as much attention to his spiritual development as well as to his physical and intellectual development, in a balanced manner which ideally does not concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of others.
A Muslim should also maintain and have kind, respectful and generous attitude towards all people, starting with his family. A Muslim must treat his parents with kindness and respect, compassion, politeness and deep gratitude. He should recognize and accept their status and his duties towards them. Allah Says “And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [Quran 4: 36]
Towards his wife, a Muslim should exemplify good, kind and loving treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and proper fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties in keeping and ensuring a happy family life and a home.
With his children, the Muslim is a parent who should understand and undertake his responsibility towards their good upbringing, showing them love and compassion, influence their Islamic development and giving them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society, and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society as a whole.
With his relatives, the Muslim maintains the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. He understands the high status given to relatives in Islam, which makes him keep in touch with them, no matter what the circumstances.
With his friends and neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment and consideration of others’ feelings and sensitivities. He turns a blind eye to their faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself. The Muslim relationship with his wider circle of friends is based on love for the sake of Allah. He is expected to be loyal and does not betray them; he should be sincere and does not ‘cheat’ them; he should be gentle, tolerant and forgiving; generous and he supplicates for them.
In his social relationships with all people, the Muslim should be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant. He should not envy others, fulfil his promises and be cheerful. He should be patient and avoid slandering and uttering obscenities. He should not unjustly accuse others nor should he interfere in that which does not concern him.
He should refrain from gossiping, spreading slander and stirring up trouble – avoiding false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He respects his elders. He mixes with the best of people. He strives to reconcile between the Muslims.
He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them. He calls others to Islam with wisdom, example and beautiful preaching. He should guide people to do good and always make things easy and not difficult.
A Muslim is expected and should be fair in his judgments, not a hypocrite, a ‘yes man’ or a show-off. He should not boast about his achievements and deeds. He should be straightforward and never deceitful or twisted, no matter the circumstances. He should be generous and not remind others of his gifts or favours. Wherever possible he relieves the burden of the debtor. He should be proud and not think of begging.
These are the basic standards by which the (ideal) Muslim, in fact every other faith and religion expects believers to structure their life upon. Now how do we measure up and fit into all this? Can we honestly say that we really try to live by these ideals and principles; if not can we really call ourselves a true Muslim or a believer of our Lord in any other religion or faith?
The world in which we live is a criminally unequal one. In his iconic 1945 allegorical novella, Animal Farm, a satire on the facetiousness of the then Soviet Empire’s crackbrained experiment with a command economy, the legendary George Orwell in my view hit the nail squarely on the head when he said all animals were equal but some animals were more equal than others.
That’s the never-ending dichotomy of the so-called First World and its polar opposite, the so-called Third World as Orwell’s cleverly-couched diatribe applies as much to the tread-of-the-mill laissez faire economics of our day as it did to Marxist-Leninist Russia a generation back.