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March 19, 2007

by Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain

During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), an incident happened in which a man slept the entire night and thus missed the Fajr prayer. Despite the fact that this is a very common occurrence in our present day, at that time such things rarely, if ever, happened.

He missed Fajr, and so the Sahabah came and spoke to the Prophet (saws) about this: 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (raa) narrates: A man came and said to the Prophet (saws), "Oh Messenger of Allah, verily a person slept last night until the morning, until the dawn came and he missed Fajr." The Prophet (saws) replied, "This is a person whom the devil has urinated in his ears."

Brothers and sisters, many times we go on about that we're Muslims and that we're the best nation but how many of us actually back up the fact that we're Muslim? It's one thing to say something, and totally another to do it. In this little reminder, I want to briefly talk about one of the habits that we've developed as people, not just Muslims per se, but definitely something that Islam should keep us away from: laziness.

Nowadays, laziness is commonly known as procrastination; we're all students, I'm sure we know what it means to procrastinate -- mainly being lazy. Not studying until a week left or what have you...THAT'S laziness because instead of our education being our top priority, we pay more attention to other matters. However, even all around us, we're surrounded by signs of laziness -- fast food restaurants, get rich quick schemes, lose weight in a week schemes. For the society around us, even God rested when WE know that God, Allah, needs no rest because such things don't exist for Him. We would be going against our belief as Muslims to even think of something like that. May Allah save us.

What we don't realize by being lazy is that it's just leading to more and more evil -- it's keeping us from doing good deeds. Take for example, people drinking and doing drugs -- out of laziness, because they feel "down" and they don't WANT to change their situation. Or, as is unfortunately quite common in some of our cultures, performing black magic and all that jazz -- because people are too lazy to do whatever it is they need to do by themselves and want to resort to other, easier tactics. We can go on and on about other examples of laziness and how they cause us to indulge in evil.

Coming back to us as students, we want the easy way out -- some thing so that we don't have to study everything, so that we can get that good grade by doing the least work possible. But will we truly learn that way? Do we want that short-term gain or the long-term success? If we base our whole education on this review and that review and don't bother to spend those all-nighters studying, not just 2 or 3 days before the exam, but as much as we need to, then are we being productive? Our priority here is to become the best physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers we can be and not just about passing an exam -- however, the more we learn in class and school, the easier it will be to study for that exam and InshaAllah do well on it.

But WHY is this disease of laziness so common? Firstly, I think it's because the lazy person, and I'm not going to say doesn't want, but doesn't realize or understand the NEED to gather good deeds. We spend our time and energy to accumulate money and to accumulate whatever will help us to live a better life, but we don't understand, or very few people understand, that we must collect as many good deeds as possible so that we can have a better NEXT life. Even Allah tells us in the Qur'an, "...So prepare your provisions for the best provision, the best thing to pack your suitcases with is the Taqwa of Allah. Therefore keep your duty to Me, O people of understanding." (2:197). We have no choice. It's an order from our Creator.

Secondly, many people are sometimes discouraged from the fact that others will think of them as "religious". Or even that they think too highly of themselves and they say stuff like 'my heart is clean' and 'I don't need to do this' or 'why would I do that'. Whereas Allah tells us to not claim piety to ourselves because only He knows who's pious and who's not. Unfortunately it is because of these minor, little things that we let so much opportunity slip away.

Brothers and sisters, we need to pack our suitcases as heavily as we can, and we don't have to worry about them being overweight, because that is what Allah WANTS us to do. If we realize this, hopefully sooner than later, then we will start accumulating enough, InshaAllah, to save us in the life which REALLY matters. Because, if we don't start gathering as many good deeds as possible, and as soon as possible, then we'll be replaced by people who can and who will.

Allah says, "In this way, He gives forth the parable of the truth and falsehood and the vanity. Vanity is like the foam, the dirt on the ocean (there is no benefit to it). But the things that do bring benefit (those devoid of laziness) will remain steadfast in the land." And please don't think that Allah will listen to your worship if you're lazy in all your ways. The Prophet (saws) said: "Do those deeds that you are able to perform, for verily, Allah will not tire of your 'ibadah until you tire."

Those people who make Du'a without pondering over what they're asking for or knowing what they're asking about, do you really think that Allah pays attention to their prayers? If they seem uninterested, by yawning or looking around, then Allah is not paying attention to them either. Ad'iya are answered if the supplicant is sincere and puts his whole heart and energy into it. So even when we try to do good -- by making Du'a and asking Allah to help us -- but we're still lazy in doing it, then it's counterproductive.

Brothers and sisters, keep in mind the blessedness that actively doing good will get you. First, it will win you the pleasure of Allah, InshaAllah. This is exemplified by the story of Prophet Musa (as) in the Qur'an when he was called to the mountain for 40 days and he went running. He even said, in words that are with us forever, "I came hastily to you, oh Allah, so that you will be pleased with me." Secondly, having energy is the characteristic of the believer and being lazy is the characteristic of the hypocrite. Hypocrites are those who claim to be believers but actually have disbelief in their heart. Allah describes them by saying, "If they get up for the 'salaah' (prayer), they get up with laziness.' Which brings me back to the hadith I opened with...many times missing Fajr is sheer laziness and nothing else...yes we might think that the snooze button has got to be the greatest invention ever, but it has also caused us to miss Fajr how many times? That 10 more minutes...a sign of hypocrisy no doubt.

And then we have other excuses that we make, whether I'm too tired, or it's too hot or cold or too far or whatever else we think of to not do stuff that we should. I think it's time for us to get ourselves in order and stop this laziness that has taken over our lives, from Deen to dunya, whether it's slacking in our studies to slacking in our good deeds.

Ibn al-Jawzi, a great scholar from our past, said, "I have never seen a flaw sadder to me than a community whose people stop working, despite having the ability to continue."

Laziness, procrastination, whatever you want to call it -- it's Satan's means of distracting us from doing what we should be doing at all times -- worshiping Allah. One of the best Du'as we can make is: "O Allah, I seek refuge in You from helplessness, laziness, cowardice, niggardliness, and burden of debts and domineering men."

In trying to get rid of laziness, first we must realize that it's a bad habit we have developed and somehow we have to get rid of it. We've developed it because we like it and find comfort in it. Therefore, like in breaking any bad habit, we have to link it to things that we don't like and thus would want to stay away from. We must also, if we want to do something good, then DO IT. Don't give yourself the excuse that I'm going to wait until after I get married, or I get a better job, or after I'm older. It never happens. When you want to repent to Allah and change your ways, then do it as soon as possible. Remember that the Prophet (saws) said, "Race to good deeds before a time and a fitnah comes, (a test) that will sweep over you like the darkest of the darkest nights."

InshaAllah, I want to end with just a few tips in trying to combat this destructive disease, so that we can try to become better Muslims by being proactive and not just waiting for things to come to us.
1. Make a list of all the good things, the successes, you would achieve if you got rid of this habit.
2. List all the positives you can contribute that other people might not, even those that came before us, yet they did whatever they had to do. So why can't you?
3. Associate yourselves with people who do good and who COMMAND good. Spend time with them, instead of having dinner with your normal friends, find these people and spend a few hours with them. Talk to them, learn from them and feed from their energy. Try to distance yourself from laziness and lazy people. If your circle of friends isn't really helping you in becoming a better Muslim, and is contributing to your laziness and downfall, then leave it. Of course It's hard, but being a good Muslim is about making sacrifices.

I just want to end by saying that, most of all, don't forget to always ask Allah to help you. Allah has told us that He helps those who help themselves and unless we make a sincere effort and try to change our ways, then it won't happen. Be honest with yourselves and recognize that your laziness caused you to miss out on something or commit some evil. DON'T MAKE EXCUSES. If you did poorly on your exam, then it's because you lacked preparation and if you missed Fajr, it's not because you were tired but a punishment for your sins.

The devil promised Allah that he will keep us from the Straight Path in any way possible, and one of his biggest weapons is laziness and procrastination. So fight it, don't let the Shaytan win.

May Allah save us from laziness and guide us all on the Straight Path.

of and relating to...
Talal said

Brother, this post was so on point and needed... jazaakAllaah khair.
I've been working to overcoming this very issue in the last few months. To excel as Muslim, the definition of laziness becomes very strict, which is not something that is easily imbued in today's all too relaxed society.

May Allaah ta'ala give us all the hidaya to waste not a single moment for potential ajr. Ameen.

on March 19, 2007 10:27 PM
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