Allah has prescribed moderation in all things. Whether it be in our diet, worship, entertainment, or careers, it is this scale of balance and moderation that makes the Muslim capable of fulfilling all of his responsibilities in life, while maintaining a healthy mental and physical state of being. Taking into consideration the turbo speed lifestyle that most of us live, the need for discipline and moderation couldn’t be more important. Most of us are finding it very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve this balance and give time to our spouses, children, parents, friends, own selves, and most importantly to our Creator. We complain that we don’t have time for so many of the things that we hold fundamentally important to our happiness in life. Sheikh Hasan al Banna said something that we can all relate to when he said, “Obligations in life are far greater than the time we have to complete them.” Understanding that life always demands more of us than we are often capable of doing should push us harder to analyze how we spend our time and to try to find ways to be more efficient and productive.
Although some factors lie outside of our control, such as an excessively demanding job or the time it takes to commute to and from work, we must remember there are many things that are in our control. One of the things we can control but which often consumes our free time is none other than the beloved internet. In theory, technology is supposed to make our lives better by reducing the time it takes to communicate with our family and friends, to pay our bills, to find directions to our destinations, and much more. However, the net has actually usurped much of our free time and harmed our productivity and efficiency.
For many of us, the internet has caused us to lose our balance and moderation in life. We may find our spouses and children unhappy that we spend more time on the web than with them or that we have to check our emails 20 times a day. To compound this issue, social networking has taken our usage to all time highs, with Facebook, Twitter, Google Chat, Gmail Buzz, and other applications consuming our days and nights. In an effort to bring balance in our lives, perhaps we need to ask ourselves the following questions to see if we are truly balanced and moderate individuals. Perhaps an honest analysis of how we spend our time will help us become better and more efficient.
Here are a few questions and comparisons that may help us reorganize our days and evenings and can in sha’ Allah (if God wills) help to bring us closer to the balanced personality that Allah has commanded of us.
- How many hours do I spend daily on Facebook reading my friends’ profiles and glancing through all the pictures and comments posted?
- How many hours do I spend weekly reading the profile of Prophet Muhammadﷺ and his companions radi Allahu `anhum (may Allah reward them) and glancing through the comments about their words?
- How many hours do I spend daily reading the words and thoughts of mankind by sifting through all the various blogs and articles I’ve bookmarked?
- How many hours do I spend weekly reading the words of my Creator by sifting through the various chapters of the Qur’an?
- How many hours do I spend daily on social networking sites?
- How many hours do I spend daily socializing with my spouse, family, and loved ones?
- How many times do I open my email account daily to see what mankind has sent to me?
- How many times do I open the Qur’an weekly to see what Allah has sent to me?
After tallying up the hours we spend online versus with our family and Creator, we must keep our life goals in mind as we analyze our responses. Although reading blogs and various websites (like virtualmosque.com) can be of tremendous benefit, we should always prioritize our goals first. Hence, if one desires to memorize a surah (chapter of the Qur’an) or juz (one of thirty parts of the Qur’an) of the Qur’an, then that should be done prior to the additional web surfing. To make the point even more obvious, we should come home from work, spend time with our families, do our prayers, and then sit down for a limited amount of time in front of our computers. The reality is that no matter how much benefit we may receive from the web, if it comes at the expense of sacrificing our goals, then we will never achieve what is most important to us, which will inevitably leave us feeling unfulfilled and always complaining.
One last thing that should be given some thought: Allah has put barakah (blessing) in all things, whether it be in our wealth or our time. Hence, we should always ask Allah to put barakah in our time so that we can accomplish far more than we perceived possible and to realize that, if we do our obligations first, then Allah will bless the remaining hours we have.
Action Item: Read “The Value of Time” by Sheikh Abi Ghudda if you need motivation on how to spend your time in things of benefit and to see how past scholars accomplished this.