July 6, 2014

The Value of Time in Fethullah Gulen’s Teachings

"By the Time! Verily! Man is in loss, Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience. [1]"

Time is a very important phenomenon in Islam where it is seen as an endowment from God as an important dimension of our journey in this world. Time is something relative though, abstract concept which is valuable not by itself but earns value by how it is spent. Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) drew attention to the importance of time by saying that people do not appreciate health and time. The proper use of time is then instructed in the Qur'an as follows in the Surah Asr or the Time.

That is engaging in righteous good deeds is how a person is supposed to make use of their time.

Informed by Qur'an and hadith effective use time is something that scholar Fethullah Gulen takes up in his writings. The perfect man of Sufi’s or “Insani Kamil” is aware of every moment of time and never wastes a single bit of it. In Gulen’s view this single person is called ibnul Vakt or “son of time”, a person who contemplates the necessities of the moment that he lives and begins his activities by choosing the most preferred and useful ones in God’s view. According to Gulen this person is able to squeeze a lot in a short amount of time thereby getting hundreds of fruits for the one seed he puts in.[2]

Fethullah Gulen also takes up on the issue of effective use of time by emphasizing the importance of organizing the day. By ordering the daily prayers Islam already creates an order for the day around which a person can organize his/her other activities. Even the brakes can be useful if planned well. Instead of having empty brakes to relax Gulen suggests switching from one activity to another to relax the brain and the body. This is something that is mentioned in the Surah Insirah where Allah says:
So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. Therefore, when thou art free (from thine immediate task), still labour hard.[3]
In interpretation of these verses Gulen calls us to be always active, even when relaxing although he acknowledges the need of human body to relax. This idea of “relaxing by working and working when relaxing”[4] is something that will fill every moment of life with fruitful deeds. Note that this is a prescription that will lift any nation up to the prosperity and peace. A nation which believes in this idea will never fall into the void of boredom since they will be running from one goal to another never satisfied with what they have and what they do. At the end of the day time is more valuable than any other natural resource and if used productively and competently will be key to happiness and material wealth.

As a way of life, Islam draws attention to righteous and efficient use of time. In Gulen’s writings, time is especially important for people devoted to the service of humanity. Time is a blessing, endowment and a means of investment from God. Hence it is our duty to be aware of the significance of each moment.

[1] The Noble Qur'an, 103/1-3
[2] Sizinti, May 1989
[3] Surah Sarh 5-7 Translation by Yusuf Ali
[4] Questions and Answers by Fethullah Gulen. This is a translation from Volume for and may not be available in the English translation of the books (which can be found at http://fgulen.com/en/fethullah-gulens-works/faith/questions-and-answers)

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