Take Advantage of Five Before Five (1)

Dear Brothers in Islam, as we all understand, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam has been blessed with jawaami' ul kalim, the most concise, or precise, speech. In one of the ahadith, he was recorded to say, "I have been blessed with concise speech." Therefore, when we look at the precious pearls that came out of the Prophet's mouth, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, we find that many of his ahadith are in fact treasure chests of wisdom. The words might be small, but the meanings behind them are great. The speech might be succinct, but the benefits and the blessings that can be derived from them are innumerable.

And of the ahadith that are jawaami', or comprehensive in nature, that I would like to share for our benefit this time is the hadith of ibn ‘Abbas radi Allahu anhu, as reported in the Mustadrak of Imaam Al-Haakim, also in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, and in other accounts, with an authentic chain of narration. In this hadith the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said to a man while he was advising him:

"Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death."

The first original word used in this advice is, ightanam. It comes from same root that signifies sheep - ghanam. Sheep, in Arabic, means ghanam, and ightanam is from the same root that also signifies sheep. What exactly is the meaning of ightanam? Ightanam is used to indicate any good that can be obtained without much effort. Just like sheep, they can easily be caught if they go astray. This is why the war booty that is found on the battlefield after the army has fled is called ghaneemah. It is easy to take, just like the sheep. You can grasp it without much effort. Ghaneemah, ightanam, and ghanam are all from the same root.
So in the above hadith, it is as if the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam is pointing out that these five matters are very easy to obtain. They are easy to prey on and catch, and very simple to benefit from. That is because they are treasures that everyone possesses but few people appreciate.

Now for the time being, let us ponder over the first three out of the five matters that our Nabiya Karim asks us to consider in the abovementioned hadith, namely our youth before our old age, our health before our sickness, and our richness before we become poor.

Dear Brothers in Islam, The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam started off and said syabbab or syab, a youth or young person. Our Nabiya Karim said, "Take advantage of your youth before your old age. It is an age in which the person does not have the power or mental faculties that he had while he was a youth.
Youthfulness is a time when a person is the most energetic, when he lays out the foundations for his future, and when he plans for his life. So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said to take advantage of this time before the time comes when you do not have that enthusiasm, when you do not have that zeal, or that outlook. The enthusiasm and energy that you have been blessed with will never again be given to you after this age. Therefore, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said to seize the moment and take advantage of it. A person should exercise this energy for the sake of Allah by procuring knowledge of Allah, obtaining halal sustenance, and worshipping Allah through acts that he might not be able to do later on in life.
Youth here does not mean the western concept of youth that youthfulness finishes when someone is eighteen or nineteen years old. In the Islamic viewpoint, a man's life can be divided into a number of sectors or stages. Syabbab or syab, according to the strongest opinion, means before reaching the age of forty. This is because forty is the prime of life, when mental and physical capabilities have reached a peak, and after that they start to go down.

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said in another occasion:
"Seven are the people that will be sheltered on the Day of Judgment, the day in which there is no shade except the shade of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala."
One of the seven people, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam mentioned was a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. Remember, the youth is up to forty. So this young person, whether he is twenty or thirty or right before reaching the age of forty, he has grown up and has been raised or has raised himself busy in the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala.

Likewise, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said in an authentic hadith describes that Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala is pleased with and amazed at the youth who does not have any evil inclinations. This means he does not do evil. Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala loves such a youth who is straight in the worship of Allah and does not turn left or right to the paths of Shaytaan. Allah loves this person and is amazed at him because in general it is the youth, due to their virility and strong desires, who swerve left and right away from the path of the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. So this is the first of the five: "your youth before your old age."

Dear Brothers, the second of the five matters is, "your health, before you fall sick."
The fact that one lives a normal life and is not afflicted with diseases and plagues, represents a person's health. Take advantage of this before diseases and plagues come because mankind, being mankind, will fall sick. Everyone falls sick. If we did not fall sick, we would not be humans, we would be divine.
There will come a time when we will fall sick. Some of those times the sicknesses will be more severe, and for certain people even more severe. So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam is reminding us that we do not know when we will have full possession of our faculties, of our strength, of our mental powers, before we will fall sick. Therefore, take advantage of it before that time comes.

Our Nabiya Karim said which means: "There are two blessings the majority of mankind have been deceived concerning." The majority of mankind do not appreciate these two blessings. They are "health," good health, "and free time."
Once a person came to Yunus ibn 'Ubayy, one of the scholars of the Salaf. This person complained of extreme poverty as he had not been blessed with much. Yunus ibn Ubayy asked him, "Would you be willing to give away your sight for a certain amount of money?" The man said, "No, of course not." Then he asked him, "Would you be willing to give your hands away?" He said, "No, of course not." He asked, "Your feet?" He said, "Of course not." When he finished he said "I see that you have hundreds of thousands of millions of blessings, yet you are complaining of poverty?"

We have, Alhamdulillah, our full faculties, we can see and hear. Look at someone who Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala has tested with blindness. It is a very severe test, and that is why the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam has said in an authentic hadith:
"There are two things if Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala takes them away from a person and he is patient, he is guaranteed Jannah. These two things are the two eyes."
In other words, if a person is blind, and we seek Allah's refuge from the physical and the spiritual blindness in this world and in the hereafter, then Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala is testing him. And if he is patient, then Allah will reward him with Jannah.

How about one who has been blessed not just with eyesight, but with hearing, health, arms, limbs, energy, vitality, enthusiasm, and many other things. Should we not appreciate the blessing from Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala? Do we not realize how sweet health is? It can be used for the worship of Allah. When we are blessed with these bodies, why do we not use them in the worship of Allah?
The least we can do, dear brothers, is the faraa'id (obligatory actions) such as salah five times a day, fasting in Ramadan, and going for the Hajj. All of these require that we use our physical bodies. That is the least that we can do, the bare minimum. Of course, the more that one does, the better it is for him.
This is the second of the five matters: "your health before you fall sick."

Brothers in Islam, the third matter reminded by Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam is, "your richness, before poverty." One day we might not have anything, and the next we might have much more than we need. One day, a person might have the best of jobs and the largest of salaries, yet, the next day or another day, something happens and he does not have that job anymore and loses his source of income. So the wise person uses his richness before he becomes poor. He invests for his future.
As for the investments of this dunya, then the kafir and the Muslims are both the same; they both do that. Even the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam would store staple food items even up to a year. Sometimes he would store barley and grain for a whole year for his family. So this is obviously something halaal as our Prophet himself did it, and we should do it too. We should make sure we have enough money for our family and our children and ourselves, so we are not poor and we are not beggars. There is no doubt that this is a part of our Shari'ah as well.

But while we are doing this, let us not forget that we also need to invest for the Akhirah. Should we not think about investing this money so we can pick it and pluck it in the Hereafter when we need it far more than we need it in this world? We need to invest for the real future, our real life after our death.
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam once asked his companions, "Who amongst you loves his inheritors' money more than his own money?" The meaning of this hadith is that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam is asking for example, does the father love the money of his son or does he love his own money? Of course, the father loves his own money than his son's. Likewise, every person will love his own money more than he loves the money of other people.

The Sahabah then answered, "Yaa RasulAllah, all of us love our own money more than we love the money of our inheritors. We all love our own money. We guard it and protect it more than the money of our inheritors." Then the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, "Verily, the money that you spend in charity is your money, and the money that you leave behind is the money of your inheritors."
Ponder over that hadith for a while, how true it is. As fathers who loves our own money more than the money of our children, do we not realize that one day our children will take that very money from us and that we will have nothing to do with it? All that is left of our money is what we spent during our life for the sake of Allah, if there was any such money. Any of it spent in charity for the sake of Allah, is money that will be ours permanently. The Arabic word for charity includes zakah, sadaqah, waqf, and any type of monetary good that you did. Everything besides this will go into the hands of our inheritors.
Remember that feeding our family is also an ibaadah if we are doing it for the sake of Allah. If you are doing it for the sake of Allah, you will be rewarded. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said that, "A morsel of food," one morsel of food, one handful of food, "if you put it in your wife's mouth, this will be a reward for you on the Day of Judgment." Now the case is everybody, Muslim or non-Muslim, feeds his family. But will everybody be rewarded for that? No. Because only the one who does it remembering Allah, thinking about Allah, and doing it for the sake of Allah will be rewarded.

Ask ourselves if the last time we went shopping, was Allah in our mind? Did we think of doing this for Allah? When you picked up the milk and the bread, was our heart thinking, "Oh Allah, I am buying this food through halaal money, and this is halaal food, because I want to feed my family and this is an obligation that You have put upon me, therefore, I am doing it for your sake." Who amongst us has this in his mind?
When we say, "That is spent for the sake of Allah," we are not just talking about money, zakah, sadaqah, and charity. Of course, giving in charity is the best thing we can do with our money. But do not forget that the majority of income that we spend, and in fact for the mu'min, all of the income that he spends, can be for the sake of Allah as well. This means thinking of Allah, spending for the sake of Allah, and having the intention of pleasing Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. Dear Brothers, so this is the third of the five things: "your richness, before poverty."

Aqulu qouli hadza. Astaghfirullaha al-‘Adzhim, li wa lakum, wa li saa iri al-muslimina wa al-muslimat, wa al-mu'minia wa al-mu'minat. Wa qul, rabbighfir warham, wa anta khairurrahimin.

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