Last week, my sister and I went out for a walk and began to discuss our experiences at school. I loved speaking to her since I could talk to her about just about anything, and knew she wouldn’t tell anybody else about our conversations. This time, I told her about a previous teacher of mine whom I recently found out was diagnosed with cancer. I explained just how amazing of a woman this teacher was, Masha’Allah, and told my sister about all of the things that she had already accomplished. I reminisced about how she always coached us in our extracurricular activities, and how she had also recently memorized the entire Qur’an. My sister simply said:
“She’s trying to live her life to the fullest.”
And this continued. Every single achievement I mentioned, my sister would repeat that same statement. I then understood that she was basically saying my teacher knew she didn’t have much time left and was therefore trying to achieve as much as she could before her passing. She had accepted the fact that her life could literally end at any time. It made me wonder, why weren’t we, as Muslims, in a similar state of mind all the time?
Allah (glorified and exalted be He) warns us in the Qur’an that He can take our lives away at any moment without any prior notice. Is this not enough for all of us to try to please Him all the time? Is this not enough for all of us to try to accomplish all we can as swiftly as possible? Is this not enough, or do we all really need a doctor’s fatal diagnosis for us to ‘live life to the fullest?’
After finishing my homework that night, I took out a novel I had borrowed from the library the day before. I decided I would first read it for about an hour, and then I would head to memorize my Qur’an assignment. As I settled down and began reading the novel, I guiltily remembered my sister’s words. Live life to the fullest. I thought for a moment. Why was it that I felt so guilty? After all, it wasn’t like I ever neglected completing my memorization – I always got around to it, eventually. Why shouldn’t I read my book first, and do my Qur’an afterwards?
Because, I realized, no one could ever give me the guarantee there would be time afterwards. Allah could take my life away while I lay reading this book. That Qur’an assignment that usually comes afterwards…could possible never come again. I saw that this was precisely what was meant by my sister’s words. I was the one that kept on conveniently acting as if I had a lot of time even though deep down, I knew that my life could end at any time.
And right then, I finally understood what Allah meant in Surah Al-Asr, when He swears by time. I never really thought about why He chose to swear by time specifically, but now I saw He meant to show us just how important time truly is. When managed properly, only then can we begin to live our lives to the fullest…
And with that final thought, I picked up my Qur’an, and started to read.
“Has there not been over Man a long period of time, when he was nothing – (not even) mentioned? Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight. We showed him the Way; whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).” – Surah Insan 76:1-3