بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Unaiza Ahsan
“If you only had 48 hours left to live, would you spend it like you normally spend your weekends? If not, why spend 2/7th of your life wasting your free time? After all, free time isn’t free. Free time is the most expensive time you have, because nobody pays for it but you. But that also makes it the most valuable time you have, as you alone stand to reap the profits from spending it wisely.” (Jarod Kintz,I Should Have Renamed This)
The quote above neatly captures reality for all of us: Time is never free. Its cost is determined by how you spend it. Most young people opt for a few common activities whenever they have time to spare: sports, video games, books, movies, social media, travel, and related stuff. As Muslims, it is important to treat each and every second of our lives as if it were the most precious of all the gifts that we have been given by Allah (st).
Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet (sa) said:
“There are two blessings which many people lose. (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari)
It is important to realise that Islam does not forbid us from having fun and enjoying ourselves within permissible thresholds as defined by Islam. But we are highly encouraged to spend time in a manner that not only allows us to benefit ourselves but also the environment or people around us and gain blessings for every minute of that free time. Some recommended ways of spending free time productively are:
- Reading: There are excellent books out there which provide knowledge about history, politics, self-help, the seerah (life story of the Prophet [sa]), and the life stories of the companions of the Prophet (sa). These stories are inspirational and interesting. Hence one can spend many hours happily absorbing great life lessons as well as earning blessings for doing so.
- Writing: If you have a flair for writing, you can utilise your free time by writing a personal blog, beneficial articles, or short stories. These can be a great source of sadaqah-e-jariyah for you and an amazing way to spend free time.
- Using social media for good: This is an effective way to champion and support good causes (such as raising your voice against racism and oppression). Also, you can join Facebook pages related to your causes and keep up to date with the latest news and information. Furthermore, you can spread this information in your group of friends and start a great chain of propagating good causes.
- Volunteer: If you have a set number of hours each day which are totally free, you can take up volunteering with local volunteer groups and work for them. If you live in the USA, visit http://www.volunteermatch.org/ and discover volunteering opportunities near you. Simply enter your city, click on a cause you care about (advocacy and human rights, animal rights, and the list goes on), and get started. Remember, there are millions of opportunities to do good. With the internet, finding them has become a matter of a few clicks.
- Start your own kitchen garden: This may sound overwhelming and difficult at first. But statistics show that according to the National Gardening Association, 35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in five years. This is not an ordinary fact. This basically means that people are realising the importance of home-grown healthy food and are investing time and money into this hobby. Imagine the benefits of having your own little vegetable garden and not having to worry about shady pesticides and organic produce.
The possibilities are endless; the above are just some of the ways you can use your free time in an effective manner. The suggested hobbies are not only going to provide you with a guilt-free way of whiling away those hours, but will also be a source of increased spirituality and blessings for you and your family.
Unaiza Ahsan is a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology
© IIPH 2014