الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي اقتضت حكمتُه أن يفضلَ بعض الأماكنِ والأزمان، وأن يأمر برعايته الإنسان، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير،  ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدٌى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.      أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.

 

One of the most important qualities of this created existence wherein we live our lives is time. Time is often something we take for granted, but it is what gives meaning and urgency to our lives. The fact that each and every one has an ajal, an appointed time when our time in this existence comes to an end, gives each moment an added importance. For our moments are finite and once gone cannot be recovered. They are our most valuable currency with which can be bought true everlasting riches, but they are a currency which is ever in decrease. With every moment that passes, our disposable income decreases.

Now when we are young, it seems that we have an infinite number of moments to come. We often cannot conceive that this existence will come to an end, so real and eternal does it feel. But it is an illusion – there is no solidity to it, it is as fragile as can be. Almost every human being has felt the same, and every human being has passed on. None have escaped their fate and none will escape their fate. And once their allotted time has been used up, they cannot recover it and they cannot go back, no matter how hard they may wish to and no matter how much they may plead. Allah describes those who have wasted their lives and failed to take advantage of their moments as saying on their deathbeds,

 

رَبِّ لَوْلاَ أَخَّرْتَنِي إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُن مِنَ الصَّالِحِين

 

the translation of which is, “My Lord, if only you would give me a little more time so that I can give sadaqah and be one of the right-acting.” It is too late. The die is cast and the day is done. Allah says:

وَلَنْ يُؤَخِّرُ الله نَفْساً اذَا جَاءَ اجَلُهَا، واللهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

 

the translation of which is, “Allah will not give anyone more time once their time has come. Allah is aware of what you do.” So the time to take advantage is now, while you are alive, while you still have moments, not at some hypothetical future. For none of us has been granted the capacity to see the future and know if that hypothetical time will include us, or know whether we will be well enough or free enough to take advantage, or have the material wealth to carry out our plans and complete our projects. The Messenger of Allah said, in a famous hadith,

 

اغتنم خمسا قبل خمس شبابك قبل هرمك وصحتك قبل سقمك وغناءك قبل فقرك وفراغك قبل شغلك وحياتك قبل موتك

 

“Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become busy and your life before your death.” This advice appears to be what they call a no-brainer, but it is amazing how many people fail to do just that and end up with nothing but regrets and if-onlys. What’s past is past – it cannot be recovered, and what is to come is out of your hands and known only to your Lord. But what is now – that is where you live your life and make your choices. Do not make your age or health or wealth your criterion for action, just try to do what is pleasing to Allah in whatever state you are in. That is your moment. That is your life. Everything else is notional. The sort of statements you hear all too often are, I will do this – insert element of the deen – when I reach such and such a point in my life. That point is not guaranteed to you. Allah says,

 

وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

 

the translation of which is, “And no self knows what it will earn tomorrow and no self knows in what land it will die. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” No one knows when and where they are going to die. We are reminded of that all the time – those who are close to us die. Recently an entire family of Capetonian Muslims, young and old alike, met there end in a single sudden devastating accident. There was nothing to herald their end, it just happened, suddenly and unexpectedly. And the same thing can happen to any one of us.

So it is time to wake up and time to listen when the moments that make up our short lives address us and tell us to make use of them. Al-Hasan al-Basri says,

 

ما من يوم ينشقُّ فجرُه، إلا وينادِي: يا ابنَ آدم، أنا خلقٌ جديد، وعلى عملِك شهيد، فتزوَّدْ مني، فإني إذا مضيتُ لا أعودُ حتى يومِ القيامة.

 

“There is no day that dawns except that it calls out: ‘O son of Adam! I am a new creation and a witness to your deeds. So take provision from me now because when I have gone, I will not come back again until the Day of Rising.’” Let us not turn a blind ear to its call, and let us not leave till the morrow what can be done today. at-tasweef/procrastination, as Ibn al-Jawzi said, is,

أكبرُ جنود إبليس

 

“The greatest of the armies of Iblis.” Act now and do not be one of the people who is consumed with regret. Rather be one of the people whom Allah describes with the Words,

 

لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ.

 

the translation of which is, “They will feel no fear and know no sorrow.” They are not fearful of what lies ahead, only hopeful for the Encounter with their Lord, and not sorrowful about the time that has gone by because they have filled their moments with obedience to Him. They have made extensive and plentiful provisions for the journey ahead, a journey that ends in the embrace of their Beloved, while the people of regret find themselves unprepared and without provision, naked, about to embark on a perilous and terrifying journey with no end in sight. All they see is the raging storm ahead, stretching into the distance as far as they can see. Terror upon terror, horror upon horror – that is their lot, unlike the people of the moment. Men like Khubayb ibn Adi al-Ansari. He knew he was going to be killed in a most painful manner – the wooden planks were being erected in front of his eyes to crucify him. But his final thoughts were not about his impending demise, they were more concerned with his final moments and how to make them count, how to increase his station with Allah but at the same time give a favourable impression of Islam and the Muslims so that perhaps others might be guided. So he asked to pray two rak‘ats. And when they permitted him, he prayed them but kept them very short and said to those around him,

 

لولا أن تظنوا أن بي جزعاً من الموت لطوّلتُهما

 

“If it had not been for the fact that you would have thought me scared to die, I would have made those rak‘ats long.” He was so calm that he was able to see the bigger picture and consider how his death could be the means of guidance for others. And that was the higher form of worship and best use of those moments. Then, after they had crucified him and were about to deliver the death blow, when he knew his time on this plane of existence was up, the only part of it that still concerned him was the best of it and the reason for which it was created – the Messenger of Allah. So he called out to Allah,

 

اللهم إني لا أنظر إلا في وجه عدو، اللهم إني لا أجد رسولا إلى رسولك، فبلغه عني السلام

 

“O Allah, the only faces I see before me are the faces of the enemy. O Allah, I can find no messenger to send to Your Messenger, so convey to him my salaams.” And then he was killed. These are the people of Allah, the people who seize the moment, and such are their endings. Their moments while as finite as the moments of the rest of us are a seemingly inexhaustible resource, and they are able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time, while many of us struggle to accomplish a small amount in a large period of time. they have baraka in their time and that baraka only comes to those who realise the value of the moments that make up our lives and understand their purpose. Everyone else, especially those who reject their Lord and live a life of denial, passes through life like a comet hurtling across the sky, there one minute and gone the next. Allah says,

 

وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ يُقْسِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ مَا لَبِثُوا غَيْرَ سَاعَةٍ

 

the translation of which is, “On the Day the Last Hour arrives the evildoers will swear they have not even tarried for an hour.” And not an hour filled with possibility, but one filled with waste and regret. Life is a distraction, it is true, but our Lord in His love for us sends us reminder after reminder. So let us pay heed. And great illness is one such reminder. It is a taste of death before death comes. It is a mercy, a sign of our Lord’s care and concern. So take advantage of it and use it grow closer to Allah. And for those who are healthy, do not be deceived by your good health. The Prophet said,

 

نِعمتان مغبونٌ فيهما كثيرٌ من الناسِ: الصِّحَّةُ وَالْفَرَاغ

 

“There are two blessings that many people are deceived by: health and free time.” Neither of these things last, such is the nature of this existence. We are all mayyit, we are on our path to death, short or long as it may be. So seize the moment and strive in the now to please your Lord and fulfil His Commands. That is the way of the people and the swiftest path to success.

 

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله العظيم لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو التوّابُ الرَّحيم

 

الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله أن لا إله إلا الله وليُّ الصالحين، والعاقبة للمتقين، ولا عدوانَ إلا على الظالمين، والصلاةُ والسلام الأتِمَّانِ الأَكملَانِ على أشرفِ الأنبياءِ وإمامِ المرسلين، وعلى آله وصحابتِهِ أجمعين، والتابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.

 

Human beings are weak and forgetful creatures. As individuals and societies we have a tendency to forget – that is a part of our nature. We have short attention spans and are easily distracted, and pulled away from the task for which we were created, to know and worship our Lord. We are dhalum and jahul – given to wronging ourselves and losing sight of our purpose. Left to our own devices, we would most certainly go astray. But, alhamdulillah, we are not left to our own devices. We are the constant recipients of guidance and reminders, whether that be from the Messengers that our Lord sent, or the people He places in every age to show the way or the signs He places on the horizon and in our selves. Even the acts of worship He requires of us are themselves reminders, both of Him and of the nature of our time upon this planet. The Muslim can never become unaware of the passing of his moments as his day-to-day, his week-to-week and his year-to-year activities are carefully structured. Everything is assigned a time, the five prayers, the Jumuah, the fast of Ramadan, the whole of his contract with his Lord. And the same is true for his contracts with people. We are a people for whom timing lies at the heart of the affair, a people who understand that not all times are the same, some have more value for us and more value with our Lord than others.

And one such time is upon us, for tonight could well be the first night of Rajab, one of the four Sacred Months with Allah. Allah says,

 

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ  ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ

 

the translation of which is, “There have been twelve months with Allah in the Book of Allah, from the day He first created the heavens and earth. Four of them are haram (sacred). That is the true deen. So do not wrong one another during them.” These months have a special status with Allah and so the reward for good deeds and punishment for bad deeds are magnified and multiplied during them, as is attested to by Ibn Abbas in his tafsir on Allah’s Words, “So do not wrong one another during them.” This month of Rajab, in particular, is significant, for it is the month of Allah. According to as-Suyuti, the Prophet said,

 

رجبُ شهرُ الله وشعبانُ شهري ورمضانُ شهر أمّتي

 

“Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha‘ban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.” What does this mean? It means that it is a time you should concentrate on strengthening your contract with your Lord. You should fill your days with acts that are for Him and Him alone and He will view them with great favour and multiplied reward. It is a time for great progress and tremendous expansion, a time to fill up the grain houses for those times of drought that might lie ahead.

We ask Allah to make us people who live in the moment and understand the importance of time, people who have baraka in their time, and come to the end of their days free of regrets and if-onlys. And we ask that He make this month of Rajab a time of great progress and expansion for each and every one of us, and for the Muslim umma as a whole.

 

إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ  أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.

رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.

إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.