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The disease of laziness and overcoming it
During the time of Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, an incident happened in which a man slept the entire night and he missed the Fajr prayer. Despite the fact that this is a very common occurrence in our present day, at that time such things rarely happened. He missed Fajr, and so they came and spoke to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam about this.
‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood, radi Allaahu anhu narrates: A man came and said to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, “Oh Messenger of Allah, verily a person slept last night until the morning, until the dawn came and he missed Fajr.”
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “This is a person whom the devil has urinated in his ears.”
Dear brothers and sisters, try going to any books of hadith and in each and every one you will find a chapter entitled Baab al-Isti’aadhah Minal Kasl. Translated, this chapter is called: ‘Chapter of Seeking Allah’s Protection from Laziness.’
Kasl, or laziness, also known as procrastination, is a disease. University students know what procrastination can do to their studies. It is a disease that afflicts the minds, after the mind, it then afflicts the heart, and finally, through the heart, the body is afflicted.
Today, you will learn that laziness is a technique used by Satan, and today you will learn the techniques you can use to combat it.
The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam frequently made the following supplication:
“Oh Allah, I seek your protection from, alajz” – which means the inability to do something. And when someone said, “I can’t do that,” The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam would seek protection from such negative speech by adding: “and I seek your protection (Oh Allah) from alkasl”- which is translated as laziness.At its core this society is built on laziness. Consider that it is a society based on the idea that we have to rest on Sundays. “Why do you have to rest on Sundays?” some may ask, and society (may Allah protect us from this) would answer that even Allah got lazy on Sunday. He did His work all week long; He built the heavens and the earth, and then on Sunday He got tired and rested. So, may Allah protect us. Contemporary culture has us resting and watching football games on Sundays.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala testifies to the lunacy of such an idea, implicitly stating that
…there is no drowsiness and no sleep that comes to Him (Al-Baqarah 2/255).
In addition, we live in a society that lives for ‘fast and easy’. You have the fast food joints, even the microwave meals that take 5 minutes are considered tedious because you have to take it out after a couple of minutes and stir it before it is finished cooking. Ever hear the promises to have the perfect body in ten minutes for only three days a week? Examples abound. And in its quest for ‘fast and easy’, society does not realize that the root of its problems, indeed, the root of all major sins, lies in laziness.
Why would a person take alcohol and drugs? They are too lazy to change their situation. Instead of actively striving for change, they take a drug to immediately change it. Why do people practice black magic, a phenomenon that is, unfortunately, prevalent in many of our parent’s societies? They do it because they are too lazy to go out and get married, or they’re too lazy to influence people in ways that will accomplish their various goals. Why do people partake in riba’ (mortgages as an example) and deal with financial interest? They are too lazy to get a proper job and work to pay for something honestly. Why do people gamble? They addictively buy lottery tickets at ridiculous odds of winning in the hopes that their one dollar will instantly earn millions. Laziness is again the culprit. Why do people backbite? People backbite because they are too lazy to go and tell the person the truth. And these, dear brothers and sisters, are all major sins.
Thus, like a poison, laziness corrupts all good things.
There are beautiful and amazing things that you want to do for yourself, or do for Allah subhaahanu wa ta’aala. Your intention is good, but if you don’t have the energy, or you suffer from the laziness plight, your desires will go nowhere; they will bear no fruit.
The causes of this disease, called laziness, are rooted in the heart.
Firstly, a lazy person doesn’t know and doesn’t understand his or her need to accumulate good deeds. We understand the need to accumulate money, but we may not understand why or how to accumulate good deeds. Very few people understand that this life is about collecting deeds and preparing for the journey of the hereafter.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala advises,
…to prepare your provisions (for the journey to the hereafter) and the best provision is taqwa (fear/piety) of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala (Al-Baqarah 2/197).Secondly, people are discouraged by the thought that others will consider them ‘holier than thou.’ Or perhaps the problem is that some people think too highly of themselves, glorifying themselves to such a high level that when they hear the commandments of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala they reply by justifying their laziness with excuses like, “My heart is clean,” or “Why do I have to do that,” or “I’m a good person.” Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala states:
Do not claim piety to yourselves (An-Najm 53/32).If someone says, “I’m good,” the response should be, “Allah knows best who is true, who is righteous.”
Indeed, those who suffer from laziness don’t understand the gold mine of opportunity awaiting them. There are thousands of people around you waiting to hear the call of Islam. You are living among sponges ready to listen to you say, “I am a Muslim.” And they are going to ask, “How can I become one too?”
A brother I knew overseas said it perfectly: “The North Americans have such enormous prospects. Imagine teaching a new Muslim Surah al-Fatiha, or how to pray. You will get the reward for this most noble lesson each time the person recites this surah. You can’t do that in Muslim countries, although there are other different opportunities there, most people don’t recognize them and this leads to laziness.”
Know that this concerns you, and if you start demonstrating the energy and zeal it takes to worship Allah to the best of your ability, then you will be the one to benefit.
This is your life; this is your soul. You are only going to live once on this earth, and you’ll be traveling to the hereafter with a suitcase of good deeds. Hopefully, you won’t be traveling light. The one who understands this early on, the one to get on the bandwagon of the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala early on, accumulates everything.
Be a pioneer; bring Islam to everyone.
And so they come on the day of resurrection and they see mountains of good deeds that they never imagined they would have had and it will be said to them this is because you weren’t lazy when other people were lazy.
Recognize the opportunity, seize it, and kick start the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala by others.
But if you choose not to heed these words, to yawn, and to be lazy, you are turning your back on the words of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala. And the consequences will be grave, for the sunnah of creation, indeed the law of nature, stipulates that that which does not contribute will be destroyed. What do you do with weeds in your garden? You pull them out, you get rid of them. What do you do when your nails get too long, when there is no purpose to their length? You snip them off, discard them in the trash. And so it is, as a community and as individuals in that community, if we are not contributing, and if we are not energetically producing, we will be deemed useless and we will be eliminated.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says:
In this way, He gives forth the parable of the truth and falsehood and the vanity. Vanity is like the foam, the dirt on the ocean (there is no benefit to it). But the things that do bring benefit (those devoid of laziness) will remain steadfast in the land (Ar-Ra’d 13/17).Even after you are gone, your good deeds will continue to benefit.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that Allah pays attention to the lazy one’s worship. Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Do those deeds that you are able to perform, for verily, Allah will not tire of your ‘ibadah (worship) until you tire.”Ponder the phenomenon of those who make du’a absentmindedly, not knowing what it is that they are saying. They may even be yawning, confused, or focused on something else entirely. Allah is not paying attention to that person just like they are not paying attention to their du’a. That is a du’a that is not answered by Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala. A du’a that is answered is the one where the person’s heart and energy are invested in it. Allah will listen. If you can consistently take your du’a to that level, you’ll see dramatic changes in your life.
When I was younger, there was an imam from overseas who came to lead the taraweeh prayers in Ramadan. We would have to pick him up at Fajr time and drive him to the masjid. One early morning, I was feeling particularly tired and lazy. My parents had an especially hard time waking me up. Yet, when we arrived at the Imam’s house, I noticed that the neighbors were in the midst of an all-night party. It was 5 am and their lights were blaring, their music was booming, and the party-goers were still drinking their alcohol. They’d spent the entire night awake in qiyaamul layl, but not to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala. Their worship was for the devil.
I remember thinking to myself that this disbeliever has the stamina and energy to waste the night away, how can the servant of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala not have the energy and ability to worship Him? After all, they too are humans like us. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab radi Allaahu anhu is quoted as saying, “I seek Allah’s protection from the time when the fasiq or disobedient will have much energy and enthusiasm and the righteous will be lazy.” The fasiq will open up bars everywhere and run his houses of immorality with vigor. And the righteous will do little to nothing in the sake of Allah. When this happens, there is an imbalance on earth, and corruption will be widespread and prevalent.
Brothers and sisters, let me tell you about the blessedness of having energy and enthusiasm in worshipping Allah and what it will do for you.
Number 1: The extra energy will win you the pleasure of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala.
Musa alayhis salaam was told to come to the mountain for 40 days. And come he did, not walking slowly, not ten minutes late, but running. In explaining his arrival, Musa said,
I came hastily to you, oh Allah, so that you will be pleased with me (Taha 20/84).
And indeed, his words were so pleasing to his creator that Allah recorded them in the Qur’an for all eternity.
When you hear a name of a prophet’s companion, you say, “May Allah be pleased with him.” Well, this is how you get that same distinction for yourself. Be hasty in your desire and actions that lead to goodness.
Number 2: Having energy is the characteristic of the believer. Being lazy is the characteristic of the hypocrite.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says the munafiq, or hypocrite is he who has disbelief in his heart, while outwardly claiming belief. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala describes them in the following verse:
If they get up for the salah (prayer), they get up with laziness (An-Nisaa’ 4/142).“Give me ten more minutes…give me ten more minutes… oh! I missed Fajr…oh no. I’ll pray after Fajr. Give me ten more minutes…give me ten more minutes…”
A characteristic of hypocrisy is when they reach for that snooze button and get up lazily for prayer. In this moment they’re experiencing a state of nifaq or hypocrisy. May Allah protect us.
May He also protect us from using excuses to not follow through with our deeds.
A Canadian may say it’s too cold; an African will say it’s too hot. Both are making excuses for not doing good actions. It was summer in the desert during the time of the Battle of Tabuk, and there was a walking distance of what is today a seven-hour car trip from Madinah to Tabuk. The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam was rallying his troops for an exhaustive trek that, back then, would have taken months.
Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says,
…they (the hypocrites) encouraged people not to go with the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam by saying, “Do not go out in the heat.” Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala’s response was to tell them, “The fire of hell is much hotter; if only they understood” (At-Tauba 9/81).Ibn al-Jawzee, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, “I have never seen a flaw sadder to me than a community whose people stop working, despite having the ability to continue.”
The ramifications of laziness can be very harmful. Some of you may have come across a person who displays a genuine interest in Islam. That person may be about to take the shahada when Shaytan gets to him and her. An excuse the devil uses is, “You have to comprehend the Qur’an first.” Hence the would-be Muslim is convinced that they do love Islam, but perhaps further study is required. And so it is that he or she delays coming back to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala, and as time passes they may no longer possess the same enthusiasm.
Similarly, Muslims seeking to make repentance to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala might give themselves time by saying, “Let me wait till I pay off my mortgage (or pay off my student loans. Let me wait till I do this, let me wait till I do that) then I will repent to Allah.” But it doesn’t work like that because as time passes and sins grow, the heart consistently gets weaker and weaker. A time will come when the person knows it’s the last chance, but the heart may have already been sealed shut.
And as Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Race to good deeds before a time and a fitnah (test) comes that will sweep over you like the darkest of the darkest nights.”Are not the trials apparent all around us?
Look to the Islamic educational scene. Scholars we may or may not know are being singled out by the dozens. Religious knowledge is being taken from us. If you have the chance to attend a halaqah, or an Islamic class, you have to race to it now! It may be that you won’t have another chance.
Fitnah will come to you, and you must survive it with whatever knowledge you hold. It may be that the knowledge you possess will suffice to protect you, and it may be that it will not be enough to avail you. The consequences thereof would be disastrous, and may eventually lead to hellfire. May Allah protect us.
Picture this analogy: In Australia they have sharks that prey near the coastline. To warn bathing humans of impending danger, they have a certain whistle that rings when a shark is sighted. Now imagine if you’re feeling sluggish or you’re playing a game trying to see how long you can hold your breath under the water. You don’t hear the warning sound, and then you raise your head out of the water, and notice that nobody is in it except you. Everyone has made it to shore, they are yelling for you to hurry, but you are ten minutes from the beach. How would you make it? Would you make it? Only Allah knows for sure, but that’s exactly what laziness does to you. It not only renders you unprepared, but also helpless as to the actions you must take in order to survive.
But today is a new day, and by the grace of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala you and I can learn to let go of that laziness. We will work with renewed energy, striving to return to the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala.
Here are some techniques to use.
Number 1: Yawning Promotes LazinessYawning is from the devil. And when it comes to us, we must fight it. Despite what your medical classes are telling you about needing oxygen through yawning, it was your Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam who advised on covering the mouth and resisting the yawn, by not letting out any noise. No (loud) “Ahhhsss!”
Number 2: Eating One-ThirdThe Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us to eat using the one-third method. You don’t need much to sustain yourself; a few bites will usually do. If you are going to eat a meal, then one-third is the crucial number. One-third of your stomach should be for food, one-third for water, and one-third for breathing.
Realize that one of the most cunning tricks of Shaytan is urging people to fill their stomachs beyond capacity. How many times have you eaten a huge meal only to feel like taking a nap afterwards? And how many times has this nap dissuaded you from the worship of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala?
Number 3: Spend Time with Energetic PeopleAllah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says,
Be patient with those people who call upon their lord in the mornings and the evenings.
When you see a person going for salah consistently, always in a state of worship and remembrance of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala, you say to them, “Hey brother/hey sister, how about we go out for lunch? I’d like to spend time with you.”
Feed from their energy. Alternatively, if lazy people surround you, distance yourself from them, or give them da’wah, encouraging positive action. You want to pick the right people, because we tend to emulate those whom we befriend.
Do as your Prophet did and constantly seek refuge from Allah from the laziness that Shaytan uses to defeat the Muslims. When you find yourself reaching for that snooze button, a.k.a ‘the Shaytan button’, remember the ploy against you and seek Allah’s help to resist. You will have the strength to wake up for Fajr. Ultimately, laziness is a state of mind.
In conclusion, the one concept that ties this all together is honesty. Being honest about your laziness and sincerely striving to change is the first step in seeing results. The fact of the matter is that when Allah commands us to do something, it is not possible to have excuses, and know that tasks put upon you are doable, for Allah does not place a burden on a person more than they can bear.
You can do it, others have done it before you, and others continue to do it. Join the ranks of the energetic.
Ka’b ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu, went to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam after the Battle of Tabuk, and the hypocrites had been making excuses for their absence from the fighting. Ka’b had not participated in the battle and he thought that he too might come up with some excuse in order to save himself, but he realized that he could not lie to the Prophet of Allah. He told the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, “I have never had more energy or ability than this time, but I just didn’t go.”
And the prophet said, He is the one who is truthful.
And by the potency of his honesty and sincerity, the Qur’an mentions that Allah had forgiven Ka’b.
How do you truthfully word the reasons for your laziness? If the Fajr prayer has passed you by and the devil has urinated in your ears, do not place blame where blame is not due. Don’t make excuses like, “I had a long night.” Instead, say, “The truth is that the accumulation of my sins led me to miss Fajr. But this is not who I am. I am the slave of Allah. Oh Allah, tomorrow, with your permission, I will show you what I am going to do for your sake.” And so you make your repentance, you repeat your good intentions, and you continue until you reach those higher levels of energy.
I ask Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala to bless you with that energy and I pray and hope that you can make the same du’a for me.
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