The Correct Use of Time and Crossing the Stages of One’s Journey to the Hereafter


الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين، نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين أما بعد


With regard to the correct use of one’s time, and of seeking to undertake one’s journey in life to the Hereafter in a positive way which will bring about success; Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) wrote extensively on this matter, the following important pieces of advice are some of the statements he made on this subject, he said:

“Come; to the entry upon Allaah and of proximity to Him in the land of security without strain or fatigue or toil, rather by way of the nearest of paths and the easiest of them!

That is due to your being in a time that is set between two times, and it is in reality your life-span, and it is your present time – set between what has passed and what is to come.

So that which has passed – you should make reparation of it with repentance and regret and seeking forgiveness, and that is something in which there is no fatigue upon you in regard to it or strain or the effort of an act of difficulty. It is but the action of the heart.

You should likewise abstain from sins in what is to come, and your abstention is abandonment and relief, it is not an action to be carried out by the limbs whose effort would prove difficult upon you. It is but resolution and decisive intent that lends comfort to your body and your heart and delights you.

So that which has passed – you should make reparation of it with repentance, and that which is to come – you should appropriate it with abstention (from sin) as well as resolution and intent, and in both of these there is no strain and fatigue upon the limbs, however the significance is in your life-span – and it is your time which is between the two (other) times. Thus if you squander it; you squander your prosperity and your salvation, and if you safeguard it together with the redressing of the two (other) times which are before it and after it with that which has been mentioned, then you would have been saved and you would have succeeded with comfort, bliss and happiness.

Safeguarding it is harder than redressing what was before it and what is after it, indeed in safeguarding it – you impose upon yourself an undertaking of that which is more appropriate for it and more beneficial for it and is of greater attainment of its prosperity, and in this the people are at contrast – in the greatest of variance.

For by Allaah, it is your present days in which you accumulate the provisions for your Hereafter, either to Paradise or either to the Fire. So by way of them if you took a path to your Lord, you will reach the greatest prosperity and the utmost success in this short duration in which there is no comparison of it to eternity, and if you give preference to desires and luxurious comforts and to distractive amusement and play, they swiftly pass you by, and follow you up with everlasting immense pain whose tolerance and endurance is harder and more difficult and of greater permanence than the tolerance of having patience from the things made forbidden by Allaah as well as patience upon obedience to him and opposing desire for His sake.”[1]


How the Journey of One’s Life is to be Crossed – Stage by Stage


Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned: “The servant – from the moment he sets foot into this abode, then he becomes a traveler advancing to his Lord, and the duration of his journey is: his life-span which has been written for him.

So the life-span – it is the duration of the journey of the individual in this abode to his Lord, subsequently the days and the nights have been made to be junctures (stages) in his journey. So each day and night is a juncture from the junctures, therefore he does not cease to cross them stage after stage until the journey draws to an end.

So the astute intelligent one – it is he who makes each stage to be set before his eyes, thus he concerns himself with crossing it safe, sound and enriched. Once he has crossed it, he sets the other before his eyes, and so the goal does not become drawn out for him such that his heart should be rendered hard and his hope becomes stretched and he is visited with deferment and promise and delay and postponement. Rather he regards his life-span as that individual stage – so he strives in crossing it with the best of that which is in his presence – for indeed if he ascertains its shortness and the swiftness of its expiration – action then becomes easy upon him, so his soul is made to be subjugated for him with compliance to doing more.

So when he encounters another stage from his life, he receives it in a like manner, therefore this does not cease to be his habit until he crosses the stages of his life-span – all of them, and his traversal is praised, and he rejoices with that which he prepared for the day of his impoverishment and neediness.

So when the dawn of the Hereafter appears, and the darkness of the world clears away, it is at that time that his nightly course will be lauded, and his slumber will be dispelled from him. How excellent is the way in which he receives his day, and indeed its morning glimmers, and his success becomes manifest!”[2]


The Types of People in Respect to Crossing These Stages


Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Furthermore; the people; in respect to crossing these stages (of journey) are of two types:

A type who crossed it as travelers within it to the abode of wretchedness, thus every time they crossed a stage from it, they draw ever closer to that abode and they distance further from their Lord and from His abode of munificence. So they crossed those stages amidst the anger of The Lord and His enmity as well as the enmity of His Messengers and His allies and His religion, and so proceeding in attempting to extinguish His light and to thwart His call – the call of truth, and to establish a call that is other than it.

So these ones – their days have been made to be stages in which they journey to the abode for which they were created and proceeded with its action. For they are accompanied within it with the devils who are commissioned with them until they drive them to their ranks, as He, The Most High, said:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ تَؤُزُّهُمْ أَزًّا

((Do you not see that We have sent the devils against the disbelievers, inciting them [upon evil] in [constant] incitement.)) (Maryam: 83)


Meaning; that they rouse them to sin and disbelief in bedevilment and they drive them on in propulsion.

The second type: Those who crossed those stages advancing in them to Allaah and to the abode of security, and they are three types:

The one who wrongs himself.

The one of average deeds.

The one who is foremost in good deeds by the permission of Allaah.

These people – all of them are prepared for the progression, certain of the return to Allaah, however they are dissimilar in provisions taken along and the stowing of supplies and of its selection as well as in the essence of the advancement and its speed and its slow-going.”[3]


The Journey’s End


Ibn al-Qayyim stated: “The people – ever since they were created; they do not cease to be travelers, and they have no place to halt in order to get down from their mounts except in Paradise or the Fire, and the rational one knows that the journey is founded upon hardship and embarking upon dangers. It is therefore from that which is inconceivable as a custom to seek tranquility and enjoyment and comfort in it. That only comes after the end of the journey.”[4]

He said likewise:[5] “There is no resting place for the worshipper except under the tree of Tooba (a tree in Paradise), nor is there any permanency for the affectionate except on the Day of Increase. Preoccupy yourself with it in life; it shall suffice you for what comes after death.[6]

High aspiration is the ambition of the one whose adherent prepares for the meeting with The Beloved, and puts forth offerings before the meeting place; accordingly – he will rejoice upon arrival:

وَقَدِّمُوا لِأَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُم مُّلَاقُوهُ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

((And put forth [good deeds] for yourselves, and fear Allaah, and know that you are to meet Him [in the Hereafter]. And give good tidings to the believers.)) (Al-Baqarah: 223)”



[1] Al-Fawaa-id p.168-169

[2] Tareeq al-Hijratain p.403

[3] Tareeq al-Hijratain p.404

[4] Al-Fawaa-id p.276

[5] Al-Fawaa-id p.96-97 with slight abridgement.

[6] Ibn al-Qayyim stated similar in Al-Badaa-i al-Fawaa-id (vol 3 p.1186) when he said: “There is no resting place for the worshippers except under the tree of Tooba (a tree in Paradise), nor is there any permanency for those that love except on the Day of Increase. So depict to your heart the rest under the tree of Tooba – it will lighten upon you the hardship, and envision the Day of Increase – it will facilitate for you whatever you endure on account of it.”

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