Quiet Time

Time is a funny thing. I am told that there are twenty-four hours in a day, but it never seems to be enough to accomplish all that I wish to accomplish in a day. It seems more like there are eight, ten, or twelve hours in a day all dedicated to the mundane tasks that we must do, not leaving much room for things that we’d like to do or feel that we should do.

It’s November 30th, and ideally, I’d have a novel by now. I said I’d try. But realistically speaking…who writes a novel in 30 days? Most of the great works I know about took years to write. I think I’m one of those authors. Sorry to disappoint. The novel has taken its place in my mind but hasn’t quite sailed off to ink on a page.

But I’ve gotten my wake up call. In various ways. For example, I got an email from Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun, since I did sign up to do Nanowrimo. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say concerning procrastination and writing a novel:“…you better do it now because you know how to write, and you have fingers, and you have this one life, and during this one life, you should put your words down, and make your voice heard, and then let others hear your voice. And the only way any of that’s going to happen is if you actually do it. People can’t read the thoughts in your head. They can only read the thoughts you put down, carefully and with great love, on the page. So you have to do it…”

Those words did a good number on me and got me thinking: why didn’t I write a novel this November? Well, I focused on making sure my family had a good Eid, a good Thanksgiving, and more tangible writing projects such as articles and book reviews. I also took up crocheting–and what a wonderful pasttime, stress-reliever, and artform that has turned out to be. Oh yeah, and I signed up for graduate school. Put those on top of my daily housewifery and mothering duties and you’ve got one overwhelmed woman who doesn’t seem to have much time. I guess it’s just the nature of life…and of time. There’s so much to do and though it seems like we have a lot of time, in this fast paced world, we actually have to *make* time for the important things, if that’s at all possible. There’s so many distractions in life and I have a habit of spreading myself a little thinly. That’s something I’ll have to work on, and I’m going to begin by *making* time to write each day. It might take me a decade to write the stories that tell themselves in my head, but Lord willing, one day, they shall be written. On tangible paper.

There is a little chapter in the Qur’an that is truly profound. Only three verses, and the 103rd chapter of the Qu’ran, it takes all of about 5 seconds to read, but a lifetime to understand. The companions of the Prophet (saws) used to never depart without reading this surah. It’s that important. The Almighty swears by Time in this surah. In fact, he calls the chapter Time though it has so many other meanings as well. He says that man is in loss as time progresses. And it’s true. We are forever losing time, losing life, losing the chance to do good. Our whole existence is completely dependent on time for we can’t accomplish anything without it. And no matter what we do, we can’t save it, make it, or stop it. We can only work with it as breath by breath we come closer to the end of our time. The only way to be one of the winners in this life is to take each moment of time and live it to the fullest in the best possible way. Time is always melting away, and it’s our only true capital for accomplishing anything in this life. It’s quiet. It sneaks up on us. But it’s always there, we just tend to ignore it in pursuit of things that don’t really matter sometimes. Four things are outlined in this surah as the road to success in spending time, but they are a big four things that deserve much thought. So spend time getting acquainted with these three short verses. If you’ve never read this chapter, read it. Better yet, read the exegesis. It’s better than wasting your time on a self-help book. The verses are succinct, to the point, and just what you need. It’s great food for thought, whether you are Muslim or not. I guarantee you’ll get something out of it, Lord willing. And take it from me-it’ll be a good use of your time and perhaps lead you to a better usage of what future time you have left.

And now, as I write this, the midafternoon (Asr) prayer is going out. It’s making way for a new day, new moments in time to do something right, and as the saying goes, there’s no time like the present. Though I never really started, Nanowrimo did teach me one thing: to find time to write. I dedicate December to the pursuit of me finding time to write…it may take some time, but that’s an endeavor I believe is worth accomplishing. As the Nanowrimo writers celebrate the end of their novels today, I celebrate the beginning of a new stage in time management–an adventure to find time to write every single day until the stories I keep telling myself are finally told to you, dear readers. The Prophet (saws) said: “Grab five things before five others: your youth before your decrepitude, your health before your illness, your wealth before your poverty, your leisure before your work, and your life before your death.” [al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak]. You might find me a little quiet around here now, and it’s because I’m in need of some quiet time and I’m attempting to grab my life before my death. Time’s a ticking and I’ve got things to write people! But I’ll post back on here when something is finally published…or when I have something meaningful to say…inshAllah…with time.

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