Sacred Monotony - Part 5 - Times of Peace ⏳

Sacred Monotony - Part 5 - Times of Peace ⏳

In Part 4 we looked at times of mindfulness and how to focus on being our best selves throughout our day. Maintaining this at all times can be a struggle however. Even the best generation of Muslims, the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), complained that they didn’t always feel that they were doing their best:

كُنَّا عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَذَكَرْنَا الْجَنَّةَ وَالنَّارَ حَتَّى كَأَنَّا رَأْىَ الْعَيْنِ فَقُمْتُ إِلَى أَهْلِي وَوَلَدِي فَضَحِكْتُ وَلَعِبْتُ . قَالَ : فَذَكَرْتُ الَّذِي كُنَّا فِيهِ فَخَرَجْتُ فَلَقِيتُ أَبَا بَكْرٍ فَقُلْتُ : نَافَقْتُ، نَافَقْتُ . فَقَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ : إِنَّا لَنَفْعَلُهُ . فَذَهَبَ حَنْظَلَةُ فَذَكَرَهُ لِلنَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَقَالَ :  " يَا حَنْظَلَةُ لَوْ كُنْتُمْ كَمَا تَكُونُونَ عِنْدِي لَصَافَحَتْكُمُ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ عَلَى فُرُشِكُمْ - أَوْ عَلَى طُرُقِكُمْ - يَا حَنْظَلَةُ سَاعَةٌ وَسَاعَةٌ "

Hanzalah Tamimi Al-Usaiyidi, the scribe, said: “We were with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and we spoke of Paradise and Hell until it was as if we could see them. Then I got up and went to my family and children, and I laughed and played (with them).

I remembered how we had been, and I went out and met Abu Bakr, and said: ‘I have become a hypocrite!’ "

Abu Bakr said: 'Indeed we all do that.’”

So Hanzalah went and spoke to the Prophet (ﷺ), who said: “O Hanzalah, if you were (always) as you are with me, the angels would shake hands with you in your beds and in your streets. O Hanzalah, there is a time for this and a time for that.” [Sahih]

The Balance of Time

As we see in this hadith, at times the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) felt that they were so close to Paradise and Hell that they could literally see the afterlife. Ideally this state of long-term thinking is something we all strive for. The afterlife was at the forefront of their minds, they were perpetually, acutely aware of it.

At other times however, the companions would return to their families and play. They were still the best of Muslims, but in their eyes they considered that they were being hypocrites as other things had come to their thoughts.

In his advice to them the Prophet reminded them that this was natural and advised them to take " سَاعَةٌ وَسَاعَةٌ" - literally "one hour and one hour".

The advice centres around balancing the time we spend in worship with time we take to recharge ourselves. We acknowledge the need in ourselves to recharge. Even downtime is an act of worship when it’s halal and done with the intention of resting and allowing us to be our best selves in the future.

The Early Hours

Sunrise, London

In addition to just balancing our time for relaxation and our time for worship, there are special times when we may feel better able to focus and gain clarity of thought. These are times when we feel more clear-minded and better able to connect to Allah.

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ ٱلَّيْلَ وَٱلنَّهَارَ وَٱلشَّمْسَ وَٱلْقَمَرَ ۖ وَٱلنُّجُومُ مُسَخَّرَٰتٌۢ بِأَمْرِهِۦٓ ۗ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يَعْقِلُونَ

“And he has made subservient for you the night and the day and the sun and the moon, and the stars are made subservient by his commandment; most surely there are signs in this for a people who ponder.” — Qur’an 16:12

These moments of quiet and focus, come naturally at certain times of day. Often these serene moments of peaceful reflection can come in the quiet hours of the morning. Before sunrise when we wake up to pray fajr (the dawn prayer), the world is still, our phone has yet to start buzzing, our chores aren’t yet looming over us.

In these early twilight hours many of my friends have said that they find peace and beauty in the quiet solace of the dawn’s silence. Similar tranquility and stillness can be found late into night when everyone else is asleep.

قَالَ وَالدَّرَجَاتُ إِفْشَاءُ السَّلاَمِ وَإِطْعَامُ الطَّعَامِ وَالصَّلاَةُ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّاسُ نِيَامٌ

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: "The acts that raise ranks are spreading the Salam (greetings of peace), feeding others, and prayer during the night, while the people are sleeping."

A time preferred by night-owls, a peaceful time for work or repose, prayer or past-times. The quiet and solitude brings its own comfort and tranquility throughout the highs and lows of life.

Being, in nature

A universal experience that stirs the heart, is spending time in nature. Experiencing the beauty, magnificence and wonderful intricacies of Allah’s creation. This always reminds us of how amazing this world is and how amazing the one that created it is.

وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى مَدَّ ٱلْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَٰسِىَ وَأَنْهَـٰرًۭا ۖ وَمِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ ٱثْنَيْنِ ۖ يُغْشِى ٱلَّيْلَ ٱلنَّهَارَ ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And it is He who spread out the Earth and placed firm mountains and rivers upon it, and created fruits of every kind in pairs. He covers the day with night. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect. — Qur’an 13:3

Even the most beautiful of interior architecture harks back to designs inspired by nature. Incorporating natural elements such as wood-panelling, water features and indoor trees. This natural theme runs throughout the most beautiful buildings, homes and palaces in the world. A home without any aspect of nature feels devoid of life. Ultimately Allah is the only one that gives life.

هُوَ ٱلَّذِى يُحْىِۦ وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَإِذَا قَضَىٰٓ أَمْرًۭا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُۥ كُن فَيَكُونُ

He is the One Who gives life and causes death. When He decrees a matter, He simply tells it, “Be!” And it is! — Quran 40:68
وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ قَدِيرٌ

إِنَّ فِى خَلْقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَٱخْتِلَـٰفِ ٱلَّيْلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّأُو۟لِى ٱلْأَلْبَـٰبِ

To Allah ˹alone˺ belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is Most Capable of everything. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the day and night there are signs for those of understanding — Quran 3:189-190

When surrounded by the beauty of the great outdoors, we take in the views, the sky, the stars, the rolling hills, the vast desserts and unending oceans. The heart cannot help but to be moved and humbled.

When we see the expansiveness of the world, and remember how small our planet is in the cosmos, it puts things into perspective and reminds us of what is important.

This beauty often passes us by, but what would we do if we knew we couldn’t see it again? We would savour every moment.

I pray that Allah allows us to continue to benefit from his favours. And that he allows us to be grateful for everything we have today, that we may continue to reap its benefits tomorrow and never be heedless or take Him or his creation for granted.

Further reading & references: