So another week has passed us by. As our lives hurtle along apace, we wonder what will become of us tomorrow and yet what can be said of our store of good deeds? We are taught that when we are gathered back together on that Revered Day we shall protest that we lived our life for but a day. It will be as if time has not dragged on at all.
Pondering this last week, a dear friend proposed that we should understand the saying of our Blessed Prophet, peace be upon him, that time will decrease as the Hour approaches as meaning that the value of time will decrease. Our days, he noted, have been chopped into the smallest of units and the more an item of value is chopped into smaller articles, its value reduces correspondingly. Thus we are troubled by a minute’s delay, whilst our predecessors were happy to journey for a day. And the angels travel down to earth in a day the like of which is a thousand years. I believe there is truth in his view, but none of it weakens the approach of the Hour.
As I look back on the speed with which the past five years have passed me by, there is a sense of regret. Time is all we have; as said another friend, time is the most breathtaking of our Lord’s creation. It is both unfathomable and true; He can stop it at will and extend it without limit. Indeed, He promises that our days in this fleeting abode will seem like nought compared to the days of the hereafter.
Another week has passed us by, and what have we done to draw closer to our Lord? Conversely, what has distracted us and led us away? Are we on call to every whim of the breaking news? Are we reactionaries, darting in one direction and then another, led by every plot and plan? Believing we are doing good, we jeopardise our obligations in our race to respond to every provocation placed before us.
In recent weeks a link to a video on MEMRI’s website has been circulating via email around the world; it has, apparently, received three million hits since it was first aired at the end of February. I received my link last Friday, with a request for comments about an article posted on a conservative US website. The article, written by a former employee of the Reagan White House, argued that a Syrian woman who had critiqued Muslim society and defended Western civilisation deserved the utmost respect of conservatives. As I wrote at the time, I was not sure why I was being asked to comment on it for, quite apart from not being a US national, I am not a media commentator nor have I written on the topic previously. Nevertheless, I looked into it, publishing a review of the author’s argument and her subject’s views as described in the article. My conclusion, however, was perhaps not what the individual was looking for.
“Why am I asked to comment on this article?” I demanded, “Is it the latest attempt to provoke Muslims, to encourage us to react as some did to the Danish cartoons? Are we all meant to call for the woman’s head, to scream and shout, march and burn down embassies? Are we meant to act like animals so that the conservatives can say, ‘Look at those irrational Moslems – they do not deserve freedom and respect. Let us wage war in their lands’?” This may not have been the intention of the person who sent me the link — indeed I don’t know anything about him/her — but the wider excitement about this insignificant video does have a familiar ring to it.
Must we respond to every provocation? I believe the answer is no. Another week has passed us by. I have no idea what will become of me tomorrow as time hurtles along apace. Taking stock of my store of deeds, I recognise that time is too precious. When we are gathered back together on the Day of Judgement we will complain that we tarried for just a few hours. So let us use them wisely.