Who owns your time? Letting go of this feeling of ownership
“You will never attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love.…” (3:92)
Suddenly one day, my husband complained to me: “You are always busy doing things for others. I never get full time from you.” Hearing this, at first, I laugh for several reasons: it was such a text-book complaint, it wasn’t true because we do spend a lot of time together. And most of all, it sounded like what my daughter had said that same morning. She told me: “You aren’t listening to me. Stop working and just play with me.”
Problem in Every Family
Let’s positively think about it. It’s good to know that you are needed by those I love. But it is also a very fine balancing if I fulfill those needs. Unlike my daughter, my husband is an adult and open to reason. The choice should be simple. However, she has valid needs, her choices are sometimes simply whims. So every time there’s an unspoken battle for attention, I have to deeply think about who it is that really needs me.
The sacrifice seems to constantly hesitate and sometimes, it’s really hard to figure out if you made the right choice afterward. However, one person who definitely ends up losing attention is me. The feeling was, I don’t get to do the things that I want to.
I was ashamed to admit, in the past; I have huffed in this place for a while, and then, because nothing enforces reality like a demanding baby, forced myself to bounce back into my normal mode. This time around, when the process was nearing to begin, something was different.
In the Light of Qu’ran
It all began when I recently started implementing the advice of an Islamic scholar and made a point to read a few verses of the Holy Qur’an every night with their translation. I have done this before, but never with the determination to make it from cover to cover. As he promised, with every reading, there has been a lot of confusion, some glimpse of a hidden truth, and always a lesson to learn.
It is also miraculous that most of the nights, the verses I used to read in some way help with the day that has passed. Or become relevant in the next days. And so, while I was on the brink of yet another ‘what about me?’ I used to read the verse I have quoted at the start of this article.
‘Spend from that which you love.…’ Whenever I have read or heard this verse before, it has seemed to me to show financial expenses. But it can be applied to so many other things that we hold dear, the most precious of all being time.
Time to Ponder
Time is the one thing we think we own and need to guard jealously. We all have felt that need for walking away from everything and everyone for getting some ‘breathing space’, which really just means ‘some time alone’.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that when I did get that time alone, I wasn’t really ever alone. We all know that Allah is with us all the time, but how often do we actually realize this fact and acknowledge it? When we have that half-hour of solitude to ourselves, it’s actually a half hour we have alone with Allah.
“Give that which you love the most. It may be time, interests, love, romance, adventure etc.”
So these time that I was hunting for in a day or a week, even these do not belong to me. Time is a Gift from Allah until the day He decides to take it back. This is the greatest thing to sacrifice, the hardest thing to battle – letting go of this feeling of ownership over something that seems to be so essentially mine.
Obligation or Opportunity
But when nothing is mine, not even my time, then how can I feel the need to take it back from those around me? My spouse is considered Rizk – a provision that is given by Allah, my child is the same. My role as wife and mother was granted by Allah. Everything that Allah gives us, has a purpose as well as a benefit. So, trying to fulfill those roles is not only an obligation but an opportunity to become better.
That means, everything that I give to my family, everything I sacrifice for them is not mine to give or sacrifice, it’s all from Allah. Simply I am just a medium, a conduit for His Blessings to those around me. The better is transferred by me, the more I become what He wants me to be. This is the main idea.
Know the Real Challenge
These ideas are easy to think about, to express, and to put in words. But accepting and implementing them is a real challenge. Logically, I know that everything I have belongs to Allah, yet my heart still wants to claim things as mine, to own my identity, to define my Self.
I keep re-reading the verse and I want to attain the piety Allah has promised, yet the simple rule He has laid down for it seems like such a great barrier.
I wonder that we fall in love so easily with our life partner, giving up likes, interests, sometimes even beliefs, for them. We allow children to claim our love, giving it to them unconditionally. How strange then that we resist giving up our ego to the One Who Loves us most.
We take such pride in our worldly selflessness without realizing that it is all a reflection of Divine Love, that what we do for others out of love, Allah has done for us since He created us.