Advice to a Poor Black Muslim Youth (part 4)
Time. It’s been said that time is what makes your life, so use it well. When you run out of time, your life, at least in this world, comes to an end. Do not find yourself wasting this precious resource. Find yourself occupied either in acquiring useful knowledge—both religious AND worldly knowledge—and/or good deeds. The Prophet told us to take advantage of two things while we have them: our health and our time. In the previous article we talked about caring for your health. Now, let’s speak briefly, in-shaa’ Allah, about caring for your time.
Establish a daily schedule and stick with it. You have to be disciplined and tell your lower self (nafs) what to do. Do not allow the desires of your body dictate to you what to do. Your body should be seen as your servant and not you the servant of your body. The body inclines toward laziness and sleep. Fight this desire, and force yourself to sleep less and less, until you reach the point when you don’t need to sleep more than six (or fewer) hours each night. As we said in the previous piece, you need to get up early (before the fajr (dawn)), and take advantage of the mornings, for worship and exercise and study. Once you establish the habit of early rising, it will come naturally, and you will feel uncomfortable with excessive sleep. Going to bed by 11 pm will make it easier for you to rise early.
One of the most important investments, I would say, to help you with your daily routine is to get an mp3 player with a voice recorder. With it, you can keep your time occupied with learning. For instance, at times when you might not normally be able to read, such as, during your morning run, or a walk to acquire knowledge or to visit a friend, you can at least listen to useful information. There are plenty of resources available on-line for learning foreign languages. As was said before, start with Spanish, and once you build up your confidence in learning languages, get ambitious, and begin your study of Chinese. As for Arabic, you will need to seek a qualified teacher to get you started, but once you begin learning, you can, for instance, review vocabulary and grammar lessons on your device. With your mp3, you can listen to the Qur’an. Listening to the Qur’an is a great way to tune out the negative things that may be around you. Also, use your mp3 player to listen to Islamic lessons from reliable teachers of traditional Islamic knowledge. You can find many such lessons at aicp.org.
When it comes to your time, look not only at how you spend it, but also look at with whom you spend it. The Prophet advised us to take good companions; however, the fact of the matter is that in our time, a good friend is a rare find. We do not have the luxury of sitting down for years at the feet of learned and righteous men whom we can observe and imitate or get filled up with their knowledge and drink from their wells of wisdom. With that said, it is better to be alone than in ill company. This is especially true in the beginning stages of trying to establish positive new habits. Try to turn your friends on to what we have discussed previously: Islamic and academic studies, a daily exercise routine, and good eating habits, etc. If they are with it, all the better, but if they are not, you may very well need to start to cut people off, especially, if you find them saying negative things about what you are trying to do—or worse, if they are intentionally trying to pull you away from the ways of goodness and blessings.
In-shaa’ Allah, as you get stronger with your routine, others will see changes in you, and those who truly do want to improve themselves, may start to ask questions about what they can do to change themselves, as well. These are the people you can potentially help, but the first thing you need to do is be sure you are strong enough to help yourself. Also, keep this in mind: you can’t help the one who does not want to help himself—regardless of how much you may care him. As for those who enjoy living foul, abandon them, for they will suck you into their dark and evil worlds, and you don’t want any part of that.
As for your time with members of the opposite sex, you need to be careful… very careful, for the shaytaan wishes to lure us into immodesty. Ask yourself: are you right now are earning a halaal income capable of taking care of a wife and children? (I am not talking about you and her working—after all, it is not the duty of the woman to financially support the family. This is the sole responsibility of the husband.) Are you able to house your wife and child in a safe and clean neighborhood outside the city? Are you earning enough money to send your children to a private school (for a public school in the city should be out of the question)? Chances are, you answered, “No,” to at least one of those questions—which means, you probably are not ready for marriage.
Concentrate on yourself first—acquire the religious knowledge, gain the skills and education necessary to earn a decent halaal income; see to it that, in-shaa’ Allah, your finances are in order, before you even consider marriage. What to do in the meantime? Bury your eyes in the concrete and keep your belt tight. That is, lower your gaze, and don’t stuff your gut with food, for no thing stirs up the desires, like a full belly.
Now, when you reach a certain age, you will hear older Brothers, perhaps well-meaning… perhaps, not so, quoting Hadiths and Muslim proverbs about the virtues of marriage to encourage you to get a wife. You need to consider very, very, very carefully this issue, for it is one of the most important decisions in your life. Simply consider the consequences of a bad choice of a partner—or marrying before you are prepared psychologically, spiritually, or financially.
When we speak of time, do you want to spend the rest of your life with someone who is not going to be a good companion on your journey into the Afterlife? Do you want to bring a child into this world you can’t adequately care for? How well can you handle the pressure of taking care of children and a wife on a single income? What will marriage do to your time for study or your desires to travel abroad? Do you want to marry a young woman who is pretty in the face but weak in the Faith? What would likely happen if you divorced such a woman? What will happen to your children—in what religion would they be raised? Look at the family you are marrying into. What would happen to your children—your own flesh and blood—if you were to die. Will your wife and her family be able to raise your children to be righteous Muslims who will be able to stand up for Islam? These are a few of the things that need to be considered before marriage.
As for what is called “casual sex” or having a “girlfriend,” know that it is obligatory to flee fornication (zina). After disbelief and murder, fornication is the worst of the sins. Although fornication is the absolute norm in the hood, that doesn’t mean that you have to do it. It is a disgusting and revolting act, and one of the main causes of black poverty and the general jacked-up condition of the inner city. There is no free lunch. The pleasures of this world all have a cost. For a few moments of pleasure do you really want to get dragged before a judge, humiliated in court, and ordered to pay child support for the next 18 years on an out-of-wedlock kid you didn’t want to have simply because you could not resist a brief sensation? Are you so shameless that you would disobey Allah by not keeping your reproductive organ in your drawers? Don’t do that to yourself—do not disgrace yourself. You are a Muslim, and you should behave with honor and dignity.
Be patient in this matter of marriage. Make du`aa’ to Allah to give you the ability to get ease the desire for the opposite sex until you are better prepared. If you lower your gaze, keep yourself absorbed in learning and worship, and as was mentioned above, pay attention to what you eat and avoid those foods that stir up your desires, in-shaa’ Allah, you will be able to manage this. Also, keep in mind the importance of good friends in this matter. They will encourage you to make the right choices. They will remind you of the importance of thinking in the long term and the importance of delayed gratification. They will encourage you to make the necessary preparations for marriage and advise you not to rush into anything.
In summary, be mindful of your time—how you spend it and with whom you spend it. The time on the surface of this earth is short compared to the time we spend inside the earth down in the grave and what comes after. Use your time to improve yourself by obeying Allah through the acts of worship, acquiring knowledge, helping others in goodness, and remembering the reality of death. God-willing, this is enough for now.