A Dangerous Pair

Have you ever woken up and felt that today will be a very productive day? After praying Fajr and making your adhkar, you look at the clock, and you realize it is quite early in the morning. Then you glance at your To-Do list, maybe the one you wrote on a piece of paper yesterday, or the one on the white board on your fridge, or the one you kept preciously in your memory. After a brief mental calculation, you are quite sure that you have enough time in the day to accomplish all the things you have planned.

Then you look at the clock again after what felt like a blink of an eye, it is past 11 pm, and your To-Do list is still untouched. The day just slipped away as fast and as quite as an arrow leaves its bow. You wave your hand in the air as if in a motion to push away the many thoughts rushing to your head and trying to explain what just happened. As you pace the room, agitated, maybe even chocked, you focus on the facts and you start tracing back your day. Only one memory stands out, like the bright full moon masking all the surrounding stars: “I have time, I will do it later”. That is the phrase you told yourself throughout the whole day whenever you remembered an item from your list.

Now frustration starts to build in, your steps are getting faster and faster. Anger starts to fume from inside and spreads to your finger tips. You decide to sit down in an attempt to calm down. Then you lay down. And all those feelings begin to transform into regret. You keep visualizing your day over and over again. You try to sleep but you cannot forget, all what you can focus on is the regret. And the next day you are restless, stressed, overwhelmed, even before your glance at your recently adjusted To-Do list. You feel that now you have more legitimate reasons to procrastinate. You need to rest, to energize, to clear up your mind. But guess what happens when you look again at the clock at night, you feel even more regret.

If you have experienced this, you are not alone. You are yet another victim of a dangerous pair: Procrastination and regret.

Procrastination alone is a serious foe that stands between you and achievements. But when it teams up with the deep sorrow regret, they lock you in a cycle of self destruction and loss.

So how can you save your day from procrastination? And how can you preserve your night from regret?

Procrastinate no more

Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, in many narrations, provided us with a simple and efficient remedy to eliminate procrastination from our lives. Remembering that your journey in this life is temporary and that you will die, in a specific time, known only to Allah ﷻ. You might say that you believe in death, but the right question is how far off you think it is.

Anas bin Malik narrated: The Prophet ﷺ drew a few lines and said, “This is (man’s) hope, and this is the instant of his death, and while he is in this state (of hope), the nearer line (death) comes to Him.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

The answer is we don’t know, but it will be sooner than we think. So be prepared. Act now before it is too late.

And keep in mind, it is not only death that will prevent you from doing what you planned for; changing circumstances cannot be predicted. So, it is better to do what you have to do now and to not delay it. Instead of saying “I have time, I will do it later”, say “I have time, so let’s make good use of it”.

I will let you read these two amazing hadiths from our beloved Prophet ﷺ. Reflect on them, and do your best to implement this practical steps to stop procrastinating.

Mujahid narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ grabbed me on part of my body and said: ‘Be in the world like a stranger or a passerby, and count yourself among the inhabitants of the grave.'” Ibn ‘Umar said to me: “When you wake up in the morning, then do not concern yourself with the evening. And when you reach the evening, then do not concern yourself with the morning. Take from your health before your illness, and from your life before your death, for indeed O slave of Allah! You do not know what your description shall be tomorrow.”

[Jami` at-Tirmidhi – Sahih]

And in another Hadith,

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.”

[Sahih by Al-Albani]

Regret: now what?

Allah ﷻ says in the Quran:

No calamity occurs on earth or in yourselves without being (written) in a Record before We bring it into being. This is certainly easy for Allah. {22} (We let you know this) so that you neither grieve over what you have missed nor boast over what He has granted you. For Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful {23}

[Al-Hadid (57) 22-23]

Allah ﷻ is reminding us that whatever happened, happened. It was written. It will not change. Your sadness and regret will not bring the day back, and will not check anything off of your To-Do list.

Be careful though, this doesn’t mean that we should not feel regret. Islam doesn’t ask us to suppress our feelings. Rather, Islam shows us the way to navigate through them, grow through experiencing them, and move forward by taking the right path. Regret is not a bad thing in it of itself. Regret imprisons you and paralyzes you when you make it the objective and the goal,  rather than a mean to achieve Tawbah (repentance).

The conditions of correct Tawbah are:
1. You should give up the sin
2. You should regret having done it
3. You should resolve never to go back to it.

Regretting the mistakes you have done is actually the most important condition of a sincere Tawbah.

The messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Regret is repentance.”

[Sunan Ibn Majah]

If you feel regret, or I should say WHEN you feel regret, know that there is a necessary next step, regret alone is not sufficient. Now it is time to decide to never do it again. It is time to talk to Allah ﷻ in the darkness of the night, repent as if this is your last day, and make a plan for tomorrow to be better than today.

Step by step, day by day, through applying the Quran and the Sunnah, you will find yourself no longer a victim of this dangerous pair.


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