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Chapter 22. Averting Indolence

Loving leisure, preferring idleness and the perceived difficulty of tasks are what lead one to laziness. Bukhari and Muslim reported from Anas ibn Malik (ra) that the Prophet (saw) used to frequently say, "I seek refuge in Allah from grief and distress, old age and laziness."

Muslim reported in his Sahih that Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, "A strong believer is better and more loved by Allah than a weak believer." [Muslim]

At all times, strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) befalls you, do not say, 'If only I had done such-and-such, then such-and-such would have happened.' Rather you should say, 'Allah preordained this, and whatever He wills He does,' for the words 'if only' open the door to Satan.

Ibn Masud (ra) said, "I detest a man whom I see idle from striving for this world and the hereafter." [Abu Nuaym, Al-Hilyah] He also said, "At the end of time there will be people whose best actions will be blaming each other, also known as the lazy ones."

Ibn Abbas (rau) said, "Slackening married laziness and they gave birth to poverty."

Malik ibn Dinar said, "There is no righteous deed except that there is an obstacle that comes before it, if a person endures it patiently he will reach comfort, and if he fears it he will abstain from it."

Sufyan al-Thawri said, "People left riding fast horses, and we have stayed on indolent camels."

Section One: The Cure for Laziness

The cure for laziness lies in motivating and urging the endeavor by fearing that one may miss the goal, or be blamed, or fall into regret [lest one does not make an effort]. For the regret of a negligent person when he sees the reward of a hard worker is the greatest punishment. Also a person of sound mind should reflect on the negative consequence of indolence, for many a time has leisure lead to regret.

Whoever sees that his neighbour has travelled, returning with profits, his regret will be many times greater than the satisfaction of leisure, similarly if one person becomes brilliant in knowledge and another does not due to his laziness. The intended purpose of these examples is to explain that the pain of missing something exceeds the satisfaction of laziness.

Wise people are unanimous that wisdom is not reached by relaxation and idleness. Therefore, whoever knows the fruits of laziness will avoid it, and whoever is aware of the fruits of hard work will endure the hardships of the path. Moreover an intellectual knows that he was not created in vain, rather he, in this world, is like a hired laborer or a merchant.

The span of lifetime in this world, which is practically the life one is given to perform good deeds, and the span of time one is to spend in the grave is like a single moment compared to the eternal dwelling in paradise or in the hellfire.

From amongst the best cures for indolence is reading and reflecting on the biographies of those who strove. Therefore, I wonder at he who would prefer idleness in the sowing season and leaves yielding for the harvesting season.

It was narrated that Farqad said, "You put on the garment of leisure before you started working. Have you not noticed that when a worker starts working he wears his cheapest garment, when he is done, he takes a shower and puts on two clean garments. On the other hand you wore the garment of leisure, before you even started working." [Hilyah al-Awliyah]