The Humble I

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

Regrets & Missed Opportunities

5421944290_8dacb6fe85_oHere are some brief words from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim about missed opportunities and squandering benefits. The Qur’an says: Say: ‘Shall We tell you whose works will bring the greatest loss?’ Those who efforts have been wasted in the life of this world whilst thinking they were doing good. [18:103-4] There are people whose smug self-righteousness is so ingrained that they go through life spreading corruption; campaigning to alter clear-cut religious precepts; or making a show of their piety – imagining all the while that they are acquiring virtue. Ultimately, such people shall suffer the worst of regrets. For their labours yield no real benefits and are emptied of God’s purpose for them. ‘Of all the words of mice and men,’ wrote an American novelist and satirist, ‘the saddest are, “It might have been.”’

Ibn al-Qayyim lists ten matters that he wishes us to meditate over, so as not to be of those who are ridden with regrets in the Afterlife, forever mumbling to ourselves: ‘It might have been!’ He writes:

‘Ten things which, if lossed, have no benefit:

[1] Knowledge that isn’t acted upon.

[2] Works of faith that are bereft of sincerity [to God] or conformity [to the shari‘ah].

[3] Wealth from which nothing is spent; so neither is joy gained by hoarding it, nor is it sent on ahead to the Afterlife.

[4] A heart empty of God’s love, yearning for Him, and intimacy with Him.

[5] A body devoid of obedience and service to Him.

[6] A love that doesn’t confine itself to the Beloved’s pleasure, nor does it comply with His commands.

[7] A moment of time not used to rectify one’s remissness, or seized to do good works and draw closer to God.

[8] A thought that dwells on what isn’t beneficial.

[9] Serving someone whose service doesn’t bring you closer to God nor does it rectify your worldly affairs.

[10] Your fear of, or hope in, someone whose forelock is in God’s hand, and is himself a captive in the divine grasp: possessing no power to bring about harm, benefit, death, life or resurrection.

The greatest of these losses, and it is the real root of all losses, are two things: wasting the heart, and squandering time. The heart is wasted when the world is given priority over the Afterlife; time is squandered by procrastination. Corruption stems entirely from following caprice and procrastination: rectification stems from following right guidance and preparing for the Encounter.’1

1. Al-Fawa’id (Makkah: Dar ‘Alam al-Fawa’id, 2009), 162.

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6 thoughts on “Regrets & Missed Opportunities

  1. Timely advice coinciding with the holiday period when many of us fall into gaflah, heedlessness, and risk squandering our time. Thank you

  2. May Allah fill out time with barakah, and make our times of relaxation oriented towards goodness and away from sin. May He alert us to our responsibilities and to the urgency of the human predicament. May He also cause our souls to be assured that all is still in His control and all still unfolds according to His plan.

  3. Aisha on said:

    Ya lateef so needed this right now;I’m struggling to strike a balance.
    How can you ensure your actions are for Allah but still be wordly wise?.

  4. Since being worldly-wise comes second nature to the vast majority of us, there’s obviously very little instruction needed about that. The main question is: In my life, and my activities in it, how can I realise sincerity to Allah? That’s the real question; the question of ikhlas. And whatever small answer I can offer here, it’s always going to be a case of: easier said than done.

    Sincerity, according to many of our scholars, requires the heart ‘to be emptied of all else besides God.’ This emptying is never that simple, for it involves struggling against the lower self so as to strip away the heart’s heedlessness; its love of praise; and its undue reverence of created beings. Once that begins to happen, it can then be filled with a profound awareness of God’s presence in our lives. Whenever acts of worship are performed with presence of heart (hudur al-qalb), and mindfulness of Allah made constant throughout our day to day life, Allah will cause other things to fall into place. And: Allah is indeed Gentle to His servants. [42:19]

  5. lubsy1 on said:

    SubhanAllah! I found this very informative and interesting to read.
    However, there is still some confusion; We receive so many Islamic reminders and information online these days, most of them without any backing from reliable sources such as hadith etc. Before I forward these, sometimes very good and believable posts onto other people, with every good intention Inshallah, how can I know what I’m forwarding is authentic? I’m not a scholar, just an ordinary Muslim woman on the path of enlightenment wanting to learn and share the knowledge I’ve gained with others. It makes me doubt the genuinity of the post in question if there is no hadith to back it up. Please could you advise me how I should go about determining the authenticity of such posts please.

    Many people forward stuff on blindly and while their intentions may be good and genuine, the authenticity of what they send may not be and could cause more harm than good in the future. I don’t want to be one of those people. So my question remains, how does one determine the authenticity of stuff like this please?
    Jazak Allah Khair for your patience and time in answering my questions.

  6. You’re right in holding that good intentions are not sufficient to make something that is wrong acceptable. When it comes to religious knowledge, we must all exercise the utmost caution. Any false attribution to the Prophet, peace be upon him, or fake fatwa, can actually history and change the religion!

    Our guiding principle in this regard is the verse of the Qur’an: “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [21:7]

    Thus, if we know, or reasonably think, that the stuff we wish to forward is from a reliable and trustworthy scholar, then we may forward such stuff – weather or not their words are backed up with a hadith.

    If we are not sure that such people are credible religious authorities, then we have two cases: (i) Either the information is basic Islamic knowledge, about which no one will disagree; or (ii) it is knowledge that is controversial or it seems strange to you.

    If it’s the first case, one could – after some consideration – forward it on, especially if you feel people will benefit from it.

    If it’s the second case, piety demands that we withhold from forwarding it on. The harms in doing so are likely to be greater than any perceived benefit.

    And Allah knows best.

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