By the grace of Allāh, we have been blessed with one of our most long-awaited holidays – the summer break! It’s been a long year, but alhamdulillah, we’ve all made it through, and for this, we need to express our gratitude to Allāh, for He tells us in the Qur’ān:
لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ
“If you are thankful, surely I will increase you”
For many, the summer is not something they can look forward to as a holiday, but we, as students, are in privileged enough positions to be able to have a few weeks that aren’t governed by timetables and the drone of a daily 9 – 5. The problem with having this break however, is this: we have so much time on our hands that we don’t know what to do with it. But, not to worry, we here at SiblingsOfIlm have had the same problems and so we’ve done what we like to do best – brought the solutions to you.
There are so many ways of maximising our time during this summer break, but we’ve found that it is much easier to use our time wisely when we understand the reasoning behind it. Especially knowing that while we have expressed our gratitude to Allāh verbally, we can continue to do so practically. Understanding and acting upon the following pointers has assisted us in utilising our time well for the sake of Allāh, and we hope it will do the same for you:
- Value of time
- Value of seekers
- Emulating the life of the pious
- Importance of sacrifice
- Following up ʿilm with ʿamal
The Value of Time in Islām:
There’s a very popular ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī which emphasises the importance of utilising the time that we have, and as students, there is nothing more pertinent:
عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ نِعْمَتَانِ مَغْبُونٌ فِيهِمَا كَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ، الصِّحَّةُ وَالْفَرَاغُ ”
Narrated Ibn ʿAbbās: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.”
Free time is very valuable and an asset to seekers of knowledge as we are not just studying for the sake of it, rather we have been chosen specifically by Allāh to do His work. Like with any other achievement we aspire towards in life, we must also make a plan for our summer break. By dividing up the hours in the day and dedicating it towards different books/topics, we will be able to consolidate our knowledge from the previous year and strengthen our weaknesses for the coming one.
The Value of Seekers of Knowledge:
Students of sacred knowledge are known as a guest of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. In a ḥadīth of Abū Dāwūd, scholars have been referred to as the ‘Wasiyya’ (bequest) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and students described those for whom which the angels spread their wings in humility. The creation, including the fish in the ocean, seek forgiveness for students of dīn.
With such high expectations of us as students, it is of absolute necessity that we utilise every minute of our lives, including those in the summer holiday. Every moment that we are given life and the ability to seek ʿilm, we should consider it a blessing and act accordingly for it has been decreed upon us as a gift. This shift in perspective will allow us to see studying in the summer holiday as less of a chore and more as an opportunity to serve our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him), and in turn, Allāh Most-High.
Emulating the Life of the Pious:
Often we struggle to find role models who encourage to stay upon the right path – especially during the summer holiday when we are not in the company of our blessed teachers and other classmates. One of the biggest perks of being students of knowledge is that we have plenty of predecessors to look back upon and use their lives as models for our own. In the Qur’ān, Allāh gives the examples of 17 Prophets who have passed and instructs the Prophet (peace be upon him):
أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ فَبِهُدَاهُمُ اقْتَدِهْ
“Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example.”
It is in our best interests to be amongst the best of mankind, and the only way we can do that is by emulating the lives of those who have come before us and dedicated their lives to the work of dīn.
The Importance of Sacrifice:
In Islām, there is a unique concept of maximum strife and effort by one’s own self called mujāhadah. In the context of the summer break, it may very well feel like a big sacrifice to not partake in the leisurely activities others might be doing, but think of it this way, your choice to study and continue in your way towards the path of Allāh is an act of mujāhadah. Allāh tells us in the Qur’ān:
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا
“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.”
وَمَن جَاهَدَ فَإِنَّمَا يُجَاهِدُ لِنَفْسِهِ
“And whoever strives only strives for [the benefit of] himself.”
What is sacrifice? ‘Mujāhadah’: striving, making maximum effort is extremely important. Whether a student is becoming a Ḥafidh or an ʿĀlim, or is in academic studies, he should put maximum effort into his studies. The holidays give the student plenty of time to delve into his curriculum books.
We can also take an example of the level of sacrifice from those who came before us, especially Imām Abu Yusuf (Allah have mercy on him) whom, upon the death of his son, requested that his neighbours conduct the funeral prayers and burial so not to miss a class with his beloved teacher after thirty years of diligent attendance. He says:
الْعِلْمُ شَيْءٌ لا يُعْطِيكَ بَعْضَهُ حَتَّى تُعْطِيَهُ كُلَّكَ
“Knowledge will not give you a part of it unless you give it your full self”
Following up ‘Ilm with Amal:
يهتف العلم بالعمل فان اجاب وإلا ارتحل
“Knowledge cries out for practice, if it responds (then knowledge remains)، otherwise knowledge also departs.”
In reality, the knowledge we acquire over the year is in fact very minute in comparison to the oceans of knowledge available out there. In order to preserve this little knowledge we acquire, we have to put in to practice whatever we learn – the best time for this is the summer break when we are not governed by our pressing timetables and are doing so out of choice purely for the sake of Allāh.
As well as striving to seek and consolidate knowledge throughout the break, we need to ensure we are not neglecting our daily requirements. By exercising what we already know is at the core of our faith, everything we do on top is complementary and reaps good deeds which benefits only us alone. If possible, we should try and build study groups so that we are not in complete isolation from other blessed souls. It was said by Muftī Muḥammad Taqī Usmanī during a dars:
نہ کتابوں سے نہ وعظوں سے نہ زر سے پیدا
دین ہوتا ہے بزرگوں کی نظر سے پیدا
“Neither from books, nor lectures, not even from gold.
[The correct understanding of] Dīn is acquired through the company of the pious.”
We leave you now to make the most of your summer break with some advice from Ibn Qudamah al-Ḥanbalī:
“Value Allāh’s favours upon you as he gave you the greatest blessing which is of life. Take care of your precious time and know that every second of your life is limited and each breath is counted. With every breath, a part of you is gone so whatever time is left, is very little.
Every part of your life is an exclusive pearl which neither has an equal and nor can it be replaced. Indeed, this short life will either result you in eternal bliss or severe punishment for eternity.
If you were to compare this life with the life of eternal bliss, then you will realise that one breath doesn’t even equal to more than a thousand years in the eternal abode. So do not waste the pearls of your precious life without good deeds and do not let it pass without making up for it.
Endeavour to never let a breath leave you except that it is utilised in good deeds or in a manner that will bring you closer to Allāh ﷻ. For indeed, if you had pearls from this world and they were taken away from you, you would be severely distressed. On the other hand, if one Dinar was to be lost from your possession, how distressed and restless would you be during every single moment? So how can you not be upset if the golden moments of your life aren’t spent in something beneficial?”
In conclusion, as seekers of ʿilm, our break from a routine of study should not result in total abandonment of studies, but at the same time we must keep a balance between giving our bodies the due refreshment it requires along with keeping in touch with our Qur’ān, our Kutub and our ʿIbādāt. Keep yourself busy, because an idle mind is a devils workshop.
Although we are on a break, penning down what we hope to achieve from the break is often a good start to ensuring some sort of productivity. How often have holidays past and we reflect back thinking: ‘Where has it gone?’.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A believer is not stung twice (by something) out of one and the same hole.” Let us not make the same mistakes we have made previously, be insightful and well prepared. Happy holidays!
May Allāh guide us O dear reader, to conserve time, to fill it with pious actions and beneficial knowledge, to make us amongst those that are aware of the value of time and the value of life to the extent that they do not wrong themselves, their community, and their Ummah – such are the rightly guided. Āmīn.
 Qur’ān, Sūrah Ibrāhim – 14, Ayah 7
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6412
 Sunan Abū Dawūd 3641
 Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Anʿām – 6, Ayah 90
 Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Ankabūt – 26, Ayah 69
 Qur’ān, Surah al-Ankabūt – 26, Ayah 6
 al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, الجامع لأخلاق الراوي وآداب السامع للخطيب
 See more in al-Mughnī
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6133