If Muslims were to count the known and unknown blessings that they receive from Allah SWT on a daily basis, they would never be able to estimate them and are generally lacking in gratitude, as mentioned in Surah Ibrahim. Although Allah created man purely for the sake of His worship, He created the sun, moon, stars, sky, and animals, etc. to sustain and serve him. The hadith about five before five outlines five matters of importance for Muslims.
Every part of the human anatomy itself is an inimitable blessing. Ibn Abbas (R.A) said that we have 360 joints, all of which owe charity on a daily basis. Good words, helping one’s brother, giving water to drink, and removing something harmful from the path all count as charity. The hadith about five before five focuses on some important matters in Islam. Muslims must pay attention to these.
Allah al-Kareem (The Generous) has shown Muslims a myriad of untraditional ways to give charity, with smiles and random acts of kindness, so that not even the poorest of the poor amongst us feel deprived.
Time is passing by swiftly: A lesson for five before five
As these countless divine bounties and blessings descend upon man, he often loses track of time and begins taking them for granted. Any adult will gladly tell you how during his childhood, the days had seemed endless, but how in adulthood, he struggles to find time to complete his tasks.
No matter how badly a man wants time to slow down, the days, hours, minutes, and indeed the seconds pass away too soon. A phenomenon that is mentioned in various places throughout the Quran, such as Surah Al-Mu’minun and Surah Al-Kahf; the latter Surah informing us about the people of the Cave’s story and how time flew by without them perceiving it.
This is an account of how a man will feel as he stands before Allah SWT on Judgement Day. He will mislead himself into believing that he had lived, dreamed, and hoped for no more than a day.
A Muslim should take care of five before five
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) knew the nature of time speeding up. This meant that man would have lesser time to correct his many mistakes. He urged Muslims to be proactive and not time-wasters. He was always at the forefront of rushing towards every good deed. The Prophet (PBUH) was known to have prayed until his feet swelled in a show of gratitude to his Adoring Lord.
According to Al-Hakim, the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have administered a warning, telling us to avail five before five – five things before five other things. These consist of one’s youth, before one ages, one’s health before one becomes ill, one’s money, before one experiences poverty, one’s free time before one becomes occupied, and one’s life, before death overtakes him.
Youth before old age
When Muslims are in the prime of their youth, they squander away the time on useless things. The computer age has not helped their cause. Technological advances encourage quick fixes for everything. The charm of making an effort to accomplish a task has been significantly undermined. When young, it is easy to get lost in the rat race and to while away one’s time.
A Muslim should know that youth is a time for maximum action. With an endless flow of energy, a young man can labor in Allah’s cause with vigor. Apart from working to earn a livelihood, he can work for the upliftment of the underprivileged in his society before old age slowly creeps upon him.
A youngster can utilize the springtime of his life to spend his days and nights in seeking Allah’s pleasure. Seeking beneficial knowledge, praying, fasting, and other acts of worship are a breeze when one is young. Muslims must find optimal benefit from the blessing of stamina and efficiency before old age strips away their youth. When grey hair, frail bones, aches, and pains become a norm, leaving all their dreams unfulfilled.
Health before sickness
No one knows what Allah SWT has decreed for them in terms of good health and general well-being. How often do we hear of young individuals who have fallen ill or become physically impaired due to an accident? Life is so unpredictable that a Muslim should live between hope and fear. He should know that his blessings of health and youth can be snatched away in a single moment.
Being fit is not a license to disregard one’s diet and eating habits. On the contrary, to preserve good health, it is imperative that one eat healthily, sleep well, and exercise regularly. The Prophet (PBUH) has, on numerous occasions, asked Muslims to eat light meals.
A Muslim should supplicate regularly for his own and his family’s well-being and remain optimistic about securing Allah’s protection. Nonetheless, while healthy, he must also look after his physical, mental, and spiritual state. He must give regular charity to ward off calamity. Waking up healthy every morning ought to be treated as a blessing and as yet another chance to earn Allah’s pleasure.
Wealth before poverty
A Muslim whom Allah has blessed with an abundance of wealth should know that the Giver is also the Withholder. His wealth and possessions can be taken away at any time of Allah’s choosing. A believer knows that giving in charity and spending in Allah’s cause is due upon both a king and a pauper.
The king spends according to his means, and the pauper smiles at his brother to earn a reward for a charitable act. A wealthy Muslim must pay his Zakat, Fitra, and give plenty of charity (sadaqa) before the day comes when he has nothing to offer. The more he spends on Allah’s creation; the more Allah will bless him.
Just like people can become rich overnight, they can also lose all they possess in a single moment. An earthquake, floods, or other unforeseen calamities may be the culprits. A wealthy Muslim can show his gratitude for Allah’s boundless bounties through the act of giving, lest he loses all his wealth without having earned any reward.
Free time before preoccupation
A Muslim who has free time on his hands should spend it wisely. Having free time at one’s disposal is a treasure beyond compare in the usual hustle and bustle of life. Free time should translate into good works. A believer does not sit idle or waste his time on useless activities that distance him from Allah. He instead uses the God-gifted free time in striving to gain proximity to his Lord.
Even when a Muslim avails of his free time to do mundane things, but for Allah’s sake, he receives immense reward and gratification. Large numbers and wondrous deeds pale in comparison to a humble act that is done while purely seeking Allah’s pleasure.
It is only when a Muslim gets preoccupied with work and overburdened with a responsibility that he looks back with a regretful heart at all the free time he once had but whiled away.
Life before death: The most important of five before five
A little known fact is that all of us endure a smaller death as we sleep. Allah takes the soul of those who sleep and returns most while keeping a few. Upon awakening, it is due upon every Muslim to remember Allah with a heart full of gratitude for having given us another day to live and pile up good deeds.
A Muslim knows that Allah did not create him aimlessly, without purpose, or in jest. He must, therefore, strive to fulfill this purpose before the angel of death appears. Worship longer, supplicate harder, and spend freely on worthy causes. Smile and greet those whom you know and don’t know, be kind to neighbors, hospitable to guests, and dutiful to parents. The list of good deeds is endless, and the possibility of encountering death only once Allah is pleased with you is promising for every Muslim.
The ‘destroyer of pleasures’ death should be remembered often, for it makes every second of life worth living. All that will accompany a Muslim into his grave will be his good deeds. His wealth, status, fame, job, friendships, relatives, and everything worldly that had once gladdened his heart will be left behind.
In Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that three things go to the grave with the person who dies. Out of those, two return, while one stays with him. The person’s family, wealth, and deeds follow him to his grave. His family and wealth leave him, whereas his deeds stay with him.
In life’s journey, we’re reminded of the precious moments that shape our existence. The concept of “Five Before Five” serves as a profound guide, urging us to act with purpose, gratitude, and generosity. As each day passes, the importance of youth, health, wealth, free time, and life itself becomes increasingly evident, inspiring us to live a fulfilling life in service to Allah.