“…And days gone by will never return…”

Collected in the abridged version of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s ‘Iqtida’ al-‘Ilm al-‘Amal’ (p. 43-47), in the chapter titled ‘Rushing to Deeds Before One’s Youth and Health Disappear’:

1 – Ghunaym bin Qays said:

“We would be admonished in the early days of Islam:

‘O son of Adam! Act during your free time before you become busy, and during your youth before your old age, and during your health before your sickness, and during your stay in this world before the Hereafter, and during your life before your death.'”

2 – Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Masruq at-Tusi said:

“I recited to Mahmud bin al-Hasan:

Utilize your youth before it becomes spoiled * And the health of your body before it becomes sick;

And the days of your life before you die * For the one who lives will not live long;

And utilize your free time * Let your nights be spent in some work;

And put something forth, as every man is travelling towards * That which he has put forth…

3 – ‘Abdullah bin al-Mubarak said:

Take advantage of two rak’at to bring you closer to Allah * If you happen to be relaxing;

And if you intend to speak a vain word * Replace it with a tasbih…

4 – Abu Muhammad Mansur bin Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah al-Azdi chanted to himself:

Do not belittle an hour that can help you * In which you extend your hand in obedience;

As the living will die, and hopes are a deception * And the affair passes by hour by hour…

5 – Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad bin Ayyub chanted to himself:

In your free time, take advantage of the virtue of bowing in prayer * It might be that your death comes suddenly;

How many healthy ones have you seen without disease * Whose healthy selves disappeared and escaped them…

6 – Abu al-Walid Sulayman bin Khalaf bin Sa’d al-Andalusi chanted to himself:

If I knew for certain * That my entire life would last an hour;

Why would I be cheap with it * And not dedicate it to righteousness and obedience?

7 – Some of the scholars said:

“A group of people invited a man for some food on an extremely hot day. So, he said: “I am fasting.”

They said: “On a day like this?!”

He said: “Do you want me to waste my days?””

8 – Abu Bakr bin Abi ad-Dunya said:

“A group of people invited a man for some food. So, he said: “I am fasting.”

They said: “Break your fast today, and fast tomorrow.”

He said: “And who will be there for me tomorrow?””

9 – ‘Abdullah bin al-Mu’taz said:

“Seize the opportunity today, and do not wait for tomorrow, as there is nobody to guarantee tomorrow for you.”

10 – One of Dawud at-Ta’i’s brothers said to him:

“O Abu Sulayman! You know the kinship between us. So, advise me!”

So, his eyes began to water, and he said: “My brother! Indeed, the night and day are stages that the people pass through – one stage at a time – until they reach the end of their journey. So, if you are able to put forth for every day some provision for each stage, do so. And if your journey is cut short, prepare for your journey what you can, and fulfill what you are able of this affair, because it is as if its end will catch you by surprise. I do not know anyone who is more wasteful in this affair than I am.”

He then got up and left.”

11 – ‘Umar bin Muhammad bin Ahmad recited:

You are in a state of heedlessness and false hope * You do now know when your end will come;

Do not be deceived by good health * For it is from the most painful of flaws;

Every soul has for its day * An awakening to cut off its incessant hope;

So, do that which is good and exert yourself * Before you are unable to do anything…

12 – ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari al-Madini recited:

If yesterday you fell into a mistake * Then find some good to perform while you are thankful;

And do not delay a good deed from today to tomorrow * Tomorrow might arrive while you are deprived;

Because if you take care of today, it will benefit you * And days gone by will never return…

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