Important advice from Imām Muḥammad Ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d.1421 AH) – raḥimahullāh – concerning how the students of knowledge and those in hope of Allāh’s salvation must safeguard the time that they have.
The Shaykh was asked, “What are your guidelines concerning usage of time, and protecting it from being wasted?”
He answered saying, “It is necessary for a student of knowledge to protect his time from being wasted. Time-wasting occurs in a number of ways:
That one leaves learning and revising what one has read.
That one sits with his friends and indulges in vain talk which contains no benefit.
This is the most harmful of them upon a student of knowledge: That he has no concern except pursuing people’s statements, [for] “mā qīla wa qāla”(What was said and what he said), and [for] “maa hasala wa maa yahsul” (What occurred and what is taking place), regarding an issue of no concern to him.
No doubt, this is from a weak Islām, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “From a person’s good Islām is to leave that which doesn’t concern him.”1
Busying oneself with “Qīla wa qāla” (What was said and what he said), and excessive questioning are time-wasters.
In reality, it is a disease which, when it comes into a man – we ask Allāh for well-being – it becomes his greatest concern. He may show enmity to one who does not deserve enmity, or he may ally one who doesn’t deserve alliance due to concerning himself with these issues, which busy himself away from knowledge, with the pretext of “championing the truth”, while this is not the case.
Rather, this is pertaining to occupying oneself with an issue which does not concern him.
If a report comes to you, without you having pursued it or sought it, then all people receive news but they don’t busy themselves with it, nor does it become their greatest concern, because this occupies the student of knowledge.
It corrupts his affair, and opens for the ummah the door of ḥizbiyyah (partisanship) then the ummah will split.”2
Collected by Imām Aḥmad(1/201) and Tirmidthī (2318). An-Nawawī declared it Ḥasan in ‘Rīyaḍ al-Ṣaliḥīn’ (p. 73). Aḥmad Shākir declared it ‘Ṣaḥīḥ’ in ‘Al-Musnad’ (1737).
This fatwá́ (Islamic verdict) is taken from “Kitāb al-ʿIlm” of Shaykh ʿUthaymīn compiled by Shaykh Fahd ibn Nāṣir ibn Ibrāhīm al-Sulaymān, printed by Dār al-Tharya lin-Nāshir (First print 1417H/1996CE), (pp. 204-205).