A Heartfelt Plea
Value the Time of Others
Mawlana Muhammad Imran Attari
Chairperson, Central Advisory Committee, Dawat-e-Islami
Along with valuing our own time, we ought to value the time of others; after all, just as our time is precious and important to us, the time of others is important and precious to them. We are, therefore, bound to abstain from anything that wastes other people’s time.
I urge every khateeb and preacher to consider their audiences. People travel from afar or take early leave from work to attend Friday sermons and lectures in Dawat-e-Islami’s gatherings. It is not uncommon for attendees to travel for days to attend a gathering or training session. Therefore, every khateeb and preacher is dutybound to respect the time of these people by selecting relevant topics and sharing Islamic teachings that address people’s needs, professions, and backgrounds.
You can draw inspiration from books by reliable Sunni scholars, such as those published by Maktaba-tul-Madinah. As for the duration of the lecture, you should take a considerate and pragmatic approach; consider the average time your audience spent travelling to you to get an idea of how much time you need to give to them. The key is to reciprocate their effort so that they do not return home feeling they wasted their time and did not learn much.
I want to especially draw the attention of teachers across all settings, faith-based or mainstream. You are the architects of our communities because your students will eventually take charge of the religious and worldly operations of society; whatever you instil in them today will impact society tomorrow. Since students are prepared to live off dry bread and stay away from their families in the pursuit of knowledge, you have an even greater responsibility to focus on their educational needs and commit yourself to their success. They should not feel that the teacher is unprepared for lessons or that s/he is only worried about the salary with little to no concern for the future of the learners.
To effectively use time, our preachers and teachers must prepare and plan their lectures and lessons to suit the ability of the attendees and learners; a lecture for scholars will be very different from a lecture aimed at the wider public. Lectures and lessons must also have a logical order. At its most basic, you must consider the scope and purpose of the introduction, decide which sections will be informational and which will be motivational, and plan when to outline the gathering’s purpose. Just as we prepare the ground to plant seeds, you must prepare the listeners' minds to plant the seeds of your message. After preparing like this a few times, you will, by the grace of Allah Almighty, find much ease in crafting powerful lectures.
Just as it is necessary to study, learn, and read more in order to value the time of others, it is paramount to act upon your knowledge; just as acting upon our knowledge benefits us, it also benefits others. The more a teacher, preacher, or khateeb embodies the knowledge they share, the more likely people are to accept his advice – there are other benefits too, as alluded to by the hadith: ‘مَنْ عَمِلَ بِمَا عَلِمَ عَلَّمَهُ اللهُ مَا لَمْ یَعْلَم’ ‘The one who acts upon his knowledge, Allah will grant him knowledge of that which he does not know,’ (Hilyat-ul-Awliya, vol. 10, p. 13, Hadith 1432).
Moreover, if you are not a scholar but wish to deliver a lecture, consider the following guidelines:
My spiritual guide, Ameer-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat, ‘Allamah Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ states that an easy method for a non-scholar to deliver a lecture is to make photocopies from the books of Sunni scholars and stick them in his diary; he can read from these resources but not add anything from himself or comment on a Quranic verse or hadith based on his own opinion or reasoning. This would be a sinful and dangerous act – even if your opinion is correct.
The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘Whosoever explained the Quran without knowledge, he should take his place in Hell,’ (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 439, Hadith 2969). Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said, ‘There is no harm if an unlearned but literate person reads from the works of a scholar, without adding anything from himself,’ (Fatawa Razawiyyah, vol. 23, p. 409).
I urge you to work hard to improve your lives and hereafter and the lives and hereafter of others. Purge your classes, lectures, and seminars of futile matters, and activities that waste time. Value your time and the time of others. May Allah Almighty enable us to do what pleases Him.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم