I came to recall an important truth that all of us are already aware of, at least subconsciously, but most of us fail to incorporate into our daily life. I was re-reading Surah Al-Asr with careful attention to the translation, which is as follows:
“By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Qur’an, 103:1-3)
Allah (subhan wata’alah ) establishes the default position for all mankind at the very beginning of the ayah (verse): a state of loss. That is followed by the exceptions to the default position, namely those people that have iman (faith), do good deeds, propagate truths and exercise patience. Interestingly, all of these four exceptions allude to actions done consistently. Even iman itself is not a static state, but its level fluctuates in every individual, with the exception of prophets, depending on a person’s actions and worship. As such, we realize a hard fact: everyone is losing with the passage of time by default, with the exception of those that are doing righteous actions. With time, it’s use it or lose it. Contrary to what most of us would like to believe, there is no stationary state. If we are exactly the same person today as we were yesterday, we are actually losers under this definition. Certainly, amongst the major differences in this world and the next is time itself: this life is temporary, and the next life is eternal.