Loving leisure, preferring idleness and the perceived difficulty of tasks are what lead one to laziness. Bukhāri and Muslim reported from Anas ibn Mālik (radiAllāhu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to frequently say, “I seek refuge in Allāh from grief and distress, old age and laziness.” 1
Muslim reported in his Sahih that Abu Hurayrah (radiAllāhu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “A strong believer is better and more loved by Allāh than a weak believer.” 2
At all times, strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allāh, and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) befalls you, do not say , ‘If only I had done such-and-such, then such-and-such would have happened.’ Rather you should say, ‘Allāh preordained this, and whatever He wills He does,’ for the words ‘if only’ open the door to Shaytaan.
Ibn Mas’ood (radiAllāhu ‘anhu) said, “I detest a man whom I see idle from striving for this world and the hereafter.” 3 He also said, “At the end of time there will be people whose best actions will be blaming each other, also known as the lazy ones.”
Ibn ‘Abbās (radiAllāhu ‘anhu) said, “Slackening married laziness and they gave birth to poverty.”
Malik ibn Dinār said, “There is no righteous deed except that there is an obstacle that comes before it, if a person endures it patiently he will reach comfort, and if he fears it he will abstain from it.”
Sufyān al-Thawri said, “People left riding fast horses, and we have stayed on indolent camels.”
The cure for laziness lies in motivating and urging the endeavor by fearing that one may miss the goal, or be blamed, or fall into regret [lest one does not make an effort]. For the regret of a negligent person when he sees the reward of a hard worker is the greatest punishment. Also a person of sound mind should reflect on the negative consequence of indolence, for many a time has leisure led to regret.
Whoever sees that his neighbor has traveled, returning with profits, his regret will be many times greater than the satisfaction of leisure, similarly if one person becomes brilliant in knowledge and another does not due to laziness. The intended purpose of these examples is to explain that the pain of missing something exceeds the satisfaction of laziness.
Wise people are unanimous that wisdom is not reached by relaxation and idleness. Therefore, whoever knows the fruits of laziness will avoid it, and whoever is aware of the fruits of hard work will endure the hardships of the path. Moreover, an intellectual knows that he was not created in vain, rather he, in this world, is like a hired laborer or a merchant.
The span of lifetime in this world, which is practically the life one is given to perform good deeds, and the span of time one is to spend in the grave is like a single moment compared to the eternal dwelling in paradise or in the hellfire.
From amongst the best cures for indolence is reading and reflecting on the biographies of those who strove. Therefore, I wonder at he who would prefer idleness in the sowing season and leaves yielding for the harvesting season.
- Reported by Bukhāri 8:98, Muslim p.2079, 2080 and 2088 (Abdul-Baqi)
- Reported by Muslim, al-Qadar 34
- Reported by Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilyah 1:130, through the chain of Yahya ibn Wathāb from Ibn Mas’ood, may Allāh be pleased with him
- Transcribed from: Disciplining the Soul; Tibb al-Ruhāni | Ibn al-Jawzi