Muslim World

The Golden Advice

The Golden Advice

The Prophet ﷺ advised: “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim) This hadith is equally powerful every time you hear it. Some aspect of it will click differently with you, depending on where you are in life. If you’ve been afflicted with sickness, you can appreciate this hadith in a particular way. If you have hit a milestone age, this hadith strikes a special chord. Wherever we are in life we’re able to reflect on it and regain perspective when we read this. It is one of my personal favorites because it’s comprehensive and so succinctly expressed.


“Youth Before Old Age”

There are so many ways to interpret and, thus, implement this aspect of prophetic advice. Give from your energies, to your family and the community around you but above all to Allah. Worship Allah and do the extras while you have the ability to. In this (temporary) abode, we often get side-tracked and want to achieve more worldly goals while we are young, like physical and material accomplishments. While there’s nothing wrong with using your youth to set yourself up for financial stability and peak physical form, ultimately, a ‘wasted youth’ is one in which one loses sight of the ultimate goal: striving for Allah’s pleasure and entering Jannah.

This life is temporary and nobody is guaranteed to reach old age in the first place. Oftentimes we see that people “shape up” or become worshipful and observant of bounds in their later years, when the grave seems closer in sight. But this is not in our best interest. Even if we reach old age, we should be mindful that with old age comes limitations. Our abilities are circumscribed, whether financially, physically, or mentally–or even all of the above, and this can deprive us of potential good deeds.

“Health Before Sickness”

Make the best of your health to be productive with your time, but above all be grateful for it. How many times have we been afflicted with a sickness or felt pain in our joints or muscles, only to feel regret that we took our health for granted? And if we got better, we would appreciate feeling well and strong? We cannot take advantage of something if we haven’t fully appreciated its blessing. Once again, attain His pleasure while you are able and healthy. Visit those who are sick to remind yourself of the blessing but, more importantly, support someone who is struggling. The Prophet said, ‘Allah Almighty will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O Son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.’ He will respond: ‘My Lord, how can I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds?’ Allah will say:’ Did you not know that My servant was sick and you did not visit him, and had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’” We will be asked about our visiting the sick, so model this behavior for your family and teach them to follow suit.  

“Wealth Before Poverty”

Give, give and give some more. Give to attain Allah’s pleasure, with the blessings you have been granted and use it to raise your ranks in the hereafter. Ultimately all our blessings are a test, and if we only seek to benefit from them in this life, then we have truly lost the essence of the blessing. The Prophet said: ‘Spend on others, and I will spend on you’. (Bukhari, Muslim) Giving from your wealth will not diminish your wealth. Trust His promise. 

“Free Time Before You Are Preoccupied”

Use your time to attain His pleasure, and that of those who have rights upon you. Visit and serve your parents, grandparents and relatives, especially those that are alone and living in obscure circumstances. It’s easier to visit relatives that are “popular” and well-supported, but harder to do with those relatives who are not so much on our radar. Be interested in younger siblings and cousins, their lives and concerns. Make time to pray, fast, read Quran and get up for tahjjud (standing for prayer in the night before the time of Fajr). Though there is no such thing as being ‘too busy to worship Allah,’ we may find that we do not have as much opportunity when we are busy to do sunnah and nafil (supererogatory) worship. There are different seasons in life– when you get a job and begin providing for a family, having small children, needing to care for elderly parents– so when you find yourself having a season of free time, use it to worship much. Take advantage of extra windows of time to cash in good deeds, be it an act of worship or service.

“Life Before Your Death”

This fifth and final aspect is the most powerful, encompassing all of the above– and then some. At the end of the day, our very purpose on this Earth is to worship Allah. What have we done with our lives? How have we made the best of it, not just to create and be a part of a God-conscious home in this life but one that gives us the best in the hereafter?

Each element of life can be tied back to Allah, a reminder of our true purpose on this Earth, be it our health, wealth, time, youth or our life, ultimately making the ‘best’ of it is pleasing to Him. If we could keep this at the forefront of our dealings and perspective on life, how fruitful would that be?

May Allah allow us to make the best of our blessings, so that we can attain the ultimate blessing in the hereafter. Ameen!