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The Prophet ﷺ advised us to:
"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 is one of those hadith that's equally powerful everytime you hear it. Some aspect clicks differently and we're able to reflect on our life and regain that perspective. 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 the 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 too. In this (temporary) abode, we often get side-tracked and want to achieve goals while we are young. Whether they are physical accomplishments or otherwise. However, ultimately a 'wasted youth' will be one in which one lost sight of the ultimate goal; attaining Allah's pleasure and entering Jannah Al Firdaus inshAllah.
This life is temporary and nobody is guaranteed to reach old age in the first place. Often times we see that closeness to Allah is attained in an individual's later years as the grave seems closer in sight. But this is truly not in our best benefit because with old age come limitations. Our means to attain His pleasure and that of those closest to us will not be as easy or accessible to us, depriving us of potential rewards.
"Health before sickness"
Make the best of your health to be productive with your time, and above all be grateful for it. We cannot take advantage of something if we haven't fully appreciated it's 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.
"Wealth before poverty"
Give, give and give some more. Give to attain His pleasure, with a blessing you have been granted and use it to raise your ranks in the hereafter. Ultimately all our blessing are a test, and if we only seek to benefit from them in this life, than we have truly lost the essence of the blessing.
The prophet (saw) 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. 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 the extras. Take benefit of extra windows of time to cash in some ajr, be it an act of worship or service.
"Life before your death"
This fifth and final aspect is the most powerful, summarizing all of the above and some.At the end of the day, our very purpose on this Earth is to worship Allah, everything else is pure leisure. What have we done with our lives? How have we made the best of them, 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 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 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.