The perils of idleness

Anyone who allows the poison of idleness to creep into his system might as well be dead.

The second Caliph, Umar ibn Khattab, often used to express his sense of disillusionment about people he had come to like, when, on further acquaintance with them, he discovered them to be idle. “On learning that he does not work, he appears to be of no value (he has debased himself in my eyes).” (Al-Majalisah wa Jawahir al-‘Ilm, Hadith No. 3005).

Whichever way you look at idleness, there is no gainsaying the fact that it is a great evil, causing one to fritter away one’s best talents and leaving one unqualified to face life. A student who is too lazy to study cannot ever hope to acquire knowledge or have his critical faculties sharpened in any way, and his failure in examinations will leave him without the ‘paper’ qualifications, which is the ‘Open Sesame’ to good jobs.

Without the necessary groundwork, he will find himself leading a vacant existence, simply drifting from pillar to post. Even people who have managed to qualify themselves suitably, cannot afford to rest on their laurels. When the period of education is over, it is equally necessary to be consistently hard-working. Many make the excuse between the receipt of a degree and entry into a profession that they are waiting for the right job to come along. But one cannot go on waiting forever, simply idling away one’s time.

Sometimes, one inadvertently slips into idle ways because there are no economic pressures in one’s life. Those who inherit legacies or have property or investments, which bring them some return, are easy prey to idleness. But this is no existence for a human being. Anyone who allows the poison of idleness to creep into his system might as well be dead.

Either one must opt for a regular job, which brings one a suitable income and keeps one mentally healthy so that one never becomes a financial or emotional burden on anyone else, or, if one is financially independent, one should turn one’s attention to higher things, pursue noble ends, serve worthy causes and keep oneself fruitfully occupied day in and day out. A person with no sense of commitment is only living on the fringes of existence. He is out of touch with reality and will soon lapse into utter degeneracy. No really superior being has ever been found among the ranks of the idle.

As the old saying goes, the devil finds work for idle hands.


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