A few people from Damascus once came to visit Abu Muslim Al-Khawlaani (rahimahullah) while he was in the land of Rome for the purpose of Jihaad. Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) had dug a pit within his tent, lined the pit with a piece of leather and filled it with water. He thereafter entered the water and began to roll in it from side to side (in order to cool his body).
When the group from Damascus entered and saw Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) in the water, they understood that he was fasting and asked him, “Why are you fasting, whereas you are a traveler (i.e. you will find the nafl fast difficult while travelling)”. Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) replied, “If there is a need to fight, I will break my fast and prepare to fight by strengthening myself (through eating).”
Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) then continued, “Horses cannot reach their destination while they are fat. They are only able to move swiftly when they are thin. Alas! The remaining days of our lives are passing us by, and it is for these days that we are striving by exerting ourselves in worship.” (Siyaru Aa’laamin Nubalaa vol. 4 pg. 10)
When a man has a business premises, he tries to ensure that every square inch of the premises is used profitably. He will cram onto the shop floor as many shelves, displays and stock items as the premises can manage and will leave no area unused. Similarly, time is our greatest capital in earning the rewards of the Hereafter. The pious friends of Allah Ta‘ala left no time unused or wasted. Hence, although merely being out for Jihaad was itself an act of continuous ‘ibaadah, Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) still engaged in fasting and other acts of worship as he wished to gain maximum returns from his time.
In our lives, there are many precious moments that go to waste whereas we could be utilizing them to make strides of progress. For example, the moments when we are in a vehicle traveling, while cooking in the kitchen, while waiting in a line in a store, while waiting for salaah to commence in the musjid – all these and other similar moments should not see us idle. Instead, if we recite Durood Shareef or some other zikr in these moments, then we will surprise ourselves by realizing that we can easily recite as much as 1000 Durood or even more daily! It is simply a matter of switching off the radio and putting the phone away, choosing to rather engage in the worship of Allah Ta‘ala.
(Abu Muslim Al-Khawlaani [rahimahullah] #5