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The Different Masks of Laziness (Part 1)

When we think about laziness, we normally think of personal laziness; the feeling of not wanting to do something even though you should be doing it. However, laziness as a concept has many faces and wears many masks. In this article, we’ll aim to uncover these masks so that we’re aware of them insha Allah.

Definition of Laziness

Before we expose the masks of laziness, let us first define it.

According to Imam Al-Ragheb, laziness is “lack of energy and enthusiasm of doing something that you should not lack energy/enthusiasm for”.

For example, you should not lack energy/enthusiasm to perform your prayers, or to go to work, or to study and improve yourself, but if you do then that’s laziness.

Laziness in the Qur’an and Sunnah

The term laziness or “Kasal” in Arabic only appeared twice in the Qur’an, describing the hypocrites and their state of prayer:

”Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little. [Al-Nisa, verse 142]

”And nothing prevents their contributions from being accepted from them except that they disbelieved in Allah and in His Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and that they came not to As-Salat (the prayer) except in a lazy state, and that they offer not contributions but unwillingly.” [Al-Tawbah, verse 54]
And in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) it was mentioned in the following hadeeth:

Narrated Abu Huraira Allah’s Apostle said, “Satan puts three knots at the back of the head of any of you if he is asleep. On every knot he reads and exhales the following words, ‘The night is long, so stay asleep.’ When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone, and when one prays the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up lazy and with a mischievous heart.” (Bukhari, Book #21, Hadith #243)

And if you contemplate the above sources, you’d notice that laziness is associated with salah because salah is the most difficult of the daily obligations that a Muslim must complete since it has to be done every day, 5 times a day, without fail. An interesting point to make here is that whoever is lazy in their salah will be lazy in other acts of worship and whoever is NOT lazy in their salah, he/she won’t be lazy in other aspects of his/her life.

It’s obvious from the above sources that laziness is not something to be taken lightly and needs to be addressed. In fact, Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) used to seek refuge in Allah from laziness that he used to mention it daily in this dua:

‘O Allaah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.’

In this article, let’s look at ways that laziness may appear in our lives and, in a follow up article, we’ll look at how we can tackle laziness insha Allah.
Community Laziness:

The community is made of individuals and if individuals in the community are lazy than the community at large will become lazy. The signs of community laziness is the low civic role it plays to solve its own problems, over-reliance on government for solutions, low community cohesion, increase in crime and disputes, and poverty & unemployment afflicting the entire community. Moreover, community laziness also appears in the people’s lack of forbidding the evil and enjoining the good, which has detrimental consequences.Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said: “The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them. So, if the people in the upper part left the others do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.” (Bukhari, Book #44, Hadith #673)

Educational Laziness:

This is the laziness of learning and developing ourselves and growing our body of knowledge. As Muslims, during the Golden age of the Islamic civilization, we were pioneers in all sciences, but when we became lazy and loved the comforts of this world, others took the torch of knowledge from us and continued the journey of discovery to impressive results. It is shameful for the Ummah of “Iqraa” (read) to have stopped reading, and it is embarrassing for the Ummah that had kings send their children to our cities to do the opposite nowadays.

Family Laziness:

The family is the unit of the community, so if it is sound, the community would be sound, and if it’s not stable, then community is at risk. If the family is lazy, then proper upbringing would not be fulfilled; the parents would be lazy to fulfill their duties towards their children and the children would be lazy to fulfill their duties towards their parents and homes. And if every member of the family does not have that love and care which drives them to fight laziness and go the extra mile for their family, then you’ll find weak family relationships and even more concerning a broken Islamic home.Sometimes we seem to have forgotten the hadeeth where the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said, “Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them, a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for them; a slave (‘Abu) is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges.” (Bukhari, Book #46, Hadith #730)

Physical Laziness:

This is the common one that we all think about when we think of laziness and it manifests itself in laziness towards exercising and moving our bodies for physical activities. Unfortunately, such laziness comes with a high health bill as most doctors agree that most of the diseases of the 21st century are due to our sedentary lifestyle.
Financial Laziness:

This is laziness from seeking the different doors of sustenance. Many people nowadays simply want the “secure job” the one that pays “regular paychecks” and nothing more.If we look at our prophets, they were role models in that they each had a trade: Prophet Nuh was a carpenter, Prophet Idrees was a tailor, Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) was a shepherd and then he became a trader. They earned their living from their own hands and did not rely on government paychecks or employment benefits.
Narrated Abu Huraira : Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is better for anyone of you to take a rope and cut the wood (from the forest) and carry it over his back and sell it (as a means of earning his living) rather than to ask a person for something and that person may give him or not.” (Bukhari, Book #24, Hadith #549).

This is the spirit of the Muslim. He doesn’t succumb to unemployment but moves and hustles through life to secure his financial position.

Another form of financial laziness is laziness in spending the money we have in the way of charity. There are so many charity organizations, so many needy people around us, but we rarely actively give and give and we make empty promises to ourselves but rarely fulfill them.

Employment Laziness:

This is the one that destroys many companies where employees are lazy from fulfilling their duties, hence hurting suppliers, customers, investors and all those involved. Laziness by wasting time, not performing the task properly, turning up late, trying to ‘trick’ the system, or simply accepting bribery to ‘fast-track’ certain tasks at the expense of others. Employment laziness also can be in the form of not working hard enough, or competing for promotions or for special assignments. Employment laziness sometimes comes after retirement as well when the retiree simply succumbs to a sedentary lifestyle, consuming his/her penison and waiting for death.

Religious Laziness:

This is laziness from acts of worship such as praying, fasting, reciting Qur’an, etc. This is the source of all laziness as those who are lazy from worshipping Allah, Allah will make them lazy in other aspects of their lives. These are the people that pray quickly (if at all) or recite little of Qur’an, and remember Allah little. They are the last to enter to the mosque and the first to get out, no aspiration to improve their spirituality or get closer to Allah. Night prayer is not even on their “wish-list” and fasting only takes place in Ramadan.

Laziness is truly a disease that destroys aspiration and determination and breaks the Ummah’s back. It is the source of our weakness and defeat as an Ummah and the source of our humility. It is time to make serious effort to fight it, in my next post, we’ll discover how to address this disease insha Allah.

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