I always wondered how the ulama of the past got so much done despite having shorter life spans and limited resources. The answer lies in a hadith. The prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The best actions are those that are less but consistent”.
Mufti Shafi Usmani1 reports that Khwaja Aziz al-Rahman sahib (may Allah have mercy upon him) took a long leave of absence to stay in Thana Bhawan and write Ashraf al-Sawanih. The leave came to an end but there was a lot of work remaining. Hadrat [Ml. Ashraf Ali Thanwi] said,
I always say, little by little whatever comes in front, write it down. Thereafter, make additions as you remember throughout your life. In this way, work gets accomplished. But no one listens to this fool. In the passion of youth when a work is started, they assume that I will do everything. The result is that nothing gets done.
Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy upon him) would consistently edit the risalah each time he taught it. Imam Malik (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) would do the same for his Muwattah.
If something is deemed worth doing, start small, do whatever you can and to the best of your ability; don’t wait for optimal conditions. Then slowly build and improve; perfection is only with Allah Almighty. By the grace of Allah you will notice that in a short span a significant amount of work has been done.
Muhammad Saifur Rahman
8 Rabi I 1436
1 January 2015
1. Majalis Hakim al-Ummat. (1396). Mufti Shafi Usmani (ed). Darul Isha’at: Karachi, Pakistan. p. 285.