By Dr. Shadee Elmasry
"Don't curse time, for Allah is the time."
In light of how it's become a thing to hate on 2020, this hadith is very relevant.
Before Islam, the Arabs used to always curse time when something bad happened. It's even in the Quran that pagans used to say, we'll just wait for time to take care of the Prophet peace be upon him (52:30).
In educating the believers, the Prophet ﷺ said, "Don't curse time, for Allah is the time," meaning that time doesn't do anything. It has no power or choice. Nothing happens without Allah's permission, so when you're cursing time, you're actually cursing the original source of all these misfortunes, which is Allah. A believer shouldn't say this stuff even in passing or jest.
A hadith qudsi says, "The human being harms Me: He curses time, while I am the time; everything is in My control" (Zuhri). Nawawi says, it means the events of time are caused by Allah (Sharh Muslim).
Ibn Furak says that it's like a man who sent his worker to rob you, then you turn around and curse the thief. In reality, you're cursing the one who sent him.
As Muslims, if we're uniquely good at anything, it's understanding the various possible reasons why bad things happen and how we're supposed to react. In our theology, the purpose and prognosis of misfortune have a direct correlation with our own response to it:
1. If we bear it patiently, it is a purification of sins, and our future will be fine.
2. If we respond by going further from Allah, have less iman, and committing more sins, then it was a punishment, and our future will be worse.
3. If we respond by drawing nearer to Him in dua, obedience, & worship, then it's purpose was meant to raise our rank, and our future will be much better thereafter. Anything we've suffered will be minor in comparison to the rewards. You will not be harmed except outwardly (3:111).
So in the end, all the chatter doesn't matter and the bottom line is how we react. "So flee to Allah" (51:50).