Allah praises those who remember Him. He tells us to remember Him as much as we can, morning and night. He promises us that if we remember Him, He will remember us in turn. He tells us that the reason He commands us to observe the five daily obligatory prayers is for His remembrance.
Certainly, the remembrance of Allah is the best way we can exploit idle time, but that time has other uses for us as well. We can take that time to think. Exercising the gray matter in our heads is no less important than remembering Allah.
Indeed, reason is the full partner of Allah’s remembrance. Uttering Allah’s remembrances on our tongues is merely a physical activity if our minds are detached from what we are saying. When our minds and our tongues are focused together on Allah’s remembrance, that is light upon light.
“And Allah guides to His light whomever He wishes.” [Sûrah al-Nûr: 35]
The Qur’ân speaks often in praise of thought and contemplation. For instance, Allah says: “ Truly, in this, is a Message of remembrance to people of understanding. “ [Sûrah al-Zumar: 21]
He says: “Herein verily is a lesson for those who discern.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 13]
He also says: “Most surely there are signs in this for those endowed with understanding.” [Sûrah TâHâ: 54 & 128]
Likewise, the Qur’ân censures those who neglect their minds. Allah says: “And how many Signs in the heavens and the Earth do they pass by? Yet they turn away from them! “ [Sûrah Yûsuf: 105]
He says: “They have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear; they are as cattle, nay, they are worse in errors; these are the heedless ones.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 179]
It is authenticated that al-Hasan said: “Contemplation [on Allah] for an hour is better than observing the late night prayer.” [Musanaf Ibn Abî Shaybah]
Likewise, Allah says: “ Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right – them will I turn away from My signs: Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected our signs, and have failed to take warning from them.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 146]
Al-Hasan commented on this verse saying: “Allah will keep them (thereafter) from reflecting on His signs.”
A man asked Umm al-Dardâ’ after the death of her husband Abû al-Dardâ’ how he used to worship Allah. She said: “His day was spent in the wilderness of contemplation.”
The caliph `Umar b. `Abd al-`Azîz said: “Thinking about Allah’s blessings is one of the best forms of worship.”
When we are faced with idle time where we have no choice but to wait, we should use that time to think. Thought is the means by which we arrive at understanding, by which we discern the right course of action, obtain insights, and critically assess other people’s arguments and claims.
Thought is a voluntary, deliberate act. We direct our thoughts where we will. We apply them to what concerns us. Thought is the source of our creativity, our invention, and our enterprise.
How many mistakes would we avoid and how many of our problems we would solve if we just took the time to think. Therefore, when that time is given to us, we should not put it to waste.
In Islam, we find that religious and legal accountability requires full sanity and reason. The Qur’ân was revealed to those who would think, ponder it, and understand it.
Allah says: “Surely We have revealed it an Arabic Quran that you may comprehend it.” [Sûrah Yûsuf: 2]