x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Beware the BlackBerry - imams to warn against wasting time at work

Modern technology tempts employees, consultant says.

The sermon to be delivered today addresses two issues blamed by clerics for many of society's ills - poor time management and overindulgence in social distractions. The sermon, written by the Government, urges worshippers to increase productivity at work by managing their time more appropriately, and draws from a number of Quranic verses, sayings of the Prophet, Arabic poetry and proverbs that emphasise the value of time.

Dr Mohammed Moustafa, a consultant and trainer in social behaviour, and a former imam, said the problem of productivity had become more pressing than in previous generations as technology had introduced more ways of wasting time. "The Muslim world needs the productivity of its human resources, so this is an urgent matter, which will only be solved if the people are convinced why they should not waste time," said Dr Moustafa. He cited international studies that showed that the average employee spent only 27 minutes per hour working.

"For instance, employees spend most of their time at work on BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook or playing games," said Dr Moustafa. Employees who wasted their time in such a way, he said, risked the halal status of their earnings and would find it hard to "look at themselves in the mirror". Even in leisure time, there was a danger of misusing one's time. "I have treated countless cases of PlayStation addiction where a child could spend up to 16 hours a day playing with it, or of women who are addicted to social gatherings," he said.

A study found that addictions to social gatherings were the third-most likely cause of divorce, Dr Moustafa said. The worst form of time-wasting, he said, was not about inadequate scheduling, but about inadequately organising one's priorities. "So, for example, a father could take his children to play at the beach and interact with them instead of letting them stay at home watching TV and playing PlayStation," he said.

"Also, in Sharia we have something called 'time duty'. So if a woman is sitting reading [the] Quran, and a guest comes over, the priority should be to stop reading and welcome her guest, and while they are sitting, if the Maghrib prayer calls, they should get up and pray." hdajani@thenational.ae