Abu Aqeel Labeed bin Rabi’ah (R.A.) was one of the companions and a good horse rider. He came from a rich family who assisted him with his work during the period of Jahiliya. He lived until the days of Islam. He came with his people to the Prophet ﷺ and accepted Islam then returned back to their place. He later stayed in Kufah together with his children till he passed away during the era of Muawiyyah (R.A.).
Labeed bin Rabi’ah (R.A.) was also remembered to be one of the best among the Arab poets. He said:
إِذَا المَرْءُ أَسْرَى لَيْلَةً ظَنَّ أَنَّهُ
When a man walks in at night (from work), he thinks
قَضَى عَمَلاً وَالمَرْءُ مَا عَاشَ عَامِلٌ
He has fulfilled his work, but man works as he lives
فَقُولاَ لَهُ إِنْ كَانَ يَقْسِمُ أمره
So, say to him if he divides his duty by himself
أَلَمَّا يَعِظْكَ الدَّهْرُ أُمُّكَ هَابِلٌ
Has time not taught you? Woe to you
Man, One, or Person
When, If or Whether
Believe, Think, or Assume
Travel or Walk by night
Live, Exist, or Subsist
Obligation, Work, or Function
Execute, Achiever, or Discharge
Allot, Portion Out, or Distribute
Be, Exist, or Occur
Tell, Say, or Utter
Admonish or Exhort
As, When, or At the time
Duty, Charge, or Assignment
What Do We Strive For?
Labeed bin Rabi’ah (R.A.) is telling us that it is foolish of a person to feel like they have achieved or completed their duties when they return home at night after a full day at work. The reality is that one never ceases to work or strive at any moment of his life until they die.
Someone should say to this person, “Woe to you!” One should never think it is enough. Challenges and affairs are inevitable. One must face them and work through them.
Human beings must always be striving for something and cannot be idle. Even during times of rest, one should be striving for the pleasure of Allah SWT with the intention that rest is a responsibility to care for their body and recharge themselves to have the energy for other responsibilities. Thus, even rest should not be excessive and only as required to fulfil sincere intentions.
Strive Toward Your Lord
When good deeds come from him, he should be thankful and persist in it and when the other arises, he should feel remorseful and start a new leaf. It is said that an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. And a man should know that it is not over until it is over (death comes).
This poem of Labeed (R.A.) has been confirmed in the Quran in the statement of Allah which says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ
O mankind, indeed, you are labouring toward your Lord with [great] exertion and will meet it.
This means that all of mankind is working (either good or bad) toward and walking to meet with his Lord. Allah, by His favour, will reward the good-doers on the Day for their goodness and the evildoers, by His justice, will not go unpunished.