Posted by: Dawud Israel | October 12, 2009

Islam and the Culture of Speed: Haste in Helping Others

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah.

I had a realization the other day. I have always tried to help people in my everyday experiences, holding the door open for others or picking up things they have dropped. But one characteristic of our time, is we are always in a hurry. So often, I will help someone, but I will help them in a hurry. This has the curious effect of them thanking me for a ‘deficient’ good deed.

A lady drops some paper towels from her groceries. I pick it up and give it to her and hurry on my way. But I forget the fact she is carrying a number of items in her hand and placing the paper towels back onto her trolley will also inconvenience her. I could possibly have put it back on her trolley for her. In this way, my good deed turns into “half a good deed” for which she may say ‘thank you,’ but I have not done my best in trying to help. Another example: I will hold the door open for someone coming behind me, they’ll say ‘thank you’ and then I will hold open the next set of doors for them, for which they will say ‘thank you’ again, but then they will jog a little, to quickly go through the doors so as to not inconvenience me nor waste my time in trying to help them. The fact I am holding open those second set of doors means, they are now obliged to enter those doors while at the same time, not make me wait for them. I can imagine this creates a feeling of resentment in them for me (for being forced, by my philanthropic intentions) and my resentment for them, if I am indeed truly in a hurry. And on top of that, they must say ‘thank you.’ Islam demands ihsan (excellence) in all our actions and deeds, and its not hard to see how haste makes us lacking in that excellence.

Our culture of speed causes a number of issues in our society. I did a great deal of reading, thinking and writing on the topic of a speed culture, dromology and what social philosophers and thinkers have said about it. But its even more fascinating to read about what Islam says about speed and how that relates to what these writers have said about it. There is a saying of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam, “Deliberation (or slowness or calmness) is from Allah and haste is from Shaytan.” Its interesting to note the wisdom in this saying, especially in light of the incidents I have mentioned above. I intend to write more on how acceleration and the culture of speed have captivated our society and how it dilutes the Muslim way of life, in sha Allah.

So from now on, its important to be very slow in helping others, so as to be truly considerate of them! 🙂

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


  1. interesting thought…I wonder the same thing about lending someone an ear/shoulder..sometimes we let the rant/get it off their chest which is half the deed, the other half might be active listening and brainstorming solutions

  2. Bismillah, as salamu ‘alaykum

    I think this is an important reminder for all of us. Living in the moment is crucial to our spiritual well being and we can’t live in the moment when we rush through life. Thank you for reminding us of such an important hadeeth. This is definitely one of my greater struggles.

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