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Top Ten Pieces of Advice to My 20-Year-Old Self

Turning forty is a special transition for me for two reasons: the Qur’ān mentions this distinct stage of life, and indeed it was at this age that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) received the mission of Prophethood.

It is a wonderful time for many reasons, but most importantly it represents the onset of maturity, as Allāh mentions in the Qur’ān:

Until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.”[1]

The milestone of turning forty has brought with it the confidence to hold my own views and opinions with conviction. Reaching this stage has made me reflect, reassess, and refocus on life commitments. With it has come a feeling of a renewed sense of purpose for pursuits that will leave behind a legacy, in shā Allāh.

With that in mind, I want to share some advice I would have appreciated receiving in my twenties.




1. Vision

Have a vision for yourself so that you can move forward in life’s journey with a purpose and a focus. If you are a student, consider your options carefully and think about the impact of your career choices on family life. If you are married, think about the type of family you want to raise.

In the story of Imam Bukhāri and his mother, we find an amazing example of a woman with a vision and focus. When Imam Bukhāri became blind, his mother did not lose hope and aspiration for him. Rather, she became focused in her vision for her son. She exhausted all avenues available to her, including du’ā, until Allāh returned his eyesight. She was truly an inspiration – a single mother faced with an immense trial but who did not lose sight of her great vision.[2]

2. Consultation

For any big decision you make, be sure to consult with others first.

وَالَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُوا لِرَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَىٰ بَيْنَهُمْ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

Those who have responded to their Lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided them they spend.[3]

  1. Istikhāra – consulting with Allāh by praying to Him and asking Him for guidance.
  2. Istishāra – seeking advice from people who are experts or experienced in a matter of concern, so that you will not have regrets later.

A single decision can make a huge impact on your life. For example, choosing who to marry can define your lifestyle in a significant way and will greatly influence your character and religion.

3. Parents

Respect and serve your parents as much as you can. Show them love and kindness, as this will open the door to goodness in many ways that you cannot even imagine. It is enough to know that Allāh will be pleased when you seek to make your parents happy.

Abdullah b. ‘Amr reported:

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the parents, and the displeasure of the Lord is in the displeasure of the parents.”[4]

4. Learning

Be engaged in active learning, as this will help you develop and maintain a good connection with Allāh. It will also provide you with the added benefits of stimulating your brain cells, resulting in good mental wellbeing. Knowledge is a powerful light by which you navigate your journey to the right destination.

Abu Hurairah narrated:

The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever takes a path to obtain knowledge, Allāh makes the path to Paradise easy for him.”[5]

5. Family

Spend time with your close family members, as this will foster love and care. Take time out to invest in building relationships that strengthen the ties of kinship. Family connection brings joy in times of happiness, as well as a support network in times of need.

Life will become more meaningful when you connect with your loved ones, so treasure your family events. You will cherish these moments when there may be times you are unable to see them regularly.

Ibn ‘Umar said, “Whoever has taqwa of his Lord and maintains ties of kinship, his term of life will be prolonged, his wealth will be abundant, and his family will love him.”[6]

6. Friends

Remember, you cannot choose your family, but you certainly can choose your friends, so be selective. People change as they mature – so will you and so will your friends. Be sure to always surround yourself with good companions that will positively influence you even in your mature years.

Abu Hurairah narrated:

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “A man follows the religion of his friend, so, each one should consider with whom he makes his friend.”[7]

7. Self-care

When some people think of self-care, they envisage spas and weekend retreats, limiting this concept to their physical bodies. But you must also take good care of yourself holistically and do so without any guilt. Pay attention to your spiritual, mental, and emotional needs. Self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity; it is a right you owe to yourself. A person can only be in a better place to take care of others if they are in good shape themselves. Remember, you cannot serve from an empty cup!

Abdullah b. ‘Amr reported:

The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to me, “I have been informed that you stand for prayer the whole of night and fast during the day.” I said, “I do that,” whereupon he said, “If you do that you have indeed heavily strained your eyes and made yourself weak. There is a right of your eyes (upon you), and a right of yourself (upon you), and a right of your family (upon you). Stand for prayer and sleep. Observe fasts and break (them).”[8]

8. Organise

Plan and organise your time effectively so that you can be productive in handling different tasks. A diary is a fantastic tool for planning and managing commitments in the best possible way, helping you to prioritise the many demands on your time efficiently.

9. Habits

The habits you form today will stay with you in later years. They will either build you or break you – remember, you become what you repeatedly do. This is a great opportunity to get into good healthy practices. An example of a good routine is doing the daily morning and evening adhkār.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:The morning and evening adhkār play the role of a shield; the thicker it is, the more its owner is protected. Its strength can reach to such an extent that the arrow that is shot at it will bounce back to affect the one who shot it.”

10. Qur’ān

Just like you feed your body, you must also feed your soul. Recitation of the Qur’ān is essential for good spiritual nourishment. Build a close relationship with this Book so that you can have it as a companion that will advise you sincerely in times of need. It will be your travel guide for life, without which you will be lost on this journey back to Allāh.

إِنَّ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا

Indeed, this Qur’ān guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.[9]

To conclude, remember that this life is temporary, so it is vital to invest your time and efforts wisely. The time you have here is limited, so use all that you have to your advantage to build a successful life in both this world and the next. Most importantly, take the opportunity to sow the seeds that will bear fruits to reap on the day of harvest.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Al-Qur’ān 45:15

[2] https://miftaah.org/articles/2018/10/22/imambukhari

[3] Al-Qur’ān 42:38

[4] Sunan Al-Tirmidhī 1899

[5] Jāmi` Al-Tirmidhi 2646

[6] Hasan (Al-Albāni) – Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 59

[7] Hasan (Al-Albāni) – Sunan Abi Dāwūd 4833

[8] Sahīh Muslim 1159

[9] Al-Qur’ān 17:9

About Ruzi Khatun (Umm Talha)

Ruzi Khatun (Umm Talha) is the founder of Marital Arts, a non-Profit organisation set up to empower Muslim women to lead a successful family life. She is passionate about women’s learning and development which has resulted in her leading a regular study circle for over 15 years, organising courses, seminars and conferences addressing issues in regard to spirituality and family life.

13 comments

  1. What an inspiration and succinct article written with such sincerity. I admire how you began the article with the a reminder of the special position turning 40 can hold; an age which is usually equated with notions of mid-life crises and other negative connotations attached to it.

    Crucially, your reflective piece offers many piece of advice in a digestible, manageable and practical fashion. Reminder of self-care, which many of us forget about, is integral to maximise out ability to balance duties and responsibilities in life.

    MashAllah the fact that you feel you can express yourself with conviction has been a highlight for me. I hope it inspires others to introspect and journal their experiences towards self growth and personal development.

  2. Masha’Allah, A very beneficial and enlightening read. Very important points that one should strive to implement in their life for success in both their dunya and akhirah.

    May Allah SWT give us all the tawfeeq to learn and implement these points. Ameen

    Jazak Allah Khair

  3. MashaAllah, very beneficial read.

    I started practising and learning about the deen when I started university. This would have benefited me back then.

    Alhamdulillah now I’m in my mid thirties and feel some of the points can still be instilled and InshaAllah I will be trying to implement these changes.

    I will definitely be forwarding on family and friends so they can benefit.

    May Allah reward Umm Talha and continue to facilitate for her to keep spreading more khair and knowledge. Aameen

  4. Mashallah. Very well thought out and sound advice. Really enjoyed reading it. The hadith adds credibility to your thinking.

  5. Showpana Khatun

    A very practical piece of writing massha Allah!
    I think if these tips are applied in our lives then surely we will have a strong foundation to build and live our lives with the help of Allah.

  6. Being a 20 year old Man, this article is very beneficial.
    I pray others read this and benefit from it.

  7. Excellent article something I wish I stumbled upon in my 20s when I started to practice and had no structure in life to follow, this would have been perfect guidelines back then but still applicable to me now.

    • Very insightful and inspirational, Sometimes we need inspiration to move forward and These are really some inspiring words, Thank you for sharing them.

  8. Masha’Allah nice easy points for us parents to share with our youth, to help advise and inspire! Jazaakillaahu Khair

    • Farhat Shaheen

      Jazakalah khair for sharing these points as it is important to have focus and goals in life. I will be sharing this with my family and friends Inshallah.

  9. Amazing read MashaAllaah. Much much needed reminder. The points you have been mentioned are so relevant for the mental and physical well being. Everyone talks about midlife crisis and often try and relive their youth by opting for things that may not necessarily be right or doing things that breaks relations with their loved ones; so this beautiful piece of writing without a doubt is so relatable for everyone. Love how you started with the topic of vision…we often relate old age with poor eyesight but the true vision as we grow older is to focus or refocus on what the purpose of life is!

    • A very interesting and beneficial article MashaAllah.
      Maturity does not come with age but comes with responsibilities, and applying all the strategies above will allow us to be wiser and responsible adults Insha’Allah.

    • Very insightful and inspirational, Sometimes we need inspiration to move forward and These are really some inspiring words, Thank you for sharing them.

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