enable me to be grateful

In three days, I’ll turn 40 years old… I worry about this some, or, rather, not worry, but feel a sense of… something, a melancholia of sorts, maybe, and I’m not really sure what to make of it, or what it means.

What’s so different about 40?

Well, at (nearly) 40, I’m definitely in a different place than I was at 30. In the past 10 years, I quit drinking, got a job, bought a washing machine, got married, took responsibility for a home and family, started voting in all the piddly little local elections, all kinds of adulting-type stuff. I bought a washing machine, for example. Most importantly, I reverted to Islam by the grace of God alone. I never imagined doing any of that (except, maybe, the get a job part) at 30, or at any point before I did it, really.

Alhamdulillah, life has been good enough, so far, and InshaAllah it will continue in what ever form Allah ordains for me.

But 40 is special, somehow, I think.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, started receiving revelation at 40, for example. Now I’m no prophet, but there’s something significant in that, I think.

Allah azza wa jall agrees: in Surah al Ahqaf, He tells us

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor 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.”

Maybe that’s it, maybe I’m finally reaching maturity, and maybe the best is ahead of me. Allahu Alim. But if I’m looking at my life with anything but gratitude and the knowledge that I must try harder to be better, if I’m not striving to work righteousness and seek Allah’s pleasure,  then there’s something wrong.

Still. Am I grateful? Do I work righteousness? Am I among the Muslims, those who submit to Allah? Ya, Allah, guide me to better!

 رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

rabbiawziAAnee an ashkura niAAmataka allatee anAAamta AAalayya waAAalawalidayya waan aAAmala salihan tardahuwaaslih lee fee thurriyyatee innee tubtuilayka wa-innee mina almuslimeen

My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor 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.

Ameen.

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