I don’t claim to be perfect. In fact, no-one can and if they do, then they are telling you pork pies (lying). But, I have noticed a pattern which affects people in the 30 to 40 age range, as I like to call it the make or break range.
Through simple observation and contemplation it is clear in most people’s lives the main turning point begins in this period (30 – 40 age range). Through interaction with people at work and other situations, life patterns emerge and can be seen affecting majority of people.
1. You are either a person who was brought up in a practicing household, therefore had an influence in shaping his preteen, teen and young adult phases of life. Where this person was very religiously active and steadfast in religious customs and traditions; in school for example, it would have been him who would abstain from experimental rebellious adventures of his friends, taking the first tentative steps to smoking, occasional misbehaviour in class, flirting with girls etc.
In college, it would have been you who would have rejected calls from his friends join them in night outs, parties, cinema and music festivals. When your college peers were rigorously planning on how to hook up with a girl and possibly have a one night fling, it would have been you who would have been busy with youself beginning to discover Islamic speakers and influential convert-turned-Islamic-scholars, trying to learn more about his religion.
In university, where your uni peers and friends would have finally felt complete freedom from their parent’s constant glares, living in purposefully sought out distant student accommodation and breaking all traditionally set limits, drinking on weeknight in pubs famous for student night life and clubbing in bars known for hosting wild parties, it would have been you who would have joined the Islamic student societies to become a committed volunteer, helping to distribute leaflets of upcoming events, organizing Islamic awareness week exhibitions in university buildings or holding Islamic lectures in university lecture halls. Whilst occasionally condescendingly giving into the thought of how lost and astray your peers were and how you must try and change their evil ways.
This begins to change as you creeps up to the age of 30 years old, then once you had graduated and had been a fully fledged practicing Muslim for a number of years, if fact all your young adult life, subtle changes begin to creep in to your life which, had they began to take shape during the younger years in your life, you would have been shocked and saddened. For example, a man (by this stage) who had spent all his young adult life seeking to learn his religion and spend time in occupying himself with all things religious; watching/listening/reading about Islamic personalities, going to events, getting into religious debates and seeing himself as somewhat of a religious maverick in the depths of his religion, slowly begins to dabble in other “non-Islamic” pass time activities. By this stage, (in his 30s) his religious leaning is beginning to take a ritualistic from, the luster of a pious life dips and his passion of religion being the foremost important thing in his life now begins to ebb away.
By this age, things he had willfully avoided all his life now begin to trickle in. It begins with small things, watching movies for example; with eagerness, finding pleasure in it, searching for the latest movie that is out, which actor plays which role, how he became an actor, who he’s married to, how his love life is, all begin to occupy his time. Cartoon animation movies take center attraction and a favorite hobby. Where once the heroic lives of the companions of the Prophet Sallahu alihi wasallam took center attraction in his life they begin to get cast aside and Batman, Superman, The X-Men, Avengers, are now the main centerpiece of his mental psyche.
Despite his friends constant chatter of a latest rapper, pop or R and B artist in his school, college and uni life, he had the strong resolve and willpower not to have the inclination to ‘google’ these artists to learn more about them or to taste some of their music. However, now when on YouTube or Facebook for example, a music video pops up of an artist his friends had followed, loved and listened to in school/college or uni, he stops to sample their songs, hear what they say and watch what they do in the music videos. If he had loved reading Islamic books, Islamic history or Muslim personalities it no longer has the same appeal it once had, something which feels now like reading a list of bland series of events and facts from a “to-do list” devoid of any vivid imaginative story line or characters . Novels and autobiographies of other figures from other cultures take their place and the life of his younger self grows to becoming less and less convincing.
At work, when busy with tasks or duties and prayer times comes in he longer is no resolute and fearless in asking for time off, to have a break time for prayers, something he had always fearlessly done in his university lectures or science exams for instance. Now he thinks twice before deciding on whether he should pray now, at a time when it’s more convenient to him, at home or even after a prayer time has expired – something that would have been outrageous to even think about in his younger religious self. By now the zeal for leading an Islamic life has completely lost its steam and leading a worldly life begins to taste sweeter, more satisfying and this take holds and preference. The pleasures of the world he had admirably avoided during his life in his younger self now seem to be acceptable to him and more satisfying than the rituals of religion. This then has a domino effect on his other commitments he once had at the top of his priority list; the years of dedication he had given to his Islamic organisation during his university years now fall lower in his list of priorities, organizing and holding the same, if not similar, Islamic conferences each year no longer seem fulfilling so he begins to make a less of a commitment and appearance at the organisation’s gatherings and meetings until at some point he completely packs it in from being Islamically active at all and simply resigns himself to barely praying his five times prayers and living life or in most cases not even praying his prayers just busy with work, work and work by this point he has reached the age of 40 and now the trend set in his life has been sealed, so to speak. As the pious and awliyah have said,
if one finds himself by the age of 40 that his life is not Islamically tuned then he should ready himself for the fire.
In other words, if someone reaches the age of 40 and has been living a certain lifestyle then it will be almost impossible for him to come out of this lifestyle and lead a new one as whatever lifestyle a person has set for himself by the age of 40 this becomes an entrenched and etched lifestyle in the psyche that cannot be rubbed out. This is one of the route that can happen to you in this make or break age range (30 – 40). Personally, i have seen this pattern occur time and again to many people at which point by the age of 40 or near enough, their lives have completely taken a 180 degree change.
Or, the second thing happens,
2. A man who had lead a completely egocentric life, begins to feel empty from the same parties every night, the same forced pleasures with women, the hangovers on the morning after, bitter drunken cat-dog fights, trying to fit into to a culture he is not part of, at every turn having to go the extra mile to show that he is “not one of them” to his supposed fiends, friends who at first sight of any trouble would leave him for dead. The rituals of hard partying no longer seem satisfying to him and the attractions of such a lifestyle, having fun at every turn no longer has the pleasure behind it. A third generation Muslim who is only a Muslim by name (possibly) and nothing else begins to grow a keen interest in other fulfilling lifestyles, by now in his 30s the love of typical things of the world are less appealing and his religious leaning begins to take firm hold. By now he is interested in attending religious events, becoming a committed volunteer for his (newly joined) Islamic society. The pleasures of the world he had religiously fulfilled during his years as his younger self now seem to be unacceptable to him and no more satisfying This then has a domino effect on his other commitments he once had at the top of his priority list; the years of dedication he had given to his amateur rap group, drug snorting sessions, casual flings with women in his university years now fall lower in his list of priorities, organizing and holding the same, if not similar, parties, with semi naked women, alcohol, DJs and limitless drug supply each year no longer seem fulfilling. So he begins to make a less of a commitment and appearance at parties and night outs to and at some point he completely packs it in from being an egocentric person to simply resigning himself to leading an Islamic life or in most cases getting the best for his afterlife becomes his first and only priority. By this point he has reached the age of 40 and now the trend set in his life has been sealed, so to speak.
So, if you’re in this crucial make or break age range of 30 to 40 take a moment to decide which way your life is heading. Are you a religious man who now find many unislamic subtle changes have crept into your life? Or, are you the one who has hardly prayed in your life, a regular at the local pub (although your claim to be a Muslim)?
This is a crucial time before an entrenched lifestyle sets in for good, by time you turn 40 years old!
…and no, it does not mean you can be a devil until you turn 40, what you are at 40 is determined by how you lived your life up to that age. As that lifestyle will grow old with you.