Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thinking about 33

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be with you all...

Saturday 15th April was my 33rd birthday. Subhan Allah, time passes quickly. As I was walking to the train station this morning, I was thinking about my age and what it means. Two things struck me. Firstly, I recall a Prophetic Tradition, in which 33 is described as the perfect age for a man. Why should that be so? What's special about being 33? Reflecting on that for a moment has lead me to a couple of ideas. Now that I'm 33, I've passed the first flush of youth and am now a fully mature man (those who know me, please try not to laugh too loud); I'm married (very happily I might add - al hamdu lillah); I'm working in my chosen field and we have bought our own home. In other words, we're making something together. Of greater significance, I'm a father. I'm beginning to raise my children and to teach them about life, and how to navigate their way through it. Perhaps, then, I'm at the pivotal stage; the stage which in many ways decides my future course. Here and now, I'm building my life and transforming myself into what I can be, without the physcial constraints of old age and without the mental constraints of teenage youth. This may well be the meaning.
Secondly, according to the Bible at any rate, Jesus was 33 when he was crucified. Now, before we proceed, there are a couple of important points to make...
I certainly do not compare myself to Jesus (Isa in the Islamic Tradition); he is my prophet and my master; I am unworthy to untie his sandals. Furthermore, I do not believe Jesus (alayhis salaam) was crucified; as with the majority of Sunni Muslims, I believe that Isa was raised to God alive and will return before the Hour is established.
At any rate, Jesus (at age 33, alayhis salaam) had already begun his ministry, calling on the Lost Sheep of Israel to repent. He was, at that time, a fully mature man, in charge of his physical, intellectual and emotional faculties. In other words, he was ready, by God's grace, to begin his life's main work.
How do I compare to his example (peace be upon him)? Am I ready to undertake my life's work? What is that work to be? Undoubtedly, Allah has something planned for me - a destiny carved out and a potential to be reached for - and I ask for His aid. On reflection, my deen (religion or way of life) is my life - but what does that mean? Well...if my marriage is equal to half of my Islam (a concept drawn from a Prophetic Tradition) then my wife and children must be a large part of that work. Belief and action then are paired together. Indeed, Allah says: inna alladhina amanu wa `amilus-salihat (those who believe and do righteous deeds) in many places in the Quran (surat al-asr for example). So, I suppose, believing in Islam and striving to implement it. And that also means helping others to learn for and about themselves. In other words, Allah the Exalted does not plant to no purpose: my own love of learning is a good thing in itself - but I need to share these insights (which come from God and not from me) with others.
An insight indeed...
Wa akhiru da'wana an il hamdu lillah rabbil alameen...
('And our last prayer is praise of Allah, Lord of all the Worlds').
Ma'as salama (peace be with you)
Abdur Rahman
PS - I've recently been reading some of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi's poetry. So, expect some Ruminations on Rumi...


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