“30 places to visit before you’re 30”
“30 things to do before you’re 30”
“30 books to read before you’re 30”
Before I turned 30, like many others, I read these types of articles, mentally checked off what I’d already done and then felt pangs of inadequacy for all I’d still not read, done or achieved.“ But I turn 30 tomorrow and I still haven’t read War and Peace, how dare I live with myself?!” Okay so maybe I didn’t think that the night before my 30th because I was too busy arranging the time my sumo suits would arrive in the morning (true story), but like most people, I was unable to tick off many items from lists like these. What I realise now is that genuinely none of those worldly focused ‘30’ lists could help. What I wished I’d had back then is this:
30 Things to do for Allah before 30 so that Allah will do 30 things for you :
“So remember Me, I will remember you” [Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:152]
- Pray on time – download Muslim Pro app, your phone will buzz gently at each prayer time
- Fast on Monday’s and Thursdays whenever you can – intermittent fasting has proven health benefits plus its sunnah
- Read Qur’an daily – “Mankind there has come to you a guidance from your Lord and a healing for (the diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe a guidance and a mercy” [Qur’an, Surah Yunus, 10:57]. Muslim Pro app also buzzes you with an ayah (verse) of the day.
- Read Qur’an with tafsir (meaning)
- Memorise some short surahs of the Qur’an – starting from the last work backwards as those are the shortest. It’s as easy as learning Bieber lyrics, trust me. Put Surah Ash-Sharh  on repeat. I recommend Imam Sharaim, Imam Sudais or Imam Hudaify
- Gratitude diary – taking concerted, contemplative time out to focus deeply on giving thanks for one thing each day will revolutionise your life. If we poured half as much heart and soul into being grateful as we do when we write letters of complaint, our outlook on life would be very different. “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]” [Qur’an, Surah Ibrahim 14:7]
- Cook for your family – I learnt this from my sister. Shout out to Zara for her soups, salads and all sorts of delights that are endlessly found in our fridge because even though she is married with kids, she still wants to share with her parents and lil sis.
- Cook for your friends – social meals out are great but hosting each other and hospitality is a huge part of our Abrahamic tradition. We lose this when we split meal costs and allow Western practices to dilute our own beautiful traditions. “And tell them about the guests (i. e. the angels) of Ibrahim…” [Qur’an, Surah Al Hijr 15:51]
- Understand the words you recite in salah – canonical worship is shallow without the depth of understanding.
- Pray slowly, taking in the meaning of what you recite, this will give you khushoo (presence) in your prayer. It is like the difference between passive listening and active listening.
- Spend time in sujood – “We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein” [Qur’an 50:16]
- Spend time with your grandparents – they have LIVED. Listen to their stories that you might acquire some pearls of wisdom
- Spend time with your parents – they put up with you when you couldn’t speak, eat, sleep or move by yourself.
- Read Surah Mulk before you sleep – it is narrated in Hadith Al Tirmidhi 2891 that recitation of this Surah daily before sleeping will provide protection from the torment of the grave. It takes 5 minutes to read after you get into a rhythm and routine.
- Study the Seerah of the Prophet – Shaykh Yasir Qadhi has recorded a detailed and super easy- to- listen-to playlist of the life of the Prophet. It’s on YouTube and free. Hit play and listen whilst driving; better than Bieber.
- Read the 40 Hadith of Imam an Nawawi – a compilation of the 40 main and strongest lessons from the Prophet
- Read the 40 Hadith Qudsi – recordings of Allah’s message to the Prophet
- Read Don’t Be Sad by Aaidh ibn Abdullah Al Qarni
- Read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- Watch Dirilis: Ertugrul – a Turkish historical series available on Netflix that charts the formation of the Ottoman Empire and how Muslims mobilised with great inspiration and unified to rule for 6 centuries
- Watch BBCs 3-Part documentary on The Life of Muhammad narrated by Rageh Omaar
- Recite the Al-Mu’awwidhatan morning and evening – Surah Al Falaq [Qur’an: 113] and Surah an Nas [Qur’an: 114]
- Wake up for fajr – the adhaan for fajr is unique and reminds you “prayer is better than sleep”
- Wake up in the last third of the night – Allah, Our Lord, descends (in a manner befitting His Majesty) to the nearest heaven to us of this universe during the last third of the night and says: ‘Is there anyone to call upon Me so that I shall respond to him (fulfil his prayer). Is there anyone to ask of Me that I may grant his request. Is there anyone to seek My forgiveness so that I shall pardon him (and forgive his sins)’.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] and “They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration…” (Quran 32: 16)
- Share knowledge – we are all at different stages of our spiritual journey. Gather together and seek knowledge together, form a deris group and take turns in hosting and preparing a topic on Islam. “By the declining day, indeed mankind is a state of loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Qur’an Surah Al-Asr: 103]
- Daily Dhikr – “There are two statements that are light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the Scales and are dear to the Merciful: `Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azhim [Glory be to Allah and His is the praise, (and) Allah, the Greatest is free from imperfection)” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
- Allah’s 99 names – before the Imams in Makkah and Madinah make du’a, they exalt the Almighty. Reciting His names not only familiarises you with His unmatched qualities and draws you nearer to Him but this is also the way He deserves to be called upon.
- Ask yourself daily – did I do anything today that prepared me to meet God? A deed or some prayer or thanks given? Reminding ourselves of death is a reality check, there is nothing morbid about preparing to meet the One who created you. You don’t go to an exam without revising, you don’t go to an interview without preparation. Preparing to meet God is your number 1 priority
- Read more – the first word of divine inspiration of the Qur’an the Prophet ever received was the word Iqra. God could have begun with Surah Fatiha but He chose IQRA
- Read War & Peace!
So, before you look at any other 30 before 30 lists, I ask you to reflect on where you are on this list, because truly there more success for you in this life and the next if you focused on this list over worldly pursuit lists. This list is by no means perfect or exhaustive but serves as a reminder that lists that focus on God may benefit us in both lifetimes but worldly lists such as those described at the start will only provide temporary enjoyment.
May we all find permanent solace in the words of God and fill our hearts with His remembrance. Ameen
“So remember Me, I will remember you” [Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:152]
Loving yourself is loving Allah, self-care is Ibadah
Letters to younger self: Your religion is not your conflict
Seeking my worth from others