Umm Layth, thank you for a very deep tag. This tag is an awesome exercise of what I would want for my kids, for my sibling’s kids, and just maybe for your kids. It might even include a bunch of things I would have loved for myself as a kid, in addition to what I experienced before I turned 18. So, this is definitely very personal, hopefully practical, and also a little bit difficult, albeit in a very inspiring way. It also did not take too terribly long to compile.
- List 6 actions or achievements you think every person should accomplish before turning 18. There are no conditions on what can be included on the list.
- Tag 6 more people and leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged.
- Understand your family. Understand why they do the things they do, why they believe the things they do, and why they are the way they are. Appreciate the treats they give you in their not-so-affluent times, and be patient with them when they just don’t get it. Remember that there was a time when they thought that you just don’t get it. In understanding them, you will understand yourself, and thereby understand the world. Since (unfortunately!) not everything is about you, you must understand the world.
- Learn the differences between culture and religion. Sometimes, culture and religion will agree–figure out where those coincide. Other times, culture and religion conflict completely–make it your duty to know where the problem areas are. Begin by reading about Islam (if you are a Muslim), and then analyzing the various situations around you. Ask your parents, ask your grandparents, and ask your siblings to help you understand things. And then ask an imaam you trust. Question things in a way that is sincere, not in a way that is skeptical and combative. Nobody likes to give answers when they are put in a defensive position.
- Explore your roots. If your parents or grandparents were born abroad, then chances are that you will visit the “homeland” every once in a while. Make the most of it–your cool friends are probably envying you for the experience you are getting at such a young age, and they are right to do so. There is nothing like being in a foreign country to open your eyes to all kinds of realities. Often times, being “back home” can make you see your own country much more clearly. Your roots are not just the silky embroidered shalwar khameez outfit that you wear to the weekly party. And America (or the UK or wherever) is not just Levis and Nikes. Appreciate your culture so that you can appreciate the many other ones around you.
- Read the stories of the Prophets, the stories of the Companions of Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam, and the life of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam. When you were a wee tiny bit of a thing, your mother and father probably told you the stories of Moosa, of ‘Eesa, of Adam, of Nooh, of Yusuf AlayhmusSalaam. They told you of the loyalty of Khadija, the patience of Fatimah, the knowledge of ‘Aisha, the generosity of Abu Bakr, the might of ‘Umar, the wealth of ‘Uthman, and the upbringing of ‘Ali RadiAllahu Anhum. Now, read the full stories for yourself. Read them, and take yourself to another time, and aspire to bring just a little of their lives, of their determination, of their noble deeds into your life. Because you can, because those are not just stories; those are examples.
- Stand up for the underdog just once. Even in your youth, you will find someone who is defenseless, or friendless, or just plain luckless. Give them a hearing, be their friend, and share a little bit of your luck. They may not necessarily thank you, but not only is that just life, but you will learn that when you help someone else, you are really helping yourself first and foremost. It will be an exercise in getting in touch with your humanity, if you will…
- Have goals, and cultivate good habits. Decide what you want out of life, and work at it. It’s ok to freak out because you only got a 92%, but it’s not ok to sacrifice sleep and health in pursuit of the perfect grade. Find your passion, find what you are good at, and do it. Not everyone in the world is going to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer or blogger. 🙂 The world needs people who are teachers, psychologists, sheikhs, and librarians too. Your parents’ goals for you may not be your own, but so long as your goals are worthy and upstanding, help the folks understand why you have to be true to your passions, and pursue your dreams with all your heart. Don’t forget to eat properly, exercise occasionally, and establish a connection with Allah in the form of dhikr and salaah regularly. Remember your Creator in the good times, so that He recognizes your voice come exam time.
- Be careful who your friends are. The old saying goes a little something like this: You can know a man by knowing who his friends are. If your friends are fun and frivolous, then you will one day be the same. If they are cool but conscientious, then so are you. If they are careless and carefree, then well…you get the drift. Hone your sense of judgment so that you can know people for what they are rather than what they seem to be.
- Apologize for your mistakes. Everyone does something stupid every once in a while, everyone says something thoughtlessly heartbreaking from time to time, and everyone is capable of forgiving your youthful silliness. But they can’t forgive you until you ask for forgiveness. So hop to it, child!
Who do I tag? I tag everyone reading this. Seriously, just do this for yourself, you don’t even have to share it with anyone, but it would be nice if you did. This is one of the most valuable tags and I plan on keeping everybody’s advice one day for the various little people in my life. Just a few that I have read and loved were: Umm Zaid’s The Reality Remix, Aaminah’s Reese’s Puffs To Do List Meme, the original tag contents of Brother Naeem, and Umm Layth’s 10 Must Do’s Before Turning 18. And now I have the links to all those wonderful posts all in one place for future ease of reference. Woohooo! 🙂