Do you ever sit back to look at the wrinkles on an old person’s face? Only imagine the number of incidents their eyes have witnessed! The endless stories they have in store for their grandchildren, their rough childhood, their memories, their laughter…imagine if you were looking at a situation from the perspective of a 65-year-old? Certain topics may be completely irrelevant to them, far from their interests, yet, no doubt some wisdom can be extracted from their long-time experience. I shall be recounting to you, dear readers, two incidents where I have benefited immensely from when in the company of elders, whether it was directly through their words of advice or experience or indirectly, hoping you may find benefit too in sha Allah!
She is my fellow tajweed companion, not a very old woman, but much older than me. She told me about how she spent more than 30 years in her job and had only a few more years until retirement, yet she decided to quit. An early retirement meant her pension payments would be less than that if she had waited for her actual retirement date, yet she decided to forsake that! Why? Because she felt guilty. She felt that she had spent those years away from Allah, engrossed in her job, until she reached a point where she could not take more. Those few more years may seem insignificant to others she said, but for her, almost a lifetime would be wasted, and she wanted to make the most out of it. Spending time with the Qur’an, learning how to recite it correctly, gaining knowledge in the deen, these were her aspirations, and that is exactly when she went on to do. I was amazed by her willpower, her ability to leave behind the routine she was used to in order to pursue her goals, her determination and the great effort she displays when trying to understand the complex rules we study or when memorizing an ayah from the Qur’an, tabarakAllah. Undoubtedly, many lessons can be learnt from this incident.
Are we really making the most of our time? Are we truly performing deeds that please Allah or are we being driven by life’s unexpected tides and endless distractions? Such questions require one to sit down with themselves and try to answer them, for we all know our purpose in life, but are we anywhere near achieving that purpose?
This took place when we were paid a visit by my two grandmothers and my eldest aunt. By ‘indirectly’, I mean they didn’t have to say anything to make me reflect upon my state of being, for their actions did that for them, or as they say: “dawah by actions!” The three of them have knee problems, thus, they find difficulty in standing for long and are unable to perform many tasks without having someone to be at their aid at most times. It is very sorrowful indeed, but seeing them like that made me determined to focus more on my health and ensure that I am exercising regularly so that my body would serve me better when I grow older.
Our bodies are an Amanah from Allah , taking care of them results in a stronger, healthier body that is better able to perform deeds for both the Dunya and the Akhira, whereas on the contrary, we would experience fatigue, laziness, and illness.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
The Prophet said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” 1
Life becomes almost unbearable when you need to depend on someone else for every single task, it makes them feel defeated, I see it in their eyes every time and I ask Allah to make easy the affairs of those who are facing difficulties. We still have the energy and ability to make a change within ourselves though, so let’s seize the opportunity before we regret it!
Perhaps the most difficult moment of all is seeing them unable to make sujood (prostration). It is truly heartbreaking. Is not sujood the physical position by which we are closest to Allah the All-Mighty? Is not it that special, unlike any other occasion, wherein we surrender to Allah the All-Hearer, disclosing all our emotions and sorrow and allowing the tears to roll down from our eyes without any reservation? Sujood is a *tremendous* blessing indeed, it made me fully appreciate it when seeing others unable to perform it, it is where you remember that you were created from dust and will return back to it, subhanAllah!
These precious life lessons that I learned from the elderly women in my life, I share with you so that we all benefit in sha Allah.
The overall message is: We can change for the better if we are sincerely willing to. Let us learn to have a healthier lifestyle, to benefit from the people around us, to make better use of our time and to not allow Dunya to devour our most valuable years on this planet.
What are some lessons you’ve learnt from elders in your community? Please share with us in the comments section below. 🙂
- Sahih Al-Bukhari ↩