I am sometimes dumbfounded, when I observe what is making people grow old. As a clinical psychologist, I see dull faces with freckles and wrinkles; entire family units dealing with various anxieties and stress. Each of us, at some point in life, gets exhausted of the trials of life, feeling rotten and old. Premature ageing is a concept that is gaining popularity these days, and experts in the relative fields of therapy and nutrition have found many remedies for it.
Let’s analyze what makes us feel old and which worries have led to the greying of our hair.
- Concerns about making a place in the world and fitting in socially.
- Concerns about earning a substantial amount of money for everyday expenses.
- Savings and investment for the self and the family’s wellbeing.
- Meeting social standards, cultural norms, and fitting into meaningless customs of the society, especially at the celebrations for marriage and birth of a child.
- Worries from broken, unfinished or one-sided relationships, pre or post marriage, at various ages across both genders.
- Worries of bringing up girls and boys in the society according to respective norms of dowry or patriarchy.
- Emotions of self-pity and not being able to please others.
- Not being able to carry a certain appearance and buy essentials (clothes, shoes or fashion accessories, etc).
It’s okay to sometimes admit and feel old when one can’t perform a certain task, fulfil a homemaking duty, feel unable to deal with a hardship, or can’t tolerate or have patience in a situation. I usually end up saying: “I have grown old; my hair is turning grey and my muscles have become weak.” Our struggles are definitely real but because our priorities are seldom driven by Deen, we have aged prematurely due to worrying about all the wrong things.
We need to see what turned the hair of Allah’s Messenger (sa) grey? What made him feel old?
It was narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet (sa) said: “Hood, al-Waqiah, al-Mursalaat, Amma yatsa’aloon [an-Naba] and Idhash-shamsu kuwwirat [at-Takweer] have made my hair grey.” (Tirmidhi)
The lecture I attended on Surah Hood shook me. It made me tremble to the core; what was making us old versus what made our beloved Prophet (sa) feel old. The theme of all these mentioned Surahs contain warnings, reminders, and signs of the Akhirah and serve as Naseehah for the believer to take heed and consciously worry about the Akhirah first and foremost. They invite us to rewrite our wish lists and reconsider our true concerns. Repeatedly these Quranic chapters reiterate the fact that each human being needs to think logically about what makes them sad, hopeless, or anxious and thus eventually leaving them feeling old and feeble. We need to wake each other up through an understanding of Deen from the slumber of Hub-e-Dunya, a syndrome that forms the grounds of our worries. Indeed, the Quran contains healing and therapy for the entire humanity’s anxiety and depression issues.
In Surah Hood, Ayah 6, we see an answer for the endless worries of this worldly life: “And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.). All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees with Allah).”
From Ayah 25 onwards, the stories of the perished nations begin which should be the focal point of the concerns of every believer. Reading about their deeds and words and what came thereafter should be enough to warn us. Each nation, namely the people of Nooh, Ad, Thamood, the people of Loot, people of Madyan and lastly Firaun and his followers, had disobedience, shamelessness, arrogance, transgression of Allah’s (swt) limits, and mockery of divine commands in common. Their disobedience was beyond idol worship. If we ponder over the verses, we see each nation was blessed with special skills, physical strength, and appearance but they misused it and were ungrateful. They challenged the Deen that their messengers brought to them – they questioned and mocked the commands.
The consequences have been mentioned in the Quran to move us and give us the time to modify and transform our perceptions and lifestyle. The severe punishments the nations faced at that time in the forms of earthquakes, blasts, Saihah (shriek) and torment from the sky should make us humble and grateful that despite disobedience on a community level, we are blessed with our homeland and true guidance. We should also keep a vigilant eye on our surroundings and see the evils of those nations lurking around us in schools, colleges, workplaces, and homes in greater intensity than theirs.
To conclude, each nation was warned to repent from the transgressions and turn to Allah (swt), before the great punishments came. Allah (swt) is Al-Wadud, the Loving. The Quran was sent to guide and heal us, as we all have to return to our Creator. May Allah (swt) empower us to understand these Surahs with insight and implement the reminders. Ameen
The following supplication can actually shift our focus from the temporary to the eternal:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سَخَطِكَ وَبِمُعَافَاتِكَ مِنْ عُقُوبَتِكَ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْكَ لاَ أُحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ .
“O Allah, I seek refuge in Your pleasure from Your wrath and in Your forgiveness from Your punishment. I cannot praise You enough; You are as You have praised Yourself.” (Tirmidhi)