At least that’s what my baby sister calls it. For the last couple of weeks leading up to today, she’s been teasing me saying that I’m turning a quarter of a century. And today, it’s happened.

I’m usually not big on birthdays, and this year isn’t very different in celebration and things like that. It’s not my thing to celebrate it, mostly because there’s a difference in opinion when it comes to whether or not celebrating birthdays is allowed or not in Islam. As a personal rule of thumb, if there’s anything in which there’s a difference in opinion amongst the scholars, and after doing my research, I still find it would be safer to leave the thing for the sake of Allah, I leave it. Anyways, that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is to talk about how I’m now in the 25th year of my life, and I’d really like to evaluate things and see how far I’ve gotten with my goals; if the things I had hoped for have become a reality, and if I still want the things I had hoped for. It’s time for me to re-evaluate where I’m at with life, and where I want to go.

For the last year or so, I’ve gone through quite a few struggles in growing as a Muslim, person, entrepreneur, and goal seeker. I had hoped that today, a Dua that was made by someone very important to me last year on October 17th would have been answered, and I’d be spending this day and the lifetime to come with my wife. But, as I thought about this, I recognized that this is merely a day in my life, and that if I want something, I shouldn’t put a timeline on it. Instead, I should keep making dua for what I’m seeking if it’s what I truly want, ask Allah for guidance and patience, and then, let things flow. Not a single day has passed since May 4th of last year (when I became truly serious about marriage) that I haven’t made dua asking Allah for guidance, patience, success, and ease in getting married to the woman that will be best for bringing out the best in me, in the matters of this life and the Hereafter. As is the prerequisite for Dua being answered, I hold complete conviction that Allah will make my dua a reality, or will replace my dua with something better, insha Allah. I will continue to make dua until He helps me and the woman I’m supposed to marry, insha Allah, find the courage, strength, and faith to take the leap of faith and pursue marriage, without concerns of what’s to come in the future because our conviction in faith that Allah will take care of us. At first, I was hesitant about pursuing marriage, but the Salatul-Isthikhaarah I prayed in May last year has repeated itself every single time since with a positive answer in this respect, and so, I’ve decided to hold strong to my faith and not give up, insha Allah. If this isn’t right for me, I know that Allah will remove it from my heart. Until then, I refuse to give up. Please make dua that I find success and ease with this, insha Allah 🙂

This pursuit of marriage, along with my ambitions and efforts towards entrepreneurship, Da’wah (the relaying of the teachings of Islam), and getting into shape, have helped me monumentally in becoming a better Muslim. I can’t express to you how much of a roller-coaster this last year has been with my Imaan (faith). I won’t go into details because I believe that is one of those things that should always be kept between you and Allah, and maybe with your spouse (for the sake of support), but this year definitely took its toll, and it still does. Every day, I wake up and wonder if I’ll have the opportunity to live through the day, because when death will come is uncertain. All we can do is our best, and make the most of every moment. If there is something you’re afraid to do, or something you feel uncertain of, take the leap of faith, and live! I know I always talk about taking a leap of faith, but honestly, it’s so important in living life to the fullest. We often live in fear of not living up to, achieving, or finding perfection in all we do and embrace as a part of our lives. We worry that we don’t deserve things because we think that we won’t be able to live up to the blessings Allah has given us. But, that’s not the case, because had it not been something we could have handled, Allah wouldn’t have blessed us with it! Embrace your blessings, and don’t question why you got it! Instead, do whatever it takes to embrace and show your gratitude to Allah for those blessings!

When it comes to my career, I’ve learned that pursuing your dreams, and shutting down (and if possible, removing yourself from the company of) naysayers is very important. So many people constantly tell me that I will not succeed, and that I won’t be able to achieve the goals I’ve set out for. They say it’s out of my scope of abilities, skills, and talents. They say I’m wasting away my life, while others are out there having jobs at big companies and starting families, while I’m sitting here trying to build something out of nothing. What I’ve learned is that those comments are irrelevant. All the power to those who are able and comfortable to live with nine-to-five jobs, but that’s not for me. I like to be in control. I like to feel that I am in charge of my own destiny. I am as successful as I’m willing to work towards being. (Of course, this is all with the Help and Provision of Allah, of course.) I’m not saying that’s not possible without being an entrepreneur. I just personally feel that I’m limited through having a “job”. I work whenever I want. I don’t have to clock in and out. I love what I do, and if I start to get tired, frustrated, or irritated by something I’m doing, I remind myself of my ultimate goal, and it reignites the fire in my heart towards pushing harder and further towards my dreams. So, to naysayers, I say, “No.”

As a person, I have also seen myself grow a lot in the last year. I used to be weak in confidence, patience, optimism, and overall drive. I had the ambition, but I lacked the drive to push forward. I used to be confident, but things happened in the last year that shattered my confidence time and time again. That shattering, however, only lead to me rebuilding my confidence stronger each time, Alhamdulillah. My patience was tested like never before this year, and even today, I still get tested with patience in the same matters that have tested me this entire year. But, with practice comes perfection. Allah has answered all of my prayers so far, so I have no reason to doubt that He will answer what is yet to be answered. Optimism has been my greatest friend in this process of ups and downs in faith and in the events of my life. Optimism is so much better for the heart, mind, and soul. Alhamdulillah for the advice of the Prophet (SAW) to be optimistic. It makes peace come with far more ease. Alhamdulillah times a million.

As I wrote this post, I came upon the realization that I haven’t fully answered the question of where I’m headed. That’s because I don’t know. I do, however, feel that the answer lies in between the sentences, words, and letters of this post, as each one signifies the variety of my life, and how things will fall into place as they will. My only task is to do right by Allah, work hard towards my dreams, and never give up until I’ve achieved what Allah places in my heart. Simple as that. Life is simple. I don’t want to complicate it.

Today, I have gotten a year closer to my death. The Day I will return to my Lord, with a record I can either be proud of or ashamed of. On that Day, I will depend on His Love and Mercy to grant me an entrance into Paradise. Until that Day, I need to prove my love to Him, so that I’d be deserving of Paradise. Today, I don’t celebrate – I reevaluate, thank Him for 25 years of opportunities, pray for another 100 years to keep trying to please Him, open my eyes to the reality of life’s fleeting nature, and grasp my heart and hands on what will help me in the Eternal Life.