Strength or Weakness: What is Our Destiny?


“Some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much)” (Al-Hajj, 22:5)

This verse struck me. Because I couldn’t understand this aspect about older people, and the decline in mental strength and emotional capability as they age. I assumed that surely through life experience and years aged, a person would be mentally stronger and emotionally more secure. In reality of course – this is not always the case. The rise in age related diseases and memory decline, as well as other nervous system disorders ( directly linked to age) is testament to this.

Allah has told us clearly; some will not know anything after having known much.

The whole verse reads: “Surely we created you from dust, then from a small seed, then from a clot, then from a lump of flush, complete in make and incomplete, that we may make clear to you; and we cause what we please to stay in the wombs till an appointed time, then we bring you forth as babies, then that you may attain your maturity; and of you is he who is caused to die, and of you is he who is brought back to the worst part of life, so that after having knowledge he doesn’t know anything” (Al- Hajj 22: 5)

 This describes beautifully the life cycle of a human being and its various stages. We were all created weak.  We’re all vulnerable whilst young. Most of us are allowed to gain maturity. We develop intellect and strength. Some amongst us die, and are taken from this life whilst they are strong and healthy. Others return back to weakness and a decrease in knowledge and ability – almost as though they are reversing – and going back in terms of ability, vulnerability and intellect.

This is a huge test for us. Being old and weak can clearly be extremely difficult. Any of us can find ourselves in this position – as Allah highlighted in this verse. Just imagine how bad this time period must actually be… Allah has used such powerful wording here, which is translated as the “feeblest” or the “worst part of life” by translators.

How would a person feel in that position?

Many people in their prime years are strong, active, healthy and independent. Then as they age they get weaker, less mobile, suffer debilitating health issues and become dependent on others.

This could have detrimental effects. It could alter their emotional stability and self esteem. It could decrease their confidence levels and ability to rationalise. Perhaps this is why we are greatly rewarded for looking after, caring for and showing respect to our parents and elders. None of us are immune from this life cycle. If Allah wills it could happen to us when we are older — no matter how strong or intelligent we may be today. We must fear Allah and be humble; taking care not to judge others. We must remove our complacency of sound intellect — because, the one who gave us our ability can just as easily take it away —  if he wills. We must show gratitude and be thankful…

Making effort to be kind, obey and respect our parents is an Islamic obligation.

It may well be you tomorrow in that same scenario… Reflect. Treat the elderly as we would want to be treated.

This is an example of how just one verse of the Quran can drastically improve our homes – relationships and lives –  if we understand it and abide by Allah’s commands.

Without looking into the depth of the Quran, and reflecting on what we read, many of us remain deprived of the profound wisdoms behind every verse. Allah is the wisest and knows best in every regard. On an individual level, family level or societal level this obligation brings benefits and adhesion between us.

I seek refuge in Allah and supplicate to him to keep all our minds, hearts and bodies intact until we meet him on the Day He resurrects us, and calls us to account. Ameen.