When we celebrated Aamir’s fortieth birthdaylast year, we held a gathering of about 100 friends and relatives. Instead of material gifts on the occasion, we asked our guests to consider making a contribution to GiveLight. For us, GiveLight was a natural choice to express gratitude on the occasion.
Age forty marks an important milestone in numerous spiritual traditions. It is an age at which a person is deemed to have reached maturity, and it is at his or her prime to contribute. One has gained a measure of experience and the judgment that comes with it, while having the energy and resolve to undetake some of life’s most important endeavors. In fact, some of the most important missions in life – including the message of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, – began at age forty.
The Qur’an relates a prayer specifically connected to age forty:
“And We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents. His mother bore him in difficulty and she delivered him in difficulty, and the time of his bearing and his weaning are thirty months. Until, when he reaches his strongest, and reaches forty years, he says, ‘Lord, enable me to be grateful for the blessings you have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do righteous [deeds] with which You are pleased. And make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed I have repented to You and indeed I am from throse who submit to God.’” (Qur’an 46:15)
It is a passage that underscores the special importance of the milestone. It is a time for gratitude, recognition of key relationships, and commitment to leading a meaningful life.
We felt that supporting Givelight was especially appropriate on this occasion. It is a time when we remember the great care and sacrifice with which our parents raised us. It is a time we recognize how much the bounties we today enjoy are linked to the great fortune we had to be raised in a home in which we are loved, protected, nurtured, and inspired. These are the kind of homes that GiveLight strives to provide children around the world.
Age forty is also a time when many of us have children of our own, and are deeply engaged in raising them. We strive to raise them with spiritual strengh, noble values, and good character. These, again, are goals towards which GiveLight strives each day.
Reflections on Forty
Related to the celeberation, we compiled a set of reflections from friends and relatives on the milestone. Contributors were asked (1) what age 40 means to them, (2) what advice they have to their 40-year-old selves, and (3) what quotes they would cite on the occasion. We were privileged to collect 15 contributions, which touched on the themes of relationships, values, and spirituality.
Dian Alyan, founder and CEO of GiveLight, contributed a touching piece. She shared – perhaps not surprisingly – that starting GiveLight was linked to her efforts “in search of a greater meaning” around the age 40 milestone. “With that,” she wrote, “GiveLight and the idea of spending the rest of my life to serving Him through His orphans became a beautiful reality.”
It is a great joy for us to support the noble cause of GiveLight, especially on this milestone. As we remember the blessing of a nurturing home and seek to raise happy and healthy children, we cherish and embrace GiveLight’s vital work.
Aamir A. Rehman and Hina Z. Ghory
Princeton Junction, NJ