18 Things to Accomplish Before You are 18

Today I read an interesting post in Brother Naeem’s blog about Reese’s Puffs To-Do List . The back of Reese’s Puff cereal box mentions a list of 18 things that you should do before you are 18. Brother Naeem reproduced this to do list, albeit replaced Resee’s ‘useless’ (Br Naeem’s word) 18 to do things with 18 ‘character building and morally responsible’ things.

He allowed his fellow bloggers to create their own lists on the condition that bloggers follow the rules that he mentioned at the beginning of his post. Unfortunately, I was not able decode all these complicated rules ( I was too impatient to create my own list), and thus went straight ahead to create my own list of 18 things that you should accomplish before you are 18.

Although the title says that you should accomplish these 18 things before you are 18, you do not need to restrict yourself to any age limit. Because these goals can be achieved at any age. You simply need to have the motivation and will power. If you have the will, Allah will open the way for you. Therefore, my list is for the over 18 people as much as it is for the below 18 youths.

So, here is my list of 18 things that you should accomplish before you are 18!

01. Memorize the Quran
02. Learn both the Quranic Arabic and the conversational Arabic
03. Make 40 units of prayer your second nature
04. Observe the supererogatory fasts of Monday, Thursday, and three white days of lunar month
05. Memorize all the duas from the book called Hisnul Muslim (the Fortress of a Muslim)
06. Develop time consciousness and avoid distractions
07. Learn English + your native language + another language
08. Learn touch typing
09. Do gym
10. Visit graveyard
11. Learn how to suck it up
12. Learn how to cook
13. Learn how to listen and pay attention
14. Learn to take it easy when it comes to duniya, but be hasty when it comes to akhirah
15. Learn to fear Allah both in public and in secret
16. Sacrifice an animal and prepare it
17. Discover what you like to do: try to be yourself
18. Grow beard or observe hijab

If you want to know why I have selected these 18 tasks, read further (I must warn you that it will be a long read):

01. Memorize the Quran
One day the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (May Allah be pleased with him), “Recite (the Quran) to me.” Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (May Allah be pleased with him) replied, “Should I recite it to you while it was revealed to you?” He (ﷺ) said, “I like to hear it from others.”

In his lecture series of Tearful Moments in the Life of the Prophet (), Shaykh Yahya Adel Ibrahim commented that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)’s statement that he liked to hear the Quran from others has a deeper meaning. Through this statement, according to Shaykh Yahya, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) implied that the Quran belongs to the whole ummah. It was revealed upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and each member of his ummah has the right to take pride in it.

How do you take pride in the Quran? One of the ways of taking pride in the Quran is by memorizing it. The companions of the Messenger of Allah and the early generations of Muslims could not imagine of not memorizing the Book of Allah. Such was their love and reverence for the Quran. But with time, this love has withered away from the hearts of the Muslims. Who memorizes the Quran in our time? Only the students of religion. Hardly we find Muslims of non-religious field of study who know the Quran by heart.  As if the Muslims of non-religious fields have nothing to do with the memorization of the Quran. Sadness doesn’t grow anymore in our hearts because of not knowing the Quran by heart. What a pity!

Do not be among those who are pitied upon. Memorize the Book of Allah before you are 18!

02. Learn both the Quranic Arabic and the conversational Arabic
I have been praying the jumuah prayer, alhamdulillah, for 19 years. In Qatar, khutbah is given in Arabic. On average, a khutbah here lasts for 45 minutes. So, let me now calculate the time that I have spent listening to these khutbahs:

Time spent on khutbah = (0.75 hours/khutbah) * (55 khutbah/year) * 19 years ≈ 784 hours.

Because of not knowing Arabic, all these moments were waste as I did not understand what the imam was talking about. I missed all these opportunities to strengthen my imaan!

There can be strong arguments that we can learn our deen without knowing Arabic. But that is not my point. The sunnah of Allah is that He chooses something over other. He chose Makkah over all the cities in the world. From the whole mankind, He chose our prophet (ﷺ) to be His last and greatest Messenger. Likewise, over all the languages, He chose Arabic to be the language of His greatest book. Like we go to Makkah, His preferred city, should we also not learn the language that He preferred to be the language of His glorious book?

Look at Salman the Persian (May Allah be pleased with him). He learned more than five languages to find the truth. If the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had lived today, how would I have felt if I were not able to talk with him because of not knowing his (ﷺ) language?

So learn both the Quranic Arabic and the conversational Arabic before you are 18. Do not come up with the excuse that we can learn our deen without Arabic. Rather take inspiration from the fact that if you know Arabic, you will be communicating with Allah consciously in your salah! What more can you ask for?

03. Make 40 units of prayer your second nature
Last Sunday I did not go to work. I was not feeling well and I decided to take sick leave. When I woke up in the morning, I immediately remembered that I was not supposed to be at my bed at that time. I was supposed to be at my work.

It was not a guilt feeling; rather it was a feeling of being misplaced.

How many Muslim youths today feel that they are misplaced when they miss a congregational prayer? How many Muslim youths today feel that they are misplaced when they remain in their bed when they should be praying the night prayer? Very few.

We do not feel anything after missing a congregational prayer because congregational prayer has not become our second nature. But if we do not go to work even for a day, we feel that we are misplaced.

Because ‘education’, ‘career’—we have been fed these things since we were child. So these things became our second nature.

Making something your second nature takes years of effort and time.

Therefore, rigorously observe the following 40 units of prayer from a very early age. 40 units—no less.

Sunnah Fard Sunnah Other Total
Fajr 2 2 4
Dhur 4 4 2 10
Asr 4 4
Maghrib 3 2 5
Isha 4 2 6
Tahajjud 8 8
Witr 3 3
Total 40

After 8 years of training, assuming that the training starts at the age of 10, these 40 units of prayer will inshallah become your second nature.

04. Observe the supererogatory fasts of Monday, Thursday, and three white days of lunar month
Like the 40 units of prayer, observe the supererogatory fasts of Monday, Thursday, and the three middle days of every lunar month from 13 years of age. Do not let exams, school, and parental love come in your way of observing these fasts. If you put your trust in Allah, you can successfully manage both the fasts and the exam. During the time of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), young companions would cry to be permitted to fight in the battle. Fasting is nothing compared to participating in wars. So, observe the supererogatory fasts and make yourself used to them before challenges like college, career, and marriage engulf your life.

05. Memorize all the duas from the book called Hisnul Muslim (the Fortress of a Muslim)
The essence of submitting to Allah is making dua to Him. A Muslim does not say, “Yes I can.” Even for the smallest possible things, we seek the help of Allah. We have been told to make dua even before repairing the lace of our shoe. Our humility and submission before Allah is supposed to reach that level.The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to make dua before anything he did. He would pray to Allah even while looking at the mirror.The book Hisnul Muslim records all the beautiful duas of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) that has been reported authentically. Memorize all these duas and make reciting them your habit you are 18.

06. Develop time consciousness and avoid distractions
Imam al-Shafi‘i once said, “Time is like a sword, if you don’t cut it, it will cut you.” It has also been said, “Time is but the stream we go fishing in.”

True statements.

Nothing is free in this world. Do you think that it costs you nothing when you are facbooking or randomly surfing nets? It costs your time. Time is the first coin that you pay for anything you do in this world. Our time is limited. Once the appointed time is over, we will return back to Allah.

Therefore, one of the characteristics of a believer is he does not care about anything that does not bring him any benefit in terms of this world or the hereafter. He is time conscious. His time consciousness keeps him away from distractions. If you want to achieve great things in this world and the hereafter, a distraction-free life is must.

How do you think Imam Ibn Taymia (May Allah have mercy on him), Imam An-Nawawi (May Allah have mercy on him) and all the great scholars of our ummah have achieved so much in their life time? Divide the number of pages they have written by the number of days they have lived in this world. You will be amazed! They were able to achieve so much because they were superbly time conscious and did not allow distractions to deviate them from their main focus.

So turn yourself into a time conscious slave of Allah before you are 18!

07. Learn English + your native language + another language
Regarding English, no explanation is required.

Regarding your native language, the language that your mom and dad speak, learn it. Learn how to read, write, and speak this language. You may need this language if you marry in your own culture.

Regarding another language, it is up to you. However, knowing a language never hurts.

08. Learn touch typing
I cannot emphasize enough the need for this skill in our time. Touch typing is the ability to type fast but accurately without looking at the keyboard. No matter which field of study you choose to tread in, the skill of touch typing will come handy. Master this important skill before you are 18.

09. Do gym
Do not do gym to build six packs. Rather do it to maintain a good body shape and your ideal body mass index. A good body and a good mind are great aids in doing physical worships.

10. Visit graveyard
We learn about akhirah from the books and build our own perspective about it. However, if you visit a grave, it will add a whole new dimension. Visit a grave when a body is being taken there for burial, and you will gain a better understanding of ‘reality’.

11. Learn how to suck it up
Life is full of struggles and setbacks. But do not tell people about your setbacks and struggle until you overcome them and succeed. It serves no purpose. It does not befit the character of a Muslim that he turns to anyone other than Allah for consolation and help. So, if something is bothering you, or if you are struggling in your job for example, assess your situation, make a plan about how you can solve it, and turn to Allah for help. Do not complain to people.

12. Learn how to cook
There may situation arise in your life when you will be required to cook yourself. So learn cooking. Also if you cook yourself, you will better appreciate the effort that your mom has put to prepare food for you for years!

13. Learn how to listen and pay attention
Recently I was making a presentation where some attendees were playing with their blackberrys. I had spent a lot of time to make the slides for the team that I was presenting to, and therefore, I was little hurt when my audience did not pay their full attention.

That same day while praying, I discovered my focus to be on a worldly matter. Then I said to myself, “Subhanallah! I demand full attention from fellow human beings whereas I have failed to give my full attention to my Lord! ”

One of the traits of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) that made him very popular among the people was his ability to give 100% when he would listen to somebody. That is why anyone who would come to the presence of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would feel that he or she is the most loved by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

In my life, I have found listening to be an incredibly difficult skill to acquire. Good listening requires practice and patience.

You must try your best. You have to be a good listener if you want to respect people. Listening is respecting. Listen hard when your parents are talking to you. Listen when your imam is giving a khutbah. Listen when your imam is reciting in the salah. Listen when you are attending a class. Listen what others are saying when you are in a meeting. Listen before you open your mouth.

Become a good listener before you are 18.

14. Learn to take it easy when it comes to duniya, but be hasty when it comes to akhirah
Do not panic if you get 99 out of 100 (Asian students will understand what I mean here). Rather panic if you have to miss a prayer in congregation. It is OK to graduate with a GPA 3.5. But in matters of deen, become like that companion of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), who never saw the back of any other worshipper in the mosque save the imam, because in every congregation prayer, he was always the first one to enter the mosque. Learn to take it easy when it comes to this world, but be ever serious when it comes to matters pertaining to your faith and religion.

15. Learn to fear Allah both in public and in secret
Fearing Allah both in public and in secret is the essence of removing hypocrisy from the heart. This is also the foundation of a noble character. Do not be a good Muslim only before your parents and your teachers. Do not stay away from sins because you do not have the opportunity to commit sins. Learn to be a good Muslim when you are alone too. In the Quran Allah said:

Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah, of them some have fulfilled their obligations, and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed [i.e.they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allah] in the least. [The Noble Quran: 33-23]

Before you are 18, start striving to be among those slaves who are truthful about their covenant with Allah.

16. Sacrifice an animal and prepare it
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) encouraged us to slaughter our sacrificial animals by our own hands. So learn it. Do not always depend on others to get your animal slaughtered. Also learn how to prepare the animal after you slaughter it.

17.  Discover what you like to do: try to be yourself
One of the most important decisions that you will ever make in your life is choosing a field of study,which will eventually lead you to a career (of course that will happen by the help of Allah) that you like. Do a lot of soul-searching before you make your choice. Take self-assessment exams to find out your true interest. Talk with your parents, teachers, and seniors about it. Pray istikhara. Make a lot of dua and ask Allah to guide you. Do not simply choose something because your parents want you to choose that. If you study something to please others and not because you are genuinely interested in that, you will suffer. Because when you will graduate, everyone whom you wanted to please will depart and you will be left alone to struggle yourself. Remember that degree is only a tool. It is only a means and not an end. Once you land in a job, your certificate will not guide you; rather it will be your interest and intrinsic-motivation that will direct you and help you to create your own niche. Therefore, BE YOURSELF when you choose what you want to be!

18. Grow beard observe hijab

If you are a boy, grow beard before you are 18. If you are girl, observe hijab as soon as you hit puberty. Do not say, “I will do when I feel like.” Because you do not have any option regarding beard and hijab.

Now dear readers, make you own list of 18 things to accomplish before you are 18 and share it in the comment section 🙂


[PS. Although I have included memorization of the Quran as one of the eighteen things to accomplish before turning 18, I must say that memorization must not be preferred over understanding the Quran and implementing its teachings. If Quran is understood and its teachings are implemented in life, knowing the Quran in heart will then prove to be of additional benefit. Therefore, before parents send their children for memorization of the Quran, they should have their focus right.]

6 thoughts on “18 Things to Accomplish Before You are 18”

  1. Nice list bro! I especially like #14. Very nice rule of life.

    Also, you might want to fix the typo on fasting Tuesday’s. Obviously you meant Thursday…

  2. Masha’Allah tabarak’Allah! This is wonderful and inspiring. I have 3 children and think making a list like this would be so beneficial.
    I would like to have permission to print your list to show others and the 40 unit prayer table if possible. I know each should make their own but yours is a good guide.
    May Allah keep us all on the right path.
    Sister Khadijah

    1. Thanks for dropping by sister. Yes, you can print my list.

      A Muslim should try hard to observe these 40 units of prayer because the Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace be upon him) would always pray these 40 units of prayer. Additionally anyone can pray ishraq prayer, tahiyyatul masajid, tahiyyatul wudu, and duha prayer.

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