At the time of writing this, I’m 22 years old. Up to this point, my life has been quite confusing and unsatisfying for various reasons. As a solution, I created a bucket list of 30 things I want to accomplish before the age of thirty (in-sha-Allah) so I can gain the direction and motivation I need to create the life I want. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Strengthen my relationship with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala
Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah Almighty says: Whoever comes with a good deed will have the reward of ten like it and even more. Whoever comes with an evil deed will be recompensed for one evil deed like it or he will be forgiven. Whoever draws close to Me by the length of a hand, I will draw close to him by the length of an arm. Whoever draws close to Me the by length of an arm, I will draw close to him by the length of a fathom. Whoever comes to Me walking, I will come to him running. And whoever meets Me with enough sins to fill the earth, not associating any idols with Me, I will meet him with as much forgiveness.” —Sahih Muslim
I want to be knowledgeable and steadfast in seeking forgiveness like Adam (alayhi salaam), faithful and persistent like Nuh (alayhi salaam), loyal and bold like Ibrahim (alayhi salaam), strong and patient like Yusuf (alayhi salaam), eager and trustworthy like Musa (alayhi salaam), pure and righteous like Maryam (radiAllahu anha), honorable and extraordinary like Isa (alayhi salaam), and steadfast in prayer and compassionate like Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). Why? The prophets and messengers of Allah—as well as the mother of one of the prophets—had a strong relationship with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Therefore, I want to emulate the characteristics and behaviors of those who are closest to Him to strengthen my relationship with Him.
2. Become financially stable
“Financial independence is paramount. My mom always says that when a woman is financially independent, she has the ability to live life on her own terms. I think that was the soundest advice that I ever got. No matter where you go in life or who you get married to, you have to be financially independent whether you use it or not.” —Priyanka Chopra
Raise your hand if your bank account is in shambles right now 😶. Despite my current financial predicament, I have everything I need to survive (alhamdulillah). However, I’m nowhere near being financially independent, and I want to change that.
I want to be able to support myself and my family (even when I’m married) and not stress or argue about bills, loans, or debt. Accomplishing this goal will also enable me to carry out the charitable projects I have planned, including the ones listed throughout this post.
3. Learn how to read, write, recite (and translate) Arabic fluently
“Alif Laam Ra. These are verses of the enlightening Book. We have sent it down, an Arabic Qur’an, so that you may understand.” —Surah Yusuf (12:1-12:2)
Although there are hundreds of [English] translations of the Holy Qur’an, I want to learn and become fluent in Arabic so I can have a better understanding + build a strong relationship with it and ultimately Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. After all, the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the Arabic language as stated in the ayah above.
4. Improve my domestic skills
“People may think I’m crazy, but one of the ways I like to wind down my Friday is to get some of our household chores done, whether it’s cleaning or doing a big food shop, so the house is all nice for the weekend.” —Victoria Pendleton
The first thing that I learned to cook was [most likely] an omelette. I wanted to eat one, so my mom told me that I had to make it myself that day. She supervised of course (just in case) and it turned out successful #ChefSaleesha 🍳.
All right, now it’s confession time: I can only make *basic* meals and treats. Yes, I’m aware that I’m spoiled. I’m not a fan of cooking, but I’d like to become one so I can completely transform my diet and body. Also, it’d be nice to be able to contribute to family gatherings or regular dining at home 😬.
I’m not as bad when it comes to cleaning, though. I usually don’t mind sweeping, vacuuming, wiping down, decluttering, etc. on a regular basis. However, I could still take things up a notch to get on my mother’s level of home cleanliness (if that’s possible).
Another domestic skill I’d like to conquer is sewing. I first learned how to sew in my home economics class in middle school. I remember one of our assignments was to make a stocking (I know—astagfirullah), and the one I made turned out good (I was very proud of myself). However, if you asked me to make the same thing today, I couldn’t do it. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it—right? So, I’d like to get back into sewing. I want to be able to sew simple things like a button onto a shirt and eventually more advanced things like a dress #SeamstressSaleesha.
5. Take better care of my body
Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said to me, “O Abdullah, I am told you fast all day and pray all night.” I said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Do not do so. Fast and break your fast, pray in the night and sleep. Verily, your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you.” —Sahih Bukhari
My childhood pictures are a forthright reminder of the pitfall I succumbed to in regards to my body. I used to be slim and active. I would be up for riding bikes, mountain climbing, playing volleyball, jumping on the trampoline, etc. Now, I barely exercise or go outside just for fun, and that’s not good—especially for someone in the healthcare field! I also gained a lot of weight over the years, so it’s inevitable that this goal made it to my bucket list (again 😫).
Despite my current conditions, my health is important to me and I acknowledge that my body has rights over me. Therefore, I plan to exercise on a regular basis, lose at least 20 pounds (and keep the weight off), eat well-proportioned meals, reduce my screen time, sleep for at least 6 hours every night, and get a physical exam at least once a year like I used to in primary and secondary school. I’ll document my journey on here too ☺️.
6. Move into my own home
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” —Maya Angelou
Although I love my mother and I’m grateful for the free shelter, food, water, WiFi, etc. that I have access to at home, I’d like to buy, create, and move into my own home before my 20’s are up.
7. Get married ❤
“He is the One who has created you from a single soul and from him created his wife, so that he may find comfort in her.” —Surah Al-A’raf (7:189)
Marriage is a huge responsibility and commitment, which is why so many people don’t get married and continue to engage in haraam relationships instead (along with other reasons). It requires you to be selfless, responsible, acknowledge your flaws, be open to change, fulfill your assigned roles and duties, and grant your spouse their full rights—which are all things that many people are not willing to do.
Although I’m not ready to get married now (I still have a lot of preparation to do), I am willing to take on this new journey when Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala wills for it to happen.
Does this mean that I’m not scared and that I’m oblivious of the risks? No. One of my biggest fears in regards to marriage is getting a divorce, either when it’s just the two of us or after we’ve had children for a while. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, “about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.” 😳
If we do get divorced, though, it should be because we exhausted all our other options yet the marriage still wasn’t working or because one of us committed an unpardonable act (i.e. adultery, abuse). That second one (the unpardonable act) is another one of my biggest fears in regards to marriage. Other fears include falling out of love, failure to fulfill rights, and being lead down the path of Jahannam instead of Jannah because of the marriage. Imam Shadeed Muhammad said, “Some of us was on our way to Jannah before we got married. And we entered into the institution of marriage and now we on the brink of the pit of the Hell-Fire” (check out the video on Facebook to get the full context). Subhan’Allah. May Allah protect us from Jahannam and punishment in the grave.
Despite all the risks that come with getting married, I still want to be the wife of the husband Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala created for me. I want the opportunity to fall in love, go on adventures, become a better version of myself, and create a family with my future husband. So, as Barney Stinson would say, challenge accepted! (when it’s time of course)
8. Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
“I enjoy what I do because I get the chance to talk to diverse people. I get to help them, and share in their positive and negative experiences. The ultrasound field is a community. Some feel that the good results are the most rewarding, such as sharing a moment with an expectant mom; however, when I find a large complication and can then help the patient and be there for them, beginning to end: that is the most rewarding for me.” —Sonographer Testimonials
9. Get more involved in the masjid
“In fact, the mosques of Allah are built up only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and those who establish salah and pay zakah and who fear none but Allah. So, it is in all likelihood that they are to be among those on the right path.” —Surah Al-Taubah (9:18)
My attendance and involvement in the masjid has not been great these past few years. Sure, I’ve attended classes and a couple of seminars that were hosted there, but I could do better—way better!
So, moving forward, I plan to attend at least one class every week (our masjid has several classes during the week), participate in our Feed the Homeless program, help clean up the masjid on Masjid Beautification Day, donate more frequently to ensure it stays open, and volunteer to help out with our special events in any way that I can (e.g. set up and break down, provide supplies, get people signed in). I’d even like to teach a class at our masjid, eventually. I have one idea in mind that I believe will be of great benefit for the community, specifically the youth.
10. Complete the 20 hadith course
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O Allah! Benefit me with what You have taught me, and teach me what will benefit me and increase me in knowledge.” —Sunan At-Tirmidhi
Imam Shadeed Muhammad has an eight-week intensive course titled, Life Lessons from Prophetic Traditions, which goes over the components of a hadith, grades of ahadith (e.g. sahih, hasan, da’eef), Arabic vocabulary, fiqh, text-to-world connections, as well as twenty specially picked ahadith from the Sunnah. I signed up for the online version of this course last year, but I did not complete it due to personal reasons. Thus, I would like to sign up for it again (the in-person version, though) and actually go through the entire program this time.
I recommend taking advantage of this opportunity if it comes to you too (hint, hint)!
11. Design and write a comic book
“What adults don’t always understand is that to a kid, a comic book is like a movie. My Marvel comics took my imagination to other places—other galaxies.” —Angela Bowie
I was inspired by the first Productive Muslim comic strip. I want my comic book to also be “Islamic” in regards to the illustrations, characters, and script. As for the storyline, I want it to be centered around something that’s relatable and helpful to my generation. Perhaps it’ll feature a personal event or an event from the Seerah (or a combination of both). Allahu A’laam.
12. Publish at least one blog post per month on each of my websites for one year
“If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.” —Neil Patel
This one may not seem hard to those who are not bloggers or writers, but there’s a lot of work (and time!) that goes into producing quality content. Additionally, I want to produce quality blog posts for all three of my websites not just one.
My websites are:
I have at least 100 blog post ideas, so a lack of content ideas is not the issue. My barrier, though, is me constantly waiting for motivation to write instead of setting aside some time every day to write. In other words, it’s me. I’ve been treating my blogs as a hobby instead of a job, which is why I don’t work as hard as I could towards it. So, moving forward, I’m going to work on changing my mindset and perspective of this creative outlet and blocking out time in my schedule to work on content for each website.
13. Attend an Islamic convention
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, which gathering is best?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A gathering of those who inspire you to remember Allah when you see them, whose discourse increases your knowledge, and whose good deeds inspire you to remember the Hereafter.” — Musnad Abī Ya’la
MAS-ICNA Midwest Annual Convention. ICNA-MAS Southeast Annual Convention. Productive Muslim Retreat. It would be a dream come true to attend one of these! I would get to spend three days with brothers and sisters all over the U.S. (and world for the retreat one) learning about Islam and improving my spirituality. I would also get the chance to visit another state/country 🌎!
14. Write and publish a book
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” —Benjamin Franklin
I have a few ideas in mind . . . 📚🔏
15. Visit my birthplace
“O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into races and tribes, so that you may identify each other. Surely the noblest of you, in Allah’s sight, is the one who is most pious of you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” —Surah Al-Hujurat (49:13)
16. Memorize the Qur’an
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The example of one who recites the Quran and memorizes it is that of one with the ‘righteous and noble scribes’ (80:15). The example of one who recites the Quran and is committed to it, although it is difficult for him, is that of one with a double reward.” —Sahih al-Bukhari | Sahih Muslim
Although it’s not obligatory to memorize the Qur’an (in general), I would love to accomplish this goal before I return to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Doing so would help with strengthening my relationship with Him (goal #1), increasing my rank in the Akhirah, giving dawah to my family and peers, boosting my imaan, and raising and teaching my future children and students.
17. Get published in a magazine
“But we believed it was worth it to have a magazine that Muslim women would be proud to claim, to draw strength, knowledge and inspiration from.” —Na’ima B. Robert
Option #1: Write an article for a specific magazine. This is the method I prefer to use to achieve this goal. My article would be composed of practical tips and advice the audience can use to solve a problem, accomplish one of their goals, or improve their life in general. The magazine doesn’t have to be produced by a Muslim company (although I’m interested in contributing to the SISTERS Magazine), but it does have to have a family-friendly brand/theme (i.e. no vulgar content).
Option #2: Get an invitation for a profile feature interview. This one is a little cringey for me since I don’t like interviews. Why not? Because you have to sell yourself in them (e.g. when a job interviewer asks why they should hire you). Then again, this type of interview is not too bad since the interviewer would have decided beforehand that they want a particular interviewee (in this case, me) to be the subject of their article because they think they’re the perfect fit for that piece. So no selling, right?
Option #3: Do it the Taylor Swift way. By this I mean create and publish my own magazine instead of waiting for an editor to approve my piece (and going through a lot of rejections) or waiting for my life to be “interesting enough” to get a profile feature request. This requires more work, of course, but I would have full control over the content included (which is a big advantage!).
18. Be a guest speaker
“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” —Lilly Walters
I could give a speech during one of my previous professor’s classes (one said I would make a great speech instructor), on career day at one of my old schools or at an Islamic school, at a TEDx event, or even at an Islamic conference (e.g. Confident Muslim). So many possibilities! 💬🗣🎤
19. Learn sign language
“Speaking, writing, and signing are the three ways in which a language lives and breathes. They are the three mediums through which a language is passed on from one generation to the next.” —David Crystal
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are approximately 70 million deaf people in the world and they all “use sign language as their first language or mother tongue.” Additionally, sign language is also the “first language and mother tongue to many hearing people and some deafblind people (tactile sign languages).” I want to become fluent in American Sign Language so I can communicate with people in the deaf community and eventually become a translator for those who are hearing or deaf.
“And announce among people about (the obligation of) Hajj, so that they should come to you on foot and on every camel turned lean, traveling through every distant hilly pathway, so that they witness benefits for them and recite Allah’s name, in specified days, over the provision He gave them from the cattle – ‘So, eat thereof and feed the distressed, the poor.” —Surah Al-Hajj (22:27-22:28)
21. Read every book that’s in my “library collection”
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” —Dr. Seuss
As of now, I have 48 books in my possession (not including the ones I’m going to give away). Eight of those books are a part of a translation of the Qur’an volume set, so those are going to take the longest to get through. On the other hand, 10 of those books have under 100 pages so those are going to be easy to get through. I’ve also either already finished reading or started reading some of the books in my collection. So, it won’t be too bad trying to reach this goal. I had to set a deadline, though, to push myself towards reading every book I currently have so it would no longer just sit in my draws collecting dust #amateurbookworm.
22. Be an extra in a movie or TV show
“Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.” —Constantin Stanislavski
Like goal #17, it doesn’t have to be a Muslim film or TV show, but it does have to be Rated G or Rated PG. I’m not interested in selling my deen for a few seconds of “fame.” Audhubillah.
23. Study Islam more extensively
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” —Sunan Ibn Mājah
I want to go beyond just attending weekly classes, seminars, and conventions. I want to sit with students of knowledge, shuyookh, and scholars of this deen and learn as much as I can from them. I want to attend and graduate from an Islamic university so I can earn a BA in Islamic Studies. I want to exhaust every resource that I have access to (e.g. local, national, & international || online, in-person, print) so I can learn as much about Islam as possible. Oh, how I desire to be a talibul‘ilm!
24. Provide professional services for free
“Surely those men who give sadaqah (charity) and those women who give sadaqah and have advanced a good loan to Allah, for them it will be multiplied, and for them there is a noble reward.” —Surah Al-Hadid (57:18)
Our masjid has a small clinic that provides health services for the community every Sunday. The doctors and nurses are all volunteers, so they don’t charge any fees for their services. Ma-sha-Allah. Once I become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, I want to follow the same path as those health professionals by performing ultrasound exams for free at this same clinic (if needed) or at another clinic that’s located in a poverty-stricken area.
25. Create my own “TV” show
“Tell the story that’s been growing in your heart, the characters you can’t keep out of your head, the tale story that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning.” —Jennifer Weiner
The details shall remain a secret until I’m ready to reveal it. 🔏
26. Start the process of executing Project FI
“The way to build your savings is by spending less each month.” —Suze Orman
More secrets . . . 😶🔐
27. Purchase a LEGO set that has over 1,000 pieces and put it together
“My childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean playtime is.” —Ron Olson
Last year, when I worked as an inventory auditor, I helped with completing an inventory count for a LEGO store at the mall. During an intermission of my shift, one of the employees at the store gave me a LEGO fish to put together. Here’s how it turned out:
My inner child was released during the process. It was a simple set yet I was so happy (putting it together) and proud of it. I’m a simple girl. This moment in my life has led to a desire to complete a bigger (and tedious) set. I want the set to be something that I could use as a decoration for my home, though. Do you have any recommendations? If so, let me know via @jessicadukharan!
28. Host a workshop
Imran ibn Muslim reported: Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Acquire knowledge and teach people. Learn along with it dignity and tranquility and humility for those who teach you and humility for those whom you teach. Do not be tyrannical scholars and thus base your knowledge upon your ignorance.” —Shu’ab al-Imān
Either online or in person.
29. Start the process of executing Project ES
“Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers, motivated students and enthusiastic parents with high expectations.” —Bob Beauprez
The quote above is your hint ☺️.
30. Help turn someone’s life completely around
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteousness is that one believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets, and gives wealth, despite its love, to relatives, and to orphans, the helpless, the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and (spends) in (freeing) slaves and observes the prayers and pays the Zakah; and those who fulfill their promise when they promise and, of course, the patient in hardships and sufferings and when in battle. Those are the ones who are true and those are the God-fearing.” —Surah Al-Baqarah (2:177)
One of my mentors told me I have a servant’s heart and that I’m a servant-leader. That’s one of the greatest compliments someone could give me, because it means I love to help others and that I’m constantly in service of others. I want to use my servant leadership skills to transform someone’s life: whether that’s by helping someone go from being destitute to self-sufficient, paying for a child’s college tuition so they can have the chance to follow their professional dreams, or providing support to someone who’s clinically depressed/suicidal to help defeat this mental illness and show them that it’s worth living one more day (every day). 💗💝
***Note: Translations of the verses of the Qur’an were taken from Ma’ariful Qur’an: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Quran by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi***