In different cultures, there are different ways of looking at life. We calculate our life in years, months, days and hours etc while in some ancient cultures, people used to count ones breaths, in and out, to calculate their lifespan.
The Holy Quran describes human life in stages. There are pre-birth embryonic stages such as conception, development in the mothers womb and later actual birth etc. Allah supervises and supports the development process in the mothers womb and then leads the child into the world (16:78).
Similarly, after birth, human life is also divided into a number of stages like childhood, adulthood, maturity and old age. The Quran says: He it is Who has created you from dust, then from a nutfah, then from a clot, then brings you forth as a child, then lets you (grow and) reach the age of full strength and afterwards to be old. (40:67).
Sound values need to be inculcated in children.
Description of life in stages can also be found in ancient Greek literature from the time of Hippocrates. One can divide life into numerous stages but the Quran specifically emphasizes three particular stages where man is to spend life to serve society through good deeds and earn life in the Hereafter.
Childhood is the first stage of physical life. It starts from the moment of birth and ends at adolescence. Some may wish to divide childhood further into a number of sub-stages like infancy, juvenile years and teenage. But overall, childhood is a period of crying, playing, innocence and dependence. This is one of the most crucial stages when parents are supposed to nurse and nurture their children with their full attention and energies.
Besides the home, society and school also play a fundamental role in making a child a good or bad citizen. Therefore, sound values need to be inculcated in children to build character and provide a serene environment which has a long-lasting impact on a childs personality.
Parents mutual love, attitude, interest and care pay off in making their children an asset for society in later stages. Undue harshness, over-providing and over-caring sometimes ruin the childs future growth. Hence a balanced approach is essential. In teenage years, the child may be encouraged to form good habits, excel in education, help parents and the needy, be faithful in social conduct, praying and taking responsibility for themselves or others.
However, the seniors must continue to monitor their activities. In short, childhood is a period of learning, observing, experimenting and communicating with others, where strong emotional bonds are created between family members, relatives and society at large.
The second important stage of life is adulthood when a person takes charge of his or her life. Life itself is a divine gift but adolescence when a youngster enters adulthood can be the jewel in the crown of life. Nature showers beauty, attraction, strength, and power during this period and it is an opportunity to enjoy life and build the future.
Adulthood starts with adolescence when emotions run high. Subsequently, dependence on parents/elders is reduced and the person starts thinking of his/her future self-growth and career. During adolescence, some persons become too ambitious in their desires and dreams, therefore, the parents role to guide them about the realities of life is essential. Their guidance works if given amiably without force and duress. Many youngsters go astray due to the bad peer circle. Here, again, parents oversight is important. This is the stage where a person becomes responsible for his/her actions, and guidance from elders can be instrumental in making the right choice.
When a person gets married, his/her responsibilities double. Interests start to revolve around family and children. As time goes by, the person becomes older and sees the signs of forthcoming old age. The hair turns grey, eyesight weakens, teeth deteriorate and one feels occasional weakness in the joints.
Old age is the last stage of life which nobody likes. In the beginning many try to hide the signs of old age appearing in the body. During old age, when a person retires from his active life, he or she faces loneliness. This can make him peevish and one can feel unhappy health-wise, money-wise and security-wise. Some seniors feel ostracised because of their diminishing say in family affairs.
However, if a person had developed good habits like positive attitude, exercise, balanced diet, faith in Allah and regular prayer etc, then this stage can became rewarding. Further, if children take care of their elders, then one is extremely lucky and blessed.
The ultimate aim of physical life is to earn the Hereafter. It is like flowing water. One must understand how it flows in stages. The focus should be on internal satisfaction and remembering the Quran which says: …And to Allah return all matters (22:76).
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