بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise be to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and Messengers.
With exam season ending, the last thing any student (or right minded person) would want to hear are the words education, knowledge and schooling. Rightfully so as we have all at some point spent countless hours revising, learning and attempting to acquire knowledge or merely memorise it only in order to pass the test. Then after all of it, we want to do nothing, just let our minds rest and our conscience relax. But with all the worry about passing these exams, how often do we actually sit and contemplate the real exam? The one where there is no resit and preparation takes place during the year. Why it is that we often forget (or like to forget rather) that we are partaking in a lifelong assessment which we have no idea of when it will end and are unable to even consider whether we have passed or not… of course until it is too late.
Studying and learning are aspects of life that we should take great pleasure over, and as odd as that sounds, we really should. For one, it gives us a purpose- an opportunity to fulfil our potential and to educate our minds and hearts. With great knowledge, comes understanding and with that comes change. On the day of judgment we will be held accountable for what we used our intelligence for – did we use it rightly? Nurturing it in order to then help some one else in the future and benefit the community, or did we waste it, by not fulfilling our potential, or even worse- use it in the wrong way by spreading corruption- lying, cheating and fooling everyone else and most of all ourselves? This can be explained clearly through the hadith that Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated -the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘Indeed! Acquiring knowledge is done through learning. Indeed! Acquiring knowledge is done through learning. And anyone who cares about good, it will be to him, and anyone who protects himself from evil, he will be saved from it’. (Ad-Daraqutni, in Al-Ifrad; Al-Khatib)
Ok so we already know that by us studying or working, it should not only be to get the best job but also to benefit the world in some way. What is it then that we should do to benefit ourselves? It is excellent that we are all aspiring to have all these careers and in today’s society- success is marked by qualifications. But what is real success? Is it really to get the best job, or is it something deeper, more connected with the fundamental purpose of our existence? “O My servants who believed, My earth is spacious, so worship Me” [29:56]. Alongside our future careers, we should also develop our religious knowledge (ilm) in order to truly succeed.
By the same token, one should not completely delve themselves in religious knowledge and disregard education merely as a ’worldly’ affiliation. Though it is true that we should never ever think that anything is paramount to our preparation for the hereafter, we can use this education to benefit ourselves further and the people around us as with persistence and determination comes awareness and with that change. We can place great impact on the world and ensure great reward insha’Allah, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every muslim. (Ibn ‘Adiyy, Al-Bayhaqi and Al- Tabarani.)
Is it possible to coincide the two- enhancing both our intellectual capabilities and our responsibility and duty to acquire knowledge (ilm)? We should be able to do so but often we are too tired from our work to read the Quran or to probe deeper into the roots of our religion and so the solution seems a lot more complicated. We need to get our priorities straight. One thing we should never forget is that if we remember Allah, then He will remember us, and if we take ‘time’ to really try to practice our religion to the fullest- then He will ease our hardship and bless the time that we then use to study, work, revise etc and ensure great productivity insha’Allah.
If you are anything like myself, then you learn primarily for the exam, and unfortunately a couple of weeks may pass by and you feel as though all that information you had retained has suddenly left you. Ilm (knowledge) on the other hand should be something we want to acquire that will last us our lifetime, as Imam ash Shafi said ‘knowledge is not what is memorised. Knowledge is what benefits’. Therefore we must exercise our knowledge and be able to pass it onto others as Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated, the Messenger of Allah (SAAW) said: “Anyone who calls [people] to a right guidance, he will be rewarded like the reward of all those who followed him, without depriving them anything from their reward”. (Ibn Hibban, Sahih).
We must always keep Allah in our minds and in our hearts, it is only because of Him that we are blessed to be able to study at all and to take exams and have a chance of passing them. Thus remembrance and dhikr is vital, these acts of worship are the real exam techniques with guaranteed success if fulfilled with the best intention and the purest of hearts. Doing simple acts such as reading Surat Al Kahf on a Friday and praying voluntary prayers to respecting our parents, saying a kind word, or even just smiling all constitute as acts of worship which do not even require effort or stress and highlights explicitly the real simplicity of Islam. We should therefore take pleasure in doing them and always remember Allah, after all it is we who are truly blessed for the beauty of Islam He has given us and we should be thankful everyday. How is it that we try very hard to please our teachers and employers in hope for some sort of reward, i.e. recognition or maybe a promotion, yet we do not put the same effort when trying to please our Lord, who has blessed us with all that we have?
I leave you with one Ayah that I personally find intensely powerful and serves as a great reminder; ‘This worldly life is no more than vanity and play, while the abode of the Hereafter is the real life, if they only knew. [29:64]’.
So insha’Allah we keep in mind the most important test of all and revise thoroughly for it so that we are indeed the ones who truly succeed.
Any errors that I have made are mine and any good are from Allah subhanu wa ta’ala. This tarbiya is a reminder to myself first and foremost and I pray that we can all take something from it, however small.
Keep smiling folks, this world is what you make of it, so remember to always count your blessings, remember Allah and smile!