So the dreaded exam season has finally arrived, bringing with it, as usual, shed loads of unfinished workload, last minute coursework deadlines, depressingly miserable revision and of course… STRESS!
No matter what exam each of us is taking, STRESS seems to get to most of us, though we each deal with it in our own different ways. Ironically, one of my exams will InshaAllah be on the subject of stress itself but don’t worry, I’ll spare you the monotonous details of biological and psychological responses and causes and so forth……actually, I wanted to base this on my own perspective, being not just a student but more importantly, a Muslimah.
In this day and age, an exam, although it may well just consist of a couple of sheets of paper, sadly holds a lot of value. And we know and acknowledge this, which is why we stress out so much. We know we have to pass in order to proceed further. We start thinking long term and begin making goals and having aspirations which can only be fulfilled if we succeed in our exams. We cringe at the thought of having to go back and we avoid thinking about it because all we want is to progress more and more. Whether we realise it or not, we constantly think ahead about where our exams will take us and usually it’s to another exam and another and another…until what?
When does it all stop? At an excellent career? Is that the goal we strive so much to seek? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t but what next? Some of us think an excellent career is the start of an excellent life and everything will fall into place once we have received a degree or some qualifications…..maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala knows best what He has in store for us.
It’s all very well working hard and succeeding in this life but if we are thinking ahead, we may as well think fully ahead and not stop at the point where we reach that brilliant career. To think that this is real success is foolish and to think that this is your purpose of life fulfilled is even more foolish. Because after this life comes death and after death come the REAL exams.
How sad would it be if we tried all our lives to reach our worldly goals and when it came to the end of this short life and the end of all these luxuries that we strived to gain, we had no energy left, no preparations, no revision and not even a single thought given to the coming exams that determine what really mattered. Is this the point where we wake up and realise that the life of the dunya was indeed comfort of illusion and all those qualifications we endeavoured to gain remain there and are now replaced with regret? Wouldn’t that be the worst of all blows?
We will be examined in the grave. We will be examined on the day of judgement. And these are the exams that allow NO retakes. And these are the exams for which we had all our lives to prepare for. And these are the exams we were constantly warned about. And these are the exams that not a soul will escape. And these are the exams in which no marking errors will be made and these are the exams that mean everything. And these are the exams we should strive now to pass before it is too late.
I am under no circumstance being a cynic or anything and saying we should forget about education and exams and that they don’t matter etc. No. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t put so much energy into these worldly exams that we forget why we are here. These exams are only minor tests that we face along the way. They only seem so significant to us because we forget the hereafter. We get absorbed into this life.
For example, when we fail an exam, some of us cry, some of us get angry and upset and we feel like giving up and worst of all, we lose hope. Crying is one means of dealing with it but we must ask ourselves, how often do we shed these tears out of fear of Allah and for the sins we commit? And as for losing hope, alhamdulillah, we are Muslims. We must never, ever lose hope. How can we when we know we are never alone? We have our Merciful and Kind Lord who loves helping us. And does our Creator not have a right to test us whenever He pleases? Alhamdulillah, this is one of the most beautiful things about being a Muslim, but that’s a whole new thread altogether. If we fail exams and things don’t go how we want them to, we must take it with a pinch of salt. This life is short. When it is over, it will mean nothing.
And some of us do put these exams before what matters. How many of us compromise our Deen when coursework is piling up? How many of us take to finishing off coursework instead of praying the obligatory prayer? Success is granted by Allah. Anything is possible if Allah wills. If we are running late with deadlines and time is short and coursework must be handed in, why do we make the most unwise decision of comprising our Deen? It’s understandable that we worry of the consequences of late coursework etc but we must have yaqeen in Allah. The consequences of missing our salaah are so much worse. We must turn to Allah during difficulty, not forget Him. He is the Almighty. In this way we get engrossed in this life and forget our real purpose. Our beautiful Deen must come before anything and everything.
So when we don’t do as well as we wanted in exams, inshaAllah let’s not act like it is the end of the world. We may see people around us who have successful careers and people who excel in exams, but we know where the true success lies.
In short, succeeding in this life is a nice thought but succeeding in the hereafter is the real success.
May Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala give us the understanding to realise this and may Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala give us the tawfeeq to strive to reach our ultimate goal- jannah. And may Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala enable us to cry and be upset when we sin and then give us the ability to repent and start again. May Allah ta’ala give us the ability to choose the hereafter over this short life. Allahuma aameen.