Author: Radiyyah Hussein, Tayybah Volunteer
Date: February 12, 2018
This Dunya is filled with hardships, trials, and tests that affect every single one of us, and this holds true especially for the student of knowledge. Allah SWT has blessed each individual with his own talents, capabilities, and opportunities, and for the seeker of knowledge, He has paved the way for him to learn and acquire vast beneficial fruits to hold onto for eternity. However, this path toward knowledge, and toward implementing it into our daily lives, is certainly not an easy feat. Certainly, obtaining knowledge is one of the utmost beautiful things we can do to draw closer to our Creator. Allah SWT even says,
“Only those who truly fear Allah from among His slaves are those with knowledge.” [35:28]
Yet, with acquiring knowledge, we find ourselves in motivational tides of highs and lows. We may start off initially as enthusiastic, zealous students wanting to learn any and everything about the Deen (or it could be even in terms of secular studies as well) – so we find ourselves joining more Halaqat (study circles) at the Masjid, reading more books on specific topics, listening to more lectures, attending weekend Al-Maghrib seminars, and more. However, it’s natural for us to have low points too – to feel overwhelmed by trying to balance our hectic work schedules, family responsibilities, health commitments, and Islamic involvement. For many of us, an all too unfortunate reality is that as the stress of daily life comes in to play, we may slowly fall out from our knowledge seeking. Or, aside from stress-related factors, many times we just lose motivation to keep on going with attaining knowledge. We may feel that there’s just too much to learn and we’re not making as much fast progress as we wanted to initially. We get “burned out.” These are all too common issues that all of us face while on this path, but the key point is to stay strong and resolute, and maintain this seeking of knowledge no matter what challenges may arise. How can we do so though?
Well, treading this path of knowledge requires commitment, dedication, devotion, and most importantly, steadfastness. Steadfastness as the ability to keep strong and not lose focus, to drive oneself toward a central goal of pleasing Allah SWT, to maintaining consistency in one’s actions, and so much more. Yet, how do we hold ourselves to this perseverance? How do we stay steadfast on this journey toward knowledge (and any other goal for that matter) for the sincere, wholehearted pleasure of Allah? We find our answers directly from the blessed words of Allah SWT in His Holy Quran.
Allah SWT strengthens us with His words,
“And be steadfast in patience, for surely Allah will not make the rewards of the righteous perish.” [11:115]
because He knows fully well and understands that throughout life we will face many difficulties, hardships, and points where we feel our world is about to crumble away. He advises us that if we hold ourselves to trying our best for Him, by going out of our way in His cause, then whatever efforts we make will always be appreciated by Him. Nothing we do, whether grand or miniscule, will go to waste in the sight of Allah SWT – whether that be in terms of our personal worship to Him, seeking knowledge for His sake, enjoining family ties, carrying out our daily work and family responsibilities, etc. The plethora of tasks we must engage in every single day for our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being are never in vain – and once we have the correct intention to want to please Allah SWT, He will always cherish our attempts.
As a reminder, Allah SWT comforts us,
“And that there is not for man except the good for which he strives. And that his efforts will be seen. Then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense. And that to your Lord is the finality.” [53:39-42]
Sometimes, we may feel that we are not seeing the results of all our hard-borne efforts. Especially for the student of knowledge, we may think that because we’re not seeing the immediate results of say, memorizing Quran or completing an Islamic degree program, we’re never going to reach the finish line or make it through. But here, Allah SWT is telling us to stop, not to worry about the future or what the end results might look like, and keep trying despite the lack of confidence, the low motivation, the emotional burnout we may feel. In our society, we place so much emphasis on the final results – degrees, financial promotions, rankings, etc. – all tangible outcomes of our work. However, we don’t consider or think about all the long, tiring labor and dedication it takes to reach these points. And many times, if we don’t see these results come to fruition, then we lose focus and motivation. We may feel discouraged to continue. But Allah SWT assures us that in His eyes, tangible results aren’t what He looks at. Rather, it is the painstaking hard work that we put in for His cause that He admires and appreciates over all else. The effort that we are making is so cherished and loved by Him. For truly, keeping consistent with learning, in any field of study, requires much patience and perseverance. We cannot attain our dreams and wishes for our studies overnight, but rather, it takes time. And once we as believers can hold onto this patience and being steadfast for the sake of Allah, then He will allow us to see the fruits of our labor eventually.
Allah SWT constantly encourages us to enjoin this patience in our lives, for it is one of the main defense mechanisms and weapons we have to get through the turmoils that this world embodies. He advises us,
“Then patiently persevere, for the Promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness for your faults, and celebrate the praises of your Lord in the evening and the morning.” [40:55]
If we persevere with our Deen, with seeking knowledge, with dealing with daily life, and even with facing the troubles and hardships of this world, then Allah SWT will provide His help for us. He will make us see the fruits of our labor, be it in this Dunya or in the Akhirah, and He will shine His light for us. We must believe with certainty that this promise of Allah is true, and if we do so, then He will make the path of patience easy for us.
And to give us more reassurance, Allah SWT tells us,
“No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but those of the greatest good fortune.”[41:35]
So if we put in the effort and we keep reminding ourselves to try our best and be patient, Allah SWT will continue to pour goodness into our lives, to make things easy for us, to open up doors for us that we never thought could be opened.
One good tactic to help us during the emotional lows of seeking knowledge is to practice mindfulness – to have our minds focused on the present, on actually learning, on contemplating how we can actualize this knowledge into our everyday lives. We learn to enjoy being in the present moment, to take in the sweet fruits of concentrating while studying, of letting each drop of knowledge penetrate itself deeply into our hearts. It would be ideal for us to not focus on the future, on all the plans we have for which books we want to read, which classes we want to attend, which lecture series we want to listen to – because this can increase the potential for burnout and make us feel overwhelmed by all that we feel we haven’t done. It is also important for us to not get boggled down by the past - by mistakes we have made, by regrets we may shoulder – as this can also potentially discourage us from continuing with learning. Enjoy the present moment, constantly purify your intentions for the sake of Allah, and just keep going with immersing ourselves in this knowledge.
Also, another practical piece of advise if we do feel we are not actualizing our intended results for knowledge seeking is to set daily, weekly, or even monthly goals for ourselves with what we want to accomplish. By writing down the tasks we want to go through and then making an actual plan for reaching these goals, it increases the likelihood of us seeing at least some fruits of our labor and feel like we are being productive. And a point to note is to actually be realistic with these goals – to not overburden ourselves with tasks we cannot handle. Work, family, school, health maintenance, and even relaxing all are necessary components of our lives that we have to devote time to as well – so it is important that we make practical goals that we can feel comfortable working on.
And most importantly, in order for us to truly embody this steadfastness and patience while acquiring knowledge, we must have faith and trust in Allah SWT. Our emotions and desires should never get the better of us. Certainly, this path toward knowledge or any other goal for the sake of Allah, is not easy – but with the help of Allah SWT through His beautiful, comforting words, we can push through. Allah SWT lastly reminds us in Suratul Asr,
“By the time. Surely, man is in loss. Except those who have faith, do righteous deeds, support each other in enjoining truth, and support each other in patience and constancy.” [103:1-3]
Photo Credit: Sarra' Ellaboudi