We dedicate so much time and money to go to college and work tirelessly because we know that the reward (eg. getting a six figure salary after college) will be there. Finals week, for a lot of of us, is here, and we are more focused than ever during this week, shunning aside anything that will distract us from getting good grades. We need to bring all of this focus and dedication into our deen as well. Just as we know that the nice paying job is awaiting us after we graduate, we should be sure of Allah's promise to us and strive towards bettering ourselves as Muslims and Human beings. Allah has promised in the Quran, "But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness,- we shall soon admit them to gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,-to dwell therein for ever. Allah's promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allah's?" (The Holy Quran 04/122).
A few lessons:
1. I remember my exam days, when I lived in the states: sleepless nights, lots of caffeine and plenty of fajirs in the Masjid. It was so amazing that outside of those times I would find it so hard to pray in the night, make dua, fast and struggle in worship. But, when exams rolled around I became a 24 test maniac making nearly unbelievable sacrifices for my exams. Although, for some of us, this might seem negative at first? I would like to think that it means we can do it! If you can stay up, work like crazy, live off of coffee and struggle for a weeks towards success in this dunia, even disappearing and making 'itikaf in the library, then surely you can struggle a little for the Hereafter. You have the potential, it just needs to be redirected towards Allah. Thus, the first lesson we learn from this time is one related to potential and priorities. The Arabs have a saying, "If the girl is pretty, then the high mahr is no problem." Meaning, if the goal is beloved to the person, he will put forth great effort and feel very little stress. Thus, after this time, try and set for yourself a program related to worship. Spend, at least one night a week, worshipping Allah, serving Him and drawing nearer to him.
2. Many might be saying, "That is not easy." Indeed, there is no doubt that such an effort requires assistance. For that reason we can take a lesson from our study groups. Why not make 'Ibada groups? Meaning as we sit with others to study, we can also rely on others to help us worship Allah! The group is blessed and the lone sheep is always the first to get eaten. Thus, we should build on the relationship we built during finals and do the same for worship.
3. Dawa: many of us will be working with people of other faiths during this time. Use this as a means to build shared bridges and clarify the picture of Islam that many people have. What a great chance, by being nice to others and offering your time and help and services you will present a noble picture of Islam and this, inshallah, will bring about Allah's pleasure. Every word you speak, every step you take and every effort you make towards treating people well and being a positive role model links you with the efforts of the Companions and those after them in spreading this noble message. Thus, try and avoid falling into the crowd, using rude language, harming others or doing something forbidden. But upright and set a positive example for others.
4. Build a strong inner relationship with Allah. At the end of the day you talents and success are from Allah. Never forget this my dear brothers and sisters. Could you imagine a baby, if it was born today, coming out speaking a language fluently, understanding the nuances of religious law and having a number of miracles at its hand, what would be the reaction? Would, that baby not have a license to feel a little arrogant like "Yeah I can talk, I can quote this and that and I can cause the dead to come back to life?" This actually happened, at least the first part. But this baby, the first thing he said was, "I'm the servant of Allah" and that baby was 'Esa. Thus, let's not get carried away with our success and lose focus on who we are. We are nothing but tools that, if their master wants to use them, will be used. Thus, use this opportunity to build strong faith in your hearts. On the way to the exam pray two rakat of salatu hajjah, make dhikr and ask Allah to help you. When you start say bismillah and when you finish say al-humdulillah. Increase your duas and plead with Allah to make things easy for you and to open your heart. Ask Him to use you for good, be sincere and shed tears when you feel He has blessed you.
5. Finals affords you the opportunity to work on two important qualities:
- Trust in Allah
- Hard work in this dunya
6. Remember that there is a greater final awaiting you:Many of us will spend five to six hours taking our tests. However, there is a Day that awaits us where we might, may Allah have mercy upon us, stand for thousands of years! Thus, this final [the meeting with Allah], is, indeed, the true final. As we fear standing in front of our teachers and the test itself, let us remember the standing in front of Allah! This is a Day where the young will become old, women will drop their loads and parents will disown their children. Ya Allah, what awaits us and what is in front of us. That day, the Last day is the true Final. Thus, think. Think hard about it. Are you ready? Would you pass the first question "How was your prayers?" What makes this final more difficult is it is a take home exam. Not only do we have a few days to prepare, but Allah has given us a a few years [if we are lucky] to prepare for it and He, out of His mercy, has given us the answers. "The first thing the slave will be asked about is his/her prayers. If they are sound, everything else will be sound. If they are corrupted, then everything else is corrupted." That hadith gives us the first question that awaits us. Thus, dear brother and dear sister I address you with my love and concern for you, "How is your salah?" "How is your relationship with Allah?" The Prophet was asked, "When will be the Hour?" His response, "What did you prepare for it?" Thus, dear brother and dear sister, let us ask ourselves now, "What have we prepared for it?" "What have we prepared for it?" What have we prepared for it?" And that is the final lesson and, indeed, the most important.
Summary: May Allah bless all of you, we are very proud of you and we pray that Allah will grant you success and strength.