Beyond Good Grades

Good_GradeI was astonished to hear what she had just said. My mind was spinning, as her words kept echoing in my ears.

‘My mother, she hit me with a belt; she was not happy with my grades.’

This was her reply to the inquiry I made about the marks near her elbow. A reply that till this day sends shivers down my spine.

We were in sixth grade at that time, and everyone knew we were inseparable. She was like my sister. And, being very fond of each other, we didn’t hide things from one another. But, that was the first time she confided in me about the horrific beatings she had to go through.  I clearly remember her warm, hazel eyes become teary as she explained everything.

It was the dream of her parents to see her as a successful doctor. And, to make it come true, they expected her to bring back home nothing less than outstanding grades, forgetting that slowly and gradually, she was becoming a slave to all that they desired.

Of course, parents have dreams for us; and at times, we have goals for ourselves. We are brought up amongst people who tell us that we need to become ‘something’ when we grow up. Grades, careers, schools and universities become fragments of our thoughts without which we feel incomplete. Surrounded by chaotic competition, we often forget the real purpose of our lives. Pre-occupied with temporary gains, we begin to lose precious days chasing after endless enticements that eventually lead nowhere. We become prisoners of our dreams and wishes; we feel trapped, suffocated and helpless when we fail to achieve what we wanted to. We feel afraid when life throws at us trials that our degrees didn’t train us for.

However, what we should have realized was- that the race for the best grades, reputable jobs and most expensive cars, was one that had no finish- line. We were deceived into believing that progress in material gains and promotions to higher ranks were the only ways to find happiness.

There will be no end to our desires, our wants, our plans and our dreams if we don’t limit them. At times, it is important to break away, to disconnect yourself from your surroundings, and remember that your story has already been written; you are merely on the journey to uncover it.

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra) is reported to have said: “No amount of guilt can change the past; and no amount of worrying can change the future. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allah’s (swt) Decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from it you cannot flee.”

He knows whether you will become an engineer or a doctor; He has written down how much it is that you will earn; He knows what is best for you, and it is He who we fail to turn to.

We may have a hundred plans for our lives; a thousand ways in which we have pictured our future. But, suddenly, our life takes an unexpected turn, and we reach a path we never even thought about, and that path is Allah’s (swt) plan for you.

And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you (O Muhammad (sa)) to imprison you, or to kill you, or to get you out (from your home, i.e. Makkah); they were plotting and Allah too was planning, and Allah is the Best of the planners.” (Al-Anfal 8:30)