Back-to-school is a time of mixed feelings, plans to do different things, getting involved in different clubs and organizations, and not knowing how to do it all.
The school bells are ringing. New school supplies: notebooks, pens, backpacks, paper…the list goes on. Everyone is hyped…..or not! Back to school, whether it is to college, university, or high school, is a hectic and stressful time. Like the famous saying goes, "So many things, so little time!" To top it all off, being Muslim, and regularly attending a Masjid or Islamic center, we have more priorities and things to handle in our busy schedules. How do we do it?
All wise people speak of this thing called "time management", but who really know how to? I mean, homework from EVERY class, tests, quizzes, projects, presentations, and now fasting?! Sure it is a handful, and can get very, very frustrating to the point of tears at times for some, but we must always keep in mind that Allah never gives a believer a load that he cannot handle. So with that in mind, let the time management begin!
Since the month of Ramadan is right around the corner, let's take a regular day in the life of a Muslim in this month. Wake up for food, pray Fajr, then for those sleepyheads like myself, go back to sleep for that 17 minutes we have until having to wake up to go to school. We curse our alarm clock, or keep resetting it, pulling every minute we can get. But why is it so hard to get up?! Let's face it, and there is no other explanation which makes sense: Go to bed early! Recently, early for most young people means 2:30 am? Work slowly, maybe 1:00, then move up to midnight, and surely you will see how easy it is to wake up, even before the crack of dawn.
We go to school, maybe a bunch of classes for the college crowd, Iftar time is right around the corner, but we're still on campus. Should I break fast on campus? Drive home? Go to Masjid? Do whatever is easier for you! Let's stop making our lives hard. In some communities, the center is the best place to go for Iftar: you get congregational prayers, free food, and one whole chapter of Qur'an, all done by 9:30. Not too bad. Try out all of your options and see what fits best. Then start your day over.
Back-to-school is a time of mixed feelings, plans to do different things, getting involved in different clubs and organizations, and not knowing how to do it all. It is important for us to set goals, and most importantly know what we want. If you are the kind of person who wants to continue being involved in your youth group, then maybe it's not a good idea to join the speech-and-debate club (which holds constant tournaments), and theater, and yearbook. Or for college students, think before joining an honor society and a departmental organization while having a full load of five courses. Sometime we put ourselves into sticky situations. It is very important for us to plan. Of course, we cannot plan out every minute detail of our life, but have a general blueprint of what you want to do and, most important, where you're going with it.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said in Nahjul Balagha: "Success is the result of foresight and resolution. Foresight depends upon deep thinking and planning, and the most important factor of planning is to keep your secrets to yourself."
"Keep your secrets to yourself" is a way of saying we should not worry about making sure the whole world or community knows what we are doing, because then we are focused on what others think about our life. If we were all to focus on ourselves, our plans, and think hard about where we are going and why we are doing it, we can be successful.
We all need to strive to educate ourselves, so our futures are secure. So as Muslims, this education we get can be used to teach ourselves and others about worldly knowledge, and for those in social sciences, how to apply that worldly knowledge into our lives, homes, and communities, to make them all better.
Instead of being unhappy about back to school, we need to make sure it is something we look forward to. Another year, or semester, of more knowledge, brain exercise, talent usage, new experiences and opportunities – we should all make the best of it.
And if that's what's gonna take, go buy yourself some new shoes and a backpack!