I have been dealing with many mental strifes, which is why I have decided to seek advice through the lens of Islam.
Since my childhood, it was my dream to make an outstanding result and get into an Ivy League university; but unfortunately, that did not happen. My grades never met my expectations, and currently, I am studying a subject of my choice, but not at an Ivy League University. I remained pleased with it, thinking it was Allah’s decision, and I adhered to the belief that Allah does what is best for us. However, lately, whenever I see someone or a batchmate studying at an Ivy League University, it reminds me of my childhood dream, and I feel extremely inferior to them. It makes me question Allah’s love for me. Does Allah love them more? Does Allah not care about my dreams? Then I begin to see my unfulfilling dream as a punishment from Allah. I feel that Allah probably dislikes me and does not really care about me. It makes me feel very insecure.
A few more things are triggering my insecurities. I used to do very well in class, but my grades started to decline during the senior years of my school when I was preparing for board examinations. And as I said earlier in my message, I could not achieve the grades of my dreams, which has completely shattered my confidence.
Sometimes, I find myself questioning, does Allah have any plans for me at all? I feel like a cursed child who could never make her parents proud and may never be able to achieve anything to make them proud at least once. I feel less eligible, thinking no highly qualified man would want to marry me as I am not an Ivy League graduate and not as successful as them. All in all, I am losing faith in Allah, thinking he has nothing good in store for me. Please kindly advise how I can restore peace of mind and trust in Allah. My insecurities, fear, and inferiority complex are destroying me.
Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
Alhamdulillah, we are pleased to note that until now, you managed to trust Allah’s plan.
The challenge now is to continue having this conviction. We commend you for seeking a solution through Islam.
There is no reason to feel inferior to others, just because you are studying at a different university. You can still excel and do better at the place that you are currently studying.
Rather than focusing on how you did not make it to the university that you really wanted to go to, look at those who did not make it to university at all! They might feel even more inferior, since they are being totally deprived of education, and have to suffice by working on a meagre income. You can then extend it and look at those who are not even earning.
Alhamdulillah, Allah Ta’ala blessed you with studying the course of your choice, albeit not at the place where you wanted. Ideally others would have also loved to study at a prestigious university, but is it possible for everyone to study only at high end places?
Therefore, you need to change your mindset and understand that everything in this world is not going to happen exactly as you want. Currently, you are regretting on the university, in the future you might want to drive a particular car, or live in a certain area. Do you think that you will manage to get all that, exactly as you want? And do you think everyone in this world can just have their dreams fulfilled. If that was the case, there would be no sick people, there would be no poor people, and there would no person living in war-torn countries.
Imagine 6 billion people having the dream to be president of king, and if it is not fulfilled, they all begin to feel ‘that Allah does not care about their dreams’, and because their dream of being a king is not fulfilled, it is ‘a punishment from Allah’. Would that be practical?
Or, just think in your country how many students had the dream of studying at the university that you desired. Imagine if Allah fulfilled all their dreams? Would that university manage to accomadate them all? Would it be right for all of them to think that Allah ‘dislikes them’ and ‘does not really care about them? Would it be correct for all of them to ‘feel very insecure’?
Our dreams are fulfilled in Jannah, and not in this world. Therefore, we should practise to be satisfied and content. Rather than looking above us, we should look at those below. Instead of focusing on an ideal scenario, rather think of how things could have been worst.
The love of Allah is never measured with how much He fulfils your dreams and desires. In fact, Allah gives more to those with whom He is displeased; so that He does not have to give them Paradise.
As for your grades declining, you need to introspect and search for the reasons yourself. Were you studying less? Were you stressed? What caused the sudden change? Was the course to difficult? Did you make the extra effort to excel?
Why would you even question whether Allah has plans for you, when you are blessed to be studying at a university? I would have assumed that a person on a hospital bed or in a prison would have those thoughts. But, history showed us that Allah caused those types of people to also excel.
Please note that a blissful marriage is not based on how qualified your husband is. Leave alone IVY, would you like to marry the top professor of an internationally recognised university, but he beats you up everyday and neglects his family and household chores, or would you be pleased with someone who might have not studied so much, but he is better character?
Would your parents be pleased and proud of you if you marry a highly qualified intellectual who abuses them?
Do you really think that every person that is married to someone qualified has a blissful marriage? And every person that in not married to an IVY League graduate has a miserable marriage life? That surely is not the case.
Actually, why worry about marriage from now? What guarantee do you have that your husband will be deficient? Don’t you think it is better to rather concentrate on your studies, so that even if you excel from your present university, you might stand a better chance of being successful in future? What if you are worrying so much now, but Allah decreed someone much better for you?
The way to make your parents proud is to make their Khidma (be of service to them) in this world, and be a means of their entry into Jannah. Irrespective of what they feel at present, they will realise that this is the best that any child can do for their parents. On the contrary, if a child is the means of taking their parents to hell, then even if they are temporarily proud of that child in this world, that child is in reality a ‘cursed child’.
You need to apply your mind to this, and think about it properly.
Firstly, ponder on the reason why have we been created. Is it to live our dream life, or is it to prepare for the afterlife?
Secondly, appreciate all that Allah has already given you. For this, look at those in worst off conditions. Think of those who are blind and cripple. Think of those living in abject poverty. Think of those deprived of education.
Thirdly, remember that our actions have a direct impact on our peace of mind. If you realise that you are doing any sin, or falling short in any of the compulsory actions, then please rectify that.
Fourthly, increase your remembrance of Allah and your supplications to Him.
Fifthly, stop looking up to those who have been given better. They have their own battles.
Sixthly, be practical and look at reality. No one can get all that they want in this world. Allah did not even promise this. Rather, work to get paradise, and there you will get all that your heart desires. Do that which will make Allah and his beloved Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) proud of you.
After all of this, if you think you need to go for counselling from a religious psychologist, then you should consider that too.
We pray that Allah blesses you with a bright future, and may Allah make you succeful in both worlds.
And Allaah Ta’aala knows best
Ismail Moosa (Mufti)