It was seven o’clock at night. I was in my room, feverishly revising and going over all that I’d studied over the past few days. I turned a page and started repeating everything that was written on it.
Tomorrow is the Science Exam, and that’s not a subject I’m really good at, which was exactly why I am so nervous. I glance at my watch: ten o’clock. Time for bed. But I haven’t revised enough! I need to memorize more! I have to… Just then, my mother looks in and smiles.
“Come on, Naima! Time for bed. You’ve studied a lot now, I think you need some rest. Get a good night’s sleep and you’ll do well in tomorrow’s exam, inshallah. Don’t forget to say your prayers before you sleep. Goodnight!”
She closes the door gently behind her.
I get up to pray, brush my teeth and put my books back inside the bag. Once I am in bed, I sigh.
I was always an enthusiastic student, and always enjoyed my work. I was usually top in my class and all my teachers had high expectations for me. However, before any exam or test, I always had an extremely panicky feeling in my stomach and I sometimes got so nervous I would throw up or feel faint. I never knew why I felt that way, because I always study beforehand, but the butterflies never went away until the results came. In fact, it once got to the point where I started having dreams about failing class, and I would wake up, covered in sweat. I hated that I got so jumpy for no apparent reason, but there was nothing I could do about it.
Or so I thought.
Sighing once again, I close my eyes and go to sleep.
The next morning I wake up, and go down to have breakfast. As I eat my french toast, my mother sits down beside me.
“What’s wrong, Naima? You look troubled.” She asks.
I smile, despite the feeling in the pit of my stomach. My mother knows me really well.
“It’s nothing, I’m just scared before the exam.”
“Did you study well?” Mom asks, and I nod.
“Well then, you have nothing to fear! You studied, you payed attention in class, and you are an intelligent girl, mashallah. What’s there to be afraid of?”
“Nothing much, I know. But I still feel like I’ll fail… even if I have studied.”
My mother looks thoughtful. “You know, there’s an extremely easy way to get rid of that feeling. Should I tell you what it is?” She asks, smiling at me.
I nod eagerly. “What you have to do is just to put your trust completely and entirely in Allah. Do you know what that means?”
I shake my head.
“It means you don’t think too much about what will or won’t happen. As long as He’s there, you can rely on Him to do the best for you. Just put all your worries in front of Allah, and stop worrying about the future. He will only do what is good for you, even if that means you don’t get a good grade.”
I look at her, confused. “But how is it the best for me if I don’t get a good grade?”
“You see, just because you didn’t do well in this exam doesn’t mean you failed in life, or even school. You know why? Because if He decided that you will not do very well in the exam, it means that he has planned something better for you in the future, even if you don’t know what it is at that time. All good believers trust in Allah; there is an Ayah in the Quran about that as well: And upon Allah let the believers rely*.”
My face slowly lights up and creases into a smile as I understand what my mother is saying.
“So… you’re saying all I have to do is rely completely on Allah (S.W.T)? So it won’t matter anymore that I do or don’t do well, all that will matter is that I tried my best?”
My mother looks at me in delight. “Well done, Naima! I’m proud of you. You have learnt what it means to have tawakkul, or trust in Allah. That is an extremely important part of being a Muslim, and even more importantly, a Mo’min. Without that, your Iman will never be complete.”
I grin widely at her, and jump up from the sofa. Grabbing my bag, I rush out the door.
“Thanks mom!” I shout from outside.
“Today, the results of the Science Exam will be announced,” says Ms. Maryah two weeks later on a Sunday morning. I start feeling nervous, but then remind myself about the advice my mother gave me about having faith in Allah’s jugements and calmed down.
“In the first place, with ninety seven percent, is… Ayesha!” I clap along everyone else, hoping I might be the second or third place.
“In the second place, there is a tie…” my heart beats really fast, “…between Naima and Maryam! I want everyone to know how proud I am of Naima. She really has improved in Science tremendously, although I don’t know what improved her so much in this year’s exam.”
My face is flushed, and I feel so pleased. I smile back, “I think I know what it was that helped me,” I say confidently, and decide to tell my story of tawakkul to the rest of the class.
Written by: Maryam Sohaib
*Ayah Reference: Surah Ibrahim 14:11
Image URL: Exam stress