Exams Kill My Faith

05 June, 2021
Q Salaam. I have a query regarding the state of my iman during exam period. This is probably quite silly, but it affects me. The long hours of studying does not only physically and mentally drain me, but spiritually too. I can sleep through Fajr with no problem at times when I study a lot. I feel empty and I feel I've lost my purpose, even though I know deep down everything is for ALLAH (SWT). But the emptiness remains. Also, I listen to music to combat stress (and also when exercising), although I know many scholars are of the opinion that it is haram, but sometimes I just feel so stressed and need something to calm my senses which doesn't involve thinking about anything. Music certainly affects my iman, because I feel my focus and love for salah decreases and also the impact of Quran lessens. I am also an international student, so it isn't easy to confide in people about my personal religious issues. Can you please advice on how to deal with stress and maintain my iman at least? Jazakallah Khair.

Answer

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum,

You are one amongst the many that are currently facing the stresses of the exam period.

Taking exams is stressful because the consequence of your performance can potentially determine your future and, therefore, a great importance is placed on them.

The pressure to perform well is high. This pressure results in the kind of exam stress that you are experiencing.

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Naturally, when in a state of stress, we search for the quickest and easiest way to soothe this stress and putting on music provides this easy solution that you are seeking.

However, like you say, most scholars are of the opinion that this is haram and, therefore, it is best to stay away from this. One of the reasons why the scholars have this opinion is for the very reason that you are experiencing now. It can be a source of lowering your faith because instead of relying on Allah (swt) to soothe your stress, you are relying on worldly things like music to ease your stress.

It is, however, very easy to say that one should not listen to it, but you will be left in the state of stress with nothing to soothe it, so you will need to search for more halal alternative ways to calm your stress down during this difficult time.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives that you can turn to that are halal that will not take you away from Islam.

The first place you should be seeking solace is with Allah (swt). He is the only one that can provide you with knowledge that you need to pass your exams.

The best place for you to find this is in prayer, so you need to be harsh with yourself in maintaining salah at the very least, setting multiple alarms if need be to wake up for Fajr.

Fajr is a great place to start with your prayers as it starts your day in a good space. Post Fajr is also a very good time to study when your brain is most alert and connected to Allah (swt). So, instead of staying up late revising, you might consider going to bed earlier, which will make it easier for you to wake up for Fajr and do your heavy revision in the morning when you are fresh and alert.

During the exam period, I understand you may have difficulty sleeping and sticking to a routine like this, so there are some steps you can take to make for a more restful night sleep.

Do not drink caffeine at least two hours before you intend to sleep; you might take a warm bath as a means of lowering your blood pressure and making you feel sleepy.

Avoid using your phone or computer an hour or so before you sleep too as these can be things that will keep you awake.

Ensure to eat well and exercise during this stressful time, too, as the natural chemicals that are released can be a natural way to soothe stress and make sleep easier.

Going to bed right after Isha is recommended and is a good way to go to bed with thoughts of Allah (swt) in your mind. It’s a good way to keep faith high, too. Directly, before you sleep, you might also encourage positive thinking by remembering three positive things that have occurred in your day.

Amongst all this, take care of yourself, and amongst the revision take time to do something fun, something that you enjoy to take time away from constant revision. As an international student, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about religious issues with those on your course, you may do so with those in your local Muslim community. Visit your local mosque and engage in activities that they might have going on there.

Ultimately, it is important that you work on increasing your eman as much as possible at this crucial time. The comfort you find with Allah (swt) will bring you ease during this stressful time.

May Allah (swt) bring you comfort in His remembrance and give you all the knowledge you need to perform well in your exams.

Salam,

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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)