I Wish to Study Islam but Need to Work

25 June, 2019
Q Assalamu'alaikum,

I am a 47-year-old woman with 4 kids between the ages of 9 and 23. I am a working professional and have been divorced twice. In both of my marriages, I've been the breadwinner. In terms of spirituality, I am not perfect; I don't wear hijab, but I have always prayed 5 times daily, fasted in Ramadan, and paid Zakat. I try to be a good person, in fact, I've always been told I'm too nice to the extent where people take advantage of me.

After my divorce, I got involved with a younger man from another country, but it ended after a year due to his mother's disapproval. I was truly heartbroken, and it was then that my true spiritual journey began. I was truly heartbroken and turned to Allah.

I went for Umrah, and there Allah showed me his mercy through signs, events, and people. He healed my broken heart and gave me comfort both spiritually and worldly and it was almost as if every time I made a duaa, He answered (through signs and events).

I made duaa for Allah to invite me for the coming hajj, and once I got home and submitted my letter to the authorities, they told me that my name was already there! Just that the letter had not been issued yet. I am so grateful to Him for all His blessings to me, especially recently.

Although I am born a Muslim and I pray and read the Quran, I admit that my knowledge of Islam is not that deep. I had studied Islamic Law in university but not much on tawheed and history. Now, I feel like time is not enough for me to learn more about Islam. I want to get to know Allah and our Prophet (PBUH).

I feel like any time I spend not learning is a waste of time, including work. But I must work as I need to sustain myself and my children (their father provides a minimal sum for their sustenance). I have also given up on remarrying and have resigned myself to the fact that I will always have to earn a living. I wish I could change my job and work for some companies or organizations that contribute to Islam or charity.

It's as if I feel like I've lost a lot of time and I need to transform totally. I don't have the heart to work in my current job anymore, and when I go to work it's without any excitement. On the way I would listen to talks and khutbahs trying to learn as much as I can. I try to pray on time and recite some Quran together with its translation a few times a day.

I'm feeling a bit lost in this world, I don't know if I should continue with my job, but I need it. If it were up to me, I'd quit and just dedicate the rest of my life to learning about Islam, getting closer to Allah and focusing on ibadah (worship) and charitable work.

Please help me, is this normal what I'm feeling and what should I do?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

• Write down the areas wherein you are strong as well as the areas or points in which you would like to improve. Make a step plan for these points. A step plan lists step by step how you will succeed in a goal.

• I would kindly suggest that you continue to trust in Allah’s mercy and make Duaa for Allah to make a way for you to have more time for Islamic studies.

• Inshallah, do some networking among other Muslim professionals.

• Put your full total trust in Allah. Allah knows your heart sister and He will open this door for you just as he opened the previous ones.


As-Salamu alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to our forum. We truly appreciate that you are trusting us with your questions as well as your insight. From what you’ve written it seems as though you have been through a lot.  You are 47 years old with four children. You are a working professional and have been divorced twice. During your marriages, you’ve always been the breadwinner.

It seems that this imbalance in your marriages has gotten in the way of your spirituality in terms of learning more about Islam. You stated you are not perfect. Sister none of us are perfect. We all strive to become better Muslims, to learn more, and to please Allah (SWT).

Step Work

As an illustration, you indicated that you don’t wear a hijab, but you do pray 5 times a day. You also fast in Ramadan, pay zakat, and you feel you are a good person. Sister those are the qualities that are very important and dear to Allah. Your kindness to others, your charity, keeping your five daily prayers as well as your intent to do good weighs heavily in a positive way.

I Wish to Study Islam but Need to Work - About Islam

While it is important to wear a hijab as you are Muslim, hijab does not define whether you practice or not. Hijab does not clarify your heart in terms of your devotion. A few sisters who wear hijab may not pray, or their hearts may be tarnished. The point is, the exterior does not always reflect the interior.

While we should strive to follow Allah’s commands for wearing a hijab, it may be more important at this point in your life that you look at all the good that is you Islamically. Allah is most merciful and as you know he looks at our hearts.

Insha’Allah, try to seek further self-examination of all your good points as a Muslim. Write down the areas wherein you are strong as well as the areas or points in which you would like to improve. Make a step plan for these points. A step plan lists step by step how you will succeed in a goal.

For instance, regarding hijab perhaps you would write step #1 as going out to buy hijabs that are pretty to you and compliment your style. Step #2 may be that you will wear hijab around the house for 1 week. Step 3 may be that you will wear hijab when going out of the house 3 times a week.

You would work your steps until your goal is reached. Goal: Wear hijab all the time when out and feel confident and good about it. Insha’Allah if you find this method works for you dear sister, try to keep on these points and strengthen other areas in your life as you see necessary.

Hardship & Ease

You indicated that you were at one point seeking marriage after divorce. You got involved with a man from another country, but his mother did not approve. I will say sister that it is not necessary for a parent’s approval to get married. If both individuals are Islamically appropriate for one another marriage should take place. It does not require parental approval; that is a cultural tradition.

Of course, we desire our parent’s approval and blessings, but it is not mandatory in Islam. Thus, the choice that your ex-fiancé made was based on a cultural preference to follow his parents’ wishes. Allah knows best sister and perhaps this rejection was a blessing-saving you from a more devasting heartbreak down the road.

I can imagine that you were heartbroken. Something as devastating as that which occurred right after your divorce was adding heartbreak upon heartbreak. I can imagine that the disappointment and sadness were very hard to handle. Alhamdulillah, you turned to Allah for help.

You described how you went for umrah and that Allah showed you so much mercy and healed your heart. Allah (SWT) gave you comfort and every time you made duaa, you felt that He answered it. You received a chance for Hajj. This was something you had prayed for but did not expect. In fact, it was totally unexpected that you would get the opportunity. Sister this is just another sign of Allah’s mercy and blessings for you.

Allah’s Mercy & Blessings

Sister, it appears that Allah loves you very, very much. You have been through many tests and trials. You’ve had your heart broken many times. Having been a professional working woman supporting your children and family to the best of your ability, you have sacrificed a lot. Now you wish to spend as much time possible learning Islam, yet you feel that there’s not enough time to learn more about Islam.

However, we are never too old nor is it ever too late to start learning or to continue learning about Islam, Allah, and the prophet (PBUH). You may feel that since you have had to work so much, it is now taking time away from your desire to study Islam.

That is true to a certain degree. I think it is something that a lot of us have to deal with in our pursuit towards Islamic knowledge and our love for Allah. Trying to create a balance between work, family, and learning can be very difficult.

Sister, Allah has been blessing you by granting you mercy and relief and opening doors you thought were closed as well as pulling you closer to Him. I would kindly suggest that you continue to trust in Allah’s mercy and make Duaa for Allah to make a way for you to have more time for Islamic studies.

As Allah has been blessing you abundantly so far in your requests and in your life, please do insha’Allah expect His mercy to continue concerning your desire to dedicate more time to learning about Him and Islam. If you keep your path grounded as you have been since your journey began after your heart was broken by that man overseas, you will get the time and the blessings that you so prayerfully call out for.


Check out this counseling video:


Insha’Allah, I will ask you sister, not to give up on Marriage either. You may feel that you do not want marriage at this point, however, Allah May bless you with a husband who can provide for you and your family thus giving you the time that you want to study Islam. We never know what Allah has in store for us, so I asked you to keep that door open.

 Planning & Networking

Regarding jobs, I am not sure what your position is currently, however you may wish to seek employment in your field with an Islamic organization. It could be an Islamic community center, a school, company, charity or other organization that is Islamically managed. By doing this you may find that an Islamic working environment will be much more conducive to your learning and pursuits.

Sister, please do make duaa (supplication) to Allah to help you to continue your current job. Write out a plan of action of how you may change your job position or be able to decrease your work time without financial strain. Planning out will give you hope and direction. You may want to research different Islamic companies and organizations which you may wish to apply at.

Inshallah, do some networking among other Muslim professionals. This can be accomplished by networking at Islamic events, the Masjid, joining Muslim professional groups, looking online for resources for Muslim professionals, as well as tailoring your resume to reflect what type of position you would like.

A plan of action should also be set up with a timeline and steps (described above). As you make your list of possible jobs you will enjoy doing as well as organizations, individuals, and companies that you would need to network with, you may also contemplate positions that are not in your location.  Perhaps there is a new Islamic opportunity out of the country or in another part of your country if possible. Please do make duaa to Allah to guide you in this endeavor.

Feeling Lost

Sister, I understand that you’re feeling a bit lost in the world, however, when we depend on Allah as you can clearly see, our direction is not lost for long. Feeling this way is normal at different times in our lives. We go through tests and trials. As Allah has blessed you immensely, perhaps this is a test of your ongoing iman (faith) and reliance upon Allah.

There are also different life events and triggers that can cause us to feel lost. In your case, it was initially heartbreak followed by great mercy and blessings from Allah which made you see your true path for following Islam and drawing closer to Allah. This created a great desire to leave all worldly things and dedicate your time and energy into learning about Islam and getting closer to Allah.

This is a beautiful dilemma which a lot of us face. However, in Islam, there is to be a balance. While most of us cannot afford to just quit our jobs as it is not feasible, there are ways to attain times for study and goal (as discussed above). Insha’Allah may our hearts desire to learn more, live and work in a productive satisfying career be realized.

Conclusion

I do encourage you to reach out and expand your horizons professionally as well as Islamically. Do the step work to achieve your goals insha’Allah. Realize this may be a test of your iman (faith). Make duaa to Allah that He opens doors for you as He has been doing. Put your full total trust in Allah. Allah knows your heart sister and He will open this door for you just as he opened the previous ones.

We wish you the best.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

Balancing Life Between Work and Worship

How Can I Have Balance in My Life?

The Unique Gift of Life

 

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.