Why Am I So Unintelligent?

15 September, 2020
Q I am a 12-year-old boy from Indonesia. I am from a family with decent wealth and I go to a Catholic school.

I feel so unintelligent as I always lose focus when I try to study. I fail to even understand the subject, even with the simplest of concepts. Then I end up feeling hopeless and useless.

Every time I try, I always feel frustrated to the point where I feel that it is worthless to even work on it or study it.

The most difficult subject to me is mathematics but I still struggle greatly with the rest of my subjects.

I love Allah (SWT) and thank him for the blessings that he gave me, but sometimes I feel worthless and useless in front of him.

Every time I pray, I instantly break down in tears because of how useless I am to him and sometimes I even say "Oh Allah, I don't deserve to live, and I don't deserve to be blessed by you.

As for my relationship with my parents, we get along very well, and we love each other greatly. Yet, I always feel like I am disappointing and burdening them.

How come they have the patience for such a spoiled little pathetic kid like me? I'll never know MashaAllah!

I am the youngest of four, and I feel constantly jealous of my older siblings and how proud my parents are of them.

Despite that, my parents never favor them over me; they love us all equally and I thank Allah (SWT) for that.

I just can't take it anymore! The only time I feel like I am complete is when I’m with my friends.

The only subject I can handle is English; I have no skills in sports and I don't even know what I’m going to be in the future!

Another problem that I face in my life is my older brother. He may be smart but as a person, he's rotten inside.

He treats me like a slave and every time I disobey him, he scolds me and forces me to give up my money for his needs.

And every time I try to be productive with my studies or Quran, he starts ordering me around with the littlest of things.

I can’t help but despise him when he forces me against his will knowing I am helpless. Despite that, I know he still loves me in his own way as we are brothers by flesh and blood.

Please advise me on what to do. Thank you.


In this counseling answer:

• It is possible that because you have not communicated about what bothers you, no one realizes that you are inwardly feeling unhappy. You need to let your parents and your siblings know when certain things disturb you.

• Focus on your strengths.

• Change your study habits.

• Get active!

Assalamu Alaikum dear brother,

Thank you for placing your utmost trust in our ability to propose a solution and to help you find your way.

Dear brother, there is nothing wrong with you! Your parents love you, and although you mentioned that your brother is a problem for you, you are also convinced he loves you.

Dear brother, eldest siblings tend to joke around with their younger siblings, and often any insults they may throw at you are not from the heart, they are there simply to tease you, and mean no harm.


Dear brother, it seems that your brother’s behavior is seriously stressing you. Therefore, you need to speak to your parents and politely explain to them that his behavior is not in your best interest.

It is possible that because you have not communicated about what bothers you, no one realizes that you are inwardly feeling unhappy.

You need to let your parents and your siblings know when certain things disturb you.

Simply because you are 12, he is not close to you. He treats you like a child. However, when you become an adolescent, I assure you that your brother will be very close to you.

If you feel his love for you, rest assured that he loves you and will stand up for you when the time comes.

Our purpose in life: To worship Allah  

Dear brother, you sound like a very mature person for your age! Why are you considering suicide? Please, brother, call your local suicide hotline. Here is a list, please find the numbers under your country’s name.

It is a service that is free and confidential. They will help you and give you guidance inshallah. Please, do not hesitate to seek help from them!

This life is not everything. You need to divert your mind from your stressors and work towards a better future.

You sound like a wonderful person, Mashallah! You are grateful, thankful, respectful towards your parents, and even obedient to an annoying elder brother. We need people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s to be more like you!

In the Quran, Allah SWT says,

“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.” (Quran 57:20)

In the above verse, Allah states that the reality of this life is one of deception and we should not fall for its temporary enjoyments.

In the Quran, Allah SWT says,

 “I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.” (Quran, 51:56)

From the verse, the creation of humans is for the purpose of worshiping Allah Almighty

Focus on your strengths

Dear brother, English is a very hard subject. There are some people who struggle with English and are good at other subjects. There are all kinds of people.

Why Am I So Unintelligent? - About Islam

Being good at English is a very important skill to have. Success in every single course after the grade 10 level depends on your English skills.

For example, in high school, in grades 11 and 12, there are lots of word problems, and complicated word problems, for which you need to be able to understand what exactly is being said.

In addition, for science and medicine, you need to be able to read many lab reports and write down labs and discussions explaining the experiment and the results. Do not underestimate the importance of English!

English prepares you for a diverse range of professional fields, including teaching, journalism, law, publishing, medicine, and the fine arts.

English majors also pursue careers in tech companies and other startup ventures. Therefore, continue to read and write and expand your skills!

Change your study habits 

Be patient with your weaknesses and work on improving them.

Allah SWT says in the Quran,

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits but give good tidings to the patient.” (Quran 2: 155)

You are only in middle school. Simply because you are struggling now in certain subjects does not necessarily mean that you will never be able to master them.

Perhaps you are not studying in a way that is helping you learn. Different people learn differently. One method that works for one person does not necessarily work for others.

Check out this counseling video:

Here are a few ways that you change your study skills and memory techniques for the better.

Create the ideal study space

You will need limited noise, a lot of sunlight, a tidy surface, and comfortable furniture. Find a quiet place to study where you won’t be bothered. This is very important and should be given great care in doing.

Start with a planner

Write down a list of everything that you need to get done and the dedicated amount of time spent on each item. Also, write down the list of work to be done in the ranking of hardest to easiest.

Leave the easy items to the last and concentrate on work that is hard and will take more time.

Develop a calm attitude

Be calm and patient with yourself. Nobody learns anything straight away.

Avoid distractions

Do not study with many gadgets around you. Avoid all forms of communication with family members during a dedicated time. For example, from 7 pm to 10 pm do not leave your study area.

Use different mediums to learn math and science

You mentioned that you find math to be the hardest subject for you. Math needs practice spread over a few days. Do at least 30-50 minutes of math problems every day, not missing even a day.

There are also many online resources: Khan Academy, and Online math and science lectures for certain topics. Perhaps a different way of learning will make it easy for you to grasp the concepts easily.

Study early in the morning

Start studying at least a week before a test

Get active!

Exercise is very important! Not because you must be good at sports, but because it is good for your physical, mental and emotional health.

You do not have to start with activities that are hard at first. Start by simply running around 400-500 meters every, and slowly increase it to 1km or run every day.

In addition, there are lots of YouTube Videos which focus on training the body without any equipment’s. Invest your time doing such activities and these will certainly help your memory and focus on your health in the short and long term.

Dear brother, I pray that you become a great student with great ambitions and dreams and that love grows between you and your brother.



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.

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