Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: After a decade of poverty, today I’m able to enter college but I’m already 26 years old, making me the oldest in my class. Sometimes I feel ashamed to go to school. I get jealous at some people who are younger than me and are now working. How do I remove this?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah lift your depression, and fill your heart with the contentment with His Decree.
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying:
“A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone, (but) cherish that which gives you benefit (in the Hereafter) and seek help from Allah and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don’t say: If I had not done that, it would not have happened so and so, but say: Allah did that what He had ordained to do and your” if” opens the (gate) for the Satan.” [Muslim]
Each time you have thoughts of regret for the past and lost opportunities, seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan. Remember that everything that happens in your life, even the hardships like extreme poverty, is part of Allah’s Decree for you. There is nothing you could have done differently, because everything that happened was best for you. Instead of mourning over the past and falling into the trap of ‘what-if’s, focus on the blessings you have right now. Don’t let Shaytan trick you into despair.
“Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [Qur’an, 2:216]
Sometimes, only Allah knows the wisdom behind why things unfold in our lives. Perhaps if you had finished college all those years ago, you would be far away from the deen, and not interested in helping your family. Allah protected you from that by testing you with poverty. Through your college hiatus,you attained closeness to Him, and gained your praiseworthy desire to support your family.
You are doing something praiseworthy by returning to college in order to get a halal income through a respectable profession. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.
As for being teased by your classmates – people make fun of others because are bored, or because they enjoy your reaction. You can set clear boundaries and tell them firmly and politely that you don’t like being teased about your age. Or you can smile and move on. If those responses don’t work, then make dua for Allah to keep you steadfast and to help lift this trial from you. Don’t let a bunch of 18 year olds get you down.
As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” You have nothing to feel ashamed about. When I was in college, there were a handful of mothers and fathers in their forties and fifties in my class. They were the most mature, wisest and kindest people in my cohort. They brought their life experience into their classes and it made them better students.
There are two sides to every coin and you can choose to dwell on the negative or focus on the positive. If you struggle to remain positive, then consider seeking out a student counsellor to help you come up with a strategy. There is no shame in seeking help. Remember to exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep to help you feel better. Spend time with good Muslim friends who remind you of Allah.
Every single person on this earth already has his/her provision destined for him/her. The way to remove jealousy is seeking refuge in Allah from Shaytan, by recognising that everyone’s provision has already been written, by remembering that everyone has trials, and by counting your own blessings. You don’t know what hardships other people have gone through, until you get to know them well. Every person as his/her story.
Life in this dunya will always be imperfect, and the only place you will attain everlasting joy is in Jannah, inshaAllah. I pray that Allah lifts your spirits, helps you see the goodness you already have in your life, and blesses you for working so hard to support your family.
Please refer to the following links:
The Meaning of Rizq (Provision) When Used in the Qur’an and Sunnah
Allah’s Names Explained: Al-Razzaq – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Trust in Allah and Provisions for Seekers of Knowledge
Imam Nawawi on Fighting The Ego (nafs)
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani