It’s that time of term again. Registration has quieted down, questions and calls asking for information about courses have trickled to just a few here and there, and the work of scholarship is in full swing. As we in the administrative offices plan for next term, next year, and beyond, this term’s classes are ongoing in the background, and as I stroll through the virtual halls of Ribaat, I can hear the buzzing of teachers teaching, students learning, and keyboards clicking.
Some students however, hover in the corners, worried I will see them, shy to ask for help, and embarrassed to admit to their situation. Yes, I see you there! And I’m not angry, frustrated, or upset. We all fall behind at one point or another, in our learning as in other areas of life. Yes – me too, and yes, every one of our teachers, has fallen subject to the middle of term panic! With sinks laden with dishes needing to be washed, kids awaiting pickup or drop-off, doctor appointments, work meetings, urgent errands, and late-night trips to the emergency room, it seems that finishing this class will just be impossible this time around.
While Islamic learning is always the top item on our priority list, it somehow ends up being the last thing on our to-do list. Very few of us are able to push aside all else and focus solely on our education, but some are able to do it. Those who succeed on this path are the ones who push on, find a way through, and make it happen.
So here it is, the top-secret list of strategies to get caught up before it’s too late!
- The Golden Rule: Don’t fall even more behind! Attend your next class live and start doing the work for it, even if you have some other classes to catch up on. You can take care of those later.
- Inventory time! Make an inventory of the recordings you missed, assignments you need to submit, chapters you need to read, and upcoming due dates.
- Your calendar is your friend! You get to buy a BRAND NEW PLANNER! Call this your Islamic learning planner and use it only for your classes, readings, and assignments! Use stickers, incentives, whatever will motivate you to stay on top of things this time around.
- Ask for extensions: check the extension policy for each of your classes, and see which assignments you may be able to submit even if they are overdue. Each course forum has an extension policy, and you can also contact your course admin or the grading team to see what you can do to catch up and pass your classes!
- Paced catch up: We have 5 weeks left till end of term! You can spread out your outlying to-dos and get them done in time for end of term depending on how much catching up you have to do – for example 2 classes a week.
- Dedicated catch up: I like to give myself a self-imposed detention: 1 week of focus on a specific class that I want to pass this term. No outings, no phone calls, no coffee with friends until I’ve reached my goal!
- Stop aiming for perfection. If you continue to only accept perfection from yourself, you may never get anywhere. Reminder that you can miss a class or miss an assignment and still pass the course. There’s plenty of time to read the last chapter later. Of course, of course, it is important to do our best and put our best foot forward. However, there is a certain kind of arrogance in the refusal to move forward unless we get a perfect score.
- Finally, do be sure to ask Allah for help, for ease in your studying and in all your affairs, and for steadfastness. Dedication and sincerity are virtues, and they are definitely a requirement to achieve lofty goals. One du’a you may find helpful is the du’a for studying something difficult:
اللَّهُمَّ لَا سَهْلَ إلاَّ مَا جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلاً، وأنْتَ تَجْعَلُ الحَزْنَ إذَا شِئْتَ سَهْلاً
O Allah, nothing is easy except what You made easy, and if You wish, You can make the difficult easy.
- Wait for it! Once you get started, you will be surprised how quickly inshallah you are able to move through the material. Suddenly one day – prepare yourself! – you will find yourself enjoying the work and enjoying the learning too!
- Wake up! Wake up at night, ask Allah for help, support, and ease, pray a few rak’as of tahajjud, and then dedicate those early morning hours to your studies when everyone else is still asleep. Inshallah you will not suffer from the lost hour of sleep, but will instead start your day energized with a dose of inspiration under your hijab!
Inshallah you can do this, I believe in you, and so do all the Ribaat teachers, admins, and other team members who are working tirelessly to make this learning available to you. So stop hiding in the hallway and jump back into class; we are waiting to celebrate your achievement with you! Take the first steps and trust that Allah (swt) will help you through the rest.