Back to School

We have guests coming to visit us soon inshaaAllah. For the past few days, we’ve been busy cleaning our house. I’ve planned this ‘spring cleaning’ right after I finished my TQEE course. I even wrote down which areas to clean for this day and that day. But, I never really got down to it…until a friend told me she will be coming to visit and stay with us for a few days.

Organizational decluttering books advise inviting guests over every month or couple of months as part of keeping your house clean. If you don’t get this, wow, your house must be very well kept all the time.

Last night, after all the rigorous cleaning I had engaged in throughout the day, resulting in achy joints, hubs asked me,

“So, when was the last time you cleaned like this? Since you went back to school?”

Perplexed, I asked him back, “What school?”

“Al Huda.”

Subhanallah, I remember the last time my house was not immaculate. It was during my college years, when I also gave birth to 2 girls in my junior and senior years, and my husband and I took turns cooking. Whoever gets home first would cook.

I only probably realized how clean I am able to keep my house after I graduated. I decided to stay home and take care of the kids after graduation, and I completely went domestic. Baking became my new adventure, followed by cake decorating, homeschooling, and my organizational perfectionist nature took hold of me. We didn’t have a vacuum, so I would actually manually brush the carpets, stairs and floors of our townhouse university family housing apartment every Thursdays. I would religiously scrub the stove, oven, and stove hood every weekend. My house was immaculate. Almost every night, I would look at the living room as I climb up the stairs and feel a sense of joy at the accomplishment of the day. Going to bed and waking up to a tidy house is very rewarding.

Then, the kids grew older, and homeschooling took on a different speed and format, and I found myself with a new organizational challenge. I managed, but not as well as I did when the kids were 3 years old and under. Ironically. It bothered me, so I took up Flylady’s advice. It worked quite well, until I got pregnant with Julaybib. After Julaybib, my life completely changed.

I took up writing. Seriously. I squeezed in doing my writing assignments for the Institute of Children’s Literature writing course. I loved it. I wrote, and wrote.

I had another baby; Z. With him, came allergies. New set of challenges I had to learn to cope with. Very challenging. Very challenging.

Then came Al Huda Institute. I didn’t realize I was ‘going back to school’ (as my husband puts it) when I plunged into it. I guess in a way it is kind of going back to school. I was already busy as it was, and I got even busier. Yet, I see other mothers who are also busy doing other things alongside their motherly and wifely duties. Some are doing their graduate studies. Some are working. We’re all in the same boat essentially.

Yet, I never quite considered myself ‘in school’. So last night’s remark by hubs, set me off on a trail of thought that included an exchange with a farmer at the farmer’s market last summer.

“So, how much longer are you in school?” asked this farmer whom we always buy very cheap tomatoes from. He was talking to hubby. A lot of people would assume hubs is a student on campus when they see him. And he doesn’t really like saying he actually is not a student, but rather a faculty member. His attire and demeanor pretty much fits that of a student more than a professor. And he’s perfectly comfortable with that.

So, hubs let out an awkward smile and tried to avoid answering him. I don’t actually remember what he answered. But then the farmer turned to me.

“Is she in school?”

“Oh no, I’m done.” I replied.

“You have a Master’s, Ph.D?” he asked me.

“No, just a bachelor’s.” My attitude when replying to him was that of ‘why would I go for graduate studies just to go back to school?’. But apparently, his attitude upon hearing my answer was completely opposite of mine, for he said to my husband,

“Send her back to school!”

My husband just laughed awkwardly again, and I was starting to seethe inside, and we walked away to buy mushrooms. I remember walking away feeling indignant. The thoughts that roamed my head at the time was as such,

You don’t ‘go back to school’ for the sake of ‘going  back to school’! Seriously, Master’s and Ph.Ds are overrated! People who have them do not necessarily master the subjects! Nor are all of them even seriously interested in their respective areas! You don’t need a piece of paper to prove that you have knowledge in a subject matter! It’s all just for prestige sometimes! I am not spending the remaining years of my life pursuing a Master’s or Ph.D! No offense to graduate students or Master’s and Ph.D holders, but for myself, I just feel like I owe it to myself to pursue learning my religion which I have abandoned in my early years. Sorry, there is more to life than this world alone.

I realized the farmer doesn’t know any better and that he’s speaking from a completely different mindset and perspective. That was the only thing that prevented me from defending myself. I figured,

Ah…leave him be. He doesn’t know and probably won’t understand anyway. The important thing is I know what I want. Who cares what other people think?

Really. Who cares anymore? Islamic studies are put in the backseat and looked down upon in general when placed alongside secular studies. That is just the nature of how the society works. In the end, it all comes down to what an individual wants out of his life. I personally cannot fathom spending 4-5 years pursuing graduate studies (though I’ve contemplated it a lot throughout the years) when I know that I my inclination and interests are not fully in it. The only reason that would push me to do it is pure curiosity of the subject matter and a love of learning. And maybe using it to benefit the ummah. Yet, in light of my first priorities in this stage of my life and my personal circumstances, I would deem it foolish of me to pursue graduate studies just  because I’m a nerd. I do love learning about new things depending on the subject. This is why I like to read.

However, if it’s going to be some serious studying, I feel obligated to then pursue Quranic studies. That should have been the first thing to be pursued and since I didn’t pursue it when I was younger, now is the time to do it, as I don’t know how much longer I have on this earth.

So, I guess, if that is considered ‘going back to school’, then ‘going back to school’ it is then! I’m just happy to be learning and studying the Quran in whatever capacity I can, alhamdulillah.

At  a physical check up I recently had, the doctor asked me,

“Are you a student?” [there must be something about our appearance and attire or demeanor that makes people think we are students! Subhanallah]

Then she asked me what I was studying, when I told her that I am studying but online.

I hesitated for bit, trying to ‘term’ Taleem Quran, Tajweed, and whatever else I was learning, and then said, “Islamic Studies.”

I had set out learning Islam for myself. Not to attain any certificates, degree, qualifications. No. I became a parent at a young age. I was raising children. I felt unequipped as a Muslim parent to raise them. But I want to do a good job of raising them. I felt like Allah was giving me a golden opportunity to right my wrongs and make things right. I  had to learn my deen. It started out for them, but I realized that it was more for myself than for the kids. I am learning the deen, so I can better worship Allah, and so I can connect to Him, and in the process, subhanallah, all I can say is, Allah is Al Lateef, Ar Rahmaan, Ar Raheem. I think back to my childhood, my adolescence, my young adulthood, and I feel so small. For Allah to bestow on me so many blessings, I’m truly not deserving, and so may I be protected from ingratitude and arrogance in this journey. May Allah keep me steadfast, and endow me with true humility and take me in my best state of iman. May Allah give me tawfeeq to fulfill all the obligations that are due upon me as long as I am alive. Ameen. May Allah give me husnul khulooq and help me rectify my shortcomings. Ameen.

For I am such in need of these dua. Ya Rabb.





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