Eighteen years have zipped by in a flash. Or at least that’s what it feels like when you look at the handsome young man, whom you recall walking hand in hand with a few years ago, or when you admire the young, beautiful lady in your life, whom you called your baby not that long ago.
Believe it or not, your baby boy or baby girl is about to hit one of the most significant milestones in their lives. High school graduation is not only symbolic and ceremonial in ushering in a new era of manhood or womanhood. It may be a defining moment in your son or daughter’s financial, social, physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being for the rest of their lives.
The next few years are expected to take your little girl or boy on a wild, emotional rollercoaster ride. Not only is it a major transition for them internally, it’s also a challenge to keep up with the drastically changing world outside.
As a Muslim parent, are you ready for this beautiful and momentous day?
Here are five pieces of heartfelt advice to give to your graduating son or daughter.
1. Be resilient like a date palm tree.
You will be constantly exposed to the inclement weather of life. Get used to it. Life is going to challenge you with many proverbial hail storms, wind storms, sand storms, blizzards, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and more, which will help you build your willpower and resilience. Make sure to bounce back like a date palm tree. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, likened a believer to a date palm tree (Bukhari). Here are a few lessons you can learn from a date palm tree that you can practice in your college or university life and beyond:
- A date palm tree stands straight and strong no matter what weather brings, so stand upright, stay strong on your principles, and don’t get distracted by superficial matters.
- A date palm tree gives fruit all year long, so try to be productive in all seasons.
- A date palm tree produces an abundance of sweet fruit throughout its life, so be sweet, gentle, and well-mannered with everyone consistently.
- A date palm tree has its leaves curved and facing downward, so be humble before God and with people around you. Attribute all of your success to Allah and give due credit to those around you.
- A date palm has its roots buried deep in the ground, so be firmly grounded in the Quran, Prophetic traditions, and your values, while exploring new horizons and ideas for the benefit of your career and society.
2. Don’t box yourself in.
While you have chosen an area or two to major in, make sure to not limit yourself to only those areas of academics. Given the drastic changes in the world economy and constantly evolving technology, you need to diversify your career options so that you are not only making a well-informed decision about your career path, but also having a backup to fall back on in case plan A doesn’t pan out as you wanted it to. Remain open to the idea of juggling multiple jobs or contracts, as many industries are embracing the gig economy.
Never think small of yourself and your academic potential. You can be the next change maker in your industry. Even if you graduate from a prestigious university with a degree in one discipline, you may find yourself gravitating toward another career field, based on opportunities, life circumstances, or life’s calling, so remain flexible and open-minded. Don’t be defined by your degree. Moreover, remember, your Rizq, or your share of wealth or fortune, is already written by Allah. You never know where Allah has written it for you and where the blessings will lie.
3. Learn to fail, but don’t let failure define you.
You may fail, but remember, you are not a failure. Success in this life and the next comes from learning from your mistakes and failures, getting back up stronger, and doing things differently to achieve the desired results. Never give up just because it seems impossible. Some of the world’s best inventions and innovations came about after hundreds of failed attempts. Imagine if scientists, mathematicians, or physicians gave up on flying, the light bulb, electricity, the camera, medical advances, the internet, or any of the technologies we enjoy today, after a couple of failures. You will fail, perhaps many times. So draw on your strength and courage not only by believing in yourself and your abilities, but also by turning to Allah in sincere Dua, since God is the source of all success in this life and the next.
4. Choose your homies wisely
As you move on to the next phase of your life, you will most likely find a new group of friends to hang out with. Take the advice of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him: “A person is on the Deen (way of life) of their close friend, so each of you should look to whom you take as close friends” (Abu Dawud). Whether or not you complete your graduate studies and how well you do in your courses will depend significantly on the crowd you surround yourself with. It’s very easy to get pulled into an unproductive and destructive circle of friends, who will not only waste your time and money, but potentially destroy your mental, physical, psychological and spiritual health as well. Be on guard and decide who you let in your life. They should encourage you and believe in you when you meet trials and failures and they must support you and cheer you on when you succeed. Make sure they are people who are not looking for a quick benefit or companionship during a semester or two. Let them accompany you for life in this world and in paradise, insha Allah.
5. My doors will always be open
Remember, no matter where you go and how far you go for graduate studies and career advancement, I will be a knock, a text, a DM, or a call away insha Allah. No matter what career path you choose, I will not judge you. No matter how you fare in your courses, I will be there to support you. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, I will be there to listen. My love, concern, and support will be unconditional and will never diminish as a father. I want you to succeed not only so you can do well for yourself financially, but also so you can pursue your dreams to the fullest insha Allah. I want you to succeed so you can become a better human being, a better family member, a better neighbor, a better community member, a better professional, a better Muslim.
May Allah enlighten you with the best of knowledge and expertise. Ameen.
May Allah ease the trials of your academic journey. Ameen.
May Allah strengthen your Iman (faith), Ihsan (spirit of excellence), and Taqwa (God-consciousness). Ameen.
May Allah grant you friends who believe in you, uplift you, and empower you to succeed in all spheres of life. Ameen.
May Allah bless your career choices and allow you to do, consume, and spend on only what is Halal (permissible) and Tayyab (pure, healthy, and safe). Ameen.
May Allah inspire you to utilize your academic accomplishments, skills, and time for the betterment of our society and communities around the world.
Your loving father