Does everything really happen for a reason?

It’s a common sense answer for Muslims who believe in destiny, right? Not really. It’s not so easy to respond in the positive when life’s challenges begin to surface and our “plans” come to nothing. At such moments, trying to define a reason may be unreasonable to ask for, but still necessary.

Three years ago, I HAD to find the reason for what was happening to me. I do not believe anything I write here will do my story justice. But the point here is to provide perspective, not a re-run of the story. Simply put, I faced discrimination that forced me to leave my job and discontinue my PhD studies.

Yep, my case was reported in various newspapers and TV newscasts. Of course, this was never part of my plans! But eh, there’s always a reason, right?

Nonetheless, discrimination was challenging to deal with, let alone to have faith that things were going to work out for the best. “Why was this happening to me?” Nothing I did, whether it was through grief or regret, answered this question at the time. But, slowly and steadily my answers were found in what I held dearest, my faith.

Fast forward three years – and not only have I found one answer to that question, but rather many! God knew I needed to slow down. He wanted me to appreciate the simple things in life. God’s plans for me were the same as my own, but he took me on a different route to get there–empowering me with strength and perspective for what was ahead. God’s answers didn’t end there.

I was hired by one of my current employers who heard about my case on TV. What’s the big deal, you ask? Oh, it’s big deal alright, considering this employer has been a dream employer of mine since childhood and I was holding off on applying to them until I felt “qualified.” Suddenly, they reached out to me and I was hired! God brought forth this incident as a reason for me to follow my dreams. This was yet, the most unexpected answer to my question.

Oh and if you’re curious about what happened to my discrimination case, rest assured. It was completely resolved to my satisfaction and I am still pursuing my PhD studies!

And so, with confidence I say, “of course, everything DOES happen for a reason!” It’s all about the way you look at your challenges. Try to always find the brighter side and dig deep to find the purpose of your challenge. Identify the ways in which it was necessary for your growth. Hold fast to what you know to be true, especially in times of difficulty. It’s not so easy to always see the good or bad in what’s happening to us. God reminds us in the Quran, “…but perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And God Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)

What I Do and Why I Do it.

Mother, Doctoral Student, University Instructor and Journalist all in one package describe the most prominent roles I currently play. As a full-time mother of two (ages 5 and 1), I am part-timing (is there even such a thing?!) as a PhD student, while also part-timing as a university instructor and freelancing as a journalist.

My life is FULL, to say the least. I don’t like leaving my children for long periods of time so I strive to be with them most of the time when they’re home. My rule is not to be away for more than 8-13 hrs/week. It’s tough! I end up doing most of my studies really early in the morning or when they are asleep at night (which means not much sleep for me!).

When I go to work as a journalist, it’s usually just once a week or twice a week depending on my studies workload (gotta love freelancing flexibility!!!). Finally, I teach one class per term and sometimes I simply choose not to, again based on my workload for the semester (gotta love adjunct faculty positions!). So by now you’re probably thinking, “well then, what’s the dilemma? You’re lucky to have such flexibility and do all the things you enjoy doing!”. My short answer is, it’s not the quantity of time required out of me, but rather the quality of production asked of me that drains me.

Often I am asked, “how are your studies coming along?” and I take a deep breath and sigh, “Aaah, it’s no walk in the park, that’s for sure!”. But the real truth is, it’s no run in the park either. It’s a race! Research papers, TONS of readings, conferences, class assignments, more readings and pressure to know it all in order to become a “scholar” in the field and of course pass the doctoral exams to begin writing the dissertation. I read over 200 pgs per week and sometimes only per class! But, it’s no leisurely reading either! I must synthesize and make sense of the literature to relate it to other similar research and my own work. I must remember the most important pieces of information and how they are part of the big picture. I must KNOW all the information and use it during academic conversations as if I am talking about my very own personal information! And so, I have to produce quality work which in turn requires a quantity amount of time! Ahhhhh. But, I still choose not to leave my children for long periods of time to do this work, so I sacrifice sleep, rest and personal needs and most of the time I am ok.

I don’t need the money. Seriously. I don’t have to work and am blessed with an AMAZING husband who provides for me in every sense–financially, emotionally, and with excellent help with the children. I do it because I LOVE it! I love every single role I play in an equal yet very different way. I enjoy knowing that I can contribute to the world in different, yet complimentary ways. After all, if you really think about it, everything I do, including raising my children, is in the field of education and communication. I just get to practice it with different audience members: children, young adults (my students), professors and a mixed audience (my journalism consumers).

I simply love learning about others and engaging in conversations with people from all walks of life. The roles I play allow me to do just that without having to commit fully (by that I mean full time!) to just one thing. And there you have it, what I do and why I do it!