Important! Please Read!

Before exploring my blog, please remember this: If you came here to sincerely learn about Islam, please be open minded. Let go of any ill-feelings, ideas, thoughts, impressions, etc. that you may have against Islam or Muslims, due to the media or judging a "Muslim."

For better understanding of Islam and Muslims, I suggest reading the posts in order starting from August with the label Introduction to Islam (scroll down and look to the right for blog archive for proper order (from bottom to top)).

If you are interested in learning more about Islam and Muslims and would like additional materials/information, please leave a comment and I will try my best to help.

*Information that reads "Sisters" is for females ONLY. Likewise, anything reading "Brothers" is for males ONLY. Whether "sisters or brothers" is mentioned throughout my blog or on another site, please respect the rights of other people, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

**I do not intend to argue or debate with anyone, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs. If something is personal, disrespectful, or offensive, keep it to yourself. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT! (this includes what you type) If you do not wish to learn about Islam or Muslims, but just want to start trouble, do it somewhere else, not here! (or better, don't start trouble at all) Haters are NOT welcome here!

Please leave comments or questions you may have regarding Islam or Muslims. I will get to them as soon as possible. Enjoy your time here!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Welcome to University! (Young Muslims brochure)

So you've finally made it to the university of your choice! You've heard, seen and perhaps even been to all the cool 'disorientation' week activities and wild residence parties. You have introduced yourself to all of your floor mates in residence ('rez') and figured out all the 'hot-spots' on campus. You have checked out the new crowd and are looking forward to spending a 'lot' more time at school. And maybe, just maybe, you've found your way to your classes and paid a visit to your university bookstore!

If any of that sounds familiar, then you have had a taste of the 4-year all-fun-and-games experience known as university life!

Needless to say, that statement is completely false, and if you haven't already figured that out, then you soon will. The freedom of university life comes with great responsibilities. You are no longer under the guidance and supervision of your parents and family, neither in the security and comfort of your home, nor in the company of loved ones who are willing to cater to your needs. You are in a new environment where not only are you 'free' to do as you please without anyone giving you a second look, but in fact 'encouraged' to do all it takes to fit in with the crowd.

As a Muslim, you know better than that. The people you will meet do not have the same priorities as yourself. In fact, most of them are not sure 'what' their priorities are or if they have any to begin with. You will hear the word 'fun' a lot, which will be used to justify almost anything imaginable and sometimes beyond! You will face situations where all that is between you and the greatest Fitna (trial & tribulations) is your Muslim identity, self-dignity and conscience.

Dear brothers and sisters, be on guard and know yourself. Think about why you are at university, for whom are you putting yourself through this, and what do you hope to achieve in the end? As in life, you must be absolutely sure of your 'purpose' and 'direction', or you will lose yourself in the crowd. Know that you are a Muslim, know that you are His servant, know that you are His Khalifah (vicegerent), and know that you are accountable to Him first and foremost. And what greater sense of purpose than to know that your goal is Allah (swt)! But if you are going to university only to have fun, then know that there are far less expensive ways of doing so.

Keeping that in mind, we have provided some tips to make your life at university a more productive, beneficial, stress-free and ultimately more enjoyable LEARNING experience. If you properly utilise this important time of your life, you can harness the true potential of your university education, and insha-Allah leave university not only as a more knowledgeable student, but as a better (and pro-active) Muslim!

A Muslim university student's checklist

Find your university's Muslim Student Association (MSA) office: there you can…
1. locate the daily prayer space and prayer timings
2. weekly Juma prayer location (not necessarily the same as normal prayer room!)
3. meet and introduce yourself to other fellow Muslim students
4. find Islamic books, audio and video tapes
5. stay up-to-date on MSA events and announcements
6. find Muslims to share a room, apartment, or house with
7. come to relax between classes and read some Quran in peace!

Get to know other Muslims in your classes and on-campus:
1. how do you break the ice? "Assalamu Alaikum, are you taking this course?"
2. exchange personal information and contacts such as phone #, room #, e-mail
3. form study groups with other Muslims (you need someone you can depend on!)
4. seek their help in studies, especially from seniors
5. a few contacts made early on go a long way in your university life!

Attend the MSA orientation week activities:
1. to find your way around campus and the area around the university
2. to find Halal food places on and off-campus
3. to find Muslim brothers/sisters hang-outs
4. to find off-campus prayer spaces for weekends
5. to find Muslim residences in case of emergency
6. to make new friends (and get free food!), etc.

World Religions class students:
1. introduce yourself to the Professor
2. let them know you are attending and willing to help in providing Islamic literature, or any other info e.g. Islamic website addresses for other students' paper research, online Quran & Hadith resources
3. speak to them about having a speaker from a local Islamic Centre come and present Islam to the class (they will gladly agree!)

Find out the 'safe' and 'un-safe' places to be when on campus in after-hours:
1. find a good quiet study space for yourself (which you WILL need!)
e.g. at a library, or rez basement, which will also serve as your personal retreat from the hectic university life (sometimes even your room-mates make matter worse)

Keep in touch with family and friends back home:
1. they need to hear from you and know how you are doing
2. take time out no matter how busy at least once a week if you go home for weekends, or more often if you stay full-time on campus (plus who knows when you may have to ask for more money!)

Attend Islamic events organized by your MSA:
1. weekly Halaqas, normally held on Friday evenings
2. good way to wind down the week
3. a great learning experience
4. access to a Shaikh (a.k.a. your personal councillor!)
5. strengthens your Iman and identity and prepares you for the next hectic week
6. participate and volunteer in 'Islam Awareness Week' activities

Organize timetable to not interfere with any prayers:
1. especially when you have choice in picking tutorials and lab sessions
2. leave yourself ample time to make Wudu especially before Juma
3. if you have a class at Juma time, find out who else is in similar situation and what do they do about it?

Advice to Muslim…
1. Sisters: it is especially important to find other good Muslim sisters to keep company because the gates of Fitna are not only wide open but you are a primary target for those who do not have your (Islamic) best interests in mind
2. Brothers: learn to lower your gaze (if you haven't already) or you will find yourself in all sorts of trouble. Enough said!
3. university life makes us very vulnerable as we are bombarded with every kind of 'alternative lifestyle' as acceptable and fun so know the difference
4. the code of modest conduct that is observed between Muslim brothers and sisters applies ten-fold to your conduct with non-Muslims!

When things go wrong:
1. do not underestimate the power of prayer and Dua*
2. in everything, seek Allah's help and seek His protection and strength
3. in times of distress, remember your goal and purpose, remember Allah (subhanahu wa taala), remember your relationship to Him (sometimes that is all you will have to motivate you!)

And finally…
1. don't make the university experience any harder than it already is by trying to wing it on your own. You can't!
2. we all need help and positive reinforcement, and advice from those who have gone through the same experiences

"You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters, [which you must hold on with all your efforts]." (The Holy Quran 3:186)

*Dua for times of sorrow, anxiety or distress:
"O Allah! I am Your servant, son/daughter of Your servant, son/daughter of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Quran the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow, and a release for my anxiety."

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