When you arrive at university you're immersed in to the world of pub crawl, club night and party promotion. The constant flyering on campus and Facebook notifications for 'two for one cocktails' are something which many freshers undoubtedly enjoy and are certainly spoiled for choice - however, different strokes for different folks.
For many young Muslims who are new at university, that type of fun may not be quite your cup of tea. Navigating your way through university whilst having fun and making the most of the endless opportunities is something that, as a Muslim, isn't always obviously clear. So I thought that after my 5 years of adventure through university life, it would be great to write a short guide of top tips for Muslim students at the dawn of this new chapter in life.
1. Recognise Your Innumerable Blessings
As Muslims, it isn't that farfetched to start with recognising our blessings. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) offered us some timeless advice, which is particularly pertinent to ourselves as university students. "Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age; your health before your sickness; your wealth before your poverty; your free-time before your preoccupation; and your life before your death." At university, it's our youth, health, wealth (maybe not yet...student loans), free time and life that we must seize and succeed with. So now you're 'in the zone'.
2. Be A True Example of a Muslim
Whilst at university (and in every place), it is a duty as a Muslim to be that exemplary beacon of kindness, fortitude and most importantly mercy. We believe that God, All Mighty, has said in the Qur'an, "And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds." (21:107). And it is this mercy that was instructed to Muhammad (pbuh), the best of examples, that should also become a theme of our lives. This mercy isn't just for family, friends, your ethnicity or indeed fellow Muslims - but it is for the entirety of mankind. Ironically, being a Muslim is the best way to combat the negative (often Islamophobic) portrayals of Muslims that exist in society.
3. Join Your Islamic Society
Your university will have an Islamic Society (or ISOC) which is there to cater for the holistic needs of Muslim students - a place to make friends, to have fun and more often than not, to really begin that epic journey in your dealings with God, All Mighty.
Through your ISOC you can experience: charity weeks which raise close to £500,000 for the poor in just seven days; campaigning for justice both home and abroad; developing an understanding of Islam through lectures, circles and inter-faith debate; and even wild (halal) adventures with your new brothers/sisters on campus at all sorts of hours (only making 9am lectures even harder to wake up for) - ISOCs nationally are amongst the most active, engaging and relevant societies at university.
And ISOCs are not just for the 'religious elite' (laughs) - they are for everyone and anyone who is interested or seeking that illuminated (not Illuminati - laughs again) expedition through university.
Joining your ISOC is the most awesome point of advice. Note taken.
4. Broaden Your Mind, Get Involved
University is a melting pot of ideas, cultures, views and opinions. A dynamic platform where values, morality and the meaning of life are questioned debated and built upon. A golden opportunity to learn, experience and define yourself both externally within the world but also internally at the very deepest core level.
According to your parents you're at university to learn and they aren't wrong (surprise, surprise). However, make sure you go well beyond your course modules and learn about life, the world and the magnificent array of people that fill it. So don't let your time at university be lazily whittled away. Be active - engage socially, politically, spiritually, and intellectually. Take up a sport, join a club, become a student rep, run for an SU position and of course join your ISOC (just to remind you).
5. Have Fun!
The biggest mega myth at university is that Muslims (and ISOCs) don't know how to have fun. The most fun I have had in life has been through my ISOC and with the people (of all faiths) I met there - I won't say much more as what happens at university stays at university (well, kind of). Time to start your own story!
The only real limits you face during your time at university are the mental constraints you place on yourself - think outside the box, be ambitious and remember your Lord. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "For everything there is a polish, and the polish for the hearts is the remembrance of God."
Finally, if you're stuck trying to find your ISOC, contact us at FOSIS - president (at) fosis.org.uk