Pursuing a college degree poses a unique challenge when you are Muslim. Whether it is due to stress, an unpredictable schedule, long class times, and for many students, working while going to school, many Muslim students on Campus would admits that college is making it difficult for them to practice their faith.
But, college is an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can maintain (at least) the minimum that makes you a true Muslim.
Your faith will wax and wane during the stress of your studies, but the blessing of an education has only come to us because of Allah’s generosity. Here are some tips to show your gratefulness.
1. Join Your MSA!
If you are not familiar, MSA stands for Muslim Student Association. Ideally, the MSA is the student organization that serves the needs of the Muslim community. MSAs host on-campus jummah, educational opportunities, community service projects and social events for their members.
Whether you apply to be on the board, volunteer, or become a general body member, joining your MSA can be a wonderful way to find your circle of friends on campus.
I recommend this only if the MSA operates as an Islamic organization and not just a social club. Check your university or college’s list of student organizations for more information.
2. Don’t Schedule Classes During Jummah!
This piece of advice is for both male and female Muslim Students on Campus, but especially for the men considering attending Jummah prayer is fardh (obligatory).
Do your due diligence to work your classes around Jummah time. Treat that time as sacred and as a break from the stress of school.
Think about it: you won’t find college students at school on Sunday when church is happening. Extend that same respect to your holy day as much as possible.
Ideally, your MSA should have on campus Jummah to make it easy on students. If your school doesn’t have an MSA, then be the person who makes it happen and register as a student organization!
3. Try to Find a Muslim Roomate
For the majority of on-campus residents, this is the first time they are living alone. If you are Muslim Students on Campus, this may be the first time you are solely accountable for habits like waking up to pray on time.
Do the best you can to find a Muslim roommate so that you have someone who can be understanding and whom you can feel encouraged by (or vice versa).
If you put in the effort, but couldn’t find a Muslim roommate, then explain to your non-Muslim roommate about Islam and what practicing Muslims do.
4. Decorate Your Dorm
If you’re living on campus, be sure to Islamify your dorm or apartment as much as you can. Bring a prayer mat, a mus-haf (Quran), prayer clothes and even decor that reminds you of Allah.
If you struggle to uphold your daily habits, having these items on display are important for visual association. I recommend having the prayer mat laid open in a designated area
5. Find Your University’s Meditation/Reflection Room
Every university should have a specific room dedicated for religious and non-religious prayer and reflection. It’s usually found in the main student center but some colleges and universities will have them in multiple buildings.
Email your dean of students’ office to inquire about the exact location and try to arrange your studying around there. But, remember that Salah is a 5 times a day obligation, so even if you can’t make it to a reflection room, pick your favorite empty classroom, staircase, or garden and worship your Rab.
If you find that you’re feeling too embarrassed to pray in public, stop here and read this article for some motivation.
6. Take Advantage of Your Commute to Class!
Look, college is stressful. Nobody enjoys stress, but studies show time and time again that forms of meditation can improve mental health and consequently, our performance.
One of the best ways to meditate taught to us by the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is through Dhikr or remembrance of Allah. If you commute to school, use your drive to make Dhikr. For example, play the morning/evening adhkar on your phone in your car.
If you prefer prayer beads to keep track of your tasbeeh, leave some in your car. Play Quran and try to recite along if you’re familiar with the surah. I used this tip during morning commutes and it was extremely helpful for my stress and anxiety.
7. Duaa While Studying!
Let’s be honest, the most religious you will find yourself is right before that exam you’re terrified to take. This is the time for sincere duaa. Ask Allah to make it easy for you to study, to grant you beneficial knowledge and to comfort your heart and remove your stress.
Exams time might be difficult; but it is an opportunity to enjoy such close connection with Allah. It is a reminder whose positive impact can extend far beyond the few exams days.
This list is not an exhaustive one. It is no more than a starting point whether you’re an incoming freshmen or graduating in a semester. Maintaining your deen can be overwhelming, but set your standard so that it never dips into neglecting the fardh (religious obligations).
And set your goal as always going above and beyond in your worship. This way, you will always be in a safe zone.
Invest in your Islamic habits more than you invest in your degree. Your akhirah is more deserving.
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