The ‘Chronicles of a 1st Year University Student’ series is written by one of our own NYMiNK Sisters at the Imancipation Project. This series follows this sister’s journey as she navigates her way through the post-secondary world and works to build her Islamic identity.
Class. Study. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Life in university can often feel like an endless cycle of all things student-related. Taking the bus at 7am to get to those exciting morning classes, several hour-long study sessions, a couple more classes, and then bus home late at night only to realize you have an assignment due the next day. We get so caught up living the life of a university student, we neglect to live our life as a Muslim. Being in university can be overwhelming and often, it’s easy to lose sight of our real purpose in life, the real reason we exist to begin with.
We need to make sure that we keep our Islamic identity intact throughout our university experience, and in fact, strengthen it. Personally, this is something that I found myself struggling with, especially in the first month of university. September was not easy. I had to consistently remind myself to put the deen first. Was I willing to sacrifice missing 10 minutes of a lecture, so I wouldn’t miss my salah? Was I willing to say no to an “exciting must-attend” university event, where I knew the environment was not completely halal? Was I willing to change the people I associated with in order to make sure I was surrounded by those who remind me of Allah (SWT)? Was I willing to explain that I didn’t shake hands with people of the opposite gender? If the answer to these questions was not yes every single time, I knew that I had to re-evaluate the security and strength of my Islamic identity and what was truly important to me.
The first thing to evaluate is the state of your salah – are you fulfilling your obligation to Allah (SWT)? Praying five times a day seems easy, but it can quickly become difficult when we are in settings where we may be one of the only Muslims. Most universities these days have an MSA that organizes a prayer space on campus. You should do your best to find this space, and if there doesn’t happen to be a prayer area, then take the initiative to organize and secure a space. Whether there is a designated prayer space or not, however, should not determine if you pray or not. For instance, if you are at a public library for hours studying for an exam and the time for salah comes, then you should stop whatever you are doing and pray. This could mean finding a quiet spot in the corner or even asking a librarian if they can find a spot for you to pray. Prioritizing salah is the first, most critical step towards remaining strong in your Islamic identity.
It was narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah (RA) that Rasul Allah (SAW) said:
“The similitude of five prayers is like an overflowing river passing by the gate of one of you in which he washes five times daily.” Hasan said: “No filthiness can remain on him” [Sahih Muslim].
And so, if we start with consistency in our salah in the midst of our university lives, we may become more comfortable with moving towards more acts of worship in university, which could strengthen our Islamic character. May Allah (SWT) give us the strength to practice our deen openly in our places of work and school, so that we may become closer to Him. Ameen.