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By Maulana Aslam Seedat

By Maulana Aslam Seedat As the new academic year approaches, many students will be fretting and panicking about the possible university places available following the previous year’s academic results; what courses to apply for? What financial assistance is available? What accommodation to look for? Some will be making the transition from high school to university for the first time and the daunting task of leaving ‘home sweet home’ for the first time. There are many challenges awaiting the would-student in the first few weeks of his/her new life that can overwhelm and cause great anxiety for all involved including parents. Whether it’s finding the appropriate courses that suit our skills and interests, seeking new accommodation or buying the latest gizmos, or making sure we are all ready with the latest gadgets for university life, how often do we consider the thing that has shaped us all – our religion? Life continuously throws curveballs at us. Challenges keep coming our way, and the ability to say "I am sorry; my religion doesn't allow" becomes all the more important. Defending Islam and being a proud Muslim is definitely what will truly lead us to success. Being confident about our faith and being able to resist being shy is the key to standing out. Being able to have something to hold on to, something to guide us in our life, something to trust when life is rough is truly what gives us that courage. When we make the move to a new university, we are faced with many problems, obstacles and challenges such as coping with the workload, organizing the new timetable, accommodation and coursework. Although these problems are real and cannot be overlooked they are just the tip of the iceberg. It often feels like Islam has to make the move too. When entering the university environment, we are forced to adapt to the workaholic university life style as well as the "modern" attitude that university often brings with our degree; therefore, the willpower and courage needed to be a strong Muslim doesn't get any more challenging. In fact, the acclimatisation of this new lifestyle involves meeting new people and the countless invites associated with new acquaintances which may involve parties whilst for others ‘going out clubbing’ and the vices associated with it. The exposure to such immoral and shameless activities has become synonymous with university students in the name of ‘just having a bit of fun’ and ‘chilling out’. This leaves Muslims with a real dilemma: should we go with the flow and compromise our identity or stick to our principles and risk being called “anti-social”. So how do Muslim students face this dilemma? Islam does not deter anyone from studying and achieving a career path that culminates in employment, however, the parameters have to be created to ensure that one preserves one’s identity, piety, chastity and honour. The demarcation serve to ensure that one does not fall prey to the temptation that have become the hallmark of university life – sinning. Education is not frowned upon in Islam even for women as the media portrays this image, as long as the safeguards are there to ensure Imaan, chastity and piety is preserved. In fact, Islam was one of the first civilisations to introduce systematic educational institutions during the great period of Islam in places such as Baghdad and Alandalus – Spain. Therefore, Islam has always encouraged seeking knowledge because it is considered as righteous deed as long as the intention is correct. Nonetheless, one of the vice that is common in university campuses is the intermingling of sexes. In fact, it may not be viewed as a sin by many due to the environment that has normalised this kind of activity. Unfortunately, many students live under this false premise that they are immune from zina (fornications) and that they can control their sexual emotions and desires. Living under this illusion is a sign of the weakness of one’s Imaan because it is trying to justify that which Allah has prohibited from indulging in. Allah says; "Cooperate in righteousness and piety, and don't cooperate in sin and transgression." [Al-Ma’idah: 2]. A Muslim must take care to stay away from environments that are dominated by boyfriend-girlfriend relationships and pre-marital sex. The Prophet has encouraged us to control our lust and our speech. Sahl ibn Sa’d narrated that the Prophet said, “Whoever can guarantee what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs, I guarantee Paradise for him.” [Sahih Bukhari] Another element associated with university life is the exposure to drugs and alcohol. These prohibited substances are prevalent and rife in the university environment. If we are tempted by intoxicants such as alcohol or drugs whether in large or small quantities, we should take heed of the words of 2 Issue 49 Sept / Oct 2013

the prophet who said: "All intoxicants are unlawful, of whatever thing a large quantity intoxicates; even a small quantity is prohibited." [An-Nawawi] Clubbing and associating with friends that indulge in consuming these kinds of haram substances can lead to acceptance and normality. This is the natural consequence of taking the common ground. Surely the one who drinks but does not get drunk is compromising Islam. Accepting compromise is the basic reason behind the identity crisis within Muslims at university. Compromise is what leads people to ‘relax’ some parts of Islam that don't seem to fit in to their new lifestyle. This is why many Muslims limit Islam to something they do every Friday or when they return home for the holidays. Many see nothing wrong with the ideas of “live life to the max” or “you only live once”, dreaming that after student life they will settle down and then think about Islam. Others may fully engage in their study, greeting fellow Muslims with complimentary ‘Assalamu Alaikum,’ but leave Islam on the shelf. Muslims may even lose their emotion for Islam, becoming numb to the problems that Muslims are facing around the world, justifying to themselves that it doesn’t directly affect them or that they are only problems for the people of that particular nationality. Another aspect of university life that one must tread very carefully is the kind of cohorts one may form friendship with. Many try to cling to a strict, religious and devout Islamic circle on campus in order to safeguard oneself from the evil temptations associated with university life and draw up a list of essential survival strategies. However, it is important that we create close friendship with those that do not compromise our beliefs, values and ideals. University attracts students from all backgrounds, nationalities and religious affiliations, hence in this cosmopolitan environment one must seek guidance and advice from the scholars (Ulama) that educated us, guided us and shaped our lives during the teen years. Many students during university life fall prey to the different schools of thought that they are exposed to and are influenced by students who claim to be ‘experts’ of Islamic knowledge, hence begin to question their own beliefs and attitudes. It is vital that that we seek guidance from the local Ulama on matters that we are unsure in order to safeguard one’s faith and practices. It is important that if we move away from home and into another city or town to study then we find a Masjid in that particular area whose practices match our beliefs and school of thought. It is also important that we engage ourselves in as many righteous activities for our study to be worthwhile and full of barakah. Achieving qualifications and degrees in the midst of committing vices and not seek seeking sincere repentance is tantamount to failure in the eyes of Allah. Therefore, seek repentance and engross oneself in good deeds during the many free hours that university students have. Finally, as Muslims having firm belief in Allah and certainty in the fact that the Qur’an is guidance from Him, we can build our lives according to Islam and must shun the notions of freedom and "live life to the max" that create a society where sinning is accepted and normalised. We should realise that restricting Islam to the Masjid or merely Halal food is compromising our position both in this life and the hereafter. We are accountable for all our actions and upon this basis Allah will assign to us Jannah or Jahannam. “So do you believe in some part of the Book and disbelieve in some. The penalty awaiting those who do this is nothing but humiliation in this life and the severest of punishment on the Day of Judgment.” [Al-Baqarah: 85] Therefore, university for students is part of their lives, it is a phase of their lives, and an aspect of life that comes with eagerness and goes with fondness. Whether a person spends four years in school or fourteen, the lures and desires associated with the university life remains. Islam is more than just a religion or faith. It's a way of life which treads beyond the Musallah and echoes outside the walls of the Masjid. University maybe a part of a student’s life, however Islam is his whole life. May Allah help us, guide us, protect us from the dangers that lurk out there and increase us in wisdom. Ameen. HOW TO GET PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY - ALLAMAH ANWAR SHAH KASHMIRI (RAHMATULLAHI ALAIH) BY SHAYKH ZULFIQAR AHMAD (DB) Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad once mentioned in his discourse about the great scholar Hazrat Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R.A). Hazrat Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R.A) had such a memory that he could remember whatever he read, even after twenty years. Once Mufti Kifayatullah (R.A) asked his students, " Can you tell me how Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R.A) became such a great scholar?" Someone said, “He was very intelligent." The other one replied, "Oh, he was a big scholar of Qur’an". Another said " He was a scholar of Hadith". In this way many students gave their own opinion. Mufti Kifayatullah (R.A) kept quiet. He then said, once this question was asked to Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R.A) himself on how he became such a great scholar? He replied “I had a lot of adab (respect) for the books of knowledge. I showed great respect”. The questioner asked “Everyone has respect for the books of knowledge". He said, “I never touched any Islamic book without wudhu. If I had to put the books, on top of the each other, I would put them according to their ranks. For example, I never put any book of Hadith on Qur’an. I never put any book of Fiqh on Hadith. I never put any book of History on the book of Fiqh. So even on placing the books I used to take care of their ranks”. Allahu Akbar, because of his adab for the books of knowledge, Allah gave him such beneficial knowledge, such power of memorisation, that he could remember what he read twenty years ago.” Issue 49 Sept / Oct 2013 3

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