My advice to any “wanna-be” graduate student:

Having been a graduate student for the last two and a half years, here is a set of advice for you:

  • Generally speaking, if you are doing a thesis masters or a PhD be prepared to not have a social life. If you do have a social life, be prepared for not getting your degree.
  • If you can stay at home, do so. The time you save by having somebody cook, clean, and do your laundry is priceless. However if you leave your home town, get a gym membership.
  • If you are going to move out, find a good roommate. Few things to look for in an ideal roommate: Cleanliness, manners, Deen, financial stability.
  • Since your level of involvement in social activities will decrease exponentially, your spiritual life will be affected, so be ready to tackle that. To combat this phenomenon, find a good friend who is just as busy and as you are and work around your schedules to increase your spirituality.
  • Pick a good advisor. From my conversations with other graduate students, having a good advisor is a key element in making your transition between an undergraduate punk to a graduate student very successful. Do some research, study hard for your GRE/GMAT, and find a field that is of interest to you

I am broud of my Egybtian beoble:

In my opinion, the best thing that came out of this protest is the fact that the egyptian youth found a common goal and unifying end point. All egyptians stood as one person – men and women, Muslims and Christians, young and old, army uniform and civilians, rich and poor. If anything, the world should learn how to be united from the Egyptians! This whole experience reminded me of a V for Vendetta quote: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of its people.”

‎Uninstalling dictator … 100% complete
███████████████████████████
Installing now … Egypt 2.0
██░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░

I am thankful to the Tunisian people and I am praying all the other countries that are attempting to secure their rights to live in peace and prosperity.

The Shaykh's lecture Vs. music:

I have often wondered why I dont get an energetic pump when I listen to lectures by Shuyukh on my ipod while doing my cardio or lifting weights at the gym. A few days ago it kind of hit me, the shaykh's lectures cannot substitute music because one is aimed to educate and the other is aimed to entertain. Thus, when I am in the gym I am not trying to get educated (you wouldnt listen to a chemistry lecture while running) I am trying to be pumped. Instrumental music, though, I believe is Haram, on the other hand gives that push to keep going. So, does anybody has a solution for this one?!

Oh, I think this type of music is definitely Halal!
YouTube Preview Image

Have a marriage problem? Let's NOT go to the shaykh!

Other than the fact that “most” of our Shuyukh aren't qualified to counsel anybody, I believe that the majority of our Imams are ignorant of our social life (high-school life, college life, generation gaps, internet life etc). No doubt this issue is contributing positively to the rising divorce rates of Muslims in America. Would you go to a lawyer to fix your marriage problems? Why then would you go to an imam who has a degree in jurisprudence (if you are lucky) to discuss your most intimate problems?!

Hey, dont judge me!

I am amazed at this statement of Omar Ibn Al Khattaab (radiAllahu anhu), he said:

“People were [sometimes] judged by the revealing of a Divine Revelation during the lifetime of Prophet of Allah. But now there is no longer any more [new revelation]. Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good.”

…and finally…

In my few years of experience with life, I've come to realize that the majority of people are looking to be inspired by somebody. They want to be told how to live their lives and they want to imitate that person in almost every thing. Be it in fashion, thoughts, ideas, ideologies, and even careers. Once a person possesses the ability to stimulate the emotions of people, he/she definitely possess a massive power!

25 Responses

  1. Imran

    Assalam alaikum!

    You mean, “bo-zess zee massive Bower!”

    JazakAllahu khairan bro! Definitely some good points to think about!
    I will say that that having a healthy social life is the only cure for graduate school… but you do have to be selective, so you make a good point!

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  2. Sabour Al-Kandari

    Asalaamualaikum,

    What’s been your field of studies akhi? You made a chemistry joke in the other section, if you are a chemist or in the sciences would you have any subject-specific advice?

    My biggest problem with the graduate school option is the huge amount of time and life it drains from a person. One of my big priorities for a career is having a lot of free time to pursue other things and not be defined by just one path of work (which is why high-school teacher is so attractive). Let me ask you this though, if a person didn’t have to work (i.e. TA / mark) and money fell from the sky, would grad school be as laid-back as undergrad?

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    • Haytham

      I finished my undergraduate degree in Chemistry and finishing up my masters in Nanoscience and Microsystems.

      There are two ways of approaching your question:

      a) If you are planning to have an academic career (eg go into academia) then you will need to work hard and read a lot and spend lots of time in the lab banging your head against the equipment in attempt to make them work. So immediately you will suffer however in the long run it will pay off by the mere fact that you have learned and passed a hard experience.

      b) If you are planning on getting a routine job (eg take care of processes, maintain assembly lines, look at gadgets to make sure things are fine) then if I were you I would go nonthesis masters and move on with you life. It wont be hard, just attend classes, do their assignment and ace them!

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      • ahlam

        b) sounds easier lol. Speaking of routine, Regulatory Affairs anyone? Its a desk-based job where you make sure the pharmaceutical products of the company you’re working for complies with the regulations of a particular Regulatory Authority (MHRA in the UK, FDA in the US) and ensure its licensed so it gets into the market. And you dont need a Masters/PhD I think.

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      • Sabour Al-Kandari

        Barak’Allah feek for the naseeha akhi.

        For me personally the passion is teaching, so the venture into grad school is mainly to be lecturing university-level courses. I don’t know if the dominant research component of that career path is right for me though. I know some professors do have less of a focus on research but the large hurdle and lack of security for getting to that point might not be my cup of chai.

        Khair you’ve instilled a point that I’ve heard a lot this year and I have a lot of thinking and istikhaara to do during my undergrad thesis, insh’Allah.

        And I can also finally make sense of all the dents in the IR machines =). Heh but if I had to guess what the frustrating machine is it would either be a cyclic voltammetry device or some sort of analytical/chomatography instrument.

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  3. Al-Madrasi

    Assalamu Alaikum wr wb,

    I would also add the following on the “wanna-be grad” section:

    Try not to have facebook/orkut accounts etc, even if you do, try to log in once in a while, “while” meaning once a week if not way longer…

    Try not to involve in Masjid/MSA/local-student-government politics, but please do contribute whenever, whatever possible.

    If you are a PhD student, choose the advisors and the subject wisely, advisor doesn’t have to be super genius (there are some excellent mathematicians who are horrible teachers or horrible advisors and vice versa), make sure, he can teach you and take care of you when need arises (paper publishing, thesis writing, finding a job, etc)

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    • Haytham

      I disagree with you on the social media comment. I think having a facebook is a great thing to keep. That way you still have one line of communications with the outside world (when I say outside, i mean outside your lab lol). Sure you are not suppose to be on it 24/5 (2 days of sleeping to regain all the sleepless nights trying to figure out why your experiment isnt working), but please do stay in connection with the world!

      I couldnt agree with you more on the advisor comment!

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  4. Nayma

    In my few years of experience with life, I’ve come to realize that the majority of people are looking to be inspired by somebody

    I agree with that totally Br. Haytham! We learn most from examples, so much more from others telling us what to do. I get put off by other’s characters and way of dealing with others many times. I think scholars teach a lot more than they think with their akhlaq than their speeches.

    JAK for your thoughts on different topics.

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    • Haytham

      lolol… Dont worry Sr. Hala… just always keep in mind that there is light at the end of the tunnel…. it worked for me!

      jk

      Seriously though, you should go in there with the mindset of having fun while overcoming a challenge! This is what Masters and PhD degrees were designed to achieve. its just a hurdle that needs to be overcame via patience and hard work. It is no place for quitters or weak spoiled kids for sure!

      Best of wishes!

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      • Sarah S.

        And it also depends on the field you’re going into, Hala :). I did my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and although there were times when I thought I just couldn’t crank out another paper, I truly enjoyed nearly every single minute of it alhamdulillah!

        As Haytham said, Master’s and PhD programs are hurdles towards an ultimate goal… always keep that goal in mind and what you’ll do after you’ve completed your degree and insha’Allah that’ll motivate you. Also, try to maintain a positive outlook- you’ve chosen to do a Master’s for a reason so that field clearly interests you. Consider this higher degree as an opportunity to increase your knowledge and your abilities in your future career insha’Allah. Insha’Allah you’ll do great!

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      • hala

        yes, you’re right. i was only kidding… kinda…. :)
        i just have to stay motivated, have patience and take it as a challenge.

        insha’Allah i’m doing my masters in information and communication technology, fun huh? jazakum Allahu khairan for the advice and support br. Haytham and Sarah!

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  5. Hassan

    Who would want to take credit of shia arab state coming soon (comprising of bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia and Eastern Iraq)? Thanks revolution.

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    • Haytham

      :)

      Allah said, كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ

      Every soul, for what it has earned, will be retained

      Neither the Egyptians nor the Tunisians asked anybody to revolt or protest, rather they stood up for their God given rights to be free!

      Allah also said, وَمن اهتدى فانما يهتدي لنفسه ومن ضل فانما يضل عليها ولا تزر وازرة وزر اخرى وما كنا معذبين حتى نبعث رسولا

      Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.

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      • Hassan

        So you agree in principle that shias have God given right to be free from sunni rule? Does freedom precede shariah? Would you support a movement of people to be from islamic rule (no matter how just it is)?

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      • Haytham

        I like how you read your bias in my statement. Please reread it again and lets not put on an “attack him before he attacks me” face when we discuss such highly important topic.

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      • Hassan

        Wow, what a mean response brother, does not suit your smiling face. Sorry if I bothered you with any inconvenience of discussion. See you in CLIC

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      • Haytham

        Its not mean and its not meant to be a mean response, its rather straight and to the point. I wasnt bothered by the decision, i was however bothered by the insertion of bias in my statement.

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  6. abu Rumay-s.a.

    may Allah ta`ala bless your hard work and make it benefit mankind…ameen..

    its interesting to know that only 6-8% of Americans have a masters degree and 1-2% have phDs. Life earnings between Bachelors/Masters/PhD is something like ($2.1/$2.5/$3.4 Million). (not counting student/home/car/credit card loans!!)

    although I value education, but it is not always easy for everyone to attend graduate school due to many reasons such as financial, family, disability, etc. Therefore, my advice is (if you can’t attend graduate school) to try to advance as much as possible through practical experience, self study, experimentation at your own level through your employment (that is essentially what graduate school is at a more organized level). If fact, if you are fortunate, you may surpass those in knowledge and experience if you do it on your own as opposed to being tied to some curriculum which may restrict your sphere of knowledge/creativity.

    in fact, some of the most “successful” people in America do not have higher education degrees or even undergraduate degrees for that matter. Founders of microsoft/dell/ apple/oracle/ were all college dropouts..

    and with Allah is the true success and honor…

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    • Sarah S.

      I think that’s an excellent point masha’Allah. In many fields of study, book smarts is nothing in comparison to the type of knowledge one gains through experience. That is why any type of clinical program (medical school, clinical psychology, etc.) involves an internship/externship requirement- hands on experience is necessary for book knowledge to be translated into real life practicality.

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  7. Muhaqqiq

    JazaakAllahu khairan for the beneficial points.

    However, may I ask where is that quote of ‘Umar bin al Khattab (Radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported?

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  8. Sarah S.

    Jazaak Allahu khairan for your random thoughts, Haytham! :)

    I really appreciated the input regarding seeking marriage advice from our respected shuyookh. Although there are some shuyookh who have really taken the time out to become proficient in counseling and advising Muslims on marriage issues, the majority have not specialized in this. Unfortunately there is still a severe stigma associated with therapy/counseling of any kind. I think that one of the best ways to combat this is through reaching out to the shuyookh in our communities and requesting that they encourage those who seek their counsel to get therapy services. Our respect for the advice of our shuyookh would cause the fear associated with therapy to decrease and would allow many Muslim couples (and families and individuals) to seek the help that they need.

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  9. Sidiq

    ماشالله هذا جيد ولاكن لماذا لا انت تريد ان تذهب الا الشيوخ عن مشكلة فى نكاح؟ لو انت تذهب سترى هاءلا يعرفون عن هذا و سينسرون لكما جيد.

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