Three Musts for Every Muslim College Student This Year

By Meena Malik

A young Muslim graduates high school and goes off to college, and then discovers that she is indeed a Muslim and begins practicing Islam through self-motivation. Sound familiar? Did it happen to you? Well, it sure happened to me.

There’s just a slight catch-22 that us newly-caring Muslims might face though—we benefit from having been raised in a Muslim family, but simultaneously feel as if we are fresh converts to Islam in some aspects of our faith. We might remember how to properly make wudu from Sunday School, but maybe forgot or never learned how to read Arabic. We might be familiar with what the Qur’an teaches about Prophet Jesus peace be upon him, but maybe never learned about mahram family relationships. Other than just plain ignorance of certain issues, we might also have years of misunderstandings and misconceptions of Islam that we learned from a young age to overcome as well.

At the time when I was experiencing this myself, I looked at the converts around me and found so much respect for them. I thought, they probably know how to pray better than I do, or look at how much time and effort they are putting into learning how to read Arabic, or wow, they are reading so many books about Islam. And then I decided—it’s time that Muslims who go through an awakening and want to start practicing Islam welcome that kind of learning spirit and dedicated effort in their own lives.

Here is my advice on three things for young Muslims who find themselves in this situation to do over the next school year. The following three pieces of advice are great things to work on while you have a lot of free time, flexibility of planning your schedule, and have a group of Muslim students around you.

1. Relearn your daily prayers.

Many of us learned how to pray at a young age, and maybe we forgot how to do some of it, were taught incorrectly, or were not taught about prayer with all of its complexities. Salah is a pillar of Islam and is one of the most vital acts of worship for believers. Pretend like you never learned how to pray, and completely relearn how to pray. Take a class or read a book about how to pray and all the rulings associated with different scenarios that can happen during prayer. Utilize local scholars, and also take advantage of the group dynamic you have in the MSA. Ask a brother or sister to help you, even if it is just testing you on one dua related to prayer a week for the entire semester. I know, this sounds way too simple—but this is too important to skim over and ignore. By the end of your praying re-education, you should be able to correctly perform prayer without any doubt that it is one hundred percent legitimate.

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2. Thoroughly Revise all of the Qur’an You Memorized as a Kid

How many of us learned how to rattle off surahs as kids to our parents or Qur’an teachers? It is so vital for us to thoroughly revise all of the Qur’an that we have memorized as kids, to make sure that we have memorized it correctly and recite it correctly. It is very likely that we have forgotten surahs that we knew as kids. How many of us memorized the last juz of the Qur’an, but now can’t recite it fifteen years later? The Qur’an has a right over us, and we will be asked about all of the Qur’an we have forgotten. (Let’s just hope you’re not a hafidth, otherwise this will take ages!) You are so blessed to be around other Muslim students who probably also have a lot of time on their hands. Find a buddy or two and schedule your free time for memorizing together or testing one another.

3. Improve Your Ability to Read and Recite the Qur’an

If you were lucky as a kid, your parents took (in some cases, dragged) you to Arabic and Qur’an reading classes. If you are lucky, you still pretty much remember how to read Arabic and how to recite the Qur’an decently well. But there is a great likelihood that you forgot how to read Arabic, or never really learned how to pronounce a letter or two or all of the recitation rules. If you keep asking yourself, when I recite Surat al Fatiha, why doesn’t it sound like the imam at the masjid?, then you know you are desperately in need of help. The validity of your prayer and your ability to revise your memorization heavily rely on your ability to read and recite Arabic correctly.

Get a local Qur’an teacher to test you and see what level you are at. You might be surprised to know that he or she has seven year old students who are at a much more advanced level than you! Then, identify your resources (local teachers, classes at nearby masjids, or other Muslim students who can help you improve) and get on it.

4. Wait—I know how to pray, got all my surahs down, and can read like Shaykh Sudais, what about me?­

Well, look at you, big shot on campus! How many people in your MSA can you help memorize the dua for tashahhud or revise Surat Al Asr? There you go, you’ve got all kinds of things to be busy with!

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10 responses to “Three Musts for Every Muslim College Student This Year”

  1. tayiba says:

    Can we make any dua in last rakat of our prayers after Allahuma sale..no matter how long we take to make dua and is it important that it should only be in arabic language?can v make dua in out native language? Is it in sunnah?

    • Amatullah says:

      Yes tayiba, You may make du’a after the durood e Ibrahim and before the salaam. Infact, this is the Best time to make du’a (especially after a farz Salah). Also, regarding the language, if you are not a native Arab speaker, theres nothing wrong in using nay other language.
      Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:

      It is permissible to make du’aa’ in Arabic and in languages other than Arabic. Allaah knows the intention of the supplicant and what he wants, no matter what language he speaks, because He hears all the voices in all different languages, asking for all kinds of needs.

      Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/488-489.

      • TAUHEED AHMAD says:

        Assalamu alaikum sisters,
        My understanding says that it’s not OK to make Dua in a language other than Arabic inside the salaat. The above fatwa of ibn Taymiyah doesn’t refer to ‘inside the salaat’ but out of it.
        Some scholars give concession to only new practicing Muslims but recommend that they should memorise and recite Arabic Dua asap.
        And Allah SWT knows best.

  2. Yusuf says:

    Imagine you just graduated university and now must apply for a job or start your own business. Where are you going to apply for a job, do you even know what company or job you want?

    Go there now without a degree and ask them what qualifications you need to work there, you may find out you dont need that particular degree you were planning on or a degree at all….

    Might save you a lot of time, may not make your parents happy(status).

    And Allah knows best

  3. a concerned citizen says:

    I apologize for writing this comment as I do not all consider myself a reactionary parsing the words of others so as to stir up controversy. You wrote that you “looked at the converts around me and found so much respect for them. I thought, they probably know how to pray better than I do[…]” Your portrayal of converts as ignorant is deplorable but, as a convert myself, does not at all surprise me as I cannot seem to enter a masjid without being reprimanded for some minutiae if I am even regarded. With your references to Sunday School and Muslim families it is obvious that your otherwise well-written, well-considered article is addressed to Muslims who are either from immigrant families or immigrants themselves and not to converts.

    • Meena Malik says:

      Asa, thank you for your comment.

      As for your last point, that this article is addressed to people born into families with Muslim backgrounds, yes–that is the kind of person these sets of advice is geared to. And not only this kind of Muslim, but the one that did not care too much about practicing Islam, either because his family was not practicing or because he just wasn’t as interested in practicing himself.

      This is the specific wording I used, “A young Muslim graduates high school and goes off to college, and then discovers that she is indeed a Muslim and begins practicing Islam through self-motivation. ” This is clearly not a Muslim convert, but a person who finds their faith to be important later on in young adulthood. In the second paragraph, I used, “us newly-caring Muslims might face though—we benefit from having been raised in a Muslim family, but simultaneously feel as if we are fresh converts to Islam in some aspects of our faith.” So, yes, as a clarification, this is directed towards a specific type of Muslim college student.

      I am sorry to hear that you are made to feel that way in your community or whatever masjids you visit. That is wrong, and I pray that Allah opens their hearts and their minds. In regards to why I brought up converts in this article, I was actually speaking about the handful of converts I knew through my MSA in college. Their stories were all pretty much that they had learned enough about Islam’s teachings to be able to make the plunge and convert to Islam, but that they weren’t as familiar with the technicalities involved in ritualistic aspects of the faith. So, right when they converted, one of them might have been very well-versed (moreso than most MSA members) on what the Qur’an has to say about Prophet Jesus (pbuh), but only know what the five daily prayers *look* like in practice and not know how to pray by themselves. The converts that I was blessed to meet in my MSA were so passionately trying to learn how to read Arabic and getting help from others on how to pray correctly and memorize all the duas needed to pray. These are the specific converts I am talking about, the ones that were immediately around me in college. I am not claiming to speak about all converts, or typecast converts into one narrow category.

      I pray that Muslim Matters can be an online community where you can feel unjudged and welcome. I am sorry that I might have offended you in any way, my sincerest apologies and please forgive me.

  4. Iddris says:

    Jazaa kumullAhu khairan!
    May Allah accept our efforts in the course of Islam.

  5. alif says:

    well said prayer is one of the central element. Prayer, in the ritual sense, is an obligation of the faith, to be performed five times a day by adult Muslims. According to Islamic law, prayers have a variety of obligations and conditions of observance. However, beyond the level of practice, there are spiritual conditions and aspects of prayer which represent its essence.

    In the Holy Qur’ān, Allah says:

    وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

    I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.

    and every one even student should read and recite quran daily even one page it will give u peace
    jazak allah for writing this article

  6. Banu says:

    I am poor Muslim. I need any fellowships for my higher education.

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