By A. Syed
**Editor’s Note: Many of the ayahs referenced by number below are partial ayahs.
Imam Suyuti defines a verse as “Kullu ayatin wafqatun li tadabur”—“every verse is a moment of reflection, a pause for contemplation.”
Qur’an is relevant today, just as it was almost 2 millennia ago. We need to learn to use it, and make it our friend throughout all stages of life, all circumstances and all experiences. Including in our student-life. Here are 22 lessons of guidance from the Qur’an for students till the end of time:
The first bridge connecting humanity with the divine, through His own sacred words is gratitude and appreciation.
[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds (1:2)
The Qur’an begins with loving appreciation and gratitude to Allah in a verse that is both grammatically timeless and speaker-less. Reminding us that whether anyone thanks Him or not, all gratitude and appreciation belong to Him.
As students in the developed world, we’re some of the most collectively ungrateful creatures walking under the sun. While others would give up an arm just to hold a textbook in the other, we’re complaining about everything and anything. We need to remember that foremost, if Allah has given us the time, health, faculties of thought and opportunity to be in school—any school—it’s our job to show a bit of appreciation and gratitude. As Allah says,
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]….(14:7)
The more grateful we are for our professors, our classmates, the cafeteria food, the boring mandatory courses—the more Allah will bless our journey in ways we can’t imagine. Students in Gaza have missile holes where their blackboards are, STOP COMPLAINING — let’s be grateful for our professors, our education, our degree, our marks and our experience.
Pro tip: Say “Alḥamdulilāh” whenever you’re angry or upset at school related issues. Given how frustrating student life is, making “Alḥamdulilāh” a part of your daily vocabulary means a whole lot of blessings will be coming your way!
Since time immemorial we’ve learned that the purpose of life is to worship:
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (51:56)
Surprise of the century: This relates to everything in student life too. Every boring assignment, every 8:30 AM class with a less-than-articulate professor, every sleepless night—there’s a reason for the madness. As students, our habits define our experiences. Take a moment to step back and dream big. Why are you here? This is one question that won’t be asked in any multiple choice exam, but one that you should ask yourself often.
Islam encourages you to dream big. School tells you what the world can give you, Islam asks you what you can give to the world. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, as your rewards are based on the audacity, ambition and depth of your dreams.
Maybe you want to save the world, end poverty, protect the world from financial crisis—or maybe you just want a halal job, to settle down, raise a family and provide for your parents. Both are respectable and worthwhile intentions to make our student experience worship. Yes, even your Google search becomes worship with the right intention.
Islam literally means submission, and part of this submission means to acknowledge that your entire existence is ‘ibādah — worship of Allah.
Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.” (6:162)
Pro Tip: Write down one simple goal (get a job, retire parents, raise a pious family), one medium-level goal (start a small business, build a masjid, lead local da’wah efforts), and one epic-level goal (start the next global corporation to empower world’s developing nation, build hospitals across war-torn lands, establish the state of Palestine through peaceful diplomacy and partnership, build networks of orphanages, etc.)
Allah Al-‘Aleem (All-Knowing) chose an unlettered man who grew up as an orphan, to receive the first revelation: “اقْرَأْ”, “Read!” (96:1). The first command by Allah to the last messenger of God, to the last era of humanity was “Read!” Talk about the start of a ‘knowledge-based’ era. This theme of “اقْرَأْ” was the foundation to the birth of our civilization, from the ascent of Islam to the rise of innovation in Islamic Andalus (Europe). Our rise and fall as a nation was correlated to our commitment to “اقْرَأْ.”
Just as when European aristocrats sent the best of their society to learn from Muslim academics in Andalus at a time when Europe was plunged in dark ages; when Muslim cities were geographies of learning and the pursuit of curiosity; the world sought knowledge through the vessel of Islamic scholarship, now, it’s our responsibility to continue this tradition of learning and curiosity as a continuation of the theme of “اقْرَأْ.”
Prophet Muhammed was commanded to say,
My Lord Increase me, and increase me in knowledge. (20:114)
Grammarians have noted that the actual du’a is a prayer not just for an increase in knowledge, but an increase in general. Suggesting that knowledge makes you a better human, a better father, a better husband, a better mother, a better individual in society.
Pro Tip: Paradigm shift—try to squeeze a lesson out of every lemon of a situation. Can’t understand your prof’s accent or teaching style in advanced chemistry? Well, you may not learn chemistry but at least you learned how to give effective presentations!
Hard Work, Dedication, and Patience
We learn from Muhammad what it means to struggle and persevere for a mission. When you’re on a mission you hustle, you exert yourself, you put all that you have into reaching the finish line. One of the earliest revelations:
Spend the night awake in prayer, except for a little bit of sleep. (73:2)
Allah is teaching the Prophet that when you have a purpose, you must be dedicated, sleeplessly striving for your vision. When you’re driven with intention, Allah tells us we don’t have time to sleep. You’re living to make your dreams a reality, while others are sleeping to glimpse at dreams during the night.
We also learn dedication from the story of Nuh :
He said, “My Lord, indeed I invited my people [to truth] night and day.” (71:5)
When studying is worship, when you have a goal, when you have a mission—Islam teaches us through the stories of the Prophets that we must persevere and sleeplessly struggle for our dreams.
Pro Tip: Whatever your level of dedication, hustle to commitment: raise your bar higher. Ask, what can you do (or not do) to make yourself more successful? Maybe taking 45 minute showers isn’t that productive? Or maybe you can survive on 5-6 hours of sleep?