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Balancing Your Deen and Your Studies


All praise is due to Allah (SWT) who revealed ‘read’ as His first command, and may blessings and peace be on His noble Messenger Muhammad, the best teacher, role model and leader. I have three brief pieces of advice for my brothers and sisters at college or university.


1. Intention

In any deed intention is of paramount importance. Not thinking about one’s intention is no different to choosing a subject without thinking about one’s interests and career. Ask yourself what your degree and career will do for your deen. It could be as simple as, ‘It will help me make money’. But if you think about that now and tie it in to your hereafter, then a degree that could be a completely empty effort in the eyes of Allah (SWT) becomes a virtuous deed. Just this simple thought process, ‘I need a good job and economic security so that I can please Allah (SWT) and avoid the pitfalls of poverty mentioned by the Prophet (SAW). This is a simple minimum start.  Now, if you can choose your degree based on a specific religious or community need and you study to have a career to serve Islam, or the community, for the sake of Allah (SWT), it is even better. You will also find that your intention will influence your conduct at university. If you have the intention to please Allah (SWT) through your studies and your career and treat it as part of your worship and servitude, you will hardly consider it acceptable to spend that time disobeying Allah (SWT) and committing sin. Never forget, ‘Actions are by their intentions’. Imam al-Zarnuji, author of the famous Ta’leem al-Muta’allimi tareeqa al-ta’leem (Teaching the Learner How to Learn) said, ‘A student should make the intention of pleasing Allah (SWT), seeking the hereafter, removing ignorance from himself and other people of ignorance, reviving the Deen, and ensuring the survival of Islam.’ This applies to any area of learning. Think about how your subject relates to this. If you didn’t think along these lines before you started your studies or chose your degree, do it now. It is never too late to re-evaluate and review our intentions. Self-evaluation or muhasabah is an ongoing and virtuous quality.


2. Deen

If university life has a detrimental impact on your Deen, piety, and ability to avoid haram and stick to halal, it is haram for you! It’s as simple as that. So if you want to feel that your time at university is justified, don’t let it affect your Deen. Understanding this is important for more than one reason. Avoiding this is extremely difficult in an environment that can, at times, seem hostile to one’s religiosity. To protect yourself, make sure you find the right company either at University, or through extracurricular activities, either via the ISOC or the local community. If you remain active in your deen and in da’wa (propagation), it will serve as an offensive defence. As the adage goes, ‘The best defence is a good offence’.


3.  Ihsan

Much can be said about ihsan. I have two things to say. Firstly, ‘Allah (SWT) has prescribed Ihsan (excellence) in everything’ (Muslim). Don’t be another statistic of bad achievement in the Muslim community. Aim to be the best you can and achieve excellence in your studies. That is also your duty and a good way to keep preoccupied. If you have straightened out your intention, according to the above, then your study at university is worship. In worship, one should pursue the highest form of excellence; which is to conduct oneself as if one is in the presence of Allah (SWT). Think about that for a minute.


he second thing about Ihsan is a matter of process and method; a tool to achieve the state: dhikr, the remembrance of Allah (SWT). It will give you tranquillity and piece, clarity of mind and thought, a sharp memory, and barakah in your time and your studies. Most importantly, it will make it easy for you to stick to your Deen. The Prophet (SAW) was asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, the laws of Islam have become so abundant, give use something that will bring it all together for us (i.e. make it easier to follow everything).’ He said, ‘let your tongue be moist with the remembrance of Allah (SWT). (Ibn Majah)


What does that mean in practice for you? Recite at least a small portion of the Qur’an every day; get a du’a book, keep it in your bag and recite the du’as of the morning and evening, waking up, going to bed, du’as after salah etc. In addition and more specifically, find a few moments every day to recite ‘Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar, laa ilaaha illallah, astaghfirullah, and send blessings (durood) on the Prophet (SAW) Do each of the above 100 times a day to give yourself a target and set routine. InshaAllah, if you do this with sincerity and diligence, Allah (SWT) will protect you and grant you success. Beyond this amount, the more you remember Allah (SWT), the better it is for you: ‘Remember Allah abundantly so that you may be successful‘ (surah al-Jumu’ah 62: 10)’.


May Allah (SWT) grant you success in your studies and make you people whose intentions sanctify their knowledge. Ameen.



October 3, 2011

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