DEEN 101: A Freshman’s Guide to Faith at LUMS

The first few weeks are extremely significant in determining the trajectory of a student’s life at LUMS. The advice you get, the friends you make and the course you take, all leave a lasting impact on your LUMS experience. In all the excitement and confusion surrounding the adjustment to a new chapter in your life, it is extremely important not to lose sight of what is most important: your faith. Based on my own experience and mistakes, and those of my friends and peers, I’ve compiled a list of DOs and DON’Ts to help you get through university life while making you closer to Allah SWT in the process.

The Do’s:

1. Make friends with people who are better than you. This is vital. Your friends define who you are. The Prophet SWS said: “A man is on the religion of his friend”. Having friends who are conscious of Allah SWT in their lives is the easiest way to get closer to Him yourself. Make sure you have at least some friends such that their mere presence reminds you of Allah SWT.

2. Seek advice. For any and every problem you’re going through, chances are that your seniors have already gone through it. From kicking a bad habit and struggling with a certain sin, to being unable to get up for Fajr or having a lack of feeling in namaz, most of us have been there, done that. Ask those who have overcome it. Identify the pitfalls that they fell into and avoid them for your own self.

3. Connect to the masjid. Alhumdulillah we cannot be grateful enough or the wonderful masjid we have at LUMS. It offers a calm, peaceful retreat from tension and anxieties of LUMS life – an opportunity to truly feel that:

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Quran 13:28)

Make the most of it.

4. Ask the experts. If you want to know medical science’s take on certain matter, you don’t believe layman’s opinion; you ask a doctor. Similarly, if you want to know what deen has to say, don’t trust indirect sources. Ask the experts. People may come up with thousands criticisms and explanation of deen. To evaluate them fairly, give the experts of deen a chance to explain, rather than just accepting them on face value.

5. Ask your conscience. The Prophet SAW said: “Take a fatwa (legal opinion) from your spiritual heart. Moral goodness is whatever your spiritual heart feel ease at doing, and sin is whatever brings discomfort to the spiritual heart even if people counsel you otherwise.”

6. Feel pride at your religion. If LUMS students can feel enough of their universities to put its name on their cars, their Facebook profiles, and their hoodies, why can’t you feel the same way about your deen? Your “molvi/ ninja” exterior is nothing to be ashamed of. Embrace it. Allah SWT will love you all the more. And if people consider you strange, remember the Prophet’s SAW hadith: “Islam began as something strange, and it will revert to being strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

7. Turn to Allah SWT when things are going wrong. Even if you are not able to obey Him when everything is fine, He still loves it when you turn to Him in your time of need. So loving is our Lord that He loves it even when you make dua for your worldly needs. Remember, He is “closer (to you) that (your) jugular vein.”

The DON’T’s:

1. Don’t think you are better than others. Praying 5 times a day, wearing a hijab, or sporting a beard does not make you better than others. They may have a host of qualities that you don’t, and you may have a lot of flaws that they don’t. The Prophet SAW said: “The one who has a seed’s worth of vanity will not enter Jannah”.

2. Don’t cheat. Have some self- respect. It is infinitely more honourable to fail than to pass by cheating. Once a person explained it to me this way: if you copy in one quiz, that gets you a few more marks, that gets you a slightly better grade, that slightly improves your GPA, that gets you your first job, then your entire life becomes tainted with haram. It’s a heavy price to pay!

3. Don’t be overconfident about the strength of your iman. It might feel very cool to be the only one in the group who doesn’t give in to (insert social vice here), but don’t think you’re a rock. Your company has an effect on you whether you like it or not. Don’t endanger your iman; it’s the most precious thing you have.

4. Don’t try to be a messiah. Did you ever think “But if I don’t hang out with them anymore, they will lose the only link they have with deen”? This is a common concern for the sincere mo’min friend who wants to help his friends become better Muslims. But a crumbling rock can’t bear the weight of a building. First fix yourself then help others. And even then, choose your methods wisely. Going to the nightclub with the intention of da’wah is not going to end well.

5. Don’t get bogged down by the confusions. “Haath kidhar baandhnay hain?’’ “Ameen oonch parhna hai?” “Konsa school of thought theek hae?” These are all valid questions, but what you don’t know shouldn’t stop you from practicing what you do. For instance, namaz is fardh. That is something you know for a fact. So just pray, however you want, and make dua to Allah SWT to show you the right way. If you are sincere, He will guide you, “And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways.”(Qur’an 29:69).

6. Don’t make studies an excuse. The 10 minutes it takes walking to the masjid and back isn’t what’s going to shoot down your grade. The hours you spend watching serials and lazing around in front of PDC are. You can have deen AND dunya . You just need to cut out on the wasted time.

7. Don’t do relative grading. “At least I pray jumu’ah, half of the students don’t even do that” , “At least I take a dupatta , most girls dress much less modestly”. Stop kidding yourself. You’re responsible for you, not anyone else. What everyone around you doing is irrelevant to what you’ll be asked about on the Day of Judgement.

8. Don’t try to understand deen just through logic. Feel it with your heart. You cannot logically prove that Islam is correct. The way to get conviction is through servitude. Allah SWT says in the Qur’an “Worship your Lord until you achieve yaqeen (the ultimate certainty)” (15:99).

9. Don’t blame Islam for what Muslims do. “He has such a big beard yet he still lies!” “She prays 5 times a day yet I still saw her cheating!” Muslims have flaws; Islam doesn’t. If you want to know what type of a person Islam aims to produce, look at the Prophet SAW. Don’t think that anyone who “looks” religious is a perfect representative of Islam.

10. Don’t think you’re beyond hope. In fact, make that NEVER. Allah SWT is more Merciful than you can imagine. He says in the Qur’an: “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah! Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful”. (39:53)

No matter how far from the right path you are, He has still left a door open: Tawbah. Just turn back. No matter what you’ve done before, if you turn on him sincerely, there’s no way He won’t accept you.

By Zaid Saeed Khan

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