New Muslims Reflections

What It’s Like To Be A Muslim College Student Today

Muslim College Students

Muslim students are trying to accomplish the exact same goal as every other college student: to find their space on campus and make it to graduation.

“If you’ve never met a Muslim,” says Fatmah Berikaa, “you’re only getting the images that you see in the media.”

Berikaa, a freshman at Boston College, is one of several Muslim college students. The Huffington Post spoke to in recent weeks. Every day, in colleges across the country, young Muslims like Berikaa are confronting the stereotypes that endure about Islam.

They asked students to tell their stories about being practicing Muslims, in the hopes of dispelling some of the misconceptions about the religion, wanted to hear students speak for themselves about the role that faith plays in their lives. Each of these stories is presented as the student or students told it. The series features personal essays, transcribed conversations and a video blog.

Healthy Diverse

This is simply a collection of compelling stories -it’s not representative of all Muslim students in the U.S., nor is it meant to be. Students practice their faith in countless ways, and the Muslim population, in college as everywhere else, is incredibly diverse.

Some students spoke about the discrimination they face on a daily basis. One student, in journalism school, told of always being expected to write the news stories about the Middle East. Another spoke of the fear and shock that galvanized their school’s Muslim community after the killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this past February.

Still others talked about how they practice their religion on campus. We heard about student communities, prayer rooms and an Islamic fraternity.

The Need for Community-based Support

While all the stories were different, two common themes emerged. One was the importance of having a community. Many students told us that while they have friends who practice other religions, they find a particular kind of comfort in being among fellow Muslim students. They spoke about how the togetherness helps them to maintain their cultural identity and not feel isolated by their religion.

The other theme was the need for communication. Students often took a forgiving stance in the face of discrimination, saying that if someone doesn’t personally know any Muslims and associates Islam with terrorism because of what they see in the media, how are they to know any better?

The students we spoke with all showed a deep desire to spread knowledge about their faith. They urged non-Muslims to ask them about the religion, and they urged their fellow Muslims to be open in explaining it. They spoke about fostering tolerance and peace through awareness.

In addition to these individual stories, we asked students what they want non-Muslims to know about their student life.

“I want people to understand that we are just human beings,” Berikaa said. The stories we heard contained pieces any student could relate to -choosing schools for financial aid and the perfect distance from family, adjusting to coed dorms, dealing with final exam timing conflicts.

Overall, Muslim students are trying to accomplish the exact same goal as every other college student: to find their space on campus and make it to graduation.


Source: The Huffington Post


New Muslims Reflections

What Muslim College Students Want Non-Muslims to Know

By Alexandra Svokos

We asked Muslim students across the country what they’d like non-Muslims to know about their student life. These are their responses.

This Is What Muslim College Students Want Non-Muslims To Know…

Lana Idris

Junior at Harvard University; from Texas; studying human evolutionary biology

“I think if I wanted non-Muslims to know anything about my student life, it’s that although we have struggles that are particular to following our faith, such as finding time to pray in between classes, we are for the most part going through the same phase in life as any other college student is. We are trying to come into our own personalities, find out who we are and where we fit into our communities.

“The one thing that may differ is that at times it feels like we’re trying to carve a space into communities that seem to fundamentally misunderstand us and reject us on face value because we are Muslim. So I’d say it’s the same struggles, just nuanced differently depending on our context.”

Masud Rahman

Sophomore at the University of California, San Diego; from California; studying mathematics-computer science

“I would like non-Muslims to know that we have the same struggles as you.

“If any non-Muslim has any fears or concerns regarding Muslims on campus or Islam in general, please just contact your local Muslim Student Association and just talk to a Muslim for a bit.

“The tensions with our families, other friends of various faiths and desires are all the same. We just choose to live by a faith and way of life that provides spirituals guidance and community at our universities.”

Tesneem Alkiek

Senior at the University of Michigan; from Michigan; studying Islamic studies with a minor in early Christianity, religion

“My entire student life – classes, social activities, studying, you name it – revolves around my five daily prayers. Before I even register for classes, I’m making sure that three-hour evening lab won’t interfere with my sunset prayer. All it takes is five minutes five times a day, but those few minutes force me to think about where I’ll be throughout the entire day and if I’ll be able to excuse myself to follow a command of God.

“It’s my secret in maintaining self-discipline and organizing my time well.”

Fatima Chowdhury

Junior at the University of Michigan; from New York; studying international studies and Middle East and North Africa studies

“What people need to realize is that Muslims are just people.

Being Muslim isn’t an overwhelming thing that’s different from being human or being a student or being a person or being an American. First and foremost we’re all people, and we should all be treated like people: with respect and dignity.”

Fatmah Berikaa

Freshman at Boston College; from Massachusetts; studying secondary education and English

“If you’ve never met a Muslim, you’re only getting the images that you see in the media. And – at the moment – that’s not how we are. That’s not compatible with what Islam stands for.

“I want people to understand that we are just human beings. When tragedies happen – because I feel like Islam is not discussed unless it’s in the context of some tragedy – we’re just as affected as the next guy.

“We’re just as hurt, we’re scared, we’re just as angry. We’re going through the same emotions they are. To cut us off, or say “You can’t feel that, because it’s your people who did that – that makes no sense.”

“I want people to see me as a real person. I don’t want my personality and my religion to be exclusive. I’ve had people go, “You’re so nice, I almost don’t see your headscarf!” I understand that they’re trying to be nice, and I get that. But at the same time, I want you to know that I’m nice and I want you to see my headscarf, because those are both parts of me. I don’t want people to think that I should sacrifice part of myself for another part of myself. These two things can coexist.”

Aisha Subhan

Second year at UC San Diego; from Arizona; studying political science/international relations

“As a student, I dream and aspire like many of my peers do. Each day is an opportunity for me to learn something new, make someone laugh, or clear up misconceptions.

“My student life is purposeful and I am really grateful that I have one.”

Faran Saeed

Higher education graduate student at Louisiana State University

These photographs really show my view of my experience as a Muslim student:

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Source: The Huffington Post


Family New Muslims

Marriage and Its Role in One’s Religious Life

By Al-Ghazzali

Marriage plays such a large part in human affairs that it must necessarily be taken into account in treating of the religious life and be regarded in both its aspects of advantage and disadvantage.


Marriage plays such a large part in human affairs that it must necessarily be taken into account in treating of the religious life.

As God says in the Qur’an, “I only created jinn and men for the purpose of worshipping Me,” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56) among the advantages of marriage is that the worshippers of God may increase in number.

Theologians have therefore laid it down as a maxim that it is better to be engaged in matrimonial duties than in supererogatory devotions.


Another advantage of marriage is that, as the Prophet said, the prayers of children profit their parents when the latter are dead, and children who die before their parents intercede for them on the Day of Judgment.

“’When a child,” said the Prophet, “is told to enter Paradise, it weeps and says, ‘I will not enter in without my father and mother.’’’

It was narrated that Abu Hassan said: I said to Abu Hurayrah: Two of my sons have died. Can you narrate to me any hadith from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) which will console us for our loss? He said: Yes: “Their little ones are the little ones of Paradise. When one of them meets his father – or his parents – he takes hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking told of the hem of your garment, and he does not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise.” (Muslim)

It is related of a certain celibate saint that he once dreamt that the Judgment Day had come. The sun had approached close to the earth and people were perishing of thirst; a crowd of boys were moving about giving them water out of gold and silver vessels. But when the saint asked for water he was repulsed, and one of the boys said to him, “Not one of us here is your son.” As soon as the saint awoke he made preparations to marry.

Peace and Pleasure

Another advantage of marriage is that to sit with and be friendly to one’s wife as a relaxation for the mind after being occupied in religious duties, and after such relaxation one may return to one’s devotions with renewed zest. Thus the Prophet himself, when he found the weight of his revelations press too heavily upon him touched his wife `A’ishah and said, “Speak to me, O `A’ishah, speak to me!”

This he did that, from that familiar human touch, he might receive strength to support fresh revelations. For a similar reason he used to bid the Muezzin Bilal give the call to prayer, and sometimes he used to smell sweet perfumes. It is a well-known saying of his,  “In this world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)

On one occasion `Umar asked the Prophet what were the things specially to be sought in the world. He answered, “A tongue occupied in the remembrance of God, a grateful heart, and a believing wife.”


A further advantage of marriage is that there should be someone to take care of the house, cook the food, wash the dishes, and sweep the floor, etc. If a man is busy in such work he cannot acquire learning, or carry on his business, or engage in his devotions properly. For this reason Abu Suleiman has said, “A good wife is not a blessing of this world merely, but of the next, because she provides a man leisure in which to think of the next, world”; and one of the Caliph Omar’s sayings is, “After faith, no blessing is equal to a good wife.”

Marriage has, moreover, this good in it, that to be patient with feminine peculiarities, to provide the necessaries which wives require, and to keep them in the path of the law, is a very important part of religion. The Prophet said:

“Of the dinar you spend as a contribution in Allah’s path, or to set free a slave, or as a sadaqah given to a needy, or to support your family, the one yielding the greatest reward is that which you spent on your family.” (Muslim)

Once, when Ibn Mubarak was engaged in a campaign against the infidels, one of his companions asked him, “Is any work more meritorious than religious war?” “Yes,” he replied: “to feed and clothe one’s wife and children properly.” The celebrated saint Bishr Hafi said, “It is better that a man should work for wife and children than merely for himself.”

In the Traditions it has been recorded that some sins can only be atoned for by enduring trouble for the sake of one’s family.

Concerning a certain saint it is related that his wife died and he would not marry again, though people urged him, saying it was easier to concentrate his thoughts in solitude. One night he saw in a dream the door of heaven opened and numbers of angels descending. They came near and looked upon him, and one said, “Is this that selfish wretch?” and his fellow answered, “Yes, this is he.”

The saint was too alarmed to ask whom they meant, but presently a boy passed and he asked him, “It is you they are speaking about,” replied the boy; “only up to a week ago your good works were being recorded in heaven along with those of other saints, but now they have erased your name from the roll.” Greatly disturbed in mind as soon as he awoke, he hastened to be married.

From all the above considerations it will be seen that marriage is desirable.


We come now to treat of the drawbacks to marriage. One of these is that there is a danger, especially in the present time, that a man should gain a livelihood by unlawful means in order to support his family, and no amount of good works can compensate for this. The Prophet said that at the resurrection a certain man with a whole mountain-load of good works will be brought forward and stationed.

He will then be asked, “’By what means did you support your family?’ He will not be able to give a satisfactory answer, and all his good works will be cancelled, and proclamation will be made concerning him, ‘This is the man whose family have devoured all his good deeds!’”

Another drawback to marriage is this, that to treat one’s family kindly and patiently and to bring their affairs to a satisfactory issue can only be done by those who have a good disposition. There is great danger lest a man should treat his family harshly, or neglect them, and so bring sin upon himself.

The Prophet said: “He who deserts his wife and children is like a runaway slave; till he returns to them none of his fasts or prayers will be accepted by God.”

In brief, man has a lower nature, and, till he can control his own lower nature, he had better not assume the responsibility of controlling another’s. Someone asked the saint Bishr Hafi why he did not marry. “I am afraid,” he replied, “of that verse in the Qur’an,  “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” (Al-Baqarah 2:228)

Also, the cares of a family shouldn’t prevent a man from concentrating his thoughts on God and on a future life, for God has said, O you who believe! Let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers.” (Al-Munafiqun 63:9)

He who thinks he can concentrate himself better on his religious duties by not marrying had better remain single, and he who fears falling into sin if he does not marry, had better do so.


The article is excerpted from The Alchemy of Happiness by Al-Ghazzali, translated from the Hindustani by Claud Field (1909). This edition was created and published by Global Grey

©GlobalGrey 2017.