Muslim College Life; Dating, Drinking and Deen
by Huma Ahmad
Freedom. Young people live for the day when they can move out of the house and go to college and finally be free. Freedom from their parents, from restrictions on their lifestyle, from everyone telling them what to do. This is why in college you find a whole generation that does what they want. Life's short they say, let's enjoy ourselves while we can.
So it goes for Muslims. In college you find the most amazing things, Muslims who don't pray, Muslims who date, Muslims who attend MSA meetings but go out to parties and drink. Why is this happening?
For one, when students go off to university they finally realize that what they beleived in was blind. Religion becomes like a fairytale, when they got old enough, they knew better than to believe in it. Most have little knowledge about Islam and have maybe memorized the right rituals to get by. Why beleive something on faith, they ask. After all we cannot see heaven or hell. How do we know Islam is right anyway?
Islamic culture to them means marrying someone they never knew. It means arranged marriages and never hanging out or having fun. For girls Islamic culture has even less to offer. It would mean double standards or having to serve a husband the rest of her life.
The western alternative to this looks alot more attractive. In western culture "love and romance" are supposedly everywhere. Everyone is out looking for love freely. Meeting someone, going out, seeking pleasure sounds alot better. But what about the downside? For love at first sight, you need to have the right image, the right hair, the right clothes. Girls have to aspire to be like the latest supermodels, they have to hold back age. Who's going out with who, what are my friends thinking, what will happen if I don't get the right girl or guy, what is my girlfriend or boyfriend thinking, all become important. Frustration, desperation, and unhappiness become the norm.
Imagine all the heartache youth would save if they followed the Islamic alternative. In true Islam, unlike culture, there is no gameplaying. If two people wish to be involved they are both straight with one another. Unlike what goes on today amongst some Muslims, they both meet each other and make a contract to marry. Women are treated with respect, there is no sexual bombardment like there is in western society. Sex in western culture is also often seen as a vice or a sin of the flesh. But even in religious Islam, sex is seen as natural. As long as it is in the right circumstances, when the two are committed to one another in marriage.
Drinking in college is also the norm unfortunately. If you don't drink or party you're seen as weird. Drinking is cool and a way for people to socialize, meet and have fun. The one who doesn't is less of a person and 'misses out'. Drinking and all the harms that come with it is cut off at the root in Islam. So many problems are avoided, accidents, pregnancy, violence and even rape for example.
In college and in the world, success in life is not seen in terms of religion. It is seen as what other people think, one's careers, how much money they make. If you are religious you must have failed at life. But why do we have this seperation? and this blindness in religion?
The Quran tells us again and again not to have blind faith, not to folllow the religion of our forefathers.
Yet, we as Muslims have stopped thinking. We may think about what our friends or other people will say, but we avoid thinking about the real issues. We spend so much time on the opposite sex, thinking about careers, money etc, but we forget to think about death and how much of this we will really be able to take with us?
"Every soul shall have a taste of death and only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense...for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception" (Quran 3:185)
Shouldn't we take the time to comtemplate what will happen to us after we hit the grave? After all, what is the point of life if we are not accountable for our actions? If there is no creator, what is the point of being honest or good.
If we really look at our life we see that everything is indefinate, getting a job, even living until tomorrow. In fact we could die anytime, this is a definate, the _only_ dead certain thing in our life. Most of us believe we can make up for our actions later or we can be religious later. We are gambling. The chances of our dying today are little, but the stakes are high. Allah reminds us of the importance of this, "O you who beleive, obey Allah as he should be obeyed, and die not except in a state of Islam" (Quran3:102)
Each of us needs to decide. Is Islam right or not? Why don't we take the time, just once, once in our lives to find out if Islam is right. Is the Quran from God or not? We can't see God, but is there a maker to all this? We need to study nature, and the world. We only live once, if Islam is wrong then we should leave it, but if it's right we shouldn't go halfway. We shouldn't go to a club thinking we are only going to 'hang out and are not doing anything wrong' then feel guilty about it later. We shouldn't go on a date or drink, then feel guilty about it, worrying about hellfire. If Islam is right, we should follow it.
On the Day of Judgement it will be us alone who will be asked about our actions. If Islam is right and we are not following this deen completely, we are injuring our own soul, both in this life and the next.
"Verily We have revealed the Book to thee in truth, for (instructing) mankind. He, then that receives guidance beinfits his own soul: but he that strays injurs his own soul..." Quran 39:41
This is the true definition of freedom. To learn about Islam and the world openly. To contemplate about life and death. And after learning the truth, obeying the word of God. "Those on whom knowledge has been bestowed may learn that the (Quran) is the truth from your Lord, and that they beleive therein, and their hearts may be made humbly (open)to it..." Quran 22:54
Once students have this rock-solid intellectual beleif in Islam, the corruptness and falseness of the people around them is clear. The beauty and wisdom of the islamic way, the best alternative is clear. What other's do is of less importance. If others think they were weird to pray or weird to be honest, they would still pray and still be honest because they know their deen.
The Prophet(SAW)'s famous hadith to 'seek knowledge even if it leads to china' or to 'seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave' is too often forgotten by students. Our Quran's are left on the top shelves, gathering dust. Sometimes the most it is read is when someone dies. How is this to help, when the guidance comes too late. The Quran is for the living. The path to understanding and following Islam comes from learning first.
How many of us are Muslim, yet have never read the Quran in our native language?
How many of us are Muslim, yet have yet to open a book on hadith or sunnah?
How many of us defend Islam to non-Muslims, but do not follow it ourselves?
May Allah forgive and lead us and all those lost to the straight path, inshaAllah.
based on a talk by Abdul Wajid "Born to be Brown", UK