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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Muslim College Life; Dating, Drinking and Deen

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 believed 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 believe 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 game playing.
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 separation? and this blindness in religion?

The Quran tells us again and again not to have blind faith, not to
follow 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 indefinite,
getting a job, even living until tomorrow. In fact we could die anytime,
this is a definite, 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 believe, 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 benefits his own soul: but he
that strays injures 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 believe 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,
Ameen.

(based on a talk by Abdul Wajid "Born to be Brown")

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