Earlier this week I was part of a group that was invited to attend a University Graduation ceremony. Someone dear to me will also be graduating soon and some very good general advice was given at the ceremony I attended, so I decided to write this little message up to Muslim University Graduates.
Graduation day is the culmination of 3-5 years of studying a particular subject in depth at degree level. You have spent these years studying because you realise that education is a means to attaining a good career and perceive it to lead to a better way of life.
At this significant stage in your life, you are experiencing the transition from being a student through to a professional who will soon be working in the ‘real’ world. With this transition comes the need to prepare yourself in dealing with issues that may arise in the workplace, not due to trivialities such as race etc but mainly because of your religion.
Whilst many undergraduates become closer to their deen at university thanks to the efforts of ISOCs and associations, for those of us who will be going out into the workplace where their will be a minority muslim workforce or where contact with fellow muslims will be limited, it is especially vital for us to hold on to our deen; That is YOUR ISLAM.
If during your university days, you were unable to ‘get involved’ with the Muslim community, make this the starting point of change in your life.
“The one who treads a path seeking therein knowledge, Allah eases his path to the Garden.” [Sahih Muslim]
We must fully realise that our ultimate purpose in this dunya is to serve Allah Ta’ala and that our ultimate goal is to reach Jannah in the akhira (hereafter). Therefore your focus should now, be on adopting the means to achieve this eternal goal, i.e. adopting the teachings of Islam and following the Sunnah of our beloved messenger Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).
This does not mean that you have to become a hermit and retreat to some remote jungle to spend the rest of your days engaged in ibaadah. In fact we must live in the dunya but work for the akhira. What does this mean? This means that we must attempt to the best of our ability to seek deeni knowledge into at least the basic fundamentals of our religion. For example start from the basic fiqh of cleanliness and prayer and then move onto more advanced areas of the shariah such as the etiquettes of trading and business, especially for the field of work that you will soon enter into. You may also decide to study the fiqh of Nikaah and Talaaq because sooner or later if not already you will be approaching the stage where you will marry and eventually settle down with a family. These are just suggestions that hope to serve as an example of how YOU can tread that path to bring you closer to your Lord Allah Ta’ala and how you can balance the work of this world with the work of the akhira, Inshallah Ta’ala.
Whilst we have covered the importance of learning about our religion to benefit us in the hereafter, it is also necessary to learn about Islam so that we may be in a position to answer any questions that non-Muslim work colleagues may pose to us genuinely or out of curiosity.
Islam is in the spotlight; the media reports and the people see. Hence situations are bound to arise where you will be asked questions about Islam. It is therefore important that we should be equipped with the correct answers and teachings of Islam rather than substituting it with your own logic. Using your own logic in most cases will mean that you won’t be sharing the ‘true’ teachings and views of Islam and instead could be causing confusion and misinterpretation of our beautiful deen. Remember, what you say/ utter is what most people will think of Islam; so think before you speak.
Graduation also means that you have acquired a certain status in society as well as now being able to place certain letters after your name. One should, however, remember that in Islam there is no superiority of one over another except through taqwa.
“…Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. …” [Surah Hujurat V13] Also, never look down upon anyone or let pride set into your heart as a result of your education. Any status we can obtain in the world is of no value whatsoever if Allah is displeased with us. Remember we should look at the people below us in the dunya, so that we may make shukr for what Allah Ta’ala has given us, and we should compete with the people above us in the matters of deen so that we may become closer to Allah Ta’ala.
After graduation some of you may return to your home town/ city whilst others remain living away from home to continue studies or work. We should reflect on how we travelled away from home to acquire our worldly education and if need be we must prepared to travel to acquire ‘deeni education’ and benefit also. We are aware of how our pious predecessors would travel years and years to obtain deeni knowledge, but that was a sacrifice that they were willing to make. We have vast arrays of modern technology to aid us, not only that; we have Masjids and Khanqahs where we can learn from the pious. Make the most of the means and resources that Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with.
I pray Allah Ta’ala fills our working lives with blessings and they are not a distraction to us from striving to achieve taqwa and, ultimately, jannah in the hereafter.