Gareth Bryant’s Top-Ten advices for Muslim College-Students:

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1. Make sure that the reason that you’re going to College is not because your parents want you to go, or just because that’s what everyone expects you to do. Go to College to one, exclusively please Allah, by doing something positive & productive, which will give significant meaning to your life. Two, then, go to College, so that you’ll end up with practical tools, which will help you navigate throughout the rest of your life, and will help to yield benefit for others as well, not just for yourself.

2. Make sure that you are married, try to get married if possible, either before going to College, or definitely within your first year. College has a lot of challenges, particularly, when it comes to things like sex, dating, and all-things related to the opposite gender, or even the same gender, relative to our current society. Unfortunately, many of us who are Muslims, are not positively indoctrinated with the thoughts of being married at young ages by either our parents or communities, which become big problems for us, as we venture into the real-world-Trust me, I’ve been there…..not being married during my College years has had some very negative results, but that’s another article, for another time. So, it is of the utmost importance, for us as Muslims, to be able to shield ourselves from these types of temptations that exists at institutions of higher-learning. And, unfortunately, most of us have already been exposed to so many of these types of temptations, way before being College-bound. In short, protect yourself, from those types of negative forces, at all costs.

3. Study as hard as you can. Don’t go to College to just chillax!!! You’re there to learn something significant, which can bring benefit & meaning to your life. Don’t try to be the class-clown, or the cool dude, because one, that never pays off, and two, 9-10, you probably were never that cool or amusing while you were in High School. So, really, you’re merely just putting up a front, just because you may be in an environment where no one really knows you, so you can re-invent yourself. But, that’s they wrong way to do it, because that’s not who you really are. Just go to College to do what needs to be done, which is learn.

4. Pick a major in College that you’ll really want to do potentially for the rest of your life. Don’t let your parents, or your community choose your major for you, because they’re not the ones who are going to have to sit through these classes, struggle day & night, to get the very best grades…..you are!!! So, make sure that it’s something that you want to do & also something that is going to yield benefit for yourself in the real-world.

5. Don’t let four years go by, before picking a major. In fact, you should be so disciplined, that you already know exactly what you want to do, before you even get to College. The worst thing to do in College is waste time. And, let me tell you, I’ve seen it happen…..dozens of my very own class-men, who switch major, after major, after major, which did nothing, but get them stuck in a sucky major that they never really wanted in the first place, and it got them a degree that they can’t even use, because that’s not what they wanted to even do.

6. Make sure that you are always in good company. Make sure that your primary source of friendship/companionship in College are good Muslims. I can speak from my personal experiences-I went to a private, Jewish-sponsored College, Touro College to be exact, and when you go to private Colleges or Universities, especially ones that are religiously-based, they may not to privy, with students establishing religious-based students clubs, especially if those student clubs are Muslim student clubs. And, I started College in ‘02, on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, so political tension & disfavor towards Muslims were still pretty high. And, being that the College that I went to was a Jewish College, obviously, having an MSA (Muslim Student Association) there was not flying. So, it’s no surprise, that when I tried to establish an MSA, at Touro College, I got shot down, immediately.  And, to add insult-to-injury, most of the Muslims that I knew were even ashamed to admit that they were Muslims in public, which was very disheartening for myself, who made a specific intention to become more religious, once I got to College. So, it was like I was a Muslim by myself, the Muslims who publicly rep’d being Muslim were pathetically few in number. Because of not having that sense of Muslim community at school, it made things very difficult for me as an individual Muslim, to stay strong & hold on to my own Islam, which eventually led the way to a lot of negative College-style elements, that I ended up welcoming with open-arms. The point is: get to know as many good Muslims as possible, and be connected to an MSA. If your College or University doesn’t have an MSA, or won’t let you have an MSA, one make anyway, even if it has to be off-campus. When you need advice about how to navigate in the College environment, or if you’re at a low-point in your Islam, or even if you have some personal problems that you really need help with, let the Muslims be your strength-Just be together & united with the Muslims, because in College, the Muslims all we have really.

7. If your College or University offers religious-based student clubs, then, make an MSA, immediately, or if your College or University already has an MSA, then by all-means, join immediately (reasons why, see 6)!!!

8. Be a Muslim who represents Islam & Muslims properly. While you’re at school, take this grand opportunity to be someone whom Non-Muslims can always go to, for info. about Islam & Muslims. These people really want to know what Islam is & what Islam isn’t. They must not & should not get their info. about Islam & Muslims from people in the media, who are gonna purposely speak negatively about Islam & Muslims, just because they have the platform to do so. We are the ones who have the responsibility to properly represent our own way, in a pure, unadulterated context, free from all negative bias, supported by media mud-slinging. These people have a right for us to be the best examples of how Muslim truly are & we are obligated by Allah, to be the best examples for the people, at all times.

9. When you’re not busy studying all the time, go out & have some Halal fun!!! Just because we’re Muslims, doesn’t mean that our lives have to be full of boredom. After class, or on the weekends, enjoy some extra-curricular activities, like playing sports, going to play pool, bowling, etc. There’s most definitely wiggle-room for your College experience to be filled with great times & memories. But, just remember to be a Muslim, wherever you are. You’re at an age now, where you know full-well, what a Muslim is not supposed to be like & what a Muslim is not supposed to do. So, just truly try your best, to be the Muslim at all times & you’re straight.

10. Always make Du`a’, that Allah always guides your decision-making & allows you to make the most Islamically compliant, wisest & intelligent choices during your tenure at College.

Gareth Bryant/2011

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