It’s tempting to want to just relax the summer before college. But this is a time to not only buy items for dorm rooms and schedule fall classes. This summer is a time to build the spiritual reserves necessary to face this new chapter of life with strong faith.
These are five things you can do in the coming weeks to prepare for your college experience as a Muslim student.
1. Adjust your Islamic lens - learn the Islamic worldview.
The summer before college is an ideal time to shore up your understanding of the worldview of Islam. As a Muslim, you will meet many new people with all kinds of views in college. Students like yourself will be reevaluating everything their parents taught them, as well as what they have learned thus far in and outside of school on all kinds of issues and topics. The question is, do you have the Islamic lens to do that? Do you view the world with Islam as your way of understanding issues?
This goes beyond knowing the five pillars of Islam and knowing how to pray. It is about understanding Islam truly as a way of life.
There are great resources online and offline. These include writings and videos at organizations like the Yaqeen Institute, lectures on YouTube by scholars, leaders, and activists past and present, as well as local trusted leaders who can help you gain a stronger understanding of your faith so that you can be clear about where you stand as you enter your first year of college.
2. Start building your Muslim network.
Summer is the time to start building your social network. College friends often become friends for life, so it’s important to be connected to not only your campus Muslim Students’ Association, but other Muslim students in your department.
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Verily, the parable of good company and bad company is only that of a seller of musk and a blacksmith. The seller of musk will give you some perfume, you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell. As for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes or you will notice a bad smell” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Your friends will influence you in both good ways and bad, depending on who they are. Choose wisely so they become not only a source of emotional support, comfort, and fun, but they also help you become a better Muslim during your college years and beyond.
3. Join your campus MSA chat groups.
While most Muslim Students’ Associations have websites, make sure to join WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal or any other chat groups to communicate more quickly and stay up to date.
4. Start engaging in additional Ibadah (acts of worship)
Whether you will be living on or off campus, college is a time of greater independence and freedom. That means you can really focus on developing a closer relationship with Allah.
Islam may have always been part of your life because of family, culture or community growing up. But now, you have the opportunity to connect to Allah on your own, strengthening what you already have.
This summer, increase the amount of Ibadah or acts of worship that you perform. If you already pray five times a day, add the Sunnah prayers. If you already do that, try to offer additional prayers. In particular, Tahajjud prayer (offered in the early morning hours, right before Fajr starts) is a time when focus and concentration are high. You can really give your complete attention. It can also help you develop a stronger love for and reliance on Allah. Ask Him for any and everything you want; ask for forgiveness; ask for guidance. Build that connection. It will help carry you through any difficulties, temptations, and trials you will face.
5. Get organized by making a comprehensive schedule.
While you will be making a class schedule before the semester or quarter begins, don’t stop there. Schedule what you will be doing on at least some of your breaks and weekends too. This is important because if this time isn’t planned for, it can be easily wasted on the wrong things.
That means making time for not just praying, studying, eating, or MSA or extracurricular meetings and activities. It also means deciding what you will do for fun and how often. You don’t have to plan it minute-by-minute, but you should strive to have a balance of all of these things so you don’t burn yourself out, miss prayers, or fail a class.
Insha Allah college will be a time of growth, new friendships and opportunities, as well as fun. May you emerge a stronger Muslim ready to contribute to your community and the world with all that you gain from these years.