A Muslim’s Guide to Life at School

This short book or guide is aimed at children and young teenagers (ages 10-15) transitioning from primary / middle school to high school. From bullying, to manners, to dress, this guide offers thoughtful conversations for young students at a level they can understand.

While, there are many guides for students at college and university level, there aren’t many for young schoolchildren.

Leaving Primary School

By Zainab Shahid

Leaving primary school and moving to secondary school was a big step for me, as I’m sure it will be or has been for you. I didn’t have many friends at primary school, and I went to secondary school hoping that I would have a wider friends circle. But that never really happened either. Living in an area that was mostly non-Muslim people, I always felt different. Before I started wearing the headscarf (hijab), there were many times that I had wished I could fit in more.

When I was at primary school, other children had birthday parties at a place called the Wacky Warehouse (it’s still around today, but it is not as popular or well-known as it used to be). I never went. Not even once. I always felt like the black sheep amongst the other children at school, because I never joined them in these parties.

Have you ever been in a place where you didn’t feel comfortable, even with lots of other people? I have. Yes, I never went to any birthday parties, but in year six we had a leaver’s party in the school hall. I attended it using the excuse that everyone else in my year would be going. I had no idea that it would be anything like it was. My teacher used to turn on the radio during class, but I never thought anything of it. But when I was at the party, music was blasting out of the speakers – accompanied by many colourful lights going off in the darkened hall. It seemed to be a disco.

I tried making myself feel comfortable and not let others know how I felt. But it was difficult. All of the other children were dancing and jumping around, whilst I stood at the side of the hall (or outside a few times), wishing for it all to be over soon. Allhumdulillah, I did end up going home earlier than the rest and I was very thankful for it! I wasn’t used to being in such an atmosphere. Even at weddings, I would always sit in the corner or go outside because I’d feel uncomfortable with the music being played so loudly.

As I grew older, I felt and believed that Allah has always wanted to protect me from things that are wrong. And He will always want the same for you. So, if you are ever in an uncomfortable situation, or feel that something is wrong, it is most probably Allah guiding you and protecting you. Don’t force yourself into doing something or going somewhere just because everyone else is. On many occasions, what everyone else does isn’t right anyway!

Moving to Secondary School

By Zainab Shahid

When I started secondary school, I found it all very daunting. There were a lot more students, and the ones in year eleven seemed like giants! I felt tiny amongst all of these other students. I also remember thinking that the students in years ten and eleven would be very mature and grown-up.

But I was in for a big shock the day I went into the toilets and saw a few girls smoking. I never once imagined that school students would smoke! Was this all part of growing up, or was it something completely different?

As time went by, I found that they all smoked for different reasons. Some wanted to rebel, some had family problems or friend problems and smoked because they thought it helped calmed them down, whilst others were pressured into it by their so-called friends.

If you ever feel that you are being forced into doing something that you don’t want to do, or something that you know is wrong by your ‘friends,’ then remember that they aren’t really your friends. Good friends never tell you do anything wrong.

People can come up with many excuses to fool you into doing something that isn’t right. “Don’t worry, nobody will know!” or “Your parents aren’t here so they can’t see you.” Unfortunately, some people do fall into this trap, but as Muslims we should remember that Allah is always watching us – even if our parents aren’t.

Never let people pressure you into doing something. You must always stand your ground. Allah will never give you a problem that you cannot deal with. Being Muslim, we have to trust Allah more than we trust ourselves – He will never want anything bad to happen to us.


How should you dress?

By Zainab Shahid

Most schools in the UK have their own uniforms that all students must wear. But even so, students find ways to change the uniform to suit their tastes or latest fashions. Girls will wear tight trousers or short skirts, boys will wear their shirts untucked, ties shortened and have their trousers hanging low.

Well, that’s the fashion these days – fashions change all the time, who knows what it will be in a few years from now! However, it doesn’t just stop) at clothing; people start worrying about their hairstyles (and girls will also worry make-up.

Islam doesn’t stop us from looking good and presentable, but there are limits to how we should dress. Don’t dress to impress or please others, dress to please yourself and Allah. Allah wants us to look clean and presentable, but He doesn’t want us to dress in ways that aren’t very modest or too expensive. As you get older, you’ll find that many people your age will start to buy and talk about branded clothing.

Branded clothing is basically the same as the clothes you will find at your normal high street shops, except these have a particular company’s label sewn on – and the price is always a great deal higher! They may start judging you or others based on what you wear. But you shouldn’t think about it too much, nor should you pester your parents to buy you branded clothing.

There is a well-known Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), in which he says that Allah doesn’t look at our appearances, but what is in our hearts. So don’t worry about the brand of clothing you wear; if it doesn’t matter to Allah, it shouldn’t matter to you. Instead, concentrate more on your good deeds (actions) that will please Allah and earn you rewards in Jannah.


This bit is for the girls.

Some girls find it hard to start wearing the hijab, whilst some find it hard to keep wearing it once they have started. Unfortunately, the concept of hijab has been made more difficult than it needs to be, and we are forgetting that Allah doesn’t ask us to do anything that is impossible.

You may think that you won’t be able to fit in with the latest fashion trends or hairstyle trends if you wear a headscarf or hijab. But the hijab actually protects us from all of this. It stops us from wasting money on clothes we don’t need or shouldn’t wear. Although, it is becoming increasingly popular among girls and women who do hijab, to wear the headscarf in stylish ways or wear the latest clothes along with their headscarf. Always remain careful that you don’t step outside the boundaries of modest clothing.

The whole point of hijab is to keep us simply and modestly dressed; we cannot wear tight or see-through clothes, ankles and arms need to be covered, and the headscarf itself shouldn’t be used as a fashion accessory (make sure you cover your hair, neck, ears and chest area with the scarf). As Muslims, we should remember that this life is a test for us all and we should do our very best to obey Allah.

If someone makes fun of you for wearing the hijab, but you ignore them and carry on wearing it, you will get rewarded greatly by Allah. Everything we do should please Allah, and once we have, we will be blessed with a place in Jannah.

Attire for Boys

Boys don’t need to worry about covering their hair like the girls. But you still need to make sure that you wear modest clothing. You can’t wear tight fitted clothing. As you grow older, start wearing longer shorts (make sure they are long enough to cover your knees). You also cannot wear clothes made out of pure silk, because the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, prohibited it.

Some people might find it strange or even make fun of your modest clothes, but you don’t need to pay attention to such comments. You are doing it because Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, told you to, and by obeying what he said, you are obeying Allah - and by obeying Allah, you are pleasing Him.

An important note for both boys and girls is that you need to make sure you don’t wear clothes with pictures of cartoons, people or animals on them because you won’t be able to pray Salah in them.



By Zainab Shahid

Unfortunately there are many schoolchildren who experience some form of bullying; either themselves, or they know someone who is bullied. Verbal bullying is more common, and it includes upsetting and offensive comments.

If you ever experience any type of bullying or harassment, make sure you tell someone. Don’t ever stay quiet about it. And don’t ever think that Allah doesn’t care about you. It can be easy to think that He doesn’t care, and you may want to stop praying – but that will just cause you more problems. Allah is testing you to see how strong you are, and how you deal with your problems. Ask Allah for help, and He will help you.

Also, if you ever come across someone who is being bullied, try and do your best to help them. Some people get picked on by others for no reason, and many other people join in. Make sure you aren’t one of them.

Don’t worry what other people say; they might say to you that they won’t be friends with you anymore because you are looking out for the person being bullied – ignore these comments. Allah will be so happy with you for looking after someone who is upset. The person will appreciate everything you do, and you never know, they might become a very good friend of yours.

Another piece of advice on this topic, is to not hurt one else’s feelings. Treat others how you would want to be treated. If you ever become upset or stressed about something, it can affect your performance at school and other activities. And if you cause someone else to become upset, they might start performing worse at school.

You, as a Muslim, should never be the reason for someone to become upset or bullied, and you should definitely not be the reason for them doing badly in subjects that they are usually very good at. Instead, try and be the reason for somebody’s happiness and success – not only will it be good for them, it will be a source of happiness and reward for you too.

Manners and Traits of a Good Muslim Student

By Zainab Shahid

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, not only told us, but showed us how we should act. School is a great place to show these things so that people your age or those younger than you, will be able to understand how Muslims are taught to act. I’ll give you a few pointers of how you should act as a student at school:

  • Work and study hard. You’re at school to learn, so make sure you give your teachers your full attention. Use the break-times given to you to talk with your friends.
  • Respect all the teachers and staff members. Some teachers may come across as moody or strict, but you should remember that they have to prepare work for many different lessons, as well as mark work handed in. they dedicate their life to helping you learn and on many occasions, they don’t get a good night’s sleep – so the last thing they want is for a students to act disrespectful or silly!
  • Be helpful. Whether you help teachers, students or even the caretakers. If you see that someone is having some trouble carrying something, or anything similar, don’t hesitate in staying and helping them.
  • Be punctual. Arrive to your lessons on time, and also pray your Salah on time. If you get into this habit a young age, you will Insha’Allah remain punctual for the rest of your life. If you feel you are going to be late for a lesson because you’re helping someone, get a note written by the person so you can your teacher in lesson. Or explain to your teacher as soon as you enter the classroom.
  • Treat others how you would want to be treated. Don’t make fun of other students or staff members in any way. It shouldn’t matter to you how they look or talk. If you didn’t have any friends, you would want at least one person to be nice to you. So if you ever see someone looking lonely – be that nice person.
  • Say “Assalamu Alaikum” to other Muslims in your school. It is a good deed and you will be rewarded by Allah!
  • Always tell the truth. If you say one lie, you will have to tell many other lies to try and get people to believe your first lie. If a group of students do something wrong, and then try and force you to lie so that they don’t get punished, you still shouldn’t lie. Don’t worry if they say they won’t be your friends anymore; you shouldn’t be friends with people who lie anyway! Allah will give you better friends.
  • Speak kindly and respectfully to everyone. Swearing is a bad deed; Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) don’t like those who swear. If you ever feel angry, have a drink of water and walk away. Don’t shout, fight or swear.
  • If you ever find anything lying around (such as money, a phone or even a pen), DON’T put it in your pocket or bag. Hand it into the office as lost property, or if you know who it belongs to, return it to them. It isn’t yours, and even though you didn’t take it out of someone’s bag yourself, it is still counted as stealing.
  • Smile – it’s sunnah! It doesn’t matter if you know someone or not, whether you’re friends or not, give them a smile as you walk past. It is seen as an act of kindness, and Allah will reward you.
  • Teach others about Islam. Don’t feel shy – Islam is a beautiful religion and it deserves to be shared!
  • The previous point also brings about another important issue: make sure you tell your teachers about the activities that you cannot do. For example, Muslims are not allowed to listen to music and they are not allowed to play instruments other than hand-drums. Most schools have compulsory music lessons up to year 9, and you have to be careful not play any instrument that is forbidden (haraam). We are also not allowed to draw or paint animals, humans or cartoons – but we are allowed to draw things like landscapes, trees and other inanimate objects.

This may seem like a long list, but once you start including these things into your life, they will become a big part of your life. It is good to start acting on these points as soon as you can so that you can start making everything into a habit, and these habits will remain for the rest of your life Insha’Allah!

Secondary School Stresses?

By Zainab Shahid

There will also be times in your life at school – and after you’ve completed school – where you will feel stressed, and maybe even depressed. Schoolwork can become very stressful as you go higher up the school, but never let it get to you. Remember that Allah has given us the greatest gift and cure for all of our problems – the Qur’an. Whenever you feel down, try and recite some Qur’an, or try listening to a beautiful recitation of the Qur’an; it will help you to calm down and feel better.

There are many short-term ways that can help to relieve your stress. And many of your classmates will turn to smoking to try and relieve their stress. However, you should keep in mind that these are only short-term stress relievers, and they won’t have a positive impact on your health or mind in the long-term.

Allah and His Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, have taught us how to overcome stress. We have been told to remember Allah at all times; we can talk to him through Du’a (prayer or supplication), through reciting the Qur’an, offering Salah and making Dhikr. Dhikr includes short forms of supplication and recitation such as Subhan’Allah, Allahu Akbar and Allhumdulillah.

When it comes to friends, I know how it feels not to have many. I know how it feels not to have even one ‘best friend’ with whom you can spend most of your time with and share things with. It is difficult. And it can become lonely at times. But one thing that I’ve learnt form when I used to go to secondary school, is that you should never do anything to impress other people. You will most probably end up disappointing yourself or your parents, and Allah.

If you do something that goes against your instincts and beliefs, just to be accepted into a group of friends, you are better off without them. It is better to be alone than with a group of people who do wrong and make you do wrong.

Your company defines you. Choose your friends wisely, because they will have an influence on you. If you spend your time with people who focus on their studies, who stay away from lying and other bad acts, you will also want to do the same. And if you are lucky enough to have other Muslims in your year-group, you can all pray Salah and learn about Islam together.

As you progress through secondary school, you will come across many things that will surprise you. You will always need to concentrate on your studies. That is why you’re at school. Even Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that we need to educate ourselves; in Islam and in other subjects.

Once I had come to understand this myself, I no longer worried about having too many friends or what others at school thought of me. In fact, one morning I got up and thought to myself that I will put on a hijaab and go to school. I was a bit worried, but I pushed all the worried thoughts to the back of my mind. I was doing this for me, and for Allah. A few people asked me why I had decided to wear a headscarf all of a sudden, but nobody made fun of me like I had first thought. People started respecting me more. When you show that you are serious about practicing your religion, people respect you more. They know that you aren’t going to be fooled easily, nor will you do anything silly, immature or wrong.

Some people might start partying early or attending clubs, some might start drinking alcohol or having boyfriends/girlfriends. But you shouldn’t feel out of place, or pressured into doing what they do. Make Allah your best friend, and you’ll never wrong.

Our time in Jannah will not end like our time here on this earth; we will be there forever and we will get everything we ask for (even if you ask for a house made out of chocolate!) We won’t have anything to worry about – no bullying, no big essays and no stress. Make Jannah your ultimate goal, and you won’t even have time to worry about so many things in this life, because Allah will always guide and help you through everything.