For many people, the time spent at university is quite transformative. For Muslim students, it can be make or break – a time where, if spent well, you become a better Muslim, more mature, and make lifelong friends. On the other hand, if your time is not spent correctly, you can fall into the wrong crowd, get involved with the wrong types of things, and even lose your īmān.
I have been (un)fortunate enough to see both journeys take place to people around me. For this reason, I have put together 3 key pieces of advice that, if you stick to in shā Allāh, will mean that you will leave university a much better person and, much more importantly, a better Muslim.
Keep up with your salāh
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“The first thing for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayer. If it is sound, he will be successful, and if it is lacking in any way, he will be doomed. If his obligatory prayers are lacking, the Lord will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave has any voluntary prayers that may be used to make up what is lacking in his obligatory prayers.’ Then all his deeds will be examined and dealt with in the same way.”
The one defining characteristic of a Muslim is whether they keep up with their salāh. Nothing is more important than your salāh. If you stick to it, everything else will fall in line. If you do not, your sins will begin to grow. You must try your utmost best to keep up with them. If you are not praying now, start with one prayer. When you are consistent with that, add another prayer, then another, until you are praying all five every day. If you are already doing that, then the men should try to pray in jamā’ah in the masjid.
You may often find yourself in a position where salāh becomes difficult, such as in winter when salāh times are closer to each other and you may have back-to-back lectures. In most cases, simply planning your day so that you already have wudū’ and finding an empty space in the short time between lectures will be long enough. If this delays you from making it to your next lecture, informing your lecturer beforehand will in most cases resolve any potential issues.
There are many other benefits of praying on time, but I will only mention one other in this article: it will help you keep away from sins. Whatever else in your life you may be struggling with, no matter how unrelated it may seem to salāh, ensuring that you are still praying will only have a positive effect on it.
Keep good company
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“A man is upon the religion of his friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.”
It is a known fact that a person is similar to the company that they keep. Your friends will have an impact on you just as you will have an impact on them. Make sure that your friends are the type of people who will take you to Jannah. Some basic indications that your friends are worth keeping are that they ensure that you all pray in jamā’ah when you are together and encourage each other to basic acts of goodness, such as praying in the masjid, refraining from using inappropriate language, and advising you if they believe you to be making a mistake. A step further than that is a friend who reminds you of Allāh and raises your īmān when you meet. This type of friend is becoming increasingly rare, so ensure you remain close to them wherever you find them.
Make good use of your time
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“Take advantage of five matters before five others: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”
Every point from this hadīth is immensely useful. However, in the interest of sticking to the objective of this article, I want to focus on the importance of making good use of your time.
It may not necessarily feel like it at the moment, but for many university students, this is the most amount of free time you will ever have for the majority of your life. Once you start working full time, and then move on to the next stage of your life with marriage and kids, you will have a fraction of the free time (if any) that you currently have now. In order to grow as a Muslim and as a person, it is imperative that you make as much use of your time now.
It is incredibly easy to fall into the habit of chilling out and socialising in your free time, even if it is a halal environment, but this is your opportunity to be better than that. Your options are not limited. Memorising the Qur’ān, attending Islamic classes, getting involved with the Islamic Society and charity work, or even spending time developing useful skills such as public speaking. All of these activities are convenient to do as a university student. The purpose of this article is not to tell you what to do, but to tell you to do something useful with your time. Now is also a good time for you to be looking at who you want to be as a person, then actively creating and executing a plan to become that person.
I am not saying it is easy, but I am saying that if you are able to develop yourself outside of your university course, you will appreciate it and reap the benefits of it forever.
When you look at the bigger picture, your time at university may not seem like a big deal. It will be three to five years depending on your course – this is even less time than what you spent in secondary school. However, due to the nature and setup of university life, these are the key years that will direct the trajectory of your life for most, so spend them wisely. I ask Allāh for all that is good, and that He showers His blessings on you whilst you are in university, and protects you from the fitan of university.
And Allāh knows best.
 Sunan al-Tirmidhi no. 413
 Sunan al-Tirmidhi no. 2378
 Musnad Imam Ahmad
A few more issues that our young praying, hijabi, practising daughters should be aware of. Shame on the fathers and mothers who witnessed or experienced these when they were at university and are still happy to send their children into this environment. I know from relatives that things are far worse now. Remember, our ummah’s revival does not depend on our academic success. If it did then Allah’s final messenger (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would not have been illiterate. At the most, it is a means of earning rizq, which we know has been fixed by Allah Ta’ala anyway.
Beware the old lecturers who stare at your chest believing that you are a ‘perk’ of the job. Beware the fitnah of the young PhD students who have been tasked to help you and who you may find yourself alone with. Beware the good looking lecturers in their 30s who look you up and down. Beware your fellow students: the Muslims, the mushriks, the Africans, the white guys, the half Jews-half Shia and even the Muslim lesbians. Those who insist on walking with you to lectures, those who wait for you after they finish and even turn up alone for group work while the others stay away. Beware the fitnah of the brothers in the Islamic society and even those who you see regularly at Friday prayers.
Black, white, brown, young, old, Muslim, disbeliever, male, female, straight, lesbian, rich and poor, over the course of 3 years, Shaytaan will have plenty of time to throw every possible temptation at you. Even if you come out not having committed any major sin, you will still have to work extremely hard to become the person you used to be. I remember some good sisters whose faces had become dark with sin by the end of the 3 years. May Allah Ta’ala give us the ability to find alternative means for our children and may He reward us with abundant good if we give up these opportunities for His sake, and may He replace them with something better. Ameen.