Category Archives: Students

Ten tips to help your memory improve

Before you study for your next exam, you might want to use a few strategies to boost your memory of important information. There are a number of tried and tested techniques for improving memory. These strategies have been established within cognitive psychology literature and offer a number of great ways to improve memory, enhance recall and increase retention of information.

1. Focus your attention on the materials you are studying.
Attention is one of the major components of memory. In order for information to move from short-term memory into long-term memory, you need to actively attend to this information. Try to study in a place free of distractions such as television, music and other diversions.

2. Avoid cramming by establishing regular study sessions.
According to Bjork (2001), studying materials over a number of session’s gives you the time you need to adequately process the information. Research has shown that students who study regularly remember the material far better that those did all of their studying in one marathon session.

3. Structure and organize the information you are studying.
Researchers have found that information is organized in memory in related clusters. You can take advantage of this by structuring and organizing the materials you are studying. Try grouping similar concepts and terms together, or make an outline of your notes and textbook readings to help group related concepts.

4. Utilize mnemonic devices to remember information.
Mnemonic devices are a technique often used by students to aid in recall. A mnemonic is simply a way to remember information. For example, you might associate a term you need to remember with a common item that you are very familiar with. The best mnemonics are those that utilize positive imagery, humor or novelty. You might come up with a rhyme, song or joke to help remember a specific segment of information.

5. Elaborate and rehearse the information you are studying.
In order to recall information, you need to encode what you are studying into long-term memory. One of the most effective encoding techniques is known as elaborative rehearsal. An example of this technique would be to read the definition of a key term, study the definition of that term and then read a more detailed description of what that term means. After repeating this process a few times, your recall of the information will be far better.

6. Relate new information to things you already know.
When you are studying unfamiliar material, take the time to think about how this information relates to things that you already know. By establishing relationships between new ideas and previously existing memories, you can dramatically increase the likelihood of recalling the recently learned information.

7. Visualize concepts to improve memory and recall.
Many people benefit greatly from visualizing the information they study. Pay attention to the photographs, charts and other graphics in your textbooks. If you do not have visual cues to help, try creating your own. Draw charts or figures in the margins of your notes or use highlighters or pens in different colors to group related ideas in your written study materials.

8. Teach new concepts to another person.
Research suggests that reading materials out loud significantly improves memory of the material. Educators and psychologists have also discovered that having students actually teach new concepts to others enhances understanding and recall. You can use this approach in your own studies by teaching new concepts and information to a friend or study partner.

9. Pay extra attention to difficult information.
Have you ever noticed how it’s sometimes easier to remember information at the beginning or end of a chapter? Researchers have found that the position of information can play a role in recall, which is known as the serial position effect. While recalling middle information can be difficult, you can overcome this problem by spending extra time rehearsing this information or try restructuring the information so it will be easier to remember. When you come across an especially difficult concept, devote some extra time to memorizing the information.

10. Vary your study routine.
Another great way to increase your recall is to occasionally change your study routine. If you are accustomed to studying in one specific location, try moving to a different spot to study. If you study in the evening, try to spend a few minutes each morning reviewing the information you studied the previous night. By adding an element of novelty to your study sessions, you can increase the effectiveness of your efforts and significantly improve your long-term recall.

A Message for Students

Today’s message is to the students, whether in school, college or university. You are in a tough situation, but thank Allah that you have parents who can buy you the things you need for school. Everything is given to you so you can learn and graduate and get a job and teach your children the way you were taught. Renew your intentions that you are studying for the sake of Allah. Allah says time and time again how important knowledge is in Islam. So concentrate seriously to succeed. Even when you come out of your house you should have the intention that you are going to gain knowledge. So that if you die before reaching school, you have died for the sake of Allah. There are hadiths that say when you go to school with the intention to learn for the sake of Allah, Allah will make the path easy for you and the angels will be with you.

Don’t listen to those who want you to fail. Look at them during the exams, they will either be cheating or staring at the page. Don’t be like those who go to school everyday but don’t learn anything. Even when cheating, a person is writing blindly without understanding anything. They haven’t gained a thing! The Prophet(peace and blessings be upon him) said, whoever has cheated is not from us. Imagine that! Work hard! Don’t just study for the sake of it; I want you to be from the top students!

Respect your teachers. It is seen as “cool” to be rude to your teachers. But the Prophet(peace and blessings be upon him) said those who disrespect those who teach us are not from us. We have to respect those who are passing knowledge onto us. They are giving you knowledge, so you have to respect them, not be rude to them , or make them go crazy. Imagine if you became a teacher after that? Would you like to someone to do that to you? Respect people so they can respect you.

You have to respect your school. Don’t vandalise it, why do you not keep the school in good condition for those who will come after you? Imagine if someone came to your house and started writing things on your table, would you like that? So don’t do the same at school. The Prophet(peace and blessings be upon him) said, don’t damage things or harm people.

Go to school early. If you are late as a student, when you get a job what will you do? You have to respect appointments. Prepare your things the night before. Be organised. Don’t throw everything on your mother. When you come home from school, put your bag in your study area. Be organised, so that you can find everything. When you take off your clothes, hang your clothes in the wardrobe. Don’t leave everything to your mother. Be organised so that you can be an organised person. Organisation means you won’t waste your time looking for things.

Don’t rely on your private tutor. Concentrate with your teacher at school. Don’t be quick to say to your father that you want a private tutor because you don’t concentrate at school. If you depended on yourself and concentrated at school, you won’t need to spend unnecessary money on a private tutor! Then you will get used to being lazy, because you need someone to teach you.

Try to be presentable. Brush your hair, brush your teeth, cut your nails. Keep your clothes neat and clean. The Prophet(peace and blessings be upon him) said, Allah loves beauty.

Make sure your speech is respectable. When you wake up, greet your mother nicely, kiss her hand. Then go to your father and greet him. You should have an Islamic personality. Help with the house chores, so you can be a positive person at home, even if you have a maid! So you can help your mother and be an active person at home.

Try to be an active student. Join groups at university or school. Join the Muslim association, poetry club or the sports club. Have interests and hobbies and develop them. Don’t be inactive, as this is not from Islam at all! Create awareness about current affairs in the school newspaper or magazine.

Choose your friends carefully. You will be going to their houses when you want to study together and they will be coming to your house. So if they have good manners, they will respect your house and the people in it, they will be decent because they have good manners, and so will you. So look at your friends and be careful that they are not of the wrong type. A good friend will want you to succeed and not do anything that will harm you. He won’t encourage you to smoke or drink or go out with girls. Give these guys advice to help them to do good and guide them to be better people. Allah will make you a person that will enlighten others if you have the right intention.

May Allah help our dear students and protect them from evil, ameen.

Wagdi Ghoneim
Courtesy: www.everymuslim.net

Exams

Assalam Alaykum,

Recently I posted the top tips for exam success, whilst on the subject Maulana Zain over at his blog, My Life in Draft has posted his views and lessons to be learnt from his perspective being someone preparing for examinations himself.  Please take a look Examinations  and Exams by Maulana Zain.

Anas (رضى الله تعالى عنه) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
“None of you can truly be said to believe until he wants for his brother what he wants for himself.” [Bukhari]

Once again, I pray Allah grants all those taking their examinations success.

Wasalam

Tips for Exam Success

Asslam Alaykum,

Given it’s the time of the year when many are either sitting exams or about to over the coming weeks, I thought I would share my top tips for exam success.  I pray you find them beneficial and that Allah grants you success in this life and the hereafter, ameen.

1, Avoid unnecessary talking outside the exam hall before the exam. It’s too late to do anything now and listening to others about what they have revised, or not, might just damage your confidence

2, Commence with Bismillah. Read the paper/ exam question carefully (note how many questions need to be answered)

3, Decide on which questions you will answer.  At first you might tick all those you can answer and then narrow them down further by preference if you have too many.

4, Divide your time equally in proportion to the marks available for each question/ sub question.

5, Re read the question, highlighting any key words

6, Make an answer plan. Even if it is only brief notes beside the question it will help you cover all your points and give a structure to your answer.

7, Pray Bismillah and start answering the question, sticking with the time allocation you planned out and referring back to the question so you actually answer the question and not go off track.

8, Write clearly – the examiner cannot mark what they cannot read! Leave a line space between your main points/ paragraph to help the examiner mark your work.

9, Avoid the post-mortam analysis after the exam with friends and other students.

10, Perform 2 units of prayer and make dua in gratitude to Allah that the exam went well and that He grants you success.

REVISING + EXAMS = HEADACHE?

It needn’t be the case, just follow the directions to achieve great results every time, Insha’Allah.

  1. Always, always, always begin with Bismillah.
  2. Examine your niyaah (intention) and correct it if necessary.
  3. Honour your teachers no matter how strange their teaching methods seem to you. Respect and reverence for teachers are amongst the distinguishing marks of being a Muslim student.
  4. Begin making preparations well before the examinations begin. Plan out a REALISTIC timetable that will result in you having covered (or at least scanned) all the material well before your first exam. Use this final period to look at and attempt past exam papers and to compensate for any unforeseen delays.
  5. Use your teachers. If you have a problem, ASK!! You will find the vast majority of teachers only to happy too help (and inadvertently give out many heavy hints as to what’s on exam paper!)
  6. Always revise with a sheet of paper at hand so that you can build up a list of topics which you want to discuss with your teachers. DON’T rely on your memory. If you do, you will only be reminded when you are in the exam hall trying to answer a question on your forgotten queries.
  7. When revising make notes. It may seem as though you are just reproducing your notes, but persevere, believe it or not what you are doing is one of the most effective ways of revising.
  8. Give yourself regular breaks, but make sure that they don’t go on for longer than intended.
  9. Make sure you are unlikely to be disturbed whilst studying. This means turning off the TV and asking others to answer the phone. Discipline is pivotal to success.
  10. Turn off the radio. Listening to haram music takes the barakah (blessings) out of your studies. If you absolutely must listen to something try some nasheeds (Islamic Songs)
  11. Always iron out problems as soon as possible. If you don’t then you may well encounter problems when trying to understand the work that comes later.
  12. If you are getting frustrated and feel as though you are getting nowhere then try to take comfort that from the saying of the Prophet: “For him who embarks on a path of seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the way to Paradise.” (Muslim).
  13. If you are having problems calming your nerves on exam day, remind yourself of the ultimate purpose of life and indeed the ultimate examination; before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgement. This should help you to put your present worries into context.
  14. Before you begin on the exam paper, take a couple of minutes out to supplicate to your Lord, asking Him to grant you success only on the condition that it’s good for your deen and patience in the event that it’s not. Then begin in the name of Allah.
  15. As you come out of the exam hall, remember to thank Allah if the exam went well. If however it didn’t go as well as you had hoped, put your trust in Him. Know that such things are sent to test us and are an opportunity for us to shed some of our sins and show our contentment with his divine decree.
  16. Extracted from: ‘TRENDS’ magazine
    courtesy of the Deen

Make it or Break it?

Source: As-Sabiqoon Monthly Magazine Issue 9 Sept 2006

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? Ever questioned why your heart still isn’t content, even though you have everything going for you??

An ex-college student was interviewed to find out about her experiences during college life and how she handled these common feelings.

Q. Was there a change from how u were when you started college, and how u were when you left college?
A. Definitely, college is the ‘make it or break it’ stage. Whilst you were at secondary school you were still growing up and learning about life, then when you start college you’re older, no one can tell you what to do anymore! A whole world of Fitnah and temptation is open before you. You either leave college as a better Muslim, with the fear of Allah instilled in your heart, or you leave it in an even shoddier condition than when you started, the choice is yours!

Q. Why do you think people are attracted to the link?
A. Every college has it, whether it’s called the ‘Link’, the ‘Quad’ or the ‘Common Room’, it�s all the same, in reality it’s the ‘Fitnah Zone!!!’ Shaytan has done his best to decorate and adorn this ‘zone,’ the same way this world has been adorned with temptations and Fitnah. People fail to realise they’re treading on the path to Jahannam (hell-fire)!

Q. Was there anyone or any particular incident that helped you change?
A. During the first few months of college I have to admit, I myself was attracted to the link. At first it was all about ‘chillin’ out and enjoying yourself, but as time went on I realised my heart wasn’t content, there was no Sukoon (tranquillity)! Even though I used to still spend most of the time in the Link, I knew I didn’t fit in! That’s when my search began…

Q. Do you think friends affect or influence how you are?
A. I can say from experience that without even realising you will begin to adopt the style and behaviour of your friends! I can recall a few incidents from college alone where practicing brothers/sisters lost all their good qualities due to bad company. However, there were also a number of students who were drowning in sin and evil, but Alhamdulillah because of good company they underwent a complete revolution!
‘A person is on the way of his friends. Therefore he should think carefully whom he is making a friend’ (At Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ahmad)

Q. After experiencing two years of college life, what advice would you give to those who are going to be starting college this year?
A. As I mentioned before, the company you keep plays a big part on who you are. Therefore try to make friends with those who have concern not only for the needs of this temporary life, but also for the requirements of your next life, the everlasting life; it is they who are your real friends!

Remember Allah (swt) sees all and He knows what the hearts conceal. Always bear this in mind when tempted by the lures of Shaytan, know that you WILL be resurrected one day, and questioned about each and every sin you indulged in, are you ready for it?

Etiquettes of seeking ‘ilm

Source: Madrassah Al Zahra Publication – Al ‘Ilmun Nafi’

Before one sets out to seek knowledge we must bear in mind there are etiquettes for seeking knowledge. Only when one attains knowledge according to them, will the knowledge gained be beneficial. If we have no respect for the knowledge that we gain, that knowledge will merely remain information. Knowledge can only be beneficial for us if we gain it according to the following guidelines:

  1. Be patient – To gain ‘ilm is not easy and a lot of hard effort and sacrifice is required. For this reason it is very important that one remains patient.
  2. Pure intention – Before the commencement of an act one must ensure that an analysis of one’s intention is undertaken. The conclusion of this analysis should be that one is performing this action to gain the pleasure of Allah Almighty and not for show. If the latter is the case, then one needs to rectify one’s intention in order to gain beneficial knowledge.
  3. Act upon the knowledge one gains – It is important that one acts upon what they know; only then is the knowledge that one has attained beneficial. By not acting upon what one knows, disrespect is being shown to the knowledge that has been obtained.
  4. Bear in mind Allah سبحانه و تعالى is Watching – It is important that one keeps this in mind at all times as only then will one think twice before commiting a wrong deed. By continuously remebering Allah سبحانه و تعالى, a person will always make Du’aa and obtain closeness to Allah سبحانه و تعالى. Insha’Allah, any difficulties in attaining ‘ilm will then be removed.
  5. Utilise Time to the Best of One’s Ability – Knowledge does not come with ease. Therefore, it is vital that one uses their time well. When given the oppurtunity to obtain knowledge, one should not reject it as one does not know when they shall taste death. One must understand the struggle our pious Predecessors went through to gain ‘ilm and so one must not take for granted that which is so easily accessible today.
  6. To be very cautious – When beginning to attain knowledge one should not spend too much time argueing with others on topics and getting ones self confused. Rather one should spend maximum amount of time trying to fully undestand individual topics in order to become fully competent in these topics.
  7. To be precise and certain – It is good to memorise certain things. Before committing anything to memory one should ensure what is being learnt is correct by clarifying with ones teacher. Then one should memorise and go over what has been taught to ensure nothing is forgotton.
  8. Studying a variety of books – When one is confident in quite a few fields then one should study a variety of books on one topic to increase ones knowledge in a variety of ways on that particular topic.
  9. Good company – Pious company and friends should be kept so that one can attain their good qualites. It is also good to keep company with those who have a great zeal for knowledge instead of those who do not. This is so that one can never be put off wanting to learn more. The ‘Ulama state, that in order to gain good habits and to acquire beneficial knowledge, it is vital to stay in the presence of good and pious people. If one is not able to be in the company of the pious, then one should read the books written by these pious people.
  10. Respect and have good conduct with the teacher – One should ensure that respect is always shown towards the teacher. One cannot gain all knowledge from books without the guidance of a good teacher.

Etiquettes of Students

If you are a student, then you should observe the praiseworthy rules of a student’s dealing with a learned man. These rules are:

  1. to greet the learned man first
  2. to speak little in his presence
  3. not to speak much so long as his teacher does not ask him anything
  4. not to ask him questions before receiving his permission
  5. not to say, by the way of objection to his words, “So-and-so said contrary to what you have said.”
  6. not to argue against his opinion in such a way as to show that he knows the truth than his teacher
  7. not to argue against his companions in his meetings
  8. not to look around but to sit with downcast eyes, quietly and courteously as if he were engaged in ritual prayer
  9. not to speak to him much when he is tired
  10. to stand up in order to show respect for him when he stands
  11. not to follow him speaking and questioning and asking him questions along the street until reaches home
  12. not to imagine evil of him in regard to those of his actions which appear abominable. The teacher knows better concerning his secret affairs
  13. When some actions of the teacher appear abominable, the student should recollect the complaint made by the prophet Moses to Al-Khidr (may peace be on them both):
    “Have you made a hole in the boat to drown the people in it? You have indeed, done a strange thing”(Qur�an 18:71)
    In fact Prophet Moses was wrong in his complaint, which he made relying upon the outward appearance (of what al- Khidr did).

From The beginning of Guidance (bidayat al-hidaya) p. 77 from Imam Ghazali translated by Mashhad Al-Allaf

Muslim Uni Life?

Freedom. Young people live for the day when they can move out of the house and go to university and finally be free.

Freedom from their parents, from restrictions on their lifestyle, from everyone telling them what to do. This is why in university you find a whole generation that does what they want. Life’s short they say, let’s enjoy ourselves while we can.

So it goes for Muslims. In university you find the most amazing things, Muslims who don’t pray, Muslims who date. Why is this happening?

Religion becomes like a fairytale, when they got old enough, they knew better than to believe in it. Most have little knowledge about Islam and have maybe memorized the right rituals to get by. Why beleive something on faith, they ask. After all we cannot see heaven or hell. How do we know Islam is right anyway?

Islamic culture to them means marrying someone they never knew. It means arranged marriages and never hanging out or having fun. For girls Islamic culture has even less to offer. It would mean double standards or having to serve a husband the rest of her life.

The western alternative to this looks a lot more attractive. In western culture “love and romance” are supposedly everywhere. Everyone is out looking for love freely. Meeting someone, going out, seeking pleasure sounds alot better. But what about the downside? For love at first sight, you need to have the right image, the right hair, the right clothes. Girls have to aspire to be like the latest supermodels, they have to hold back age. Who’s going out with who, what are my friends thinking, what will happen if I don’t get the right girl or guy, what is my girlfriend or boyfriend thinking, all become important. Frustration, desperation, and unhappiness become the norm.

Imagine all the heartache youth would save if they followed the Islamic alternative. In true Islam, unlike culture, there is no gameplaying. If two people wish to be involved they are both straight with one another. Unlike what goes on today amongst some Muslims, they both meet each other and make a contract to marry. Women are treated with respect, there is no sexual bombardment like there is in western society. Sex in western culture is also often seen as a vice or a sin of the flesh. But even in religious Islam, sex is seen as natural. As long as it is in the right circumstances, when the two are committed to one another in marriage.

Drinking in college is also the norm unfortunately. If you don’t drink or party you’re seen as weird. Drinking is cool and a way for people to socialize, meet and have fun. The one who doesn’t is less of a person and ‘misses out’. Drinking and all the harms that come with it is cut off at the root in Islam. So many problems are avoided, accidents, pregnancy, violence and even rape for example.

In university and in the world, success in life is not seen in terms of religion. It is seen as what other people think, one’s careers, how much money they make. If you are religious you must have failed at life. But why do we have this seperation? and this blindness in religion?

The Quran tells us again and again not to have blind faith, not to folllow the religion of our forefathers.

Yet, we as Muslims have stopped thinking. We may think about what our friends or other people will say, but we avoid thinking about the real issues. We spend so much time on the opposite sex, thinking about careers, money etc, but we forget to think about death and how much of this we will really be able to take with us?

“Every soul shall have a taste of death and only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense…for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception” (Quran 3:185)

Shouldn’t we take the time to comtemplate what will happen to us after we hit the grave? After all, what is the point of life if we are not accountable for our actions? If there is no creator, what is the point of being honest or good.

If we really look at our life we see that everything is indefinate, getting a job, even living until tomorrow. In fact we could die anytime, this is a definate, the only dead certain thing in our life. Most of us believe we can make up for our actions later or we can be religious later. We are gambling. The chances of our dying today are little, but the stakes are high. Allah reminds us of the importance of this,

“O you who beleive, obey Allah as he should be obeyed, and die not except in a state of Islam” (Quran3:102)

Each of us needs to decide. Is Islam right or not? Why don’t we take the time, just once, once in our lives to find out if Islam is right. Is the Quran from God or not? We can’t see God, but is there a maker to all this? We need to study nature, and the world. We only live once. We shouldn’t go to a club thinking we are only going to ‘hang out and are not doing anything wrong’ then feel guilty about it later. We shouldn’t go on a date or drink, then feel guilty about it, worrying about hellfire.

On the Day of Judgement it will be us alone who will be asked about our actions. If we are not following this deen completely, we are injuring our own soul, both in this life and the next.

“Verily We have revealed the Book to thee in truth, for (instructing) mankind. He, then that receives guidance beinfits his own soul: but he that strays injures his own soul…” (Quran 39:41)

This is the true definition of freedom. To learn about Islam and the world openly. To contemplate about life and death. And after learning the truth, obeying the word of God.

“Those on whom knowledge has been bestowed may learn that the (Quran) is the truth from your Lord, and that they believe therein, and their hearts may be made humbly (open)to it…” (Quran 22:54)

Once students have this rock-solid intellectual beleif in Islam, the corruptness and falseness of the people around them is clear. The beauty and wisdom of the islamic way, the best alternative is clear. What other’s do is of less importance. If others think they were weird to pray or weird to be honest, they would still pray and still be honest because they know their deen.

The Prophet(SAW)’s famous hadith to ‘seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim’ (Ibn Majah) or to ‘Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads th path in search of knowledge’ (Muslim) is too often forgotten by students. Our Quran’s are left on the top shelves, gathering dust. Sometimes the most it is read is when someone dies. How is this to help, when the guidance comes too late. The Quran is for the living. The path to understanding and following Islam comes from learning first.

How many of us are Muslim, yet have never read the Quran in our native language?

How many of us are Muslim, yet have yet to open a book on hadith or sunnah?

How many of us defend Islam to non-Muslims, but do not follow it ourselves?

May Allah forgive and lead us and all those lost to the straight path, inshaAllah.

Ameen.

by Huma Ahmad
www.islambradford.com

Double Life of Muslim Students

By Claire Coleman

For the past four years, 24-year-old engineering student Sofia Ahmed has been leading a double life. During a typical week, she will study in her university library by day, then head to any one of Liverpool’s many student bars at night.

There, she will party until the early hours: drinking, smoking and experimenting with the hedonistic lifestyle of a typical British undergraduate.

But at the weekend, Sofia plays the role of a completely different person; a dutiful daughter of a well-to-do, traditional Muslim family who have raised their daughter to shun such Western temptations.

“Every Friday I get on a train home to Manchester to stay with my family,” she says. “It isn’t up for discussion; it is just expected. Before I leave, I tidy myself up, make sure I don’t smell of drink or cigarettes, and head home to play the dutiful daughter, helping my mother in the kitchen, attending mosque and sitting with my parents’ guests.”

On Sunday night, Sofia returns to Liverpool and the cycle begins again.

“Within half an hour, I will be slipping into a sexy dress and be on my way to a bar to meet friends.”

For most teenagers, university life brings the first experience of freedom from parental control. It is a taste of a life to come.

But for many female Muslims like Sofia, this taste is bittersweet. When she graduates this year, she will return to her parents’ home, where she’ll revert back to the life of a “good girl”, cocooned in a close-knit community where drinking, smoking and having boyfriends is considered sinful.

“In my time at university I have done everything that is forbidden by my religion. I didn’t set out to rebel, nor did I feel peer pressure to do what I’ve been doing,” she says.

“I was just genuinely curious about what all my friends were getting up to. You can’t grow up in this country and ignore the culture around you.”

And as more Muslim women than ever go into higher education, this double life is becoming something of a hidden social phenomenon.

Psychologist Irma Hussain has counselled many Muslim women who have experienced this culture clash.

“Muslim women have faced these conflicts for more than 20 years, but nowadays more women who come from very traditional families are going into higher education, which they never would have been allowed to before.”

“It is a great temptation to break from tradition when they are away from their family and everyone around them is having a good time, but it is not without consequences.”

“Some may look back and think it was fun, but others struggle with the double life and can never be happy leading such a conflicting existence.”

But those thoughts are far from their minds when they set out.

“My first night at university was amazing,” recalls Sofia. “I’d never really gone out before, so I had no clothes to wear. That afternoon, I went out and bought a sparkly red top with a scoop neck and a cut-away back. I wore it that night with black trousers and heels so high they made my feet hurt. I was really excited.”

“In the student bar, there was a promotion on alcopops. Never having drunk before, I was knocking them back. I hadn’t gone out with the intention of getting drunk or of kissing a man, but I did both. That pretty much set the tone for the next four years.”

Luckily for Sofia, her university years quenched her thirst for freedom, and she is now happy that those days are coming to an end.

“After four years of living it up, I feel as if I’ve got it out of my system. I’ve always known that my years at university would be a fixed time in which I would be able to live my life the way I wanted to, but after doing what I thought I wanted, I realise that what my parents have planned for my future is not so bad.”

Unfortunately, not all young Muslims find it so easy to forgo their new life.

For Faribah Khan (23), a graduate of Bath University, her education, and all that has come with it, has been a major source of tension with her parents.

“The only reason my parents allowed me to go to university was because they hadn’t found a suitable man for me, and an education was a respectable second best to marriage,” she says.

“I was excited about university and getting away from home. It was my chance to escape.”

Although her family moved from Iran to the UK when she was three, Faribah’s parents have made sure she would never forget her roots.

“We speak Farsi and Iranian food is always on the table. Going home is like travelling from the UK to the Middle East.”

“The religion goes hand in hand with the culture. I was brought up to fast during Ramadan, celebrate festivals and have an innate belief in the principles of Islam.”

In a bid to break free, Faribah applied to universities such as Birmingham and Leeds, where she believed she would be able to live independently from her parents.

“But they refused to let me live away from home and insisted I should go to the local university in Bath.”

“I resented that – just as I resented the fact that I had no choice in what I studied. It had to be science as it was ‘respectable’.”

Despite having to live in the family home, Faribah still managed to enjoy some of the student life on offer. And her parents’ worst nightmare came true when she fell in love with a British boy.

“Robert and I dated for the whole time I was studying, but I knew there was no real future to our relationship. He wasn’t a Muslim so my parents would never have accepted him.”

“I kept him a secret. I would lie and say I was staying at a friend’s house so I could spend the night with him in his student digs.”

“He hated the lying and the fact he could never meet my family. It made our relationship seem wrong, bad, dirty even.”

For devout Muslims, this really is the crux of the matter. How can a woman call herself a Muslim and behave in a way that contravenes the laws laid down by Islam?

But having been brought up in Britain, most of these girls find no contradiction in taking a couple of years off from tradition to enjoy what all their friends are doing.

And ironically, these women are only experiencing what their brothers have been doing for years.

“It’s almost an accepted rite of passage that men go to university and live it up before returning home to settle down with a good Muslim girl,” says Amina (30) from London.

“One guy I know has had a succession of girlfriends throughout his time at university. He’s living with one of them now but admits he’d never marry any of them.”

Faribah also knew her freedom and relationship had a shelf life. “I cried for a month when my university course ended,” she confesses. “I was convinced I’d be married off within a year to a suitable Iranian man.”

That day still hasn’t arrived. Now, nearly three years after leaving university, she is still living with her parents, but is also working in public relations.

‘They think I’m still a virgin but if they ever knew, they would either ostracise me or marry me off to the first potential suitor, like they did with my sister, Leila.”

“She married young. She knows about my life and has the same wishes as me. But she has to keep her views hidden from her husband. She’s content because he is a good man. But I don’t want to be content; I want to be happy.”

Not surprisingly, many Muslim women students find it incredibly hard to lead this double life. In the case of Malaysian- born Faria (21), a student at Sheffield University, her freedom came with overwhelming guilt.

“In my country, unmarried men and women are not allowed to be alone together. If caught, you can be jailed or fined,” she says.

“But because I was on my own, I felt I could enjoy a Western life. I dated and eventually slept with a boy I met here.”

For a while, she enjoyed her new-found openness. But soon, she was overcome by feelings of guilt and paranoia.

“I felt anxious throughout our relationship and had to lie to my parents and tell them I spent all my time studying.”

“Then finally, last year, I had a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t cope with my double life any more. I regret having a sexual relationship. I can’t wait to finish my studies and go back to my country to make a fresh start.”

“If anyone in Malaysia discovered the truth, my life wouldn’t be worth living.”

But though they have had very differing experiences there is one thing Sofia, Faribah and Faria agree on: they all expect to have an arranged marriage and are insistent they will keep their wild-child days secret from their husbands.

As Faribah says: “I know people will find it hard to understand that after living a free life I am willing to accept an arranged marriage, but ultimately, my family is all I have.”

Daily Mail.

**All names have been changed.