Tag Archives: University

Surviving at University

by a Muslim Brother

There were beer mats everywhere. The whole corridor was covered in an intriguing pattern of small cardboard squares called Carlsberg. There were eight rooms in the corridor but only one kitchen, one toilet and one shower. I had expected the place to be a bit more lively but my friend explained to me that it was always quiet on Friday and Saturday nights. ‘They invite me along with them as well,’ he said with a sigh, ‘but all I can do is laugh and politely decline.’

Welcome to the world of the university campus, the place where a significant number of Muslim students will spend at least the first year of their university life. Away from home and away from family and friends, the three years on average spent by most students pursuing a degree is a crucial time for the development or deterioration of one’s Imaan. All students whether they choose to remain at home or stay elsewhere experience the onslaught of ‘Fresher’s Week’ before they even begin their studies. Fresher’s Week is supposedly a week full of events designed to allow those beginning their university career to acquaint themselves with their new surroundings as well as with their fellow students. In reality Fresher’s Week is a hedonistic 7 days which the pubs and nightclubs utilise to attract their prospective clientele for the following year. Flyers and posters advertising nightclubs, bank loans, mobile phones and a whole host of other organisations, societies and clubs bombard students during these first few days. Even though the Islamic Societies of most universities make a determined effort to attract Muslim students away from such temptation, it is sad to say that for many Muslims the Islamic Society stall is last on their list of places to visit. Fresher’s Week is a severe trial and only those come through unscathed that have a strong bond and connection with Allah S.

When I initially applied to university I remember being told at college that university was a place of experimentation, of experience and of widening one’s views of the world. For a Muslim this experience can be extremely difficult as many of the activities used for this social experimentation are either makrooh or haram and illegal. Social experimentation and finding the ‘real you’ seem to be prime goals for many students. For Muslims, university can be quite a lonely time as many of the events and functions organised by their peers involve activities which are albeit legal under the laws of this country but illegal i.e. haram from an Islamic perspective. Promiscuous relationships, ‘pub crawls’ (whereby a number of pubs are visited in one outing) and a whole host of other unbelievable activities are the order of the day. And all this is practiced by those who the rest of society deems as being ‘the leaders of tomorrow’.

I remember my disgust when I initially visited my university at the lack of scope in the lecturer’s jokes. Alcohol and the price of alcohol were the only two topics discussed. It was quite a disturbing experience to be the only sombre person in a room full of 400 laughing 18 year olds. It was not that I did not understand the jokes, it was the fact that drinking and in reality alcoholism were deemed to be an acceptable part of the student lifestyle regardless of a person’s belief. In my opinion, this is the crux of the difficulty for Muslims studying at university; the question of maintaining and retaining a distinct Muslim identity. This is the point where many of us fail as we try to reconcile our faith with the demands and pressures of the environment surrounding us. Do you pray Zuhr Salaah during your lunch hour or do you make it Qadha and attend that lunchtime optional seminar which might look good on your CV? It is in such matters that students should turn to the ‘Ulamaa in order to find out how to reconcile these differences.

And it is during these times that one realises the true advantages of having a spiritual mentor. Having a spiritual mentor or Shaykh to which one can turn to for guidance and encouragement can make all the difference when confronted with a dilemma.

However, many students are unable to do this, mainly because of the fact that the only contact they had with the ‘Ulamaa was during their pre-teens when attending the evening maktab. No contact or relationship was maintained with the ‘Ulamaa and in many cases with the Deen of Islam after these initial few years. But, alhamdulillah there are still a significant number of students who do maintain contact, right until and after the time they enter university. Their knowledge and zeal for Islam can prove to be a boon for others searching for the truth – and there are many searching for and returning to the truth. The number of sudent reverts and Muslims whose interest in Islam is reignited while attending university and the existence of student Islamic Societies bears testimony to this.

Islamic Societies are voluntary organisations run by students to cater for the needs of Muslims who may be attending the university or living in its vicinity. They typically provide a prayer room with wudhoo facilities in most cases, and organise a variety of Da’wah and educational events. Partly funded by money from the university’s student union and partly by private donations, Islamic Societies bring together Muslims from around the world. In my first Jumu’ah prayer at university I was met with a scene which made me reminisce of how the times of the Prophet s must have been. The Imam was an African, the mu’azzin an Arab, and the remaining rows a mixture of Muslims from almost every other country in the world.

This diversity however, can prove to have a weakness in the sense that it can provide an ideal cover for deviant sects bent on spoiling the Imaan as well as ideology of Muslims. Many students are unaware of these sects and are highly impressed by the seemingly knowledgeable and sincere words of their protagonists. Once again the lack of knowledge regarding our authentic scholars and their achievements causes quite a majority of us to feel inferior when faced with such people.

Another point which surprised me very much was the little effort that was being made on the Muslims at the University. It seemed like Da’wah was to be practised on non-Muslims only. I attended one of the meetings held to discuss the organisation of the Islamic Awareness Week at the university. Even though I half expected the meeting to be mixed I had not anticipated what I saw. Many of the sisters wore scarves, but the way they and many of the brothers as well, were dressed, left little to the imagination. However most of these sisters were extremely sincere and it soon became obvious that they played a key role in the running of Islamic events at the university. On asking one of the brothers why this was the case he replied that most Muslim male students did not bother volunteering and consequently this void was filled by the sisters. In my opinion this was an extremely dangerous situation as many of the events that were being organised involved the free mixing of males and females albeit with a good intention. This is another point where most of us fail due to our lack of knowledge and correct guidance. We presume we are doing something acceptable in the Sharee’ah based upon what little knowledge we may have of the Sharee’ah ourselves.

The brother whom I quoted at the beginning of the article was a clean shaven youngster when he started university. He has since kept a beard. I asked him the reason for this and he replied, ‘I was looking for Muslims and I thought let me look for someone with a beard. The thought suddenly hit me that I myself do not have a beard, would anyone recognise me as a Muslim?’ There are many brothers and sisters who dress in full Islamic clothing when attending university and it can be honestly said that there is probably no greater form of giving Da’wah to both Muslims and non-Muslims than this; the full adoption of Islam. As many of us know Allah S has commanded us to enter into Islam totally. This is what I think is needed for the regeneration of the student community. Rather than trying to unify with university culture Muslims need to be unique, unique both internally in manners and character and externally in dress and appearance, and be proud of this uniqueness. Simplicity coupled with the adoption of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the ways of the Companions y, under the guidance of the ‘Ulamaa, the experts in the field, seems to be the only way to achieve this uniqueness and in reality restore our confidence. Reliable organisations such as the Islamic Da’wah Academy and many others are already taking part in this regeneration by holding meetings with student leaders and trying to address their specific needs. More interaction such as this is needed at both school and college/university level.

For me university has proved to be quite a revealing experience in the sense that it has made me appreciate how little many non-Muslims and, in some unfortunate cases, Muslims themselves know about Islam. For a significant number of non-Muslim students the only contact they have had with Muslims is via the TV or the newspapers i.e. they have never met a Muslim before. We, as Muslim students need to be trained and given the opportunity to learn how to practice and propagate Islam adequately and to deal with situations which we may have not encountered before in our lives. Only recourse to the ‘Ulamaa and the masha’ikh can help to solve such dilemmas.

We need to take the opportunity to adopt the company of the pious, especially the ‘Ulamaa and take part in reliable religious movements so that we gain the true understanding of Islam. Only then will we become true individuals, independent and free from the shackles of a non-Islamic culture. And only then will we be able to, in the words of the Sahabi Rib’ee Ibne mir t, work towards delivering mankind from ‘the slavery of man into the slavery of the Lord of man, and from the narrowness of this world to the vastness of the Hereafter.’

May Allah S give the writer first and then the readers the ability and the inclination to practice what has been written. May Allah S help all students whether studying in religious or secular institutes to achieve their goals and cause all of us to attain His pleasure and live and die as true Muslims upon Islam. Ameen.

Source: Islamic Da’wah Academy

Gender Interaction on Campus

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The question of gender interaction on campus is one of great importance. Unfortunately, at least in many cases, it has been handled from one or two extremes. I remember visiting an MSA and finding the entire MSA was shut down because, at the first meeting a brother stood up, pointed at the sisters and said, “Why are they here? It is not allowable for you to be here!” On the other side of the coin I’ve heard of MSA’s who conduct their meetings at Starbucks! Thus, while enjoying the latest frappuccino, Fatima and Zaid are sitting together with no respect for our sacred texts and principles. Insha’Allah, it is our hope to answer this question from the perspective of Islamic activism and dawa using a few very important verses from the Book of Allah Most High.

The Responsibility of Islamic Activism

Allah Most High says:

“The believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger.”[1]

Imam Al-Tabari (may Allah be pleased with him) said, commenting on this verse, “They invite humanity toward faith in Allah and His Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him) and everything that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) was sent with by Allah.” [2] The scholars have said that, because of the wording of this verse, it is clear that the responsibility of dawa and Islamic work falls upon both males and females.[3]

The Scope of Inter-Gender Relations:

In Sura Al-Qasas we find a very interesting example of inter-gender relations found in the story of Sayyiduna Musa (peace be upon him).

Allah Most High says:

“And when he went towards (the land of) Madyan, he said: “It may be that my Lord guides me to the Right Way.” And when he arrived at the water of Madyan he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.” So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.”[4]

By taking a quick glance at these verses we can garner a number of lessons related to Islamic work, the personality of the Islamic caller and rules and adab for inter-gender relations:

1. The importance of d’ua. If we look at this story as large structure, we can see that supplication forms its foundation and roof. Thus, Prophet Musa began his actions with a du’a and completed it. For this reason the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Nothing is more honorable (most liked) before Allah Most High than Supplication.”[5]

2. The great mercy and compassion of the Prophets. Prophet Musa felt compassion for the two women and went to assist them. It is important for the Islamic worker have mercy and concern for those around him. For that reason the poet Ahmed Shawqi wrote:

وإذا رحمتَ فأنتَ أمٌ, أو أبٌ هذان في الدنيا هما الرحماء

“And if you (Muhammad) implement mercy, then you are a mother or father. And they, in this life, are the exercisers of extreme mercy.”[6]

3. The importance of obeying and serving one’s parents: Prophet Shu’ayb’s daughters not only served him in his old age, but obeyed him by carrying themselves with great fidelity and morality in his absence. The same can be said for the campus. Many of us live away from our parents on campus and it is important to respect them in their absence by being pious and righteous children. It is sad to see many university students drooling at the opportunity to escape to the campus environment just to disobey their parents. However, the truly righteous slaves of Allah obey their parents even in their absence. Of course, this obedience is in the good and not the evil.

4. It is well known that both of these women were eligible for marriage with Prophet Mosa. In fact, we know that later he married one of them. Thus, these verses are used to prove that interaction between non-marhams is permitted as long as they observe certain adab which will be explained shortly, inshallah.

5. Inter-gender interaction is an exception, not the rule. Meaning that such interaction should take place only under situations which are clear necessities. The proof is the statement, “Our father is a very old man.” Meaning that Musa (peace be upon him) saw them under severe duress and spoke to them in an effort to remove their hardship, and their response was based on the necessity of getting water to drink. Thus, it can be said, that the call to Islam and its propagation fall under such a necessity however, such work must be done observing the following adab.

a. Remember that any encounter involves the eyes, tongue and limbs. However, the most important component for this encounter is the heart. Thus, before any gathering check your heart and make sure that it is with Allah Most High, full of love for Him and in submission to the sunna of the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him). A great du’a to say before such a gathering is the following supplication of the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him):

اللهم مقلب القلوب ثبّت قلبي على دينك

Allahumma muqallibul Qulub thabit qalbi ‘ala deenek.

“O turner of the hearts! Establish my heart upon Your religion.”

b. After one’s heart has submitted and his whims have been crushed, it is logical the rest of his body will follow and this would entail:

· Lowering the gaze as everything has an entrance and one of the entrances to the heart is the glance.

· Avoid speech or actions which could be taken as flirting. I was told by one of my sheikhs that laughing and joking should be avoided between non-mahram couples. For that reason Allah described the daughter of Shu’ayb, when she approached Mosa, “Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly.”

· Avoid being alone as Shaytan will be the third amongst you. Try your best to meet as a group as private meetings amongst a brother and sister who are non-mahram are strictly prohibited. In addition, during group meetings there should be a good amount of distance between brothers and sisters.

· Observe the correct Islamic dress code and remember to ask yourself an important question. “Am I making dawa to myself, or to Allah and the call of His beloved (may peace and blessings be upon him)?”

· There is no better solution than asking. Thus, it is important to refer any specific questions or issues to local scholars as they are your life source for survival in the campus jungle.

I ask Allah to bless our questioner, plant her feet firm upon his obedience and make her a great caller to Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him). I would like to express my gratitude to two of my early Sheikhs, Abu Mustafa of Senegal and Shaykh Abdul Jalil of San-Diego. Most of my humble attempt at an answer came from the questions I asked them while in my university days. May Allah bless them and continue to use them as a source of benefit to the shabab in the West.

In need of your prayers and happy Eid,

Suhaib D. Webb
Source: Sunnipath.com

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[1]Qur’an 9/71

[2]Tafsir Al-Tabari, surah 9/71

[3]For and excellent Arabic reference on this refer to Sh. Faisal Malwais Darul Mara Fe Al-A’mal Al-Islamiy.”

[4]Qur’ana 28/22-25

[5]Reported by At-Tirmizi, Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim graded it Sahih

[6]Al-Shawqiyat pg. 193

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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.