Going from one end of disbelief to centring your entire life around one God was not easy.
Muslims either hate or love the prospect of going away to university. They either loathe leaving their mother behind, and want to pack her in their suitcase, or they love finally having the space to shout, “Freedom!” whilst indulging in matters which Allah (SWT) forbids.
My story is a little different.
Even though I did want to take my Mum, Gran and the entire contents of my kitchen with me, moving away to university was my only gateway to being able to be a true slave of our Creator, The Most Merciful, and The Most Beneficent.
After coming to Islam at the age of 16, my life had taken a 180 degree turn. Suddenly I saw myself handing my entire life over to God. As I bade my parents farewell on the night of the 17th of September, I knew then that my life would never be the same again. After three years, I had finally received my liberation when I walked out the next day in hijab. Many of you have faced a difficult time, and someone has said to you “Relax, with patience come ease,” and you’re thinking “Yeah, right, this person has no idea how I’m feeling right now!” The truth is, they are probably facing a similar test that comes with their own tribulations. Trust me when I say this, with patience really does come with ease. After three years, I got mine.
For the first time, my Qur’an went from being hidden between A Thousand Splendid Suns and Louise Hay’s book on gratitude, to the top of my shelf – not to be polished and beautified but to be read and implemented. I could now focus on khushoo’ in my salah and pray with total devotion, instead of my tongue reciting Surah al-Fatiha with my ears are on guard for footsteps coming up the stairs. I no longer felt guilty about attending weekly halaqas or Islamic events because this was how I chose to live my life and I now lived solely for the sake of our Creator.
Bidding farewell to the people who helped me on my journey, and of course my Nissan Micra, was the hardest thing I have I ever had to do.
There are all sorts of temptations at university. It is a big fitnah and the importance of good company really should not be underestimated. As soon as I went to the Freshers’ Fair, joining the Islamic Society was first on my to-do list because I knew I would be amongst those who would guide me well, and keep me on the straight path. I went up to the sisters at the Islamic Society stand in the Student Union and within five minutes we were already laughing away and had exchanged numbers. Undoubtedly a bond had already begun, alhamdullillah. Going from one end of disbelief to centring your entire life around one God was not easy. Whether it be teaching me the etiquettes of salah, or a simple hug from a sister, I now knew what it meant to love another for the sake of Allah, The Exhalted.
It’s easy to get into a routine at university of work, eat, sleep, sleep some more and the never-ending cycle prevails because, for those living away from home, all you have to think about is yourself and your time really is your time! Your Sundays are no longer taken up by household chores or visiting Auntie-ji, so I started my journey off in the first week by getting to know Manchester, I met some amazing new people and discovered how I can enjoy a ‘halal’ University life just like everyone else – so far so good!
If I think about my life now, there are still lots of things I can criticise because it is far from perfect. But to be able to walk on this earth, be a proud Muslim and be able to sustain the concept of hijab – I have got everything I could ask for, and more.
People always ask me “What made you come to Islam?” It’s like explaining why the grass is green. The answer’s simple: it’s the truth.
Aaminah Taheem is currently studying Psychology at the University of Manchester and aspires to work in the field of the Development of Children. She appreciates all the amazing support she has received from her beautiful Muslim sisters and in turn has recently started writing poetry and blogs hoping to inspire and support young Muslims on their paths.