The newly elected 50th executive committee members of NUS Muslim Society kick started their series of events with the Undergraduate Reflection Series entitled “MUS1101E: What does it mean to be a Muslim Student?” The event started off with a short sharing session amongst the participants pertaining to questions such as “What is the purpose of education?” and “Why are we here in NUS?” These questions were posed to the participants with the hope that it might trigger them to ponder and reflect deeply about their role as a Muslim student and their intention and purpose of attaining and pursuing higher education in NUS. This is imperative as our prophet Muhammad S.A.W related a hadith on niat that,
“Deeds are a result only of the intentions of the actor, and an individual is rewarded only according to that which he intends. Therefore, whosoever has emigrated for the sake of Allah and His messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His messenger…” [Hadith Sahih Bukhari]
Alhamdulillah, the sharing session went well and below were some of the reflections that were elicited from the participants during their discussions:
Following the discussion was a talk delivered by Ustaz Zhulkeflee Hj Ismail. The talk encompassed the topics revolving around the need to re-check our identity as a Muslim before being a student, the vital role that our parents play in our education and the dualistic education system that students are exposed to that has pervade our lives. It was an enriching and meritorious talk which Alhamdulillah, many were able to gain something from it. These are few takeaways from the participants pertaining to the talk:
- Ustaz shared the benefits and significance of saying Salam in its fullest form. Plenty of blessings are accorded based on the degree of AS-Salam, the degree of Allah’s Rahmat and the degree of Allah’s barakah or blessing which clearly is undefined to any makhluk. In this light, the Doa through the Salam is more than a symbolic act of friendship amongst Muslims that binds hearts together, it is one of the reasons for Allah’s continuous blessings, goodness and mercy on us. Allah is pleased with one who loves his brother for the sake of Allah.
- “Muslims must not learn Islam as a subject but must learn to subject themselves to Islam.” This quote said by Ustaz had the largest impact on me and taught me the importance of realising and hence acting upon the fact that Islam is all encompassing in our life matters and is not a mere additional subject that is of separate existence. That being said, I also realised that I have taken the ‘simple’ aspects of our religion such as Tauhid, Taqwa and even the Salam for granted as given, when they are huge concepts that can’t be taken at face value and memorised as definitions in a subject.
- The importance of knowledge in being a successful Muslim undergraduate. Knowledge is defined as the arrival of meaning to the soul. One of the points raised under Taqwa, which is one aspect that we should be striving under, is to be aware of the consequences and thus, fearful of transgressing against Allah and His prophet Muhammad S.A.W requires knowledge. Having thel Quran as a source of guidance also requires knowledge. Overall, to live up to the total and perfect meaning of ad-deenul Islam requires knowledge from the reliable teachers.
- In order to be a Muslim, it is necessary for us to go through struggles, as only through struggles can we realise our utmost reliance on Allah alone. And some of the struggles include pursuing knowledge and to always remember Allah in everything that we do (because of the fact that mankind tends to forget).
- The talk made me realize that in order to acquire knowledge, we have to be sincere in receiving it. Often, I feel inadequate as I lacked in so many areas academically. I often question myself “why do I feel this way” or “how come I don’t know about it”. But now I realize that the first step to acquire knowledge is when you realize you don’t know. While realization is important, action has to be taken. As what Ustaz mentioned, what we read, listen or see are mere information whereas understanding knowledge comes through Allah’s will, if we put our souls into it.
- Another lesson I’ve learned was that as Muslims, we have to be grateful for whatever Allah has given us. Allah has given us countless of blessings, yet we humans are still ungrateful. As in human nature, we tend to compare ourselves with someone whom we think is better than us. Most importantly, we forget that Allah has given us the best blessing in this world by giving us Islam. Therefore, we have to strive to be grateful to Allah for He is our Creator and Provider.
- We often regard the concept of success as something worldly- be it academic achievement, wealth or material gains. We forget that that eternal success comes in the hereafter whereas the world we are living now is just a test, which we will be accounted for in the hereafter. Therefore, while it is important to achieve success in this world, we also have to strive to achieve true success in the hereafter.
- I have also learnt about the place of our parents in our lives. Out of the many factors that Ustaz could have chosen to elaborate in his talk, he chose to talk about our duty to our parents. So, all-encompassing is our duty that they should and can influence our ambitions. This reminds me on how the great men of Allah have all been great sons and daughters. Pleasing our parents is clear and sure way of pleasing Allah. So, upholding them in our lives, ensures ourselves as successful servants of Allah.
- What I find absolutely interesting about the talk was the fact that Ustaz incorporated elements of the Malay culture such as Pantun which bears vital values and lessons aligning to the values that we learn in Islam. This was an eye opener for me as too often we tend to dichotomize between what we learn as “Islamic” and secular subjects as “non-Islamic”. With the use of the pantun, Ustaz clearly depicted how there is no segregation between the 2 as Islam is all encompassing in our life and thus one should not “study Islam as a subject but instead subject himself to Islam.
Overall, the event was truly edifying, interactive and at the same time refreshing with elements of the Malay culture assimilated into it. The event highlighted our role as Muslims first and then students and to regard the role of our parents as paramount importance in our lives. Ustaz also accentuated that there is no existing dichotomy between what one deems as “secular/non Islamic” knowledge and “Islamic” knowledge because as Muslims, we have to subject ourselves to Islam and not study Islam as a subject.
Additionally, Ustaz underlined the Tauhidic Paradigm: Iman, Islam, Ihsan and the need to religiously strive to elevate our level of Iman so that we would not fall under the category of being a munafiq.
With that, we leave you with the wise saying by a renowned Tabi’een, Al Hasan Al Basri Rahimullah on knowledge:
“The good of this world is knowledge and worship and the good of the hereafter is paradise.”
On behalf of the NUS Muslim Society 50th executive committee, we would like to sincerely express our profound gratitude to Ustaz Zhulkeflee Haji Ismail for delivering a truly beneficial talk for us and his family for taking their time to attend the event. May Allah reward your efforts in this world and the hereafter and place you amongst the righteous ones in the hereafter. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those who helped make the event a successful one such as the facilitators and the participants for coming down to grace this event. Alhamdulillah, Jazaakumullahu khairan katsiran.
Human Enrichment Team
50th Executive Committee
NUS Muslim Society
Reflections by participants