In the name of Allah, the Giver and Owner of Mercy.
Dear Muslim High Schooler (especially the Freshmen),
SubhanAllah, you did it! You graduated middle school! Remember those days when you were young and you could not even fathom being close to the age where you could legally drive a car, and vote? It was so unfathomable because you thought it would take ages to get to that point subhanAllah, but here you are! I have been there – I remember the bittersweet feeling I was experiencing. It was like an excitement for a new environment but also a nervousness towards how big of a transition this will be. Especially since I graduated from an Islamic School that I was a part of for the duration of my entire academic career before high school. So, it is safe to say that high school was not just a big transition in the context of middle school to high school for me but additionally I was dealing with the reality that I was transitioning from a completely Islamic environment to a public school environment. It was an eye-opening and rewarding experience alhamdulilah and here I am writing before you as someone who graduated from undergraduate studies in college now. My younger sister is now entering high school in shaa Allah. So I wrote this with her in mind, but I write this for you as well! High school will be a challenging, but insightful experience – just reflect on these simple three tips/reminders and in shaa Allah I pray Allah ﷻ grants you all the best of success in this life and the hereafter, ameen! Let’s begin!
1) Introspection (Knowledge of Self)
Look deep within yourself and seriously ask yourself – who am I? Evaluate your priorities in life, the values that you stand by, and understand your personality. I don’t want to answer these questions for you but one of my mentors taught me that before my name, and ethnicity – the first thing I should recognize myself as is as Muslim. Before being a male human being of African descent, my first characteristic is Muslim. Identifying that as your number one characteristic leads you to understand what your most important values and priorities are.
Islam will guide you in all affairs! School getting tiring, need something to keep you driven – remind yourself that if your intention is to be smarter and be a future asset for the Ummah, every bite you have of that school lunch is an act of worship. Every step to the bus stop, every letter you write for your assignment – yeah, all of that counts. This mindset will guide you in your friendship choices. I want us all to reflect on when Allah ﷻ said to us:
Not equal are the companions of the Fire and the companions of Paradise. The companions of Paradise – they are the attainers [of success]. (Qur’an 59:20)
Although, the people of Jannah and Jahannam are both human beings – their lifestyles were different and therefore their fates were different. The people of Jannah, are a people who spent their time correctly and guarded themselves from harmful behavior such as backbiting, unhealthy interaction with the opposite gender, and vice versa.
Another characteristic that the people of Jannah have that the people of Jahannam do not have is a guilty heart that causes them to repent to Allah ﷻ. And the guilt of one’s heart says a lot about your whole being. Because in high school, you’re still a teenager therefore you’re still technically immature – therefore, you are prone to make stupid mistakes. However, the one with qualities of the people of Jannah, learns from these mistakes, repents, and takes caution in order to prevent repeating that mistake. One of my beloved mentors once told me that he loved watching me make mistakes, because mistakes is how I would learn – and with him being present in my life, he can guide me to make better choices. So like I said before, when Islam is the main influencing factor to your mindset – you will find yourself looking for good company such as friends and mentors to look up to and build with and most importantly, grow with.
2) Maintain Disciplined Routine
Something I wish I did more of when I was younger was routinely set time aside in my day and dedicated it to two things: Reading/Reflecting on Qur’an and reading literature that pertained to what I wanted to pursue in the future.
Why? Anyone who regularly exposes themselves to the Qur’an knows how spiritually uplifting that is. Do not read it just because the parents told you though, but because you genuinely want to read what Allah ﷻ is saying for you! Challenge yourself to reflect on a passage every single day, you don’t even have to read too much. Five minutes a day, thirty minutes, or an hour – which every works for you but make sure it is consistent!
In regards to reading literature that’s geared towards what you want to do in the future – well that should be obvious! You will cause yourself to have more background information on the field you want to focus on which will cause you to be singled out when it comes to applying to colleges, and later applying to jobs. Successful people are made by dedicated, consistent routines of work. TED talks and articles on news outlets are brilliant starters, but eventually get into reading books from scholars of your field – expose yourself to research case-studies, etc.
3) Find time to have fun
Life is not just hard work, you got to enjoy yourself! Every now and then, treat yourself to time with friends, nature, etc. To be frank, I do not have to tell you twice about having fun. To simply summarize this tip, do not overwhelm yourself with studying and improving yourself but find time to destress and get involved in recreational activities!
With these tips in mind, I wish you all the best high school experience. High School and College are those moments in a teenager’s life where we dramatically grow and change into the people we become. Although there will still be changes as life moves on, high school and college will be the main instances of dramatic growth.
And Allah ﷻ knows best.
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