As a first-year who has probably watched Monsters University one too many times, I had rather high hopes for my university life, I mean don’t get me wrong, I was an avid fan of musicals but I didn’t expect my lecturers to break out into song and dance or for student halls to be filled to the brim with characters bursting with personality and vibrancy; though one thing I did expect was at least to have enjoyed myself.

Before I knew it, fresher days became undergraduate weeks and actually enjoying my time felt like a liberty I could not afford. I wondered if everyone who told me university life was ‘the best phase of their lives’ or that I should ‘make the most of these years’ were all sat back laughing now. Whether this was all a sick joke, a conspiracy of the universe against me, against my mind. As I struggled to control my heightening anxiety, to balance my study schedule with my assignment deadlines, those with my part-time job, my fitness regimen, my healthy eating plan and my ‘on the side’ personal training course all with my own personal project of publishing my debut poetry collection I questioned whether a degree really was worth the hassle.

Yet as I struggled with no end in sight to find balance and order in my otherwise shaken world, I turned to the only One who could help me and just as He had promised:

‘Take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you.
Walk towards Me, I will run towards you’

Hadith Qudsi

And so I believe He did, He has and I believe, as I prayed to Him daily to help me find my balance between all the aspects of my life, as I pray to Him to help me ‘synchronise my paths of Deen and Dunya’

As I prayed and prayed I believe He sent me there, since yes, although it was a Whatsapp invitation that ‘invited me’ to the first ISOC Alumni talk, it is only by His divine decree that anything at all is possible. It is only by His mercy that I, despite my social anxiety, despite my own fears and worries of leaving the isolation I had encapsulated myself in for so long, I was able to attend. He sent me exactly where I needed to be and I believe He did so that I may share with you all that I learnt in hope it serves with you all, the very same purpose it served for me.

“In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”

‘Deen and Dunya’ is an ongoing internal struggle. Just as those in history struggled, just as Hawa and Adam (AS), just as the honourable Sahabahs struggled, we do too. The battle within our minds is not exclusive to ‘sinners’ or those who are ‘far from Islam’ rather the struggle of ‘Deen and Dunya’ is inevitable since our souls were not made for this world, they were created for the Hereafter.

A lesson we should all learn from the Prophet SAW is that He always looked to give solutions, despite the severity of someone’s sins or the graveness of a matter, He didn’t overindulge nor scold rather He always looked to find a solution, to offer a means of success despite the circumstance.

Sheikh Zahir also used the greatest role model known to mankind in order to explain his simple but effective structure when approaching leadership today. He categorised a few of the many beautiful attributes of the Messenger of Allah, beginning with:

Serve Other People

‘Each of you is a shepherd, each one will be asked about their flock’

What we tend to fail to realise whilst we’re all so busy being caught up with life and its daily affairs is that we have a responsibility over those around us. That our health and wellbeing is just as important as everybody we come across. It is important we never forget that serving Allahs creation, especially those who others don’t care for with acts of kindness is a form of ibadah in itself; not only does it make us feel good in this world but it will also benefit us in the hereafter (InshaAllah)

This quality overarches across the other ones explained by Sheikh Zahir, from having a firm resolve to being principled and steadfast on achieving. One of the main lessons to take away from this is that success is not instantaneous, regardless of the stages in life we are at, they are just that: STAGES.

Just as Rasoolullah SAW showed firm resolve and principles throughout his lifetime, the same qualities that allowed him to stand on the same Mount Saffa, 21 years apart, though the first time he was ignored and called a Majnoon (mad man) and the second? He was surrounded from every angle of the mountain by 124,000 people there to listen to him, just this story alone, is enough to show to us, whatever our goals are, in our deen and dunya the amount of effort we put in is the amount we will gain in return, if not in this world then in the hereafter. (InShaAllah)