Being a Muslim at Brum can be tough. These are the best ways to handle it
There’s plenty of support for you here
Fresher’s week is just around the corner and it can be an extremely exciting time in any fresher’s life. However, for Muslim students, it can be a very daunting experience.
From not being able to drink with everyone else in your halls to looking out for Halal meals, it’s not easy.
‘You can’t have fun unless you’re totally pissed’ – a common misconception. Some of the most fun you might ever have at university will be when you’re sober. Of course, for some of you, alcohol is a major aspect of uni life and most of fresher’s is based around getting wasted and desperately trying to recall last night’s antics.
But, a lot of students don’t like to drink alcohol or are discouraged from drinking entirely and I guarantee there are other things for you guys to do. The University of Birmingham is home to many ethnic societies such as BEMA (Black and Ethnic Minorities Association), Pakistani Society and almost any other ethnic society you could think of – so make sure to keep an eye out for them and get involved.
Idman Hussein, Head Sister of the Islamic Society spoke to us about her pre-university worries and how the ISoc made her feel right at home.
“Before coming to university, I was apprehensive about not having my needs as a Muslim student catered for. Fortunately, the ISoc put an end to my worries by having prayer rooms and wudhu (ablution) facilities within the Guild of Students and a multitude of halal food options close to campus. The ISoc also provides regular lectures and workshops pertaining to Muslim students that make it easier to maintain spirituality in such a busy environment. All in all, the ISoc is a wonderful platforms for the Muslim student to meet like-minded friends and to foster meaningful relationships.”
Here’s where you’re in luck. Selly Oak (where almost every non-fresher lives) offers almost everything you’ll ever need to eat as a Muslim. With halal takeaways, restaurants, the infamous Selly Sausage and more than enough supermarkets, you’ll soon come to see that you can eat almost anywhere in Selly.
Birmingham’s Islamic Society (ISoc) is the perfect place for you to meet fellow Muslim students, make friends and practise Islam in the university environment. With a multi-faith chaplaincy and regular ISoc meetings, you’ll never be alone or without something to do on or off campus.
This year, the Pakistani Society and BEMA have put together an awesome ‘Alternative’ Fresher’s Week for all fresher’s and returning students too. Some of the big events include an evening buffet at Jimmy Spices Restaurant, an Eid social, laser tag, desserts nights at Star City and an outdoor traditional party with Pakistani food and drink.
Hamzah Sheikh, this year’s president of the Pakistani Society, explains why he decided to organise a non-alcoholic fresher’s:
“When I came to this University I was eager to get involved from day one and make the most out of my time here as a student – however as much as I got involved in the clubbing events I realised even though they were impressive and popular it wasn’t enough for people like me.
“The main issue here was the lack of choice. What we want to deliver is the option for people to have fun and make the most of what this brilliant city has to offer, so students don’t need to feel pressured into atmospheres they aren’t comfortable with and have a brilliant launch to their experience.
“We’re happy to live in a multicultural city with the best entertainment and food for the student population, our goal is to help them explore those places and all of their graces.”
The multi-faith chaplaincy and designated prayer rooms in the Guild of Students plays host to many Muslim students throughout the day, taking a break to pray their daily prayers between lectures. Selly Oak also houses a small mosque less than a mile from campus and if you’re really willing to travel, Birmingham’s beautiful Central Mosque is a five minute taxi ride away (perfect if you’re going with a group of friends). The Friday prayer is offered on campus every Friday in the chaplaincy and is a great place to meet other Muslim students, take a break or have lunch in the Guild right after!
Discover Islam Week
Every year, the ISoc host’s a Discover Islam week – a whole week of events dedicated to providing Muslims with the chance to socialise with each other, learn more about their religion and engage with non-muslim students who wish to learn more about Islam. The following photos are from last year’s Discover Islam Week which always promises to be a great week of talks, meetings and lots of great food!
The best way to stay up to date with any society event’s or meetings is through social media. Facebook is used by almost every society to let members know of meeting times and scheduled events. Many societies have Twitter, Email and Instagram so you will never have reason to miss out on anything. It’s also a great starting point in meeting people through the Facebook groups and especially if you can’t make it to the Societies fair. All societies are listed on the Guild of Students website where you can become a member. You can follow the Islamic Society here @.
Finding a society that works for you is a great feeling and can be your platform to making amazing lifelong friendships. A current member of the ISoc explains how he felt having found the society.
“When I found the ISoc, I felt like a child who’d just discovered a secret stash of sweets. Finally, I felt like I could “belong” somewhere. The ISoc gave me support and I made many great friends.”
After spending one day at the Societies Fair in Fresher’s Week, you’ll have seen almost everything you could have possibly imagined (hmm, maybe not some of them). Societies at Birmingham are extremely diverse and believe me when I say, there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s sports, dance, music or something totally crazy like Battle Re-enactment that interests you – Birmingham offers it!
So make sure to get yourselves down to the Societies Fair on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th September and make the most of your first year as a Muslim student.