An Hijabi and one of the daughters of the renowned Muslim scholar, Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafii, Labeebah Damilola Dhikrullah has made her family and the entire Muslim community proud as she graduated from the University of Lagos with a first class honours.
Miss Labeebah, who studied Marine Sciences (Biology) at the prestigious University of Lagos was also among the top 3 students of the 2018/2019 class of 96 with Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.65.
She spoke with Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative islamic newspaper
I’m Labeebah Dhikrullah Damilola from the family Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafii. I’m the 6th child out of 14 children. I had my primary education at An-Najat International School, Surulere Lagos. Secondary School at Vanguards Academy, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state. My first JAMB score, 196, didn’t get me into the university. Instead of staying at home, I used it to gain admission into YABATECH. While in the Poly studying Food Technology, I tried another JAMB, and luckily for me, I had 246 which was what I used to gain into the University of Lagos. I had wanted to study Medicine and Surgery, but after seeing my score I didn’t want to waste another year without admission into the University, so, I sought for advice from a family friend, a lecturer in UNILAG who told me to do a change of course. I told my parents and prayed over it. Then I went ahead to get the form. Out of the courses available, Marine Sciences was the only ‘strange’ course being the first time seeing it. It got my attention and I felt it should be worth studying. Also is the fact that I’ve always loved documentaries about the ocean and what it entails. And, Alhamdulillah I got the admission. As soon as we started receiving lectures, my heart was so attached to the courses that I didn’t even think of writing another JAMB, and alhamdulillah, here we are today.
I later got motivated after making some online research about what the course entails. To be honest, Marine Sciences is a nice course. I felt like I was going to be an ocean diver. Besides, the department tried their best to make it practical-oriented for us unlike some other departments. In fact, we we had a swimming course, different field trips to Lagos Lagoon. We also went on an international trip to Ghana. In a nutshell, I love what I did and don’t regret choosing that ‘strange’ course.
There are Challenges. There’s no course without its own challenges, even life itself is full of challenges. What is important is how you are able to overcome the challenges. Especially for people like me who use the hijab, but Alhamdulillah I was able to overcome mine with the help of Allah and the guidance of my mentors.
Sometimes there are some courses that might warrant you to expose yourself as a Muslimah, for your own safety and its compulsory you do it. For example there was a compulsory course in year 2 on swimming. It was either you do it and pass or don’t do it and fail which will stop you from graduating.
How I handled mine?
Usually, we were divided into groups because you would hardly see any swimming pool that will accommodate us all at once. The division comprises of male and female, without doubt, one will surely be exposed, and trust many of these guys who would want to see how a Hijabi like me would swim (smiles). I sought advice from my dad (Sheikh Shafi’i). He gave me fatwahs (Islamic verdicts) on how to go about it and then told my mum (a proficient tailor and CEO Daarul khayr fashion) to sew me a befitting Islamic friendly swimming suit. I told my friend Aminah Abdulrahman about it and she agreed to get one as well since she also wears the Hijab. Some other sisters in the department saw it and loved it, so they asked my mum to also sew theirs. We were 5 in number that got the swimming suit. Other sisters in my department saw it and got it when it was time for them to swim too.
After we finally solved the challenge of exposure, the next challenge was how to avoid free mixing with men. Following the fatwah my dad gave me, I spoke with a mentor Rasheed Abubakar, who suggested getting a private swimming pool, exclusively for the females. We searched online and made enquiries before we finally got one at Onike. This cost me extra money because I had to attend the general swimming class which we paid a gate fee for. Yet I would go for my private class with Aminah. That was how I was able to overcome the challenge. We learnt it well and Alhamdulillah Aminah and I had an A in the course.
Being 3rd best in my department
First, it’s Allah that made it possible. I am grateful to Him for seeing me through and even ending up with a good result, Alhamdulillah. Being the third best gives me internal joy. For someone like me, I didn’t have a first-class cgpa in my year 1 but I saw the need to buckle up. I do set a target of 5.0 for myself every semester. There are some semesters where I met up and some I where didn’t. For every heartbeat before checking my result, to all kinds of emotions after checking it, I say Alhamdulillah. Sometimes I do feel discouraged about having a first class, but my mentor always encourages and motivates me not to give up and always pray to Allah for strength. I’m grateful, sir. May Allah bless you and your beautiful family, Ameen. Jazzakumullahu kayran.
After seeing my final results, I was happy. Another thing that gave me joy was that, out of 5 first class students in my department, 4 of us are Muslims. Abass Usman, Labeebah Dhikrullah, Alabi zainab and Ipadeola Lawal respectively. It was a prayer come true and I’m very grateful to Allah and to everyone that was part of my success story.
Going by my background, MSSN wasn’t new to me, so it was easy for me to join the Muslim students’ body when I entered UNILAG. I had been attending MSSN camps and other programmes before my admission into UNILAG. My Year 1 and 2, I assisted with MSSN Hall coordination, then coordinated in year 3 and 4. I got to know and influenced positively a lot of Muslim sisters in the hostel during hall coordination. It was fun and filled with good memories. When you set your goal and you know what you’re doing, there is no way your academic activities will be affected by being a member of MSSN, whose activities will improve you academically and spiritually. In fact, while in school, I sold newspaper (the print edition of this medium) at different Islamic functions, where I got some little money to support what I got from home. I also opened an hostel shop where I sold indomie, egg, isummer soaps, clothes, bags etc.
In the next five years?
At the moment, I am serving at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Abuja. It is the apex regulatory and promotional maritime. As for my next five years plan, may Allah spare my life till and beyond five years. Ameen. I should be done with my MSc, if possible should be a PhD student. I should be happily married to my soulmate, I should have a job and a side business on edibles. I will soon float one in Lagos and Abuja, it’s called SALADMOM, in shaa Allah. By then, I want to adhere strictly to the kitab and sunnah and live my life in accordance with the dictates of Allah, better than what I am doing now.
Advice to the young ones
My advice to my juniors is not to limit themselves and never settle for less. Be prayerful and always make positive impact anywhere you meet yourself.
I want to thank Allah (SWT), my parents, my mentors, my colleagues, my friends, VAOSA family, MSSN members, my roommates and Muslims at large. Also, I want to specially thank all the staff of NIMASA at the Abuja zonal office for their moral and financial support towards the success of my convocation ceremony. I say Jazzakumullahu kayran katheerah fi dunya wal akhirah.
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