My older brother recently asked why in my last post I included the number of Jummah Attendees as a commonly used metric for measuring an MSA's success.
From my experience MSAs commonly use three metrics when conveying the size of their MSA: Jummah attendance, event attendance, and active members. The conversation typically goes something like:
Jummah Attendance: 100
Events Attendance: 25
Active Members: 10
But what many MSAers may not know is that Jummah was/is the lifeblood of so many MSAs.
Before there were MSAs there was Jummah on campus. In the early 1940's, many immigrant Muslims came to the US and Canada to study and for the first time they were living without a masjid. There was no mosque let alone Muslims nearby. While not ideal, it only presented a real problem for Jummah prayer. The mere word indicates a group, a gathering of Muslims who come together to pray. And as most Muslims know, this congregation is manditory.
With no masjid to go to, Muslims began seeking out each other to create their ad hoc Jummah on campus. My dad used to tell me that there were only three brothers on his campus, and they'd take turns leading the prayer.
From this mandatory gathering grew relationships, a sense of community, MSAs and eventually the MSA of the US and Canada.
How beautiful, this mandatory congregation grew into the first sense of Muslim community many immigrant Muslims would know. For so many it truly became their home away from home.
How sad then that our active membership is so disparate from our Jummah numbers. The Muslims still come to pray; but do our MSAs do a good job encouraging their participation the other six days of the week? Perhaps its not a matter of passing our fliers or making announcements, but going back to basics, the individual relationships that created our MSAs in the first place.