Friday, November 30, 2007

Yasmin Elhady Represents

My dear friend and member of the MSA National Media and Communication Action Task Force Yasmin Elhady asked a question at this year's GOP Republican CNN-YouTube debate.

Way to represent Muslim Students exercise the power of the press to ask a serious question!

Remembering on World AIDS Day

When I was two-feet tall I shyly walked into a kindergarten classroom. As my big brother and sister let go of my hand, I looked around the room at 17 strangers. Within a few minutes Bernie and I had become the best of friends and vowed to be friends forever and ever.

Nine years later I stared at my friend, laying in her open casket.

Born prematurely, Bernie needed a blood transfusion when she was 2 days old. It was the 80's and no one knew about HIV or AIDS, including the Red Cross. Before she left the hospital Bernie had contracted HIV.

Bernie is one of millions of children who died of HIV and AIDS. These victims deserve the support of the entire world. From a simple prayer to donating to find a cure, be involved in one of the largest health crisis of our time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Condolences I

As I edited a Press Release for the monthly MSA Eletter, I received an e-mail stating a sister from UCLA had passed away. My heart sank as I opened my e-mail to send an "Updated Condolences" section.

The one part of the Eletter you hope you never have to "update" is the condolences section. In one month three MSA students, to my knowledge, died. Active, religious, students like me. Yet all over the world thousands of people die each day of thirst, starvation, disease, and war.

Death is a reminder; a reminder that you, yes you, will one day no longer exist. Your life's worth won't be measured by how many people read your blog or the name on your diploma but by one entity alone; and that opinion is all that matters.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Little Rock, Big Impact

Less than 24 hours ago I hugged Zainab goodbye as I prepared to leave Little Rock, Arkansas.

In the less than 11 hours that I had known Zainab, we had bonded. She told me about how her brothers, lacking an MSA, had found a comfortable home at a Fraternity that respected their religion. We discussed everything from Muslim Country singer Kareem Salama to MSA and youth group. But for me the most amazing thing about our discussions was that Zainab was 11 years old. Despite the fact that she was half my age, as two American-born Muslim sisters we found a lot to talk about.

My time in Little Rock was a brief retreat from classes and e-mails. I had been invited by ISNA in my capacity as an advisor to MYNA and my role with MSA National to speak about Youth Development. The enthusiasm and excitement of these youth, parents and MSAers was contagious and yet eye opening. The presentations, practical advice, and resources were welcomed with hungry eyes by the community members so eager to take their organizations to the next level.

While I remain obsessed with organizational management, my e-mail, and have a cell phone practically sewed into my hijab, physically seeing the needs of our diverse, dispersed community and working directly with students will always be my passion. This is the stuff that drives activists: making a positive difference in the lives of others all in the service of God.

When I first got involved with MSA National as a zonal rep, my activism completely changed. From serving 20+ Muslim students on campus, I was now connected to hundreds. Starting an MSA in Maryland, holding a workshop in New Jersey, meeting with a council chair in DC to discuss how to address issues; this is the life of a zonal rep. And it is by far the biggest joy and Amana, trust, at the same time.

The goal of any institution, for or non-profit, is take what one person can do to the next level; to serve its users better on a larger scale. I have never believed more in the need for strong organizations that serve our community. Like Zainab said, we need people to do more.

Saturday, November 10, 2007