Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Understanding Muslims on Campus
Standing at the Gates of Georgetown, Father Godfry and I discussed the upcoming Muslim Student Association (MSA) Fast-A-Thon. In my capacity as President of the Georgetown MSA, Father Godfry and I regularly met to discuss MSA events and activities. Often we discussed the reoccurring question of religious groups on campus: what, if any, are the membership criteria?
For MSA National, inclusion is not a question of ‘if,’ rather the focus is on ‘how’ and ‘how best,’ to be inclusive. Two of our guiding principles summarize our outlook: Moderation is the compass of our journey. Tolerance is the banner of our outreach. Simply put, Muslim students are encouraged to reach out to, embrace, appreciate and include everyone who wishes to work with and serve students on campus. And lest our critics claim that this is a post-9/11 outlook, in early 2000, The MSA Link, published an article entitled “Embracing the Silent Majority,” which outlined strategies on being inclusive and the best ways to reach out to students on campus.
Even as far back as our founding, the first president of MSA National, in 1963, was a Shiite; over the years the organization has taken great strides, including having two female presidents and several female executive board members, to create a more inclusive and representative body of students across North America. In addition, MSA National’s cadres of volunteers across the
MSA National is an inherently North American organization, founded and led initially by the best and the brightest of the Muslim world, who sought refuge here from repression and injustice in their homelands. Today it is led and supported by second and third generation American and Canadian Muslims, whose sole desire is to serve humanity and in doing so, to serve God. Programs like the Fast-A-Thon and Project Downtown, which promote interfaith understanding, while raising funds and consciousness to end hunger and homelessness in America and Canada, are more reflective of who Muslim students really are. And ultimately, Muslim Students, just like any other college students – seek to be understood for who they really are.
Asma Mirza serves as President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) National. She is the second female President in the organization’s 45 year history. Mirza is currently an MBA Student at the
Monday, March 3, 2008
Although I've been to Pakistan only a few times in my life, I felt myself feeling sensitive. It wasn't my personal history, but the Indian-Pakistani separation is an integral part of my family's history. Hearing the students debate colonization, I began to imagine my grandparents migrating, joining the millions who walked miles to get to Pakistan.
My parents would have been young children. A baby, my mother would have strapped to my grandmother's back in make-shift cloth sling. My toddler father probably walked hand in hand with his older brother. These were people I loved, whose blood flows through my veins.
If I felt goosebumps during a simple economic discussion, I can't imagine what other grandchildren feel when people discuss segregation, slavery, apartheid, genocide, holocaust, or other troubling periods of human history.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
This weekend my MSA at UMD is hosting the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST). As MIST is part of the MSA National family, I've heard alot about the tournament and worked closely with Shazia, the founder. But this is the first time I've had the opportunity to help first-hand with this amazing MSA project.
Like most MSA events, MSAers bond over their mutual excited and tired-ness. Sitting on the floor, laughing about the skits and how our feet hurt, I've already learned more about my MSA sisters in one day than I did all year long. Talking about why she started wearing hijab, or our vision for the Fast-A-Thon, our bond as organizers somehow causes us to drop our guard and talk about real issues.
One thing for sure, high school kids are very high-energy MSAers who are up for anything. While role-playing might cause college MSAers to roll their eyes, high school MSAers jump for joy and give it their all. Lets hope I make it through the weekend!