By Ghadeer Alaradi, Student Life Editor
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) is a national organization that has been on The University of Michigan-Dearborn campus for over 20 years.
The purpose of MSA is to connect Muslim and non-Muslim students on campus and to provide a place for Muslims to connect and learn from each other.
MSA’s goals for this semester are to connect with the local and campus community at large.
MSA hosts educational, social, and community events on campus. They also host a congregational prayer every Friday, because Friday is a holy day for Muslims.
This semester, Friday prayers will be held in Kochoff Hall, because the reflection room isn’t large enough for everyone attending.
MSA has about 30-35 members including the general body members.
Despite the large Muslim population in Dearborn, MSA has not seen as much involvement from most Muslims.
“We’ve had people out of state come and express their shock due to the lack of involvement from Muslims on campus because of that reason,” said Sameerah Mohiuddin, the Director of Sisterhood.
MSA members are also open and responsive to questions from non-Muslims. “I still get the “why do you wear Hijab” question,” said Mariam Asadullah, the President of MSA.
“Once someone asked me, “What if your head is itching you?” said Malak Nasser, the Secretary.
“Because we’re so surrounded by Muslims, non-Muslims become curious about Islam, and they want to ask questions but they don’t know how to approach us. Once people become friends with each other, these questions come up,” said Amina Marini, the Finance Chair.
“We’re still here as MSA to answer these questions, and people have approached us at our MSA cubicle and asked us questions, which is always welcome,” said Mohiuddin. “As the school is expanding with The Union, more people are coming from out of state, and I can see the curiosity in their eyes.”
One of MSA’s most successful events is the Fast-a-thon, which they have been hosting every year since Fall 2013. Fast-a-thon is a national event held by the same organization (MSA) on different campuses.
Fast-a-thon is an event in which students and faculty members participate in fasting the entire day from sunrise until sunset. This is a practice observed by Muslims during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Many participants were non-Muslims, including Vice Chancellor Henderson. “Non-Muslims are interested in this, because it’s going for a good cause and they’re trying something new,” said Asadullah.
Participants pledged $10 to fast for a day, break their fast together, and share their experiences with each other. The people who pledged also received a “pledge pack”, which included a drawstring bag, a t-shirt, and more. All proceeds went to three or four charities.
The Fast-a-thon has quickly become an annual event that MSA holds, and they are hoping to make it a tradition.
The Unity Dinner is also one of MSA’s traditions on the UM-Dearborn campus. MSA has held the Unity dinner every year since 9/11 to bridge the gap between different religions.
“The dinner was formed to create a better relationship with the greater Detroit community and to let them know more about us and vice versa,” said Mohiuddin.
The Unity Dinner attracts different students every year, and it is held in a venue outside of campus. The panel of speakers come from different backgrounds, and they emphasize the similarities between different religions.
“People shouldn’t shy away from joining just because they aren’t Muslim – we have a non-Muslim on our EBoard,” said Asadullah.
Students can join MSA by joining their mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their general body meetings are held every other Monday at 5 p.m.. Their first general body meeting for the semester is Jan. 26.