New Muslim Student Association provides forum, safe space for kids

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Sarah Elbeshbishi

First meeting of the Muslim Student Association

Sarah Elbeshbishi

Students formed a new Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Watkins Mill this year, helping to offer some solidarity during the current political climate.

Last year, the association lacked a sponsor, preventing  it from being an official organization. However, this year the school was able to find a teacher willing to take the position. “[Athletic director Reggie] Spears [asked] if some teachers would be interested in sponsoring two different organizations,” MSA sponsor Chris Smith said. “I felt like it was going to be a good opportunity for both of us.”

Though the club focuses on Islam, the organization isn’t just for Muslim students; they’re a service organization planning to help students who need to earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours and those who are seeking knowledge of Islam. MSA also welcomes anyone, Muslim or not, to come and express personal feelings and thoughts.    

The club plans to have fundraisers and charity events to aide local communities and war-torn countries, while also educating others. “I want people to know that ISIS does not represent us [or] our religion,” senior Maryam Habib said. “We just simply want to change Islam’s image and prove that…our religion is not about terrorism, it’s about peace.”   

A major goal is help change the current image of Islam, but also provide safety and support  for “Muslims and especially people who aren’t from this country [because they] are targeted a lot,” junior Je’nan Hayes said. “And that can cause some unsafe [conditions] in America, especially at this time and day.”  

Importance of diversity is stressed in education in general, but there seems to be a disconnect between some minorities and the educational system. “I am a Muslim and I feel…like schools in general don’t make it a priority…like schools don’t make that much of an effort to make us feel comfortable [or make us feel safe] to go out wearing our hijab…[and] I feel like that’s important,” Habib added.        

Muslim Student Association may aim to help mend that bridge between Islam and the world, but it’s also “an opportunity to talk about issues that affect them…to…gather and relax a little bit too,” Smith added.  “I mean they’re students, they’re kids so we’re going to try to provide a forum for that… because all people need voice.” 

MSA meets on Fridays during STEP in room B219.

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