Design courtesy of MSA

Design courtesy of MSA

Alex Bacon/The AS Review

Over the past two quarters, the Muslim Student Association has been active on campus and in Bellingham in a variety of ways, both social and educational, through dialogues, panels and potlucks.

According to their mission statement, the goals of the MSA are to create unity and awareness across campus, Muslims and non-Muslims included, through dialogues, community service and social activities.

According to MSA President Imtiaz Arshi and MSA Vice President Ahmed Abdirizak, they’ve participated in the “Ask Us Anything” panel on campus put on by the Freethinker’s Society and the “Islam after 9/11” panel hosted by the Ally Building Network. In addition, they have also gone ice skating with the AS Ethnic Student Center and had a potluck dinner with the Muslim community in Bellingham, among other activities.

The Muslim Student Association at Western was founded five years ago and is one of many Muslim Student Associations across the country.

One of the biggest challenges MSA has faced is getting a consistent membership, Arshi said.  In the past, MSA was very small, with five or six consistent members.  Now, there are usually 15 to 20 members at each meeting, though that number is constantly fluctuating, Arshi said.

“MSA is not an exclusive club,” Abdirizak said.

“It’s supposed to be an educational experience for everyone,” Arshi said.  “We’d like MSA to be another aspect of your educational experience.”

Fabiola Arvizu, a non-Muslim member of the club, began going to MSA meetings at the beginning of winter quarter.  She first went to a meeting because she was interested in learning about Islam.  Members of MSA are happy to answer any questions about Islam she has, Arvizu said.

“I come every week now,” Arvizu said.

According to Abdirizak, MSA has given him a deeper knowledge of Islam and an opportunity to grow with other Muslims and non-Muslims by creating awareness about Islam through reading, discussing, panels and dialogue centered around contemporary Islamic issues. He hopes to continue to grow, learn and share with the campus and community.
“I think MSA is a support network to help you stick to your moral code,” Arshi said.

Coming to college makes sticking to any moral code difficult, but MSA serves as a support system and reminder to help members stay true to ideals that they have chosen to follow, Arshi said.

Both Arshi and Abdirizak value the sense of community MSA has given them.

MSA meets at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Viking Union Activities Center on the 4th floor.  There will be no meetings during dead week or finals week, but meetings will start up again the first week of spring quarter and MSA has many activities planned.

MSA is planning to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club and possibly the Bellingham Food Bank.  They have plans to participate in Relay for Life and are co-hosting a film called “New Muslim Cool” with the AS Social Issues Resources Center (SIRC).

One of the biggest events MSA has in the works is Islam Awareness Week, which, according to Badatu Dawud, a member of MSA, is a weeklong event in which MSA will be tabling in Red Square to share information about different aspects of Islam.

Islam Awareness Week is a national event put on at colleges and universities all over the country to educate and raise awareness. The Islam Awareness Week at Western will happen in late April or early May and will feature a speaker on the last day.

For more information, attend a meeting or contact Ahmed Abdirizak at abdirizakahm@gmail.com.