By Nahian Chowdhury ‘16
Members of the Muslim Student Association host weekly discussions and debates on topics that affect the Muslim youth today.
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) meets once a week on Thursdays in room 167 during ninth period, led by faculty member Ms. Maysoun Mansour.
Mie Abouelkheir ‘16, the club co-founder started the Midwood chapter of the MSA over the summer. Originally, there was a Muslim Student Society, but it was inactive and Abouelkheir redesigned the club with the help of faculty members Ms.Marcia Kaufman and Ms.Mansour.
Each year, MSA students participate in the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST). This tournament includes activities such as basketball, film, photography and recitation of the scriptures. This is the first year that Midwood students will be participating in MIST. They will be competing against schools such as Townsend Harris, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science and Stuyvesant.
MSA discusses topics such as relationships, proper diet for Muslims and stereotypes about Islam.
“This club corrects many of the common misconceptions that individuals have about Islam. I encourage everyone to join. All faiths welcome,” said Shahzeib Cheema ‘16, “Since coming to MSA, I have learned a lot more about Islam and how it connects to the world.”
Amna Aslam ‘17 said, “I love being a part of MSA and the sense of community that it represents between the Muslim population of Midwood as well as the non-Muslims.”
The members help each other out with any personal problems and struggles they may be facing. Overall, it’s a learning environment in which they learn from each other.
“I gain knowledge that I can share with others. The club members answer a lot of my questions and help resolve any conflicts I may have. We’re all united, everyone is here for each other,” said Anas Cheema ‘16.
Discussions are diverse and may get heated but always manage to incorporate new ideas.
“I love hearing all the different opinions and perspectives,” said Salma Ashour ‘16.
Although allowing faith based clubs to meet on school grounds remains an area of debate, many students have positive views on clubs such as MSA.
Christina Patellos ‘16 thinks that religion-based clubs allow kids to learn about tolerance and acceptance.
“I wanted to join MSA but the reason I couldn’t is because I had class that period,” she said, “Clubs like MSA and Jewish club allow people from all different religions to learn more about each other.”
Ashour feels that faith based clubs are okay as long as “they don’t turn into cults or force other kids into believing in something they don’t already believe in.”
According to Abouelkheir, “We’re living in a community where theres so many people of so many backgrounds. If someone feels that they’re the only one, they should know that they’re not alone.”
Anas Cheema said, “I think it’s great to have religion based clubs because it’s an opportunity for students to learn more about the religion. It’s a great learning experience for people who are far away from their religion and wish to get closer.”
Anyone can join MSA, regardless of their religion, and the club has a significant number of students from other religious backgrounds.
“It’s not just a place for Muslims,” said Abouelkheir, “ We have interfaith discussions and we want to know about other religions and how we are able to create this community of open minded individuals.”
Eileen Chen ‘16 said, “Although I am not a member of the Islamic community, I feel welcome to join MSA at any point.”
One main concern of MSA members is the fact that the club meeting time has changed from ninth and tenth period to only ninth period.
Aslam said, “Since it has changed to ninth period, I have not been able to attend it. It’s more convenient for juniors and seniors, but most freshman and sophomores don’t have a chance to be a part of the community.”
Aamna Arshad ‘18 said she wanted to join MSA this year but couldn’t because she has class ninth period. Arshad added that she will try to join next year or the year after.
Abouelkheir said that the majority of members show up during ninth period, which is why the meeting time was changed. She added that attending meetings is not mandatory to be a member.
High school students have stressful schedules and finding time for clubs and extracurricular activities is tough. However, participating in non-academic activities can enrich students’ minds and open their eyes. According to Ashour, MSA is a sigh of relief in a busy schedule.
“I love that it’s a place for people of all religions to get together and have a bit of fun after a hectic school day and kind of voice their opinions without getting yelled at,” she said.