This reflection paper is based on the interview with the Muslim Students Association officer Maria. The work aims to assess how the organization experiences collaboration with other communities, how it operates and what it strives to achieve.
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The MSA is active in the US and Canada. The organization was originally founded in 1963. In the present day, the MSA operates as a network of independent communities in universities and colleges across the US and Canada. Chapters of the organization operate in various famous institutions such as the MIT and the Yale University. The MSA works to unify Muslim students of all cultural backgrounds, protect and support the traditions of Islam. It also strives to dispel the stereotypes regarding Islam and raise money for charity. According to Maria, the MSA runs various events including Hijab Awareness Day, Islam Awareness Week and a charity drive called Fast-a-Thon. The Fast-A-Thon, which takes places during the month of Ramadan. It is an event which encourages students of all religions to fast for a day, according to Islamic traditions and donate money to various charities. The Islam Awareness Week is a regular event, held since the early 1990s. During that week, the MSA offers information about Islamic traditions and ideals through various sources, including interactive games, free literature, and speeches by the prominent Muslim figures. The Hijab Awareness Day is a part of the global initiative, which encourages women of all denominations around the world to try and wear a hijab. The event aims to help women understand how it feels to wear it and support the idea that wearing hijab can be a personal choice. These initiatives are aimed to raise public awareness of Islam and clarify to the people of other religions the meaning and importance of various Islamic traditions. They also serve to bring together and unify the Muslim students.
Maria also mentioned that collaboration with other student organizations is extremely important for the MSA. She states that it helps their organization maintain open-mindedness and learn about other’s thoughts and beliefs. Presently they focus on collaboration with Hindu Students’ Community. Both organizations share the goal of maintaining the students’ connection with their faiths. HSC runs similar initiatives including the Mantra Project, aimed to help people learn Hindu mantras in Sanskrit and Hinduism Awareness Week, which seeks to correct common misconceptions about the religion and explain its rites and traditions to the general public. With both goals and methods so similar the collaboration between MSA and HSC makes a lot of sense. Sharing experience and supporting each other can help both organizations develop their programs and initiatives, making them more efficient.
The MSA fulfills two important roles. Firstly, it brings Muslim students together, helps them stay in touch with each other and their religion. Secondly, it works to improve the public image of Islam, which suffered terribly due to the recent terrorist activity around the world. The MSA works to clarify what Islam really is and teach people more about this religion. They try to coordinate their efforts with other similar organizations, like HSC, which helps to improve the work of both organizations as they strive to achieve similar goals for two different religions. Even facing prosecution by the government which went as far as the organization being monitored by the New York Police Department, the MSA continues its mission to support Muslim students.