At times, with all the pressures and challenges that come our way, college can feel like a race. A four-year dash (maybe three if you’ve got on good shoes) to the finish line seems like a delightfully difficult feat. Our University culture often emphasizes the end result of our accomplishments- we are expected to focus on final grades, on graduation, on making it to the finish line and doing whatever it takes to get there. We are trained to anticipate the success of crossing that line, rather than cherishing the blessed journey that takes us there.
But a successful college journey isn’t a dash. It’s a marathon that requires building much stamina and endurance. College is a time when we enhance our worldview, reflect on systems of power, challenge common misconceptions, and evaluate our life priorities. Little value is to be found in a journey that emphasizes the end at the expense of the process. Finding value in the journey comes through an appreciation of all the planning, thinking, and most importantly, the people who are constant forms of inspiration and support who stand by your side in your journey to get to where you want to be.
The Muslim Students’ Association grew out of a response to a real need- a need to provide Michigan students a space to feel comfortable and empowered with their Muslim identities. It grew out of a need to collectively and frankly engage the broader community at a time when our faith was and has become heavily demonized and intensely politicized. And it continues to grow with the goal of providing students room to learn and thrive in the midst of a strong-one-of-a-kind sense of sisterhood and brotherhood.
Our Muslim community, much like the broader campus community we are proudly a part of, is spirited and diverse- a hub of emerging visionaries and leaders. The brilliant individuals who make up our community come in through many doors- some arriving with an extensive understanding of their faith, and others with no religious background; some from strong youth-based communities where they held active roles, and others from fragmented communities where they felt marginalized or alienated. Diversity- in all of its forms- is a key feature of our community’s barakah, and the Muslim Students’ Association is here to serve all.
Whether it’s through academic assistance, personal development, spiritual direction, or in helping you discover and nourish your passions and interests, the community is here for you, in every possible way, to make your college experience the absolute best it can be. Each one of us has a story and a page to contribute to Michigan’s legacy, the MSA is here to help you create that legacy.
If you are a new Wolverine, I encourage you to join us in building and contributing to the exceptional Michigan Muslim experience. Get involved in what interests you- whether that’s volunteering at the Community Kitchen over the weekend, planning for the highly-anticipated annual Michigan Muslims Banquet, facilitating spaces for interfaith dialogue, becoming involved in campus activist initiatives, attending mini-Qiyam on Monday nights, or bringing in something entirely new for us to celebrate in the future. In the true sense of community-building, I hope that you will take a step forward in enhancing not only your own college experience, but also of those around you.
I pray that you find your destination and that your journey is abundant with blessings and achievements by the grace and help of Allah (SWT).
We hope to meet you before the finish line!
Zeinab Khalil, Muslim Students’ Association President