by Shan Ali
So it’s that time of year again. Somehow an entire year passed us by, preparations for final papers and exams already began (or maybe not) and MSA elections are just around the corner—this Thursday to be exact. Many may wonder, “So what? Do elections even matter?” Let’s take a step back before we answer that question.
Last month at Project Ummah, MSA members gave out over 1000 bags of candy to random Rutgers students. Although I’m not on shura this year, it’s safe to say planning an event that large was not easy. It took days to make all the bags, not to mention all the efforts that went into organizing the barbeque. Some may ask, “Why would you want to spend so much time planning such large events?” And the answer is quite simple. Allah subhana wa ta’ala gave us a trust—and that trust is Islam. Spreading it among the people of Rutgers is how we fill that trust. So it wasn’t much more than mere bags of candy we spread. It was a message: a message to smile, because our Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam told us to smile and be happy. Students all over Rutgers received these bags, and from the responses on Twitter it was clear it made their day. Even though they didn’t know the individual giving it to them, they knew it was coming from the #MuslimsOfRutgers. Moments like these make all the hard work and efforts worth every minute.
After what will be my fifth year at Rutgers, I can safely say no other club does as much as the MSA. It truly is a blessing when you think about it. From the Eid banquet, Road to Revival, Project Ummah, and Islam Awareness Week, to the countless general events, socials (#MSABondFire), community service, tutoring services, and da’wah events (there’s a da’wah table at the DCC next week, btw!), it goes without saying MSA really raised the bar this year, Masha’Allah. In fact, I remember a few years ago, our student advisor told us the MSA had the most programming (events) when compared to every other student organization on campus. Wow. I can only imagine that number increased, both in terms of quantity and quality. And none of this would be possible without a strong group of leaders, the shura and specialty officers.
I’m sure you heard it at some point: don’t be a part of MSA, don’t be on shura, don’t get involved, don’t go to their events, etc. And if you haven’t heard it, you may already have some preconceived perception about what the shura really does. Take it from someone who was on the shura in the past—your perceptions could not be farther from the truth.
Yes, of course being on the shura is not easy, but how often are the good things in life easy? Is it easy to get into medical school? Is it easy to become a successful business owner? How about law? Nursing? Pharmacy? Grad school? PhD? The list goes on. And trust me when I say this, there is no better experience in college than being a part of MSA. You may say I’m biased, and maybe I am…partially. But get this: RU-MSA is one of the largest MSAs in the country, with one of the most diverse student bodies that has over 4,000 Muslims. Can you even begin to imagine the reward that comes with serving not only the Muslim community at Rutgers, but the non-Muslims as well (with IAW, and the like)?
“But I don’t have time…”
Yes, you do. You just choose to waste a lot of it. Let’s be real now. Can any of us say we don’t waste at least 2-3 hours a week (TV, computer, movies, hanging out with friends, avoiding studying, etc.)? Make use of the short amount of time you have in college (because it flies by), and do something that will not only benefit others, but also benefit you by becoming a better person. I’m not saying everyone should jump up to take a leadership role, but start small and help out with a committee or at an event! As one shura member this year said, it’s a way of “getting closer to Allah subhana wa ta’ala and learning to work as a team,” a skill valuable no matter what career path you choose.
“I’m not ready to lead the MSA…”
The beauty of the MSA election process is that it solves this problem. Only people the general public sees as fit for leading the organization will make it onto the shura. If you do not think you are ready to lead, but the general consensus thinks otherwise, maybe you are doubting your capabilities? Trust Allah subhana wa ta’ala, and remember that He is the Best of the Planners.
وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
“And put thy trust in Allah, for Allah is sufficient as Trustee.” [Qur’an 33:03]
So how does the election process work exactly?
The general members nominate people they feel best to lead the MSA the following year. After a member seconds the nomination, the name goes on a chalkboard. At the end of nominations the board will contain all the nominees. Each member votes for 7 people and after all the votes are tallied, the 7 members with the most votes will become the new shura.
Last, one of the most important things I would like to stress is voting. All members have the responsibility—not just right—to vote. I emphasize responsibility because it is your duty to vote for whomever you think is best to lead this organization. Don’t nominate your friends because you think they are funny and love to goof around. Nominate people that are dedicated, committed members, who will take MSA to even greater heights in the future Insha’Allah. Just as the leaders of MSA have an amanah (trust) to lead this organization with the best of their abilities, so too do the members in voting in their leaders.
Remember, there is no better way to spend your free time than working for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. While MSA is not the only way, it is definitely one organization that will make your Rutgers experience a memorable one. As one shura member said, “This has been the best experience of my life.”
By the way, the title of this post was a joke. If you only clicked the article because of it, I guess it worked.