MSA ThankOff

Many of my life experiences have been highly influenced by years of constantly moving homes to chase the best school system, no matter where in the garden state it was.  Since I was continuously moving, there was always that fear that whether I liked it or not, I was going to lose some people on my journey in life, but it was expected. After all, I’ve moved about 6 to 7 times already and went to 5 different schools before even getting to high school. Thankfully, being curious by nature, I was always open minded about what Allah SWT had in store for me. I was ready to be removed out of my current situation in a moment’s notice if He so willed it. I knew that He was always watching me, a lone bean, along with many other billions of beans, and that He only wants what is best for us no matter how we perceive what He gifts us.

However,  when it came to joining the MSA, I was hesitant. I had first heard about MSA back in high school, but to me MSA was just a bunch of strung together letters; I had no idea what they meant. Sophomore year of high school, I remember seeing a flier for an MSA meeting, to which my only reaction was, “Oh boy, they really stepped up their marketing ey,” and then proceeded to walk under said flier almost every day without once thinking of attending, rather just slightly ticked off by the angle it was taped in. At the time, I never was big on this whole “Muslims hanging out and being all mozlemy together” shabang, and wrongly assumed the worst since not all the Muslims I knew were exactly the overly welcoming “EYYYYYY ISLAM SALAMALAM MAH FAM-a-LAMMM” kinda deal. To this day I wonder if it would have killed some people to just blurt out a salam or something. But I digress. And so, I was never excited about joining the MSA coming into Rutgers. However, this close-minded attitude could have made me miss out on what would become one of the best experiences of my life in college.

To this day, I can’t wrap my head around the idea that I was somehow greeted in to the beautiful Rutgers MSA family with open arms and seamlessly accepted as one of its own. I can’t comprehend how on Earth I managed to befriend the people I have within this MSA; who I’m proud to call brothers, sisters, big brothers, big sisters, uncles, aunties and so on. Being an older sibling to a younger brother has its perks and all, but it’s refreshing to be the younger one, under the wing of a wiser human being. However, no amount of preparation from constantly moving and having to start new friendships could have been enough to protect me from the idea that these beautiful people I just met were also under what I like to call, the “Curse of the Senior”.

Highly effective against freshmen they left an impact on, the curse of the senior was like a ticking time bomb. It was only a matter of time until the people you didn’t have much time to get to know thoroughly had to get up, pack their reality bags, and leave their Undergraduate life behind in search of greater things for themselves and for the rest of humanity. Alhamdulillah I got the chance to at least befriend them and enjoy the limited time we did have together while we still had it. I tried to milk every second of it, cuz ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Everyday, ever since the first MSA kickoff event, I wondered how my fall and spring semesters would have turned out had I not befriended the aforementioned “other beans” in the vast MSA bowl we all resided in. I have this beautiful Rutgers MSA family alongside my actual family to thank for my grades, enriched experiences, decreased stress on the pre-med track (well the bad stress was replaced with the good kind Alhamdulilah), and increased happiness. I think of how much more difficult my life would have been if I didn’t have my faith to hold on to and how I shouldn’t take things for granted. Life works in mysterious ways that one cannot fathom completely or even in the slightest. It could hit hard with the good and the bad throughout the years, or pinch you from time to time to remind you it’s still there. I’ve had friends of all ages growing up, but never have I ever been treated like a younger brother or even a similar aged brother. Some could say it was a…be-you-tiful… experience altogether.

I felt as if this is probably the only type of closure I can get with the departed senior class so BOY did I run for that opportunity when I got the chance to write a blog post for submissions. Let me just say, even if you were a person who just went out of your way to say salam to me and that’s it, I still appreciated it immensely for I never had the chance to really take part in such a simple thing like that growing up with a majority of non Muslims. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed growing up around them quite a lot and credit who I am today due to those beans being in my pot of Life, but there’s just a certain joy that I get out of yelling out SALAMS BROZER or SALAMS SISTAH to people who know what I’m saying. Of course, even then it’s not always as well received as I had hoped it would be and I have to tone it down with some but ey nothing’s perfect amirite?

A New Jersey sized thank you for skimming, scanning, reading, feasting upon this post with your eyes, whatever you beans do, and have a blessed day.


Islam Abdelmotaleb

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