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RU-MSA Roundup

Catch up on what’s around the corner or anything you might have missed.

We’ve come a long way from where we began.

Yesterday was the last official day of 2014-15 MSA, and tomorrow’s the last official event, Insha’Allah. It’s a bittersweet ending and we’ve definitely come a long, long way… so before we go, here are a few (a lot of?) words from some of the past year’s shura and specialty officers. Insha’Allah, there’s some benefit in them… and don’t forget to leave your responses below, too!

Shura

The Chosen One (President)

AKA: Samosa Squad Leader, Taufeeq Ahamed

Why’d you get involved? Initially I joined MSA HOPE, because few things feel more rewarding than doing community service with your Muslim brothers and sisters, and the next semester I served as the Da’wah table head and a quasi-IAW head. From there, I was inspired at seeing the enthusiasm that MSA workers had toward their duties to this organization. Nights, weekends, breaks, none of these were free from MSA work for these individuals. They clearly weren’t doing it as a resume filler, they were motivated by a much higher purpose for their work. That inspired me and made me realize the importance of being able to leave some sort of legacy here at RU in my short time here, that’ll stay for me as a source of reward even when I’m long gone from here. Not only that, I’ve learned that there’s a ton of fun to be had working with the MSA in whatever capacity that you do, and believe it or not, that fun only increases as you get more and more involved.

Unless you’re president. Presidents don’t have fun.

Favorite MSA moment? Believe it or not, it was the day before IAW, Set-up Sunday. There was just something absolutely beautiful seeing almost 30-40 MSA family members show up to spend their entire Sunday setting up an event, with no incentive whatsoever. It humbles you to see how much enthusiasm there is in this community to help each other out, and to help this MSA reach even greater heights.

Most embarrassing MSA moment? You mean that one time Preacher Moss, our Eid Banquet keynote performer, accidentally ended up in a Mexican Restaurant in New Brunswick because the address we gave him was for the Joyce Kilmer Avenue in New Brunswick, and not the one in Piscataway for the Livingston Student Center? Because I don’t know what you’re talking about.

How about some words of wisdom? If you were to ask me what the ultimate purpose of our MSA is, its pretty simple, and its essentially a cliche: To bring people closer to Allah (SWT). We accomplish this through our MSA by creating a space on campus where Muslims feel included and welcomed for being who they are and adhering to their principles, rather than feeling isolated for doing so. Through that, we grow in our Islam together, and the difficult task of staying on the Siraat Al Mustaqeem, the Straight Path, is made much easier simply because now you have friends to be on it with. The baraka of being able to do this kind of work is unimaginable, so don’t pass up on the opportunity if you’re handed it. And if you are given an opportunity to provide for the community here at Rutgers in whatever capacity it is, give it your all, and Allah will reward you for your work and your impact.

Above all, stay grateful to Allah, for without His mercy, none of this would be possible.

Hafsa (Sisters VP)

Why’d you get involved? I initially heard about RU-MSA when I was in high school, and it sounded so cool that I always knew I wanted to be a part of it when I got to Rutgers. When I actually became a part of it as a freshman, it was ten times better than what I had imagined (and I’m not being biased lol). MSA was much more than just general events with free food & IAW…. MSA created a platform for self-development through bonding, da’wah, community service, blog posts and much more. I wanted to get involved because I knew it had so much potential with all the Muslims on campus, and because I knew it would be a great way to spend my time, as it sure proved to be. I wanted a good balance with school & extra-curricular activities, and MSA was the perfect way to spend it for the sake of Allah while also having fun and getting the most out of the (halal) college life. Every year with MSA has brought different experiences, friendships and challenges that has helped me mold into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful for that alhamdullilah :)

Favorite MSA moment? OMG this is SO hard.

I don’t want to sound cliche, but there’s so many moments I loved about MSA this year. But I think the best moments I had were when members said how much of an impact MSA had on them. It’s always amazing to see people who were initially shy or mostly to themselves become leaders in MSA with an entire team under them. It’s so inspiring to see so many people come together for the sake of Allah, just sacrificing their time and energy to do things they don’t have to do or don’t get paid for. MSA is really all about the volunteers, it would be nothing without the amount of passion and work ethic the members have. You guys seriously rock.

Most embarassing moment? We had a beautiful cake at one of our events called “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”…I may or may not have been the one who dropped the cake face-down on the floor at that event…

How about some words of wisdom? Take advantage of every second you have here & don’t be afraid to take initiative on what you’re passionate about. Your time at Rutgers will fly by and you don’t want to look back and regret not being involved. MSA gives you so many options to get involved and you’re likely to discover some things you’re great at while you’re here. Remember that you don’t have to have a title to make a difference, every action or thought makes a difference.

Also, you’ll realize that college really molds you into the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. You’ll see that when you graduate, you’re going to be a whole new person than when you entered college as a freshmen. Remember the bigger picture for all that you do…that our purpose in life is to please Allah (SWT) and everything goes back to that. So use your time at Rutgers to develop YOURSELF first before developing others, always think of ways to improve yourself and always check your intentions. There’s no harm in checking yo self before you wreck yo self.

Badar (Brothers VP)

Why’d you get involved? I become more and more involved with MSA as the years passed because I felt that the MSA was more like a family to me than anything else I had on campus. It gave me an opportunity to make a difference, do good, and take steps forward towards my Deen. The brotherhood and friends that always supported me when I needed it most were unbelievably amazing. In the end knowing that what I’m doing is for the sake of Allah was more then enough of a reason for me to get involved with the MSA.

Favorite MSA moment? My favorite MSA moment this year has to be Project Ummah. The amount of people that were smiling because of the small gesture of kindness we provided was amazing. When I heard people say oh wow this is amazing, thank you so much, you guys just made my day, it was a feeling that I can’t compare to anything else. It made me feel good inside and as if I was actually making a difference in another persons life.

Most embarrassing MSA moment? My most embarrassing moment this year had to have been when I was up at the mic thanking people for all the hard work they did but then accidentally called a brother a sister.

How about some words of widsom? First and foremost I want to say if I have ever offended you or hurt you in anyway I’m sorry and I hope that you can forgive me. Being in a position of leadership comes with great responsibility and requires some sacrifice. There is no point in sugar coating it but the truth is nothing worth it comes that easy. This is an opportunity like no other because you can actually make a difference and leave behind a legacy. It’s a change to do good, be good, feel good, and have fun while doing it. Just keep your intentions clear, work hard, do the best you can and leave the rest to Allah. I had an amazing year, loved every second of it and I would never change that for anything because it’s a memory that will stay with me forever!

The Real President (Marketing)

AKA: Tintu

Why’d you get involved? All the credit goes to Hafsa for why I got involved. She was my first Muslim friend after I converted and she’s the one who brought me to my first MSA meeting last year. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, I fell in love right away and just never stopped going.

Favorite MSA moment? My favorite MSA moment this year was definitely Islam Awareness Week. I know this is a really cliche event to pick but I don’t care because the amount of people that have changed because of this event is insane. I’m not talking about just nonmuslims who converted, but the amount of nonmuslims who received the message because of a couple of college kids dedicating their time for the sake of Allah is amazing. That’s what was happening. A few college kids dedicating their time for the sake of Allah. Even the amount of MUSLIMS whose lives have tremendously changed because of this event is incredible. That’s the power of doing something purely for the sake of Allah. Thousands of lives change completely for the better.

Most embarrassing moment? My most embarrassing moment this year in MSA has to be one out of the billion times I have to walk through the herd of brothers blocking the pathway to get to the sisters cubicle during an event. Seriously, why do they stand right in the center? I will never understand. But please, to any brothers reading this, I beg of you to move to the side or at least not stand in front of the sisters cubicle. Thank you and jzkA.

How about some words of wisdom? Honestly, just enjoy every second. This is a time in your life you’ll never be able to get back. This is the time where you’re the most carefree, the most energetic, and the most fun. You being able to spend these best years of your life with people who InshaAllah know we’re all here for the same purpose is a blessing. Cherish every single moment of it.

Princess of the MSA (Event Coordinator)

AKA: PD, Deema

Why’d you get involved? I got involved in MSA accidentally but instantly fell in love with it. I realized through MSA I could help make a difference for the Muslims on campus. Having that Muslim community that feels so much like a family at Rutgers makes school much more enjoyable. Being a part of MSA is so rewarding, and I’ve met the most amazing people. My only regret is that I didn’t join earlier.

Favorite MSA moment? There’s been a lot of great moments alhamdulillah. But my favorite part of this year was working with my event planning team. They’ve all grown so much and I’m so proud of everything they’ve accomplished in such a short time span. They were the missing piece that MSA needed. They also kept me sane when shura was driving me crazy! #PDsTeam #proudmama

Most embarrassing moment? Picture on dawahbots groupme.

How about some words of wisdom? So many things to say… “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I love this quote. Welcome everyone with open arms in the MSA and never judge anyone, for no one knows what in the heart of another except for Allah (SWT). Get involved in MSA!! College flies by so fast, and some of my favorite memories have to do with MSA. The reason I’m still involved with MSA is because of how it makes me feel. I love being surrounded my Muslims who are constantly striving to better themselves and those around them. I’ve learned so much about myself and others by being involved in MSA, and its only inspired me to be a better person and want to do more.

Don’t shy away from being active in MSA because of school or work. Allah puts barakah in all that we do for His sake. Make sure to purify your intentions and do everything for the sake Allah (SWT). This life is SO short, so do whatever you can to have a positive impact on those around you and the community at large. We’re all striving for Jannat Al-Firdous, so lets help each other get there inshaAllah.

Remus Lupin (Secretary-General)

AKA: the Godfather, Mujtaba

Why’d you get involved? My first ROOTS meeting ended up becoming my first mistake at Rutgers… hear me out.

The D.E.S. class had just ended, and my Iman was mended.
We were approached by a man with a lion’s mane,
We did not realize till it was too late, how my friend and I would come to regret the class that we had attended.
Don’t worry, he said, we will teach, you will train,
So take your position as IAW heads, Marketing and Program.
After a long time of thinking, we had accepted and proceeded to scram.
Soon I had loved Islamic Work at RU so much, I felt no shame —
To pursue further my work in RU-MSA, whether it showed its name as Treasurer or Secretary, it was all the same.
The ability to benefit, the success in the work, all the work that was still left to do, I had known that this was the place for me and that until I graduate, RU-MSA is where i would be.

Favorite MSA moment? A sister who I had met at IAW who had yet to enter into the folds of Islam came up to me and another. She had handed us her translation of the Quran and had asked me to point her to any set of Ayat in the Quran that are my favorite. When I asked her why, she said simply because she wants to read something that I find beautiful.

SubhanAllah. What a blissful reminder, an amazing experience, from a person with a beautiful heart.

Most embarrassing moment? -__________________________- thanks for the flashbacks.

I guess putting myself on the Eid Banquet screen whilst wearing a hijab in front of 400-500 people would constitute as embarrassing.

How about some words of wisdom? “We don’t fail because we run out of energy, we fail because we run out of drive.” – T.S. Azim

1 – Remember: do good where ever the opportunity presents itself. If that’s your will and your motivation, your drive will never deplete IA. You will never be tired – not for long anyway. You will never run out of energy. You will never fail.

2 – Stay pure hearted. Come to RU-MSA solely for sincere reasons, and leave for sincere reasons. Provide benefit only for sincere reasons, and let RU-MSA benefit you only for sincere reasons. Allah is pure and only accepts purity

3 – I’m a junior and I have many friends who wish they had gotten involved with RU-MSA much earlier. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how you’re doing it — step your foot in, and do all that you can IA.

Specialty

Sirius Black (ROOTS)

AKA: Optimus Prime, Abyaz

Why’d you get involved? I was becoming more and more interested in da’wah and I found out MSA was having da’wah classes. It was my first MSA event and introduction to Roots.

Favorite MSA moment? Obviously it’s hard to choose, but definitely IAW head meetings when the team would be cracking jokes. It was also just amazing to see everyone grow from the experience, myself included. And of course, the random feels circle during the last night of IAW; the epitome of an MSA family moment <3

Most embarassing moment? I don’t get embarrassed easily, but it’s pretty funny when people think I’m a guy from my name. Two speakers have referred to me as “brother” in e-mail… True story.

How about some words of wisdom? This is going to sound so hippie but honestly, there is way too much negativity that is spread around so we need to make the extra effort to be positive, welcoming, nonjudgemental, and patient. These are somethings I have always seen in a person that I look up to in MSA. But yeah, contribute positively to the order of the universe because that’s the sunnah style and there is reward in it, InshaAllah.

Other little reminders :)
1) If you have an idea (especially in MSA), don’t expect to say it once and see it magically happen. Be ready to take initiative and have a game plan!
2) It is much easier to complain on the sidelines than it is to do the work (well)
3) Check out the words of wisdom from last year’s shura/specialty bc they really know wassup

Draco Malfoy (ROOTS VP)

AKA: Ammar, Director of Religious Affairs Rishta Board

Why’d you get involved? Met some religious people that didn’t have a stick up their you-know-where and were normal.

Favorite MSA moment? IAW, Dawah tables, ALM halaqas. When you’re in MSA there’s never just one favorite moment.

Most embarrassing MSA moment? Becoming friends with Taufeeq.

How about some words of wisdom? Never let the Rooster run wild.

Hermione Granger (ROOTS VP)

AKA: Hadear

Why’d you get involved? For a long time, I didn’t fit in anywhere…until I joined MSA. I found that I could have friends who thought like me, had the same intentions as me, and wanted to contribute to this ummah to please Allah, subhana wa ta’ala, as much as I did. I found a lot of diverse people and I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in again. Instead, I found a second family who I could get closer to Allah with.

Favorite MSA moment? Only one??? Not possible! I would say all of Islam Awareness Week. But if I had to choose…hmmm…there was a moment during IAW…at the end of the week on Thursday. This was the saddest day of IAW because we had to prepare to take down everything. We cleaned quickly, knowing IAW was over. Before finishing, we all gathered in the middle of the tent, in a circle under the spotlights. It was freezing cold, so the brothers huddled close together and the sisters got close on the other side. We all took out the extra small cups and filled them with mango juice, preparing to drink them together. It took us forever to make sure everyone had a cup. Then, everyone got quiet and the microphone was passed to Ammar. We thought he would be the only one to say something, but suddenly, everyone started to pitch in: speeches about culture, family, intentions, hard work, and MSA involvement. Everyone was getting emotional and it was the best MSA bonding I had ever seen. Suddenly, it wasn’t cold anymore. It was genuinely warm.

Most embarassing moment? I don’t remember all of them this year, but one funny one was in that promo video for the Roots Team, where I had to speak about Deema and Hafsa…and their…relationship. I looked totally nonchalant, but on the inside, I was flaming with embarrassment.

How about some words of wisdom? Time flies by!!! Use every second and make it count, not just in MSA, but with all opportunities. Of course, get involved with MSA and purify your intentions for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy life, with friends and family. But also don’t forget your greater purpose in life and continue trying to reach it. Remember, all the great deeds you perform in this life are what stay with you on the Day of Judgment.

Minerva McGonagall (Road to Revival)

AKA: Mishaal

Why’d you get involved? I grew up within a closely knit Islamic community and wanted that to remain a constant through college. The Rutgers MSA is not just a club- it is a family that helps one another grow in skills, knowledge, and Imaan. It is a place where you can feel comfortable being yourself- where no one will judge you, look down upon you, or make you feel unwelcome. It is a place where you make lasting friendships and memories. It is also a time to practice Islam alongside others, give dawah, and increase your knowledge. To me, the Rutgers MSA is where I can be inspired, learn, and laugh with some of the most kind, caring, and generous people. And I am very grateful to be a part of this family.

Favorite MSA moment? I am going to be completely biased and say that Road to Revival: Heroes of Our Past and the months of planning with the team were my favorite MSA moments.

Most embarrassing moment? That awkward moment when you are asked what your most embarrassing moment was and you cannot think of one…. meow.

How about some words of wisdom? As I am writing this in a land far far away, the one thing that comes to mind is Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah for the opportunity to go to university, gain knowledge, meet people, build friendships, laugh and live life to the fullest, and being a part of a loving family. Cherish the moments you spend with your friends and family and enjoy the moments you spend with others. Time is short so remember Allah often and live life as the Prophet (S.) would. Instill good in your heart and in the heart of others. Look at the world around you, at the little and big things in life, and take in the beauty of it all. Do not hold grudges or negative thoughts in your head. Instead remain positive and grateful for everything surrounding you. And lastly, stay smiling :)

Hadi (ALM)

Why’d you get involved? Before coming into college, I was already involved in YM so naturally, I would look for similar company at Rutgers. Many of the people who I met in YM went on to become amazing members of the MSA so I did not have to try that hard to meet new people during my freshman year. And being one of the biggest MSA’s in the NorthEast, being an active member allowed me to be a part of one of the strongest families I have ever seen. I met people who were so determined to work for the sake of Allah, without demanding any recognition or compensation. You would think this is obvious but you would be surprised. I developed friendships that I know will last far beyond my college career. These friendships seem like I have known the person for years. People who I could go to if I just wanted to hang out, if i needed advice, or of I need help in my time of need, big or small. And I saw and learned from some of the greatest leaders I have ever seen. Who would not want to be a part of this?

Favorite MSA moment? MSA brothers roast during the End of the Year Party. If anyone could tell me who Zeeshawn Piracha is, that would be great.

Most embarrassing MSA moment? Meeting Ammar Nasir.

How about some words of wisdom? Life is short, so don’t make everything serious. Have fun and don’t take things personally. Don’t wait for a title to be a leader. The work of Islam is never done, and if you don’t do it, Allah will find someone else who will. Always stay in good company. And ALWAYS keep your INTENTIONS PURE. I can guarantee that if you keep your intentions straight, everything will work out. Whenever you do something, demand nothing in return. Someone once told that even when doing a small deed, that you know nobody will care about, think to yourself that ‘this could be the one thing that gets me into Jannah’. Always do your best and let Allah handle the rest. (but I’m not a rapper).

Tehniyat (HOPE)

Why’d you get involved? Because I love MSA.

Favorite MSA moment? April 9, 2015. The last day of Islam Awareness Week. The night where a bunch of us cleared out the tent. Everyone who was in the tent decided to stand around in a circle, a bunch of bros said some parting words and at the end we all drank mango juice (if you don’t know by now, I love mango juice). It was a great way to end the best week of the entire school year and it truly was one of our fine MSA moments as a family.

Most embarrassing MSA moment? I’m too cool for embarrassing moments.

How about some words of widsom? I like simplicity so here’s my advice: get active and stay active- you won’t regret it.

Riasat (Graphics)

Why’d you get involved? Rather than repeat what I said last year, I’ll elaborate on why I continue to be involved. It is because every person I have met through MSA has been more than kind and welcoming. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who truly strive to bring together the Muslim community at Rutgers through amazing initiatives and events.

Favorite MSA moment? Seeing so many people wearing the Project Ummah t-shirts!

Most embarrassing moment? Mistaking the person in charge of IAW t-shirts for the IAW head, and then carrying out a very awkward conversation about t-shirt ideas with the wrong person before realizing that she had no idea what I was talking about.

How about some words of wisdom? The greatest joy comes from the ability to put a smile on another person’s face.

Luna Lovegood (Submissions)

AKA: Heba, Get-It-Because-No-One-Reads-the-Quibbler-Either

Why’d you get involved? To make friends. I really, really wanted to be a part of something, to get in on that family feeling–my predecessor (and cousin!) said that being involved in MSA had her understand what it truly meant to love people for Allah, and I wanted to feel that.

Favorite MSA moment? Gonna be maaad biased… The Open Mic! I had the most exhausting shoes on, didn’t perform, and got a few angry phone calls about food during and after, but I’d been going through an apathetic spell and a lot of depression before, and that night sparked a fire in me. When Tanzil was performing his rap and we all start clapping; when Gia started reading those tweets; beautiful words from all kinds of people, Muslim and nonMuslim and all these shades of black and brown and white. When I printed the flyers upside down. Wincing at an unplanned performance. “Light upon light.” I could hear hearts there. Laughing, crying.  I keep thinking I wish I’d performed, I wish I’d performed.

Most embarrassing moment? Anytime I had to talk at the mic… I’m not very good at public speaking. But I still wish I’d performed.

How about some words of wisdom? Get involved, stay involved, push yourself in. Soften your heart, harden your resolve. Say yes to things — if you can’t keep up with all those yeses, then say no. Join SOS and HOPE and go to ROOTs meetings and sign up to be an IAW head, volunteer at R2R, write a post for Submissions. Skip a class for Project Ummah, sacrifice a quiz for a day at IAW. Listen, Insha’Allah, I’m graduating a semester early — this was my last spring with the MSA as a student here. I wish I’d done a little more, I wish I’d seen and said a little more, I wish I’d been around a little more. Gotten to know all of you a little more. I’m going to try harder this summer. This is the truest bond, you know? For the sake of Allah, through the work of Allah.

Now what about you?

IAW 2015: “If we are an ummah, a family, then this is our event.”

Words aren’t enough. Maybe it’s because I don’t consider myself much of a writer and more of a quiet reflector. But there are many things that need to be acknowledged about the week that many of us consider one of the best weeks of our life. And although the weekend gave us all time to reflect on IAW and recover from its greatness, I’m not sure my words can do it justice… but here we go anyway.

Bismillah.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone—Muslim, Non-Muslim, MSA-goer, Non-MSA-goer, volunteers, and heads all benefited from this year’s Islam Awareness Week. Sometimes there’s this misconception that IAW is only meant to cater to Non-Muslims, and despite propagators of this notion, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Personally, I think the best comments about this year’s IAW are from Muslims that say being in the tent made them feel at home and really encouraged them to give da’wah. IAW might be organized by the RU-MSA Roots initiative, but every Muslim should feel like this was their event. Every Muslim on campus should have felt that it was their duty to be involved in IAW—if we are an ummah, a family, then this is our family event. And IAW benefits us Muslims as well—it gives us that imaan boost. When we try to convey the perfection of our religion to others, it’s an incredible reminder of what we’ve been blessed with.

“And Verily, this is an absolute truth with certainty. Therefore glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most Great.” [69:51-52]

There is also an incredible need for us Muslims to make our presence known and our voices heard within the Rutgers community. It’s unfortunate that we’re still struggling for the ability to speak on behalf of our own religion, but we can either continue playing the victim card or we can be proactive. If we are consistent and united, then we can have a big impact on this large campus. We have to start thinking long-term, planning for the future Muslims of Rutgers. We need to understand that this is not the job of one individual, but rather the collective effort of many, and it begins with unity, which this IAW has shown it can help facilitate.

Ultimately, Islam Awareness Week serves as a reminder for us to always keep our intentions in place and to give credit where it is rightfully due. When we come together sincerely for the sake of Allah, there is just no end to the blessings that we can receive. And if we think about how amazing it feels right now to have been a part of such a blessed event, we can just imagine what the reward will be like in the afterlife, inshaAllah.

It’s also a reminder that Allah is the one who guides people. We are only here to carry the message that Allah is one and Muhammad ﷺ is His last messenger—nothing more and nothing less. Therefore, we should pray for Allah to guide us Muslims, everyone that learned about Islam, everyone that is considering Islam, and everyone that has accepted it.

And of course, any and all success is due to Allah, the creator of the heavens and the earth and all the order within it. And all mistakes are our own for which we seek forgiveness from Him. And since the work does not end here, may Allah put blessings in all our efforts, in the IAWs that are to come, and may He continue to let us work together as a family. Ameen.

Abyaz Uppal is a senior majoring in Cognitive Science and the current head of Roots, the da’wah intiative at the MSA. Islam Awareness Week has held a special place in her heart since 2013, when she began her journey with MSA and Roots. She hopes to get a job at the Brain Room in the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry of Magic.

Welcome Back!

Asalaamu alaykum and welcome back to a new semester at Rutgers! Hey, what’s better than seeing some familiar faces around campus on your first day back?

Sure, getting back into classes and one homework assignment after another is tough, but maybe it’s worth it in the end if you get to be with your family along the way? We hope so, at least. Insha Allah.

There’re a lot of exciting things going on with the MSA this semester—from Road to Revival through our regular meetings to Islam Awareness Week—and Submissions is no exception! Stay tuned for great posts by your lovely bloggers and a special treat on Fridays: stories and anecdotes by your fellow students and alumni, the #MuslimsOfRutgers.

And who knows! Maybe we’ll have something else to surprise you?

Keep your chin up against the cold! Spring 2015—move out!

ICYMI: Reasons to Come to the #MSAKickOff

RU-MSA isn’t just on Facebook — through the past year, we’ve been working hard on spreading our horizons, ’cause we know you’ll just never get tired of us. Yesterday, we asked followers on Twitter to let us know why they’re excited for the kickoff tomorrow at PR, Insha’Allah:

 

Responses varied! From the sincere and the sweet(-toothed)…

 

 

… to the brutally honest …

 

 

 

… to seeing old and new friends!

 

Why are you excited for MSA this year? Let us know in the comments or tweet @rutgersmsa with #MSAKickOff!

Welcome Home

Peace, brothers and sisters! Welcome back—or for the first time to our transfers and freshies, welcome to Rutgers, and welcome home to your MSA family! We’ve got loads of stuff planned for this year, Insha’Allah, both on this blog and definitely off of it, so be sure to stay on the lookout here, on the website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here at Submissions, we’ll be tipping off with tips on how to get through the semester (and those days when New Brunswick decides to restyle your hijab), with reminders of our Creator and ultimate goal, with iman boosters, with cool profiles of cool Muslims doing cool things right in your community, with gifs, with thoughts, with infographics, with round-ups, and even more (phew).

But don’t forget: This is your blog, so drop a comment, submit a post, and join the conversation!

It’ll all go down starting this Thursday, right after RU-MSA’s Kickoff Luau. Because, hey. ʻOhana means family, right?

All the best with your studying, and hope to see you there! ❀

Until Next Time…

‘Tis been quite the year, Alhamdulillah. There’s not much left for me to put into words at this point…all the words are already written and published in the posts you may or may not have seen these past few months right here on this blog. But I will say a little to sign off for the year from Submissions, MSA, and Rutgers too, seeing as commencement is in less than 12 hours.

I found the name for this blog intriguing right from the get go. Submissions. As in, the posts and pieces of writing people submit right? Well, yeah. But the word submission itself is supposed to be our ultimate goal in life—submission to Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

“O you who believe! Enter into submission one and all, and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan; surely he is your open enemy.” [Qur’an 2:208]

So I loved that play on the word itself. Shout out to whoever came up with that name.

And another shout out to all the bloggers, guest writers, commenters, tweeters, sharers, readers, etc. etc.—thanks a lot for spreading the word about different posts. It seriously made my night every time I saw a tweet or a comment or yes—even a Facebook like for Submissions. Insha’Allah at least one post you read on here either taught you something new, made you laugh, or served as a reminder.

I had such a blast working on this project, and I hope you had a blast reading it. Any feedback will be much appreciated, in the comments section below or via the contact page above. Insha’Allah, next year, Submissions will see an even better variety of posts and writers as well as more clicks and interaction from readers.

JazakAllahu Khayr.

(I feel the need to credit where I found the featured image, so that’s why this link is here, but it’s probably unnecessary. Yeah.)

Parting Words

Because yesterday was the last official day of 2013-2014 MSA, here are a few words from some of the past year’s shura and specialty officers. Insha’Allah there’s benefit in the words below, for at least one pair of eyes. And btdubs, we’re simply getting the conversation started. Leave your answers to these questions in the comments below, we’d love to hear everyone’s reflections on the year.

Asad Mian, President

Why I got involved: It was a dark and stormy night, the D.E.S session had come to  an end.
A brother walked over saying: “For IAW, we’ve not much to spend.”
As I stepped up to the call, it became a sort of trend…
MSA in need, and I, able to tend.

Favorite MSA moment: Project Ummah. An example of members’ ideas come to life! This event started out as ideas on the white board, at LSM 3rd floor Room 3 on a Monday night. I wrote these ideas on the board and our shura (aka The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Women) thought, “Will this even work?” Then a month later by the mercy of Allah, people believed in our leadership and gave it their all. It wasn’t the most successful event, but people trusted the Muslim leaders and followed them. We made a difference that day, you the members made a difference that day. That day I realized what leadership meant.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Moderating Paired in Paradise.

Parting Words: Believe in yourself. Follow you Heart! Don’t do drugs. Only you can prevent forest fires!

Now that I have shared my feelings thoroughly, time for some real advice: “Live to Let Others Live.” This life is short, give back, help someone, make a difference and do it for the sake of Allah.

Saad Zafar, Brothers Vice President

Why I got involved: It all began in a distant land called Silvers Apartments in the year 2010. My roommate Shan (The Great) Ali recommended my technical expertise for audio and video equipment to the IAW Mafia. It was there I had to answer the call. Four years later, this is all you know about my secret life.

Favorite MSA moment: One doesn’t simply have a favorite moment in the MSA. I do not understand your question.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: The time when I…wait I don’t have any.

Parting Words: Any good that has come is from Allah and Allah alone. When we say we love for the sake of Allah, we realize what we love in a person comes from our Creator, and it is not something they brought forth in themselves. And if we have any good in us, that too comes from our Lord.

Between these two,
you will see,
that if a person is amazing,
they owe that to Allah,
and if they fall short,
that they may have not been so blessed,
and that therein lay part of their worldly test.
So stay humble. Forgive and reflect.

Disclaimer: The two posts above may or may not have been a collaborative effort between the President and Brothers’ Vice-President. #MadShady. They also wish they could have written more. 

Seherisch Ahmad, Sisters Vice President

Why I got involved: To be honest, I didn’t have a reason. To be even more honest, first time I came to MSA freshmen year, I didn’t even like it. But after a year of avoiding Paul Robeson I decided to give it another chance. I showed up before meetings and help set up. Before I knew it, I would stay back for the halaqas and classes and it changed something. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was neglecting a huge part of my life and I was. MSA became a gateway and I am so so grateful to have had stayed back that one night in November (even if it was for the brownies).

Favorite MSA moment: There are SO many from this year alone. My friends don’t go out to eat with me cause I’m so indecisive so I’m gona mention a couple :)

  1. For Project Ummah, there was one night we (some shura members and other members) stayed back to make goodie bags. It was midnight, we were all sitting on the floor at ilounge, and a brother (will not name names) starts discussing an invention dealing with retractable heels for sisters. I actually died a little on the inside.
  2. During IAW, for the first time we tried a survey competition. The first day the sisters were under the impression we were losing. Losing bad. So we RAIDED Alex. It was the most fun, amazing, da’wah-filled experience I’ve had in my four years.
  3. Leaving the IAW tent to help Ammaarah parallel park her car. Twice.
  4. Successfully photographing a sisters pyramid at the last meeting after failing 156 times.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Just multiply my favorite moments by 1000 and that’s how many embarrassing moments I have. One day Deema, Hafsa, and I were in storage (which is in the dungeons of LSH) and trying to organize stuff. It was a long day in my defense, and I was tired of dragging boxes. All the brothers were upstairs and I was wondering why they weren’t coming downstairs to help. So I say in a less then friendly tone, “WHERE are the brothers why are they not coming!?!? What could they be doing upstairs? Someone go get them!!!”  Unfortunately at the same moment I was yelling, a brother was walking in. I didn’t see his facial reaction but apparently the effect was, he ran back. Seriously. He stopped. 180 degrees. Ran. Another brother was behind him, hadn’t heard me, was now even more confused and also ran back with him saying, “What’s going onnnn?”

So disclaimer. I’m not scary. I promise. Just unfortunate timing.

Parting Words: MSA is a family. There are no other words to describe it. The bonds you develop are for life. I wouldn’t trade this year as SVP for ANYTHING in the world. Alhamdulilah my team was awesome, the membership was awesome, and everything was awesome. :)

Advice for those remaining behind, cherish every moment and be a part of MSA. The work doesn’t happen on its own. It happens because members want change, and they make it happen. This is your family so invest in it.

And finally, “It’s not awkward unless you make it awkward. The only exception is MSA. Then it’s always awkward.”

Mujtaba Qureshi, Treasurer

Why you got involved: Islam is life.

Favorite MSA moment: I feel like I’m betraying all the other moments by picking one favorite moment. It almost hurts.  I’m actually procrastinating for HW due in an hour, so I’ll only give one: Becoming the YUGIOH of the MSA.

Most embarrassing MSA moment:

  1. My voice giving out while leading Salah at an MSA iftar over the summer/Ramadan.
  2. Giving Da’wah to Muslims at IAW thinking they’re not Muslims.
  3. Having to give a biography of a speaker at an event, only to have my phone die right before I’m about to start.

Parting Words: I’m not parting, but…

  • Don’t make the mistake I’ve seen so many people do: choose to get involved later, only to lose the chance to & never be able to again.
  • Don’t let arrogance get to your head, even if you’re someone with a position. The only difference between someone with an MSA position & someone without a position is the one with a position has more responsibility & has to triple check their sincerity a billion times a day.
  • If you feel like you can benefit the MSA, then lend out your helping hand. You’re only hurting it by not offering your assistance. People always ask what MSA can do for them, but a good friend of mine says it’s about what you can do for the MSA.

Zaina Faruqi, Secretary

Why I got involved: To do something for my Muslim brothers & sisters and ultimately get closer to Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

Favorite MSA moment: There were many MSA moments that are unforgettable (starting from when I was a freshman). The most wonderful thing was to see MSA grow in the past 4 years.

Most embarrassing MSA moment:  I’d rather not say =p

Parting Words: It’s not the shura that makes MSA, it’s all the members. So get involved in any way you can, and do something for the Muslims on campus. Remember Allah. It is seriously the best feeling ever to do something for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala—no matter what the end result is. Join the Muslim brotherhood/sisterhood on campus and enjoy your time at Rutgers, because next thing you know it’ll end in a blink of an eye.

Zara Huda, Events Coordinator

Why I got involved: I wish I took initiative beforehand to be more involved. It’s a great blessing to be a means for good to spread, by Allah’s permission. It’s not about being in a “position,” or being seen by people. Those things mean nothing. It’s about intentions and contributing where you can.

Not many people know my past or would guess, but I wasn’t the most practicing Muslim. I especially had a rough time when I was younger. Things changed towards the end of high school, and Allah subhana wa ta’ala pulled me up when I was at my lowest. My intention whenever brainstorming topics for events, was to give back what Allah gave to me. Be a means to help bring others up- just as Allah brought me up.

Favorite MSA moment: During Project Ummah, a stranger came up to me saying he saw us walking as a group and wanted to know who we were. I told him we’re the Muslims of Rutgers, and we’re trying to spread smiles. His reaction/response: “Thank you, this made me happy, you’ve put a smile on my face.” :)

Most Embarrassing MSA moment: I can’t remember…probably pre-Project Ummah, when I accidentally threw a goodie bag at a brother’s face.

Parting Words: Whatever gathering you’re in, if you see someone alone, reach out. It could mean the world to them. Dua will get you through everything. Feel free to talk to Allah, tell Him what’s on your mind, and ask Him—He Responds to The Caller whenever he/she calls. Enjoy your college years!!!

Ibaad Sadiq, Marketing

Why I got involved: Honestly, it hurt knowing there are so many Muslims on campus, and we only get a small fraction of that. So I got involved because I wanted to make a difference and help.

Favorite MSA moment: Too many to remember.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: One time during a shura meeting, one of the brothers brought a piece of chocolate and left it out in the open in the middle of the table. I kinda zoned out of anything Asad was saying after that point, and in the middle of one of his important spiels, I asked if anyone was gonna eat the chocolate, and reached out and ate it. Everyone laughed at me, but hey, I got the chocolate. That made my day.

Parting Words: Do what you do for the sake of Allah. The applause or booing will finish, the people will disappear, the world will move on, but your sincere deed will remain with Allah for you to reap the reward on the Day of Judgment, and in the end, that’s all that ever really mattered.

Mohammad Azim Nasir, ROOTS

Why I got involved: Passion for Islam and Da’wah

Favorite MSA moment: Every moment in the MSA is my favorite MSA moment.

Parting Words: Just a couple of words.

  1. Lead by example, a leader is someone who helps others climb the ladder, not someone who just throws them it.
  2. Know that if you are muslim, you are a representative of Islam, whether you like it or not.
  3. Work on your manners before you start brushing up on your da’wah skills. If you can’t debate or talk with proper etiquette then don’t.
  4. Lighten up and laugh. The deen is not supposed to make anyone uptight, rude and angry all the time. If you are like that then please read up on the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah salAllahu alayhi wa sallam. Not only does this distance you from people but it distances you from the deen eventually.
  5. Motivate people. It honestly doesnt matter what the cause is, people will not participate unless motivated or inspired. So become someone who can constantly motivate with his/her actions, words, and persona.
  6. Do not judge others, regardless of their religiosity. It might appear they’re making 10 mistakes on the outside and are perfect on the inside. But you make 100 mistakes on the inside and appear perfect on the outside. So don’t judge others because they sin differently than you do.

Deema Hamdan, ROOTS VP

Why you got involved: Ahmad forced me to…just kidding. Da’wah reaches the greater community at RU, makes you feel like you’re making a significant impact on our community & like you’re doing your job as a Muslim no matter where you are. Also because most people think giving da’wah is for only for a select few, but you really see people come together for it & strengthen their own faith by doing it.

Favorite MSA moment: Too many. Everyday is a blessing. But a few include meeting some of the most genuine and sweetest girls, some of whom are now my best friends. And spending every breathing moment at the IAW tent.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Princesses don’t have embarrassing moments. khamsa khamsa.

Parting Words: Purify your intention. Always. Remember, “Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended.” Also, remember when you do work for the sake of Allah, there is barakah in your work. So never shy from doing Islamic work because of school/work/no time/etc. May Allah reunite us all in Jannat al firdous. Joining MSA was literally the best decision I ever made. My only regret is I not joining earlier.

Hafsa Sadiq, ROOTS VP

Why I got involved: Ibaad forced me to…just kidding. Giving da’wah just makes you feel like you’re doing your job as a Muslim no matter where you are, and is the perfect opportunity to reach out to our larger community at RU. I wanted to be part of Roots because I wanted to help eliminate those misconceptions and work together to get more people involved with spreading Islam wherever they may be. Plus, Roots was the super coolest specialty team ever, obvs. Who wouldn’t want to be part of it? Seeing people come together for da’wah and in the process strengthen their own faith was just awesome.

Favorite MSA moment: There are too many to count. I didn’t want to sound cliche, but it’s the truth. Honestly, everything.

Parting Words: Take advantage of every moment you have here! Don’t stick to the status quo. Always find a way to make things better and more creative. Introduce yourself to everyone you come across at MSA, and always give people the benefit of the doubt. Never forget your greater purpose in life, strive for it, and let everything else fall into place.

Shan Ali, Road to Revival

Why I got involved: Being involved in MSA the last few years I knew I wanted to do something my last year. R2R is an amazing opportunity to work on a conference that truly benefits people, and seeing first hand how it changed people in past made me want to be a part of it this year. Even with all the work that goes into an event this large, it was still an awesome experience that I’ll never forget, Alhamdulillah.

Favorite MSA moment: The best event of the year of course: R2R 2014 (completely unbiased…partially). And being on the shura 2011-2012.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Would have to be accidentally texting the wrong GroupMe a text I meant to send to one person lol.

Parting Words: I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. College flies by, I kid you not. Just ask any senior. Use your time wisely, get involved with MSA, and work solely for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. Purify your intentions and don’t be afraid to step up to the challenge. The potential for reward far exceeds any struggle that may come your way. May Allah subhana wa ta’ala accept and continue to bless RU-MSA and it’s members with success, Ameen.

Ammaarah “Oprah” Khan, HOPE

Why I got involved: I’ve realized that some of the best dawah happens through community service and that was my goal. Whether it’s participating in a walk, stuffing teddy bears, or making kits for homeless shelters—when you attach MSA to community service, it showcases something amazing about our organization and religion. Smiling is sunnah and I wanted to spread smiles—to both Muslims and non-Muslims :)

Favorite MSA moment: I have a few….

  1. When delivering the kit to the men’s shelter, the lady at the desk asked us if Allah sent us.
  2. Meeting the different types of Muslims on campus—the diversity of our religion is so beautiful—just this past year I’ve met Muslims from tons of different countries and different walks of life.
  3. Meeting some of my best friends.
  4. And last, but definitely not least—becoming a family with the rest of the specialty/shura :) I can’t imagine how this year would have been without any one of them.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Because it’s me—there’s too many to count…but probably calling one of the brothers “Bhai” by accident and horrible autocorrects on GroupMe.

Parting Words:

Smile and spread smiles.
Love and forgive.
Have a dream? Stand your ground and take risks.Without taking risks with HOPE—it wouldn’t be what it is.
Strive for the best and keep your intentions pure. Always.
Practice the MLK voice.

Faryal Rafiq, SOS (Fall ’13)

Why I got involved: Being a part of the heavily diverse Rutgers community, it was important to me to be a part of something that strongly values my faith. That was RU-MSA, and this organization has a unity that is unseen. It was a place that created bonds for so many people that it made me want to be a part as well because college shapes you and the people you spend those countless hours with mold you into the person you become.

Favorite MSA moment: There are many. Seeing those sisters show up to various events and choose MSA as a place to relieve their stress and have a few (or more!) laughs, it meant more than anything. The bond of sisterhood…Alhamdulillah.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Do I haaaaaave to? :)

Parting Words: Step through that door of MSA, and do not be afraid. No matter what is on the outside or inside…this MSA is a family. Walk towards us and we will run to you (reminiscent of one of my favorite hadiths, and it’s very true in our case, as we all are the servants of Allah subhana wa ta’ala). Just do it!

Saima Usmani, SOS (Spring ’14)

Why I got involved: Helping out in MSA wasn’t a choice. I thought that being Muslim it was my duty to do as much as I can to be as useful as possible to whichever community I became a part of, which included the Muslim community of Rutgers.

Favorite MSA moment: Freshman year, I was in my dorm in Brett Hall with my windows open when I heard, out of nowhere, the adhan for Maghrib resonating through all of College Ave. It was the first day of Islam Awareness Week.

Most embarrassing MSA moment:

  1. When my cousin went rogue and used my phone to text the MSA GroupMe for a very, very long time.
  2. Like my favorite MSA moment, this is before I was ever truly involved in MSA. I felt unsafe one night, and because I recognized a few MSA brothers I was able to ask them to walk me to my car. The moral of the story: whether our 4000 deep attend MSA events or not, whether they even know what MSA is, the importance of MSA is that we are always there. It is our presence and our strength that matters; we are different because we service, protect, and care for not just “members,” but every Muslim on campus.

Parting Words: The most beautiful nights, the company of the most wonderful people, the most rewarding hours spent in work, are found here. I knew I could help out a lot for MSA, but I never realized how much MSA would give back to me. I knew that I wouldn’t regret getting involved, but I never realized that I would mourn leaving it so sorely. Be grateful for the opportunity to help the Muslim community, but even if you cannot help, be grateful that MSA exists.

Habeeba Husain, Submissions

Why I got involved: Previous graduates, whether involved in MSA or not, told me time and again to enjoy my time at RU and get involved with something. I liked blogging and received an email calling for applicants to the specialty positions, and blog editor was an option…so I went for it.

Favorite MSA moment: Road to Revival second day intensive class with Mufti Hussain Kamani.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Mistaking a Muslim guy for a non-Muslim I met earlier during IAW, and continuing to give him a survey to fill out, smh.

Parting words: Put your trust in Allah subhana wa ta’ala, and realize He is witness to every spoken word and action, text message and email.

Azka Mohyuddin, (Hyper)Active Member

Why I got involved: The imaan rush you get after listening to an Islamic lecture is only temporary but working in the MSA with the intention of pleasing Allah subhana wa ta’ala always on your mind is a completely different experience. I would go as far as to say that those who organize events get more out of it than those who attend even if they never got to listen to a single speaker throughout the year. MSA has given me more than I could have expected in my journey towards Allah and I wanted to give back even if it was something as small as my time.

Favorite MSA moment: Rather than a moment, my favorite part of MSA has been witnessing the positive change it brought in me and the people around me.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: As the R2R lead last year, I slept through my alarm the day of the conference and was later woken up with my friends banging on my door lol. Apparently everyone was looking for me but I was only an hour late so not too bad…*nervous laughter*

Parting Words: Some of my best college memories have to with things that happened within or related to the MSA. It was a blessing to grow alongside individuals who not only understood but also embodied what it meant to do things for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala alone and to always be mindful of Him in every situation. I may forget what a speaker said at an event or what kind of food was served, but the lessons I have learned from the people I worked with have shaped me as a person and as a Muslim. MSA is more than just an organization that puts together events; for me, MSA is the people I have met. Their sincerity and struggle for the sake of Allah inspire me to strive to be a better friend and Muslim. Alhamdulillah, I am so grateful to Allah subhana wa ta’ala for allowing me to benefit from such company and ask everyone who is reading this to get involved in any way you can because our time here at Rutgers may be short, but these are the years that will help define the people we become for the rest of our life.

Ruwaa Samarrai, MSATS

Why I got involved: I wanted to try and help other students who were potentially struggling with difficult courses or needed advising. I wanted to be a part of this system where the MSA community can get help from the very members that comprise it and build a stronger ummah.

Favorite MSA moment: Any and every event, meeting, halaqa, and just hanging out at the cubicle. MSA is family, especially our MSA, and it’s a family I’m proud of.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: Giving da’wa to Muslims during IAW…on multiple occasions…

Parting Words: RU-MSA has really made my experience at Rutgers amazing. May Allah bless this community because we really come together when we need to. It’s not perfect, it has its flaws, as any family does, but it’s where we all belong, and that’s something powerful.

Riasat Zaman, Graphics Chair

Why I got involved: I wanted to become more involved with the Muslim community at Rutgers and use my passion for graphic design to reach out to a bigger audience. Making graphics is such a great way to attract people’s attention and get them excited for programs and events!

Favorite MSA moment: Getting to work with the MSA team to make the IAW banners (although I’ve enjoyed making all the other graphics as well!) Everyone had creative and bold ideas, allowing the banners to really make a statement this year alhamdulliah.

Most embarrassing MSA moment: My GroupMe texts being autocorrected to some really weird words.

Parting Words: (Although I’m not parting) Use the opportunities around you to leave a positive footprint on the community. There are so many ways to get involved with the MSA, so don’t be afraid to try new things and meet new people! Insha’Allah, you will have the ability to accomplish great things and meet some amazing people.

Why Not to be on the MSA Shura: A Message from an Ex-Shura Member

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.

The Blessings of Rutgers

As Muslims we are told to say Alhumdulillah for all the blessings Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gifted us with. We are also taught that the blessings of our Lord are limitless, that they are innumerable. After my first experience of Islam Awareness Week, it was as if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was so evidently showering us with blessings on top of blessings. That if anyone ever felt like they had no blessings in their lives, after the IAW experience they would have an overabundance of reasons to say Alhumdulillah. Many are having IAW withdrawal so there’s no way I could not write about anything but the special week that so many of us were able to experience.

Before I came to Rutgers I was debating whether to attend this university. Money was a problem and I didn’t want to do anything that would somehow cause a burden. But Alhumdulillah I was brought to this amazing school filled with Muslims who really understood the meaning of being one Ummah. Back at home we don’t exactly have something like a YM, and I am in some ways restricted from searching for that Muslim community feel. So upon entering Rutgers, the one organization I knew I wanted to be a part of was the Muslim Student Association. Alhumdulillah that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put that inside of my heart because I, Insha’Allah, don’t ever want to forget how great my first year here at Rutgers was. To start off with the first semester gaining knowledge through the classes that the MSA provided in the Iman of Steel classes, from the Eid Banquet, to the beneficial lectures from inspirational people who devote their lives to Islam. Of course, my first experience giving Da’wah at the Da’wah table, realizing how it felt to speak to Non-Muslims about Islam. Then the second semester, when the amazing events were just following one after the other. With the amazing speakers at Road to Revival, the special one day class the next day, to my first awesome bonfire experience listening to stories on a brisk, cool night. The barakah doesn’t stop there. I was able to also participate in the amazing da’wah initiative to spread smiles, literally just go around all four campuses giving away free candy and sunglasses letting people know Muslims believe making people smile is charity as well.

Cafe Commons - Islam Awareness Week 2014

Finally, Islam Awareness Week where so many firsts occurred. I was gifted with the opportunity to attend my first Da’wah class series and Alhumdulillah, was able to implement the knowledge during the event, an entire week dedicated to giving Da’wah and spreading Islam. There was a different aura during that week. It didn’t matter where you were or what you were doing, you just wanted to be there at the tent around excited Muslims. It felt like we were in a Muslim country where the Adhaan was heard from a distance and Muslims were openly praying in unity. Then at night, we’d have influential and knowledgeable speakers who grabbed our attention and allowed us to understand concepts that we as Muslims, or at least me, didn’t know before.

The Friday following the last day of Islam Awareness Week, there was a feeling of peace surfacing from every direction. As I entered the tent, I realized all the tables were put away and a spread of sheets were laid out. The wind blew in calmly, soothingly, along with the beautiful smell of musk reaching us. Sounds of conversations filled the area but almost immediately, as soon as the khutbah began, all conversations stopped. Total focus. Nothing else mattered. That’s how the entire week felt. As if nothing mattered but being at the tent. If you tried to focus on something else your heart wanted to be at the tent. Alhumdulillah. That’s all you wanted to say when thinking about the week. Alhumdulillah. So Alhumdulillah for the people who put in so much effort. Alhumdulillah for all the previous events. Alhumdullilah for the friends and family that we were able to enjoy it with. Alhumdulillah for being Muslim. For if it were not for the gift of this Deen none of this would have been a reality to any of us. So Alhumdulillah. Alhumdulillah. Alhumdulillah.

We are the #MuslimsOfRutgers

#MuslimsOfRutgers

It’s amazing what a simple smile and kind gesture can do for a person. When I learned of the MSA’s plans to go from campus to campus (that means stepping beyond the doors of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center—OMG—I know), giving out goodie bags full of chocolate and messages of “Smile! It’s Charity,” my first thought was, “Wow, that’s so cool!”

My second thought was, “I’ll probably be really bad at this.”

Going up to people and interrupting them when I’m used to avoiding eye contact with my Rutgers peers on a normal day was quite a step. But the bright yellow shirt I had on and was surrounded by that read “The Muslim Family” served as a reminder. A reminder that all these other people storming the campuses with me were my brothers and sisters in Islam, spreading that same positive message for the same positive reasons. I was with my ummah.

From Douglass to Busch…

Douglass and Busch Campus

to Livingston to College Ave…

Livingston and College Ave

I felt like I was with a group of tourists who knew the campuses and the people on them all too well. They knew the students needed some warm smiles on a chilly day. Ask any person on the walk, and I’m sure they’ll tell you about an encounter that left not only the other person smiling, but the smile-spreader smiling too. Some feedback, courtesy of people who know what to do with a hashtag when they see one:

https://twitter.com/thekiernann/status/449279975309737985

https://twitter.com/evereveron/status/449312967201656832

See what everyone else had to say by clicking here.

At the end of it all, the crew regrouped on College Ave for a barbecue in weather that’s probably not meant for a barbecue. Nevertheless, dedicated volunteers stood by the grill and the sandwich making table to ensure guests had some special dinner to eat. Food along with activities like arm wrestling and jousting made for a relaxing end to an exciting day.

Being one of the #MuslimsOfRutgers is a real blessing, Alhamdulillah. And the semester isn’t even over yet! ;)

All Hope Is Not Lost

Stories can be told in many ways. Today, Submissions tells the story of last night’s general event in the form of tweets posted during the event itself (with a little commentary along the way).

The event kicked off as Shaykh Alaa El Saadawi took center stage to speak about the #PropheticWay of handling mistake making. Peep some of the gems from the talk, courtesy of all those who took part in our Twitter activity:

https://twitter.com/paperclip137/status/444267070277316608

https://twitter.com/uatahir3/status/444269819295461377

Alhamdulillah, after all was said and done:

Then, per MSA tradition, we had our announcements, which tweeters unexpectedly recorded as well:

Donate to the orphan sponsorship, headed by our community service initiative HOPE, by clicking here!

Speech given, announcements made, and pizza/cake consumed, it was time for us to sign off for the night:

A Real Relationship

MSA shook things up with this week’s general event, Paired in Paradise—yes, that annual event on marriage, and NO—not a matrimonial event. Let’s kill the stereotype please, right now, in case it’s still floating around in any misinformed minds out there. Not everyone who attended last night was desperate to get married. Everyone I spoke with came to genuinely learn about an action beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala—so beloved that it completes half the deen of a believer and unites a pair of people in companionship and love that transcends worlds.

With such a potentially wonderful outcome from marriage at stake, a Muslim needs to make sure he/she goes about it properly. There’s general and specific red flags that’ll result in rejection, questions that need to be exchanged and answered between potential partners, and the “interview” process.  The audience shared their thoughts to compile these lists, creating an interactive atmosphere between speaker and attendee that was quite refreshing to experience inside the walls of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

Distinguished alumni Sania Siddiqui and Rami Elsawah kindly shared their marriage stories with the current undergrads as tweets with the hashtag #PairedInParadise filled the screen in the back with GEMs. Both speakers’ point of emphasis was clearly the advice to take away from the evening: work on yourself and your relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Sure, marriage has the potential to complete half your deen, but that doesn’t mean the other half is nowhere to be found. Get close to Allah and mend your relationship with Him first before pursuing a spouse. When you get that down (or at least do your best to work on it, considering it is a lifelong journey), Allah will send your way what’s best for you Insha’Allah.

And that’s a promise you can count on, if you put your trust in Him:

وَتَوَڪَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ وَڪَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ وَكِيلاً۬

“And put your trust in Allah, for Allah is sufficient as Trustee.” [Qur’an 33:03]

Paired In Paradise

Based on a True Story

Throughout my first three years here at Rutgers, whenever someone asked me if I was going to the MSA event on any particular night, my answer was always no. I never knew about the student organization’s events until a few hours before their scheduled time, and that didn’t fit into my preplanned routine of driving to school, going to class, and driving home.

I did have some sort of social life. My friend circle was mostly limited to who I knew before college and a buddy or two from my classes (and even they were usually friends of friends). I think I built up an anti-MSA reputation among my friends, as they often joked about how I never went to anything and didn’t really care to. That idea was absurd obviously. I wasn’t anti-MSA at all—I was really glad it existed because that meant a bunch of Muslims could learn more about their deen, meet Muslim friends, represent Islam on campus, plus a boatload of other benefits.

I’ll cut to the chase here—I did eventually give the MSA a chance. I signed up for the newsletters in an attempt to stay updated with what was going on. I think my first meeting in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center was the Spring ’13 kickoff, and that’s where I heard an announcement about the then-upcoming Road to Revival conference. It must have been a few days later at my Sunday school that an avid MSA member and dear friend informed me the deadline for discounted tickets was soon…so I did it. I registered. And then I went to the conference.

Alhamdulillah, I’m so glad I did.

It’s safe to say I was blown away by the conference. Everything was organized, the speeches were memorable, and it was creative! I left the conference with the Iman boost I needed and a new perception of and respect for the MSA. (Come IAW, that respect and positive perception again increased).

That brings me to this year’s Road to Revival: Based on a True Story. (The tagline works really well with my post title as you can see…the above paragraphs are true stories, aha).

Insha’Allah, the event is this weekend with a theme of Qur’anic lessons. The speaker lineup looks great, Masha’Allah! Linked here is the program, with all the session details, and below are some videos of the speakers to get a taste of what’s to come from these blessed people, Insha’Allah:

Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez

Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda

Dr. Hatem al-Haj

Dr. Shadee Elmasry

Imam Siraj Wahhaj

Mufti Hussain Kamani

If you’ve been on the fence about seeing what the MSA is all about, this weekend’s event is a great place to begin Insha’Allah.

Welcome Back!

It’s a new year, a new semester, and a new look for Submissions. Our blogging team is back for Spring 2014 (haha, spring..Rutgers actually cancelled classes from all the snow) with new posts for you!

From a Muslimah’s vignettes to traveling the Islamic sites around the world, from little reminders of our Great Creator to a monthly dose of motivation—we hope to keep you interested, involved, and reading this semester Insha’Allah.

Stay tuned, and feel free to drop us a word through our contact page or Twitter with the hashtag #RUMSAblog. We’re always open to new ideas/writers and love feedback.

Wishing you all the best with the semester and happy reading! :)

Making Your First Impression

Success. What is success and how do we attain it? Everyone has their own aspirations and desires, but attaining success requires essential skills. Last night, Rutgers MSA hosted First Impression, a career workshop event. Alhamdulillah, it was definitely an event worthwhile.

MSA President, Asad Mian, kicked off the event with a short introduction, noting the program intended to help students develop skills needed to talk to professionals, build effective resumes, and head toward the path of success. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even seniors listened attentively as three speakers shared their words of advice.

Success / Failure – Mohammad Abbasi

The first speaker was Mohammad Abbasi, President of Bayan Consulting Inc. He began by defining the true meaning of success. “Success is failure,” he said. Everyone must fail in order to succeed.

Success is a progressive pursuit of a worthwhile goal where the journey—not the destination—determines the success. He also noted the different entities required to ultimately achieve success. Of these, he went over values, priorities, focus, thoughts, and feelings. Values are important for the individual only if he makes it important.

Brother Abbasi, who juggles family and work, established a mechanism to determine his priorities in a given time period. He would work from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. which is his client’s time, but from 5 P.M. to 9 A.M. is his time.

Setting ones priorities straight is essential to balance life and achieve success. These priorities are influenced by where we get our value from. The sources include our parents, siblings, teachers, faith and media, but sometimes they are innate (in our fitrah).  These values evolve into beliefs/priorities. Priorities change with time and circumstances, but essentially prioritizing is the key to leadership.

“A leader’s job is to help people think the way they need to think, so they can act the way they need to act and get what they need to get,” said Brother Abbasi.

We need to focus on our priorities. Even though focus can come off as rude, you must remember that focus is the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. Once a focus is established, we must be able to distinguish between the feelings of the heart and mind. The goal is to find balance between what our heart says and what our mind says.

Careers – Mohammad Misbah

Mohammad Misbah was the next speaker, giving career advice. “The Secret” to attending an interview, or career workshop is to follow the steps: preparation, execution and follow-up. We need to self-analyze and pinpoint our purpose for getting an education. Knowing ourselves, researching the company we want to work for, networking, and distinguishing ourselves as unique/different are necessary. A good way to distinguish ourselves is to obtain internships.

Take advantage of Rutgers Career Services; they narrow the candidate pool immensely. In addition, take heed of these tips:

  1. Tailor your responses to the position.
  2. Listen to other people so that when it’s your turn, you can respond with what they’re looking for.
  3. Honesty is big.
  4. Convince them.
  5. Be confident and maintain eye contact.
  6. Ask for a business card.
  7. Follow up to show your level of interest and commitment. Make sure they remember you.

Resumes – Dean Adi

The last and final speaker was Dean Adi. He talked about resumes and that they are not the true keys to success. Achieving success isn’t a beautiful thing unless you’re doing it with the right intention. Some tips from Brother Dean:

  1. Increase in knowledge.
  2. Use leadership to become strong and successful so you can help the Ummah.
  3. On your resume, highlight what makes you special as opposed to everyone else.
  4. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
  5. Think about the type of jobs that suit you the best.
  6. Be able to answer  these questions:
    1. Tell me about yourself.
    2. Why are you interested in this job?
    3. Why are you interested in working for the company you are applying for?
    4. What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Be honest!)

After the speakers finished, seniors and alumni represented a number of majors. They not only gave advice, but helped the younger students learn from their own mistakes. It was overall a great experience and event. For those who missed out, rest assured the seniors are available to help you out whenever you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out! 

A Tale of Three Shahadas

To a person looking for a source of peace and meaning, this Deen is a way of life he will do anything to grab hold of. To a longtime sinning person, when he starts learning about his Deen, he never wants to go back to the way he was. To a person who held onto the Deen since birth, it is way of life he would not trade for the world, for he considers it a blessing from Allah subhana wa ta’ala. Why is this? What is it about this Deen that causes us to love, respect, and treasure it more than a irreplaceable jewel? Last week, the Rutgers Muslim Student Association hosted the event, “A Tale of Three Shahadas” to help shed light on how special this Deen really is and why we should not take it for granted.

ROOTS, the da’wah initiative of the MSA, invited three reverts, Brother Ameer Sharma, Brother Abu Sumayyah and Sister Nahela Morales, to share their beautiful journey to Islam and serve as reminders to many of us that this Deen shapes and makes us who we are. Brother Ameer began by explaining the minimum amount of knowledge he actually had of Muslims and was first introduced and exposed to Islam when the hijab was banned in France. His interest sparked when he heard Muslim women would rather leave university than take off their hijabs, which helped him realize there is an absolute certainty in the hearts of these people that causes them to make such a decision. His interest in Islam increased when a brother was able to relate ayas (miraculous signs/verses) to more modern practical examples. This helps us realize the commands of Allah subhana wa ta’ala and what He says is not only for the Muslims of the past, but for the present people as well.

Sister Nahela Morales kindly shared with us her encounter with Islam. It began with the attack on 9/11 and escalated into curiosity. Though her curiosity did not immediately cause her to take her Shahada, a few years later, she realized she was not content. Though she had everything superficial, something inside her felt empty which became her reason to take her Shahada.

When asked for any advice she may have for other Muslim brothers and sisters she said, “Many of us leave our families along the way, you become our family…shelter them, invite them…to an ordinary dinner, so they can feel welcome as a part of the community. We should all become one, and the youth can make a difference. Really up to the youth.”

We realize how important the idea of a brotherhood/sisterhood is. Allah subhana wa ta’ala connected us through the Shahada, and it is up to us to keep that bond as strong.

Further insight was given by Brother Abu Sumayyah and his reminder of how this Deen can change us from someone carrying a questionable lifestyle to a person who can be forgiven for their sins entirely by the Will of Allah subhana wa ta’ala and entirely change his life for the better. Part of treasuring this Deen is realizing how it helps us live a better and more fulfilled life. Brother Abu Sumayyah courageously shared with us how he was not among the most pious of men however, after realizing the truth and logical standing that Islam carries; he took his Shahada and continued to look forward. He also humbly shared with us how character is important and how you must practice what you preach. As practicing Muslims, we should undoubtedly appreciate this message, for if we wish to have other people see the good in this Deen, we must try our best to be good as well.

Three inspirational stories on a night where many were enthusiastic and eager to listen. The lessons learned and the questions asked were all incumbent to our growth and development in becoming better practicing Muslims, Alhamdulillah. Something that we all should realize is we are not doing a favor for this Deen, but this Deen is doing a favor for us. We are the ones who are in need, not Allah subhana wa ta’ala. This way of life is no doubt a blessing to be treasured, and we must remind ourselves how much we are actually affected by its beauty.  Ask yourself, why do you love this Deen?

Islam: The Greatest Anti-Depressant

Brother Mazen Mokthar joined the Rutgers University MSA  yesterday night in Paul Robeson and shed some light on the issue of depression. He talked about the differences between sadness, minor depression, and major depression. He emphasized some depressions  occurred because of a chemical imbalance and some medical reasons, situations in which medical assistance should be sought out. While having faith probably wouldn’t fix that, it would definitely help. The depressions that are not from chemical imbalances are related to not understanding life for what it is.

The discussion then turned to happiness and enjoyment. Enjoyment generally results from external things, like eating, snow boarding, drinking hot chocolate, etc. Those enjoyments are short-term, and go away after the food or event is done. Only memories remain. True happiness, though, is long-term and internal. When a person looks forward to buying the latest phone, he’s very excited and assumes he’ll be content once he gets the phone. And then it comes. That joy might feel that for a day or two, but all in all it will go away and fail to make you a happier person.

Brother Mazen continued to say a mu’min, a true believer in Allah, needs to understand the consequences of La Ilaha Illa Allah. Know that Allah is the All-Powerful. Really know that. Simply believing in Allah is not good enough, because Shaytan believed in Allah. He knew of His power and strength, and he had all the evidence needed to prove that He exists. However, he didn’t (or at least refused to) believe Allah is the All-Powerful and All-Knowing. Brother Mazen reminded the students a true mu’min when in hardship, remembers Allah and is comforted, because he knows Allah is aware of the hardship and all of the power is in Allah’s hands only.

That dedication to Allah is what takes away external pains and the dependence on superficial things.

When a person feels immense despair and guilt, there is always a positive way forward. Once you commit a great sin, you should repent, believe (recommit yourself to Allah), and do good deeds. Brother Mazen said  Allah doesn’t forgive and wipe away your sins; instead, he replaces your sins with hasanat. So instead of getting depressed for doing something wrong, one should immediately repent and never give up. The most important thing, regardless of how much you sin, is to always return to the right path.

Allah is the one who created us, and thus He is the one guides us. If we are dedicated to Allah, the only important thing in life is what have we done with the gifts of Allah. Brother Mazen pointed out when we get things, and everything goes according to plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting rewarded. And when we lose things and are traumatised by events, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Allah is punishing us. We have to stop focusing on ourselves so much, and we have to use the gifts Allah gave us properly. Brother Mazen closed with a great point to one of the questions asked in the Q & A, when people go through hardship, they use the iman they stored to deal with it. Someone with strong iman is more accepting and understanding when bad things happen to him. However, someone who doesn’t understand it is overwhelmed by what had happened.

May Allah make us among those who have a strong iman, who truly understand La Ilaha Illa Allah, and who experience the sweetness of true happiness. Ameen.

The Eid Banquet Experience

With Muslim brothers and sisters from all over campus and beyond, the community celebrated together for the biggest event of the semester, Rutgers University MSA’s Eid Banquet.

Keynote speaker, former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, shared his journey to Islam and the NBA with the 300-plus crowd on Monday night. He preached a message of hard work, dedication, believing in yourself and in the Almighty Allah. Listen to/watch his speech below, in case you missed anything!

Throughout the evening, the audience got to see some hilarious vines and a live skit. The Road to Revival team also awarded five golden ticket winners from the audience who liked the R2R Facebook page or followed on Twitter/Instagram with eligibility to get a free ticket to the event in 2014! Check out the tazkiyah conference’s trailer that premiered at the Banquet:

With all the insights, prizes, food, smiles, and laughs, RU-MSA’s Annual Eid Banquet was a fresh start to the week, needed fun for the middle of the semester, and an awesome way to wrap up the Eid festivities. Explore the gallery below, and feel free to share your photos so we can add them too, and as always, we’d greatly appreciate any feedback.

We wish you a wonderful second half of the semester, Insha’Allah! :)

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