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MSAs Extinct: End of an Era

Weekly in-person halaqat on-campus and Jummah have been cancelled. Those monthly social events that everyone loves and the dawah booth that is usually set up in the hallway has disappeared. Not to mention that the prayer room that was once always in-use is now ‘closed until further notice’. It is safe to say that the university’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) has been cancelled, right? Well… not exactly.

While morale is down as we shift to the online world during the pandemic, student clubs continue to run. Many clubs have chosen to ‘take a break’ and simply hold off on organizing any kind of events during the pandemic. However, as Muslim students, our club’s purpose is more than just holding events for students on-campus. Our ultimate and collective goal as the MSA is to please Allah (SWT). This is a goal we strive to meet in various ways including fostering strength in students’ Islamic identity, holding programs that encourage seeking ilm and engaging in da’wah. These are things we cannot simply just take a break from or hit pause on. If we hit pause on contributing to our Ummah, there could be great losses to the MSA long-term, and we must view the MSA as more than just a student club. We should view the MSA as an amanah, as an opportunity to worship Allah (SWT) and help Muslim students remain steadfast on the deen. The truth is that we should want to be an MSA that contributes to the Muslim community and Ummah beyond just the walls of our university.

It is said in the Quran,

“And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” [3:104]

Nowhere does it say that we can stop engaging in da’wah or stop with our worship simply because of difficult situations. We must remember that this pandemic was not an accident or mistake. Rather, this pandemic occurred by the will of Allah (SWT). He is the All-Knowing. We should not view the pandemic as a sign for us to stop all our MSA activities. Instead, we should find ways to continue.

Recall that Abu Huraira reported:

The Prophet (SAWS) said, “If Allah intends good for someone, he afflicts him with trials.” [Bukhari]

Therefore, we should find ways to be creative with how we continue to engage with Muslim students and stay united as an Ummah in this seemingly difficult time. It will not be easy to keep students engaged and connected with the Muslim community, but that does not mean we should give up. More importantly, we should not stop giving da’wah. Of course, ultimate hidayah (guidance) comes from Allah (SWT) but this does not mean that we should be complacent in the way of inviting others to Islam.

It is stated in the Qu’ran:

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” [16:125]

We are living in a blessed time where we can connect in more ways than one. As the pandemic continues, so does time and we do not want this time to be wasted. If university classes can continue online throughout the pandemic, then why can’t the MSA? Purify your intentions, get creative and start brainstorming ways to help your MSA get back on track. You can still have halaqat online, you can still find ways to connect with the community throughout this pandemic. Do not let COVID-19 divide your MSA and cause disunity with the Muslim community at your university. It is not too late to get the community engaged. There is no way of knowing or controlling how long this pandemic will last. However, we can control to what extent we allow this pandemic to affect our day-to-day lives, including the MSA and our connection with the Muslim community. As you continue to be involved with decisions for the MSA at your university and your general involvement with the Ummah, recall that Allah (SWT) tells us in the Qu’ran:

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided…” [3:103]

So, while you continue your personal ibadah within your home, try to also continue with the MSA da’wah work and community ties that were strong before the pandemic. In this difficult time where we cannot always be in each other’s physical presence, tighten your grip and hold onto the rope that keeps us united as an Ummah.

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