By Bessan Abdel-Aziz --
On Thursday, April 7, I got to chat with Passaic County Community College’s president of the Muslim Student Association, Abdalla Yousef. The MSA brings Muslims of diverse backgrounds and cultures under one unified community. They strive to remain inclusive to those who wish to understand, appreciate, and practice Islam without compromising their morals or beliefs.
Social media and other popular news sources have represented Islam in a poor light, portraying it as a misogynistic and radical religion. After 9/11, Muslims have been branded as “terrorists.” Many outlets have demonized Islam and objectify the Qur’an as well as making gross generalizations about Islamic practices.
The MSA is taking back the narrative and correcting the stereotypes of Islam. The MSA encourages faculty members and students to learn Islam the right way—that is to educate others that Islam is a religion of peace and to educate others on Islam’s teachings of values, morals, mercy, and compassion. The MSA wants to reach out to the Muslim community so they know there is a place for them.
The club is open to all faculty and students of all religious beliefs. Anyone with an interest in Islam or its teachings are welcomed at any time. The MSA is not looking to convert anyone or change their religious beliefs. The MSA is not here to dismiss any other religions or to seem superior to another. A better way to properly learn about Islam is to learn from the Muslims practicing the religion.
MSA is not only a club at PCCC, but a club across schools and colleges across the states. Everyone who has attended an MSA meeting has been welcomed with open arms and has felt comfortable. There has never been a situation where people are not.
During Islamic Awareness Week at PCCC, Yousef and other members of the MSA met up with other schools and saw the enormous number of Muslims in our population.
A highlight of the MSA is seeing and meeting Muslims from all over, not just from Middle Eastern countries. You do not only have Arab Muslims, but you also have Asian Muslims, Bengali Muslims, African American Muslims, etc. The MSA brings together all Muslims to share their experiences and journeys.
The MSA hopes to educate and reach out to as many people as they can to spread the truth. The MSA is a growing community, ready to welcome anyone and everyone. For more information on the club feel free to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.