MSA welcomes members by building a sense of community

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Students gather for a lecture about the Quran and its principles. The lecture was then followed by a welcome back dinner. (Photo by Brandon Barzola/The Daily Campus)

MSA welcomes members by building a sense of community

On a freezing night of seven degrees Fahrenheit, a group of students embraced each other in the Rome Ballroom with warm greetings of ”Salaam Alaikum” – tenderhearted wishes of peace to start off the semester.

These students were attending the Muslim Student Association (MSA) welcome back event, a semi-annual occurrence that kicks off programming for the University of Connecticut’s official community of Muslims. The theme of the event is “A Night with the Quran,” hosting two guest speakers, Safwan Shaikh and Nihal Khan, both UConn alumni.

MSA is a student organization at UConn that strives to cultivate a welcoming community for Muslim students and those who are interested in learning more about the Islamic faith. They hope to do this by hosting events like the welcome back dinner.

The main theme addressed during the event was a sense of community. Khan, one of the guest speakers, spoke about the crucial link between community and healing in his speech about forgiveness

“Islam is a faith of healing, and that comes through community and acceptance,” said Khan.

For second semester molecular cell biology major and commuter student Khaleel Rahman, this message rings true: MSA serves as his home away from home.

“MSA is my second home on campus – it allowed me to meet close friends, participate in fun events, feel safe practicing my religion and fit into a close community on campus,” Rahman said.

But community is not a foreign concept to MSA. This theme only served to solidify the Islamic faith’s core values of belonging and acceptance.

“The main themes of Islam are community and holistic – the event tonight emphasized a holistic approach to communal healing, which is very pertinent for the college student who is going through a lot,” sixth semester biomedical engineering major and MSA vice president Sayeda Najamussahar (Sahar) Peerzade said.

Aside from developing its own community, MSA is also positioning itself to positively benefit the wider community at UConn and beyond this semester.

“Our goals this semester are to build our community even more, focus on expanding events, increase outreach into UConn community through philanthropic efforts like volunteering at soup kitchens and hosting drives. Last semester was focused on inner community – we are looking to expand that and influence the greater community not just through religion, but also socially, professionally, and holistically,” Peerzade said.

When asked how the average UConn student should view Islam and MSA, Peerzade answered,

“Islam is a very personalized and holistic religion and way of life – I encourage all people regardless of background or faith to look into [Islam and MSA] and see what it has to offer.”


Derek Pan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at derek.pan@uconn.edu.

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