Muslim Students Association calls for respect

Group works to change perceptions and host events

Illustration by Gabrielle Funk

Naima Arab, the coordinator of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), says Muslims are not bad people. She says that unlike how they have been portrayed in the media, Muslims are peaceful. 

“We are a very peaceful people,” Arab says. “We are not as people portray us on social media, on the media … we’re very religious people, and even our religion is based on peace. We are not violent people.

“In the Qur’an, it says that if you kill one person, you kill all of humanity. If you save one person, you save all of humanity.”

The MSA aims to bring together Muslims, put on fundraisers, events, charity work and let them express their faith. They want to spread awareness of Islam and allow people to ask questions about the religion and interact with a positive Muslim community.

Sumaiya Damir, a Muslim student, says Islam is a way to live your life connected with a higher power. She says that it’s had a very positive influence in her life.

“It’s a way of life, but it’s sort of in detail. It shows you what to do from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed,” Dahmir says. “It makes your life more positive.” 

The MSA hosts a few events throughout the school year in support of crisis relief. They work with the Islamic Relief Canada donation site, where people can decide where their donation money goes, like the Syrian crisis or support for orphans in Bangladesh.

For a while, the Muslim students had to share a room with other religious groups. Now that they have their own room, Arab says Muslim students are happy to have a safe space to be themselves and practice their religion freely.

“They are really happy that they have a prayer room, a room where they can be themselves,” Arab says. “People stare at us sometimes. We have to smile to show them we are not who they think we are.” 

Arab says if there was one teaching that she could pass on from Islam, it’s that if you make a mistake, there’s always a chance to fix it.

“It teaches you that if you make mistakes ...  God is forgiving,” Arab says. “God gives you a chance to fix your mistakes … Islam is a very open religion.” 

Damir and Arab encourage everyone to check out the group, come to the prayer room and ask questions. All Muslim students are invited to the space to pray. 

Published in Volume 71, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 5, 2017)

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