Muslim Student Association is Not What You’d Expect

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Muslim Student Association is Not What You’d Expect

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“You’re not Muslim; how are you in MSA [Muslim Student Association]?” is a question most members of MSA have heard.

MSA National is a loosely structured national organization with collegiate clubs that aim to maintain Islamic societies on college campuses. Originally, the Blacksburg High created MSA with the goal of joining the Virginia Tech branch of MSA to compete in competitions with the college students. However, the goal of the club changed two years ago after the founder, Tahreem Alam, graduated and Vedat Dilek, Senior, became president.

MSA at Blacksburg High is now a religious study group that attempts to provide clarity to the Islamic faith. The majority of the club is non-muslim; it is open to people from any background and focuses on learning something new every week. President Vedat Dilek, Senior, gives a 15-20 minute talk, typically every Tuesday in Ms. Spencer’s room, on topics ranging from “Women in Islam” to “Creation of Adam in the Islamic Faith.”

“As the sponsor, I think Vedat is spectacular in conveying information in his presentations; I think he is articulate and informative. It goes a long way to bust stereotypes,” said Ms. Spencer, MSA sponsor.

Each meeting starts with at least one hadith–a reported statement or action of Muhammad that helps advise Muslims on their daily actions–dubbed by Dilek, “Hadith of the Week,” that ties into the following lesson.

“I think the Hadiths are valuable to provide insight to Islam; they’re good examples to show how Muslim people live,” said Evan Xie, Senior.

One particular “Hadith of the week” was, “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Included in the lesson “Creation of Adam in Islam,” Dilek connected this Hadith to how Satan did not bow down to Adam when Allah requested him to and those who follow in Satan’s footsteps would not be received well by Allah in the afterlife.

Dilek stresses that the aim of the club is not to convert members to Islam but rather to educate  members about Islam. In fact, forced conversion is banned by Islamic Law, which Dilek included in one of the club’s meetings. He provides quotes from the Quran to illustrate this point as well as many others. No matter how strong Dilek’s beliefs are, he is always open to hearing  opposing viewpoints and questions, and he treats each one seriously.

“MSA is a great opportunity to learn about the Islamic faith and raise cultural awareness. It’s cool we can experience this in high school, before college,” said MSA member Sam Dickinson, Senior.