Answered by Sister Hadia Mubarak
Question: I just started medical school in the Cayman Islands and we are in desperate need of Islamic unity there. We’re starting up an MSA, but frankly, I’m very worried that it will be used as an opportunity for male and female students to interact inappropriately. Do you have any tips as to what could be done to provide the Islamic environment that we so drastically need?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
May Allah swt reward you for your efforts. My personal advice, based on my experience with my MSA at FSU, is to try to be as organized as possible. What I’ve noticed is that MSA events tend to become grounds for inappropriate mixing when events are held without any clear goals or structure.
It’s really important that the MSA officers get together and have a strategy planning meeting before the year starts. What do you hope to achieve for the year? What is the best way to achieve those goals? For example, if you decide that one of your goals is to increase members’ knowledge of Islam and bring them closer to Allah swt, then you must establish means by which your MSA can achieve those goals.
One way we tried to increase the spiritual/religious atmosphere of our MSA meetings at FSU was by having a guest speaker or MSA member present a spiritual/religious talk (halaqa) at every single meeting. Further, we always began our meetings with the recitation of Quran and ended our meetings with dua. We held our meetings close to prayer time (some times) so that we could all pray in congregation. I know that our congregational prayers literally introduced some of our members to prayers for the first time in their lives. The more structured your meetings are, the more beneficial you will find them to be.
Further, I would strongly discourage holding events that are purely social in nature without incorporating other dimensions to the event. I don’t think having all the MSA members go out for dinner or go bowling, for example, is necessarily beneficial. Once an MSA becomes purely about socializing, it loses its significance. You don’t need an organization to get together for dinner or go bowling. An organization should provide more significant services and events that would not be otherwise available.
Of course, an MSA should incorporate some social events into its yearly planning, but these events could revolve around more significant objectives, like coming together to break fast during Ramadan or having an Eid party. As long as there is a well-structured program, then there will be benefit in it inshallah.
I hope this simple advice helps. May Allah swt guide your heart to that which is most pleasing to Him.