Oglethorpe University’s Muslim Student Association is gearing up for a new semester of in-person activities including social events and opportunities to learn more about Islamic culture.
The MSA was founded by students Olivia Ramlawy ’22 and Nour Meselhi ’21 in fall 2020. Fellow Petrels Ashrakat Hassan ’24 and Mariama Abdoul-Majeed ’23 helped to get the club up and running and have since become the co-presidents. Rounding out the leadership is Vice President Hrishika Chhetri ’22 and Feruz Ali ’23, treasurer. Assistant Registrar Melinda Peerboom serves as the association’s advisor.
First and foremost, the MSA is dedicated to uplifting the Muslim community at Oglethorpe. The group holds bi-weekly meetings during the school year as a way to come together, discuss events and plan activities. Both Muslim and non-Muslim students are encouraged to attend.
“We hope that anyone who wants to learn more about Islam would be willing to join us during our meetings and have an open discussion about their curiosities about Islam,” says Co-president Ashrakat Hassan. “Creating that safe space to discuss misconceptions, representation and so much more is a definite goal this year.”
With a full return for students planned for fall 2021, the MSA is now also focused on reconnecting with the campus community and creating opportunities for person-to-person interaction — something that was missed while students were mostly remote last year. In addition to regular meetings and celebrations, the MSA aims to create activities that will help inform fellow Petrels about the Muslim community through social events.
With a little over a month before fall classes begin, the MSA is already working to increase the visibility of Muslims at Oglethorpe. Eid al-Adha, an important holiday for Muslims, starts in the evening of Monday, July 19 and continues through Tuesday, July 20. This celebration occurs during the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar, “Dhu al-Hijjah,” and is the holiest month. Working with the university, the MSA will take to social media to help inform the community about this sacred holiday.
During Eid al-Adha, Muslims across the globe sacrifice animals to honor this holiday. One-third of the animal is eaten by the family, while the rest is traditionally provided to the less fortunate. According to the Quran — Muslims’ holy text — God commanded Abraham to test his faith by sacrificing his son. Just as he was about to comply, however, God intervened, providing Abraham with a lamb instead, sparing Abraham’s son. It is said that when Muslims sacrifice the animal during this holiday, it does not reach God. Instead, God recognizes the devotion of the act of sacrifice as an indication of faith and love for God. It is a celebration of devotion, kindness and equality.
This upcoming semester, be on the look out for activities and events sponsored by the MSA and check out OUConnect to be able to catch the next meeting. Be sure to follow the MSA on Instagram @oglemsa.