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Muslim student group reorganizes

Grace McCormack | Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Despite being a small minority on a predominantly Catholic campus, Muslim students at Notre Dame maintain a strong faith community through the Muslim Students Association (MSA).

The club now sponsors seminars, daily prayer, weekly Quran studies and trips to a local mosque, though it offered little only a year ago, according to president Aamir Ahmed Khan.

“[The MSA] was in a dead zone … as good as inactive,” Khan said.

Recognizing the MSA’s need for revitalization, Priscilla Wong, associate director for administration at Campus Ministry, reached out to Khan when he was a first-year graduate student, Khan said.

Khan said he and a number of other students established a committee to reorganize the group.

“Since we reorganized the committee, we’ve been getting a lot of positive responses from the students,” said S. Moudud Islam, the MSA treasurer.

About 20 of the University’s estimated 90 Muslim students actively participate in the club. Kahn said the resource is especially helpful for international students.

“We are far from our own country and we miss our family and religion and practices,” he said. “We’re trying to make an environment [that] lets students know that we can do the same thing here.”

While Muslim students may feel isolated because of their separation from the familiarities of their home lives, Khan said he has not heard of negative experiences.

“We have not faced any challenge[s] so far, only appreciation and encouragement,” he said.

Khan said the group is an asset to the entire campus, not just its Muslim members.

He said he has seen an increase in non-Muslim interests in the Muslim faith and culture, which has manifested itself at MSA events and through a student-made documentary on Muslims at Notre Dame titled “Scarves and Crosses,” which premiered at the Student Film Festival.

“[Non-Muslim students] are asking questions positively,” Khan said. “And that is really an encouraging thing.”