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The MSA’s Muslim Student Community provides a safe space for students of Islam

If you’re a Muslim student at Mohawk College and looking for a community that focuses on Islam, the Mohawk Students’ Association (MSA) has the perfect club for you. The Muslim Student Community (MSC) provides an opportunity for students to practice and learn about Islam with like-minded individuals.

The MSC was formed in 2018 as the Islamic Student Association (ISA) but the name was changed in 2021 to better represent the group. The community is open to Muslim students of any background or ethnicity.

“The main purpose of the club is to build a community among students [who are members] of the Islamic religion on campus,” MSC president Joshua Buzzell said. “We want the students to be able to come together and participate in prayers that are in a congregation.”

Group of students sitting in classroom listening to a presentation.
Members of the MSC attended a youth entrepreneurship event in November 2022.

The MSC has hosted a variety of social events within the college and the wider Hamilton community including bowling night, street basketball, trivia, and board game nights. The MSC also hosts religious meetings such as Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers, Islamic classes and entrepreneurship workshops with guest speakers.

Many of the events in the MSC are designed specifically for Islamic brothers or sisters. These events are often referred to as a brothers’ gathering or sisters’ social. The separation of the group is to make sure members can pray, study or mingle with people of the same values, beliefs and characteristics.

“My favourite event is the sisters’ social because I can get together with other female members and hang out,” MSC member Eiman Alshaibani said. “It feels really nice having a community on campus where others share the same values and beliefs despite different views and opinions.”

Weekly events take place every Wednesday in either room EA 006, A010 or A006C. The location of each event is subject to change on a weekly basis and students are encouraged to pay close attention to their emails and social media.

Buzzell explains how Friday prayers operate each week on campus.

“Every day room A006 is open, and students come to pray five times a day,” Buzzell said. “However, Friday has this special prayer. The middle prayer in the day is replaced by a bigger congregational prayer, what’s called Jumu’ah. We then have a speech that’s given followed by a very short prayer. Students usually then go off to class or they hang back to connect and socialize.”

Muslim students sitting in room waiting chatting before first prayer.
Members of the MSC gathered in the prayer room to prepare for the first khutba (sermon).

The MSC plans to arrange more social events this semester on campus and in the community, including field trips and an escape room event. Buzzell also wants to start hosting open events in March where Mohawk College students can learn about Islam.

“Oftentimes, students have questions about their Islamic peers,” Buzzell said. “We’re hoping that we can host an event later on this semester that would allow the whole Mohawk community to come to learn about Islam, ask questions, and really just to help people build an appreciation for Islam through open sharing, open discourse, discussion and education. That way, more people can at least appreciate what other people think, what other people believe, or why other people do different things.”

With over 100 members in the Muslim Student Community, Buzzell hopes to continue expanding the club. However, many students find it difficult to make time for clubs and communities. Mohawk College Journalism student Salma Mwidau says she’s looking forward to finding time in her schedule to join.

“The MSC is something I see myself being a part of because it’s somewhere I can be myself and find others like me to relate to,” Mwidau said. “Sometimes on campus, especially during Ramadan, while everyone around you is eating and you’re fasting, it can be hard when there aren’t other Muslims around you. I think if you’re a part of a club like the MSC, you can make those friends who encourage you and relate to you both culturally and religiously.”

The MSC hosted an information booth on campus to promote the community and educate students.

The MSC is currently looking for Muslim students to volunteer for its administration positions. Some positions include event planner, photographer, video editor, booth volunteer, Jumma donation collector and social media manager. Students can fill out the form located on the MSC’s Instagram account @mohawk.msc.

Those interested in becoming a part of the Muslim Student Community can start by contacting MSC president Joshua Buzzell @joshua.buzzell@mohawkcollege.ca.

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