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Issue 16

The UIC MSA Publication




Line one Esraa Elkossei Line two left to right Sarah Basheer Saba Ali Line three Hammed Rehman Sara Alattar


Beauty liberates. Ugliness imprisons. Beauty brings us to realization. Beauty calls us to pass beyond appearance. Beauty is there to communicate the truth. Beauty reveals truths that can’t be communicated any other way. Beauty has ontological roots. It is not arbitrary. It is not subjective. It is metaphysical. Beauty is the splendor of Truth. God is beautiful and He loves beauty. Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah


Poetry The Beauty of Struggle

Beautifully Human I’m beautifully human and I’m proud of it -Brother Ali Life will never be steady Because it was never meant to be I mean how do you make diamonds without no pressure Life tried to crush him but only succeeded in creating a diamond. Understand that failure is a part of your training. Loneliness is a part of your training Rejection is a part of your training Disappointment is a part of your training. So don’t be so surprised when things go low. You can’t learn to walk without trippin You can’t learn to love without hurt You can’t learn gratitude without loss You can’t learn friendship without some lonely nights. And I happily want to take you all with me on this journey called life because it isnt just a story that you end. No. In my end I want you to see the beautiful picture that we painted. Every smile, every tear, every desire, and every fear were the colors added to this extravagant masterpiece. Embrace the pressure Embrace the stress Embrace these tests Disregard the critics and what they have to say. Because they’re a waste of time anyways. Keep prayin for the better days Keep your head up and keep smilin And I hope this simple message makes sense Shine bright like a diamond.

You’ve heard it so many times, verily with hardship comes ease. You don’t believe it, because life usually isn’t a breeze But trust me, it could be worse. You could be dying of hunger or dying of disease. And so I ask, that before you read this, you take a minute, pause, and breathe. There’s so many times when you may feel aggression, but don’t shout, don’t yell. You just need a form of expression A way to show yourself, a way to make an impression And the only one you need for that is God, because the key is to have faith in your possession It’s actually standing right in front of you, pointing in that direction (Pull out your Qiblah app) And I know this is hard, so allow me to make a confession I didn’t think that God loved me. I constantly questioned Him, wondering why I struggled, why I couldn’t belong But instead of being angry with Him, I should have turned to Him to make me strong And perhaps this will be my struggle all lifelong. I didn’t think that God loved me. But what I didn’t realize Was that through every struggle, the truth was before my very eyes I could still see the beauty of the world, from the ground to the skies I could still hear everything around me from the moment I rise, I could still walk and move around because I wasn’t not paralyzed You see, I took everything for granted God gave me everything, and I was not the least enchanted But today, I know that he does love me, he does care And I must remember that during the highs of happiness and lows of despair There’s a beauty in the struggles of our time, Every obstacle is just a mountain waiting for you to climb Persevere through life and take risks, because there’s no guarantees There will be struggle and hardships, but we know life isn’t a breeze God gives us these because he loves us, and if you need him, turn to him with any pleas Because we know, that verily with hardship comes ease Ummesalmah Abdulbaseer

Ya boy, Ali Idrees


Salvation A familiar itch presents itself on the back of my right shoulder blade. I make an intention to gently touch it, and the discomfort scurries outward like startled mice and vanishes back somewhere into my body. What is that word, Ilyas? I stretch the skin and look over my right in the mirror. The word is sabr, Ilyas. Sabr. A plethora of high school students stampeded toward the exits as the school day ended and the routine pop music blared loudly through the speakers. “I hope you like it,” she said as joy graced her words. The chocolate fudge birthday cake I received had my birth name written in orange frosting. She adjusted her hijab and smiled ear to ear. “I know it’s late, but I didn’t have the ingredients so I had to buy them.” I stared down at the whole pastry in wholesome disbelief. No one had ever baked a cake for me. I sat staring blankly at a beige wall. Memories of laughter and family kept playing on a vicious loop. They tell you faith is your saving grace but I was praying for hope, not saving face. Blameless and in pain, I awaited the day where my struggles and fears be sent away. A demon whispered, “For angels to fly, you cannot ever be afraid to die.” A cryer for help could not help but cry. No conflict, no strife, just me and a rope or a knife, just depending on how I would like to die. Fictitious hope, the meticulous note I wrote spoke of every elegant action planned, every single detail thought of, no family or friends buried under sand. “Ilyas?” Tears brimmed my eyes. I opened my mouth to say “thank you,”

but my mind froze, my jaw locked, my nerves paused, and I choked. “Wow,” I whispered, but I said it so fast yet it felt like I stood there as eternities passed. She gazed a bit confused and adjusted her hijab once more. I finally took a deep breath and calmed my shaken core, but my fingers slipped and before I swore, this poor chocolate cake was on the porcelain floor. The familiar itch on my right shoulder blade is an azure tattoo. Scrawled in Arabic calligraphy is the word “sabr,” most commonly translated as patience. But the word encompasses endurance, perseverance, and ultimately salvation. I would have apologized to a beige wall and never have seen your faces. Another unspoken suicide on the news, another death in nature. The only thought that stopped me was a loose hijab of all things. No one would expect that a cloth worn around the head would have kept me from being dead. So I had planned to commit suicide that day, but the only suicide I committed was the suicide to my old faith. I remember fondly the somber mistake I almost made by thinking my life was for me to take. My long patience for my wrongdoings had ran so thin but her sabr was so much stronger than I could imagine. She adjusted her hijab, looked at me once more, kneed steadily to the ground to pick the delicacy up off the floor. She held it to my face, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Life is too short to be broken this way.” To her, it could have just been a simple phrase. But to me, that was icing on the cake. Years later, I figured, if I have to get this reminder tattooed on my back for me to recollect, then I will etch it into my skin until I pay off my debt. I sinned against my body to break these demons of regret, but I know I will never fall victim to the most painful kind of death. God willing in the afterlife, I join the holy armada. Because no one except me could turn a suicide into a shahada. Ilyas Hernandez


You You’re too weak too young, too righteous too high-strung

Flowing Epiphanies The epiphanies flow like the ink I use to calligraph your

too confident, too lazy, too fat, too crazy too dark, too plain, too cheap, too mundane For everyone, you’re too much or you’re too little. Nothing seems to be enough to satisfy others.People feel the need to label us, put us in boxes, and make it seem like we’re simply not worth it. It is frustrating and hard, because these people are creating boundaries for us. Boundaries that limit us in our ability to fulfill our highest potential. They have taken away our opportunity to feel comfortable in our own skin, comfortable with what God has given us. Thus, despite telling ourselves that we’re alright, deep deep down, we don’t feel it. Each comment takes a hit at our soul, and changes us. We’ve become too self-conscious, too sensitive, and instead of fighting back, we’ve learned to accept their words. As if their words know us more than we know ourselves. As if their words know why God created us the way he did. As if their words mean that we are not beautiful, just the way we are. But I need you to know, that you’re not alone. We’ve all felt that way. Helpless. But you can’t let it stop you from being who you are. You can’t let it stop you from becoming who you want to be. You are a product of your experiences and nobody knows that better than you do. Thus, I believe that you can fight this. Their words shouldn’t influence your actions, your dreams, your goals, because believe me when I say, that you’re too great to stop being you. Thus, the key is to then understand this: You matter Take that in your heart, cement it in your soul, because without people like you, the world will never be whole

Ummesalmah Abdulbaseer

I realize that The curve of your smile reminds me of the gliding arches of the letter ‫س‬ I spell out the word and I’m certain that this word doesn’t merely mean joyful. Had I been unlettered, I would have seen your bright smile in the very word itself, and by God, I would have read. Sara Alattar



Beauty is absent It cannot be true that In this world you and I live in There is Light I know it to be real, such You will see the reality That darkness overwhelms us When they tell you Don’t believe them, because The beautiful hearts are missing Never take it to be true that You are looking but Truly, you are meant to find something Because you are, lost in this world Because you are not surrounded by love But rather we are Truly, we are, surrounded by ugliness It is foolish to think that There is grace and beauty in this life

And I too, have a dream that our Children won’t return to us encompassed in body bags becoming silhouettes in our Minds. And I too, believe they will go on to play with the lyrics of the Skies.

Nayfah Thnaibat

Now, read bottom to top Abdul Basith Basheer


10 Tips on How to Impress a Man Samirah and Nahian (definitely not inspired by BuzzFeed)


1. Avoid brightly colored lipsticks at all costs, stick to clear chapstick! We recommend the brand Elmer’s Glue because it really helps men to silence you, which they totally love.

So this random man on Twitter tweeted me the other day “I bet you only wear that thing on your head because your hair is ugly”. Tears fill my eyes as I reread these words he typed at me. The world seems to stop spinning for the slightest second as I repeated his words over and over again in my mind, gripping on to the hope that the words will magically disappear. But they didn’t. Random hick in the twitter universe finally did it. they’d figured out that the only way to make me take off my hijab was to call my hair ugly. My one weakness. A tear streams down my left cheek. 3 years of academy hijab training… wasted. I had to prove this extremely relevant and good-looking Twitter user wrong. I cared too much about what they thought. How could I live my life knowing that there is one person out there who thinks probably my hair is ugly maybe? How could I look myself in the mirror? How could I face my family? My shoulders shook as I cried silently, and my chair squeaked ever so slightly at the vibrations; as if it, too, was crying in sorrow. It wasn’t until that moment that the second part of the message dawned on me… how would I prove them wrong without breaking the rules? Was it really against the rules? I reach into my hijab and pull out a scroll. At the very top, in cursive jet-black inked letters, the word ‘Rules’ stares back at me. My heart is racing as my eyes frantically read the scroll. ‘Rule #1: no killing people,’ it reads. I let out a whimper. There go my evening plans. Suddenly, my eye catches the next words. The scroll is rustling in my trembling hands as I turn my face away, tears spraying out of my eyes like the spit of a white person as they try to justify racism. The cursive words felt more like a curse of words, vivid and refusing to disappear as if I were still staring at them even through my closed eyes. Rule #2: don’t show ur hair girl it’s UGLLAAYY LMAOOO

2. If your man is South Asian, being light skinned is a must! Bleaching creams are so 2000-whatever, invest in an invisibility cloak instead. 3. Some men are a little intimidated by tall women. If you’re in this situation try crawling around on the floor like the Exorcist. It’ll cut off your height and draw a ton of attention to your athleticism. 4. Men love pearly white smiles, drink bleach. 5. Always remember that men despise too much makeup and love the natural look. For a night out try rubbing your face in soil, worms and literal cow (dung/shit)

6. Avoid anything men might consider basic. Drinking starbucks, snapchat filters (God forbid you use the doggie one), laughing, blinking, or breathing. 7. Actually, avoid anything fun. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it. 8. Men appreciate modesty, but remember, they have no control over their own wandering gaze. The invisibility cloak we mentioned earlier has more than one function ;) 9. Ladies, the truth is, men don’t know about periods. Like, at all. Avoid complaining or even mentioning the filthy swear word in the presence of a man, as it may induce a dangerous neurological imbalance in their frontal lobe. It’s science, look it up. 10. Leave a little to the imagination! We suggest your personality, voice and overall existence.

An Ode to Those Who Brought Me Here Anon

To the person who taught me that there are many different ways to love God, and that each person’s journey to Him is different, To the person who showed me that it’s okay to be broken sometimes, and that in your brokenness you can still be whole. still be valid, still be oh so very loved, To the person who has shown me what it means to struggle to better yourself, who showed me friendship that consists of equal parts remembrance of God and laughter until our stomachs hurt, To the person who showed me what it means to love, to lose, to survive; who showed me that sometimes the best of people are thrown the most painful of trials, To the person who has always seen the absolute best in me, who reminds me

of all the beautiful things that make me, me To the person who is a constant reminder that it is only through loving others that we can bring people closer to God, To the person who brings joy everywhere, who taught me that life doesn’t always have to be so serious, To the people who make me proud, who give me hope for a brighter future, To each and every person who has had an impact on me, all the individuals whose unique beauty sees itself reflected in who I am today, Thank you. I would not be me if not for you.

Javerea Ahmed

“Do not let their words sadden you.” (Quran 10:65 – Surat Yunus)


MSA 2016-17

Shoutout to Ummesalmah for bringing me food to class. You the real MVP. -Shaima Darayyad

Shoutout to Sarra Wahdan for being the older sister I never had-- you deserve every good thing in this world, and insha’Allah you find what you seek in this life and the next. Like you always told me, take this life one day at a time. And always clear your room, clean your heart. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. -Javerea Ahmed

Shoutout to MOQA #FlyTheW -Osman

Shoutout to President Prince #PPA -Osman Shoutout to Farooq for always being a brother -Osman

Shoutout to Mourad for being the type of kid all of our parents probably compare us to. Though you aren’t a man of many words, your actions speak louder than anything the tongue can produce. -Farooq Shoutout to ALL of the graduating seniors this year, you’ve made the last three years incredible, thank you for guiding our MSA with your passion and spirit and know that you are always in our duas. Thank you for parting wisdom to your junior class. We look up to you so much and we will miss you terribly. Wishing you lots of love and success as you start a new path in your lives. -A Junior girl scared of what comes next

Shoutout to Farooq: Thank you for reminding me that my identity is my own. I love you. -Ilyas

Shoutout to Sarra for carrying me for these past two years. You’re the greatest partner and friend I could have hoped for, and I hope life gives you nothing but the best of lattes, clothes, Blackhawks tickets, happiness, companionship, and everything else that makes this whole thing worth it. God bless you. -Farooq

Shoutout to Affan Qadri: Your sincereity and love is what drives me not to be just a better Muslim, but a better human being. Sushi soon? -Ilyas

Shoutout to Azam. No matter how much I hate you, I’ll always love you. Thanks for always lighting the way. -Farooq

Shoutout to Mr. President, you’ll always be President in my eyes. I’m proud of you. #ObamaOut -Lil Sis

Shoutout to Rameez Baig for still making eye contact with me after all those times I bailed on working out with him. Nothing but love, my friend. -Farooq

Shoutout to Aisha Mujtaba, you made it girl! Don’t know what I will do without you next year. *Sobs* Thank you for always believing in me and being the most spectacular person ever. -Sarah Basheer

To the MSA: Your generosity and love kept me from being homeless. As a result, you will always have a home in my heart. Thank you-- with every fiber of my being. -Ilyas Shoutout to my Dad -Your son Shout out to Abraar, Ali, Hamza, Rooq, and Wasay #ECONGANG Shoutout to 1418: I love you guys/cats #GOAT Shoutout to Munther and Faraaz #fam -Osman Shoutout to Farooq and Nuha for literally falling over to teach me how to roller skate #loyal -Osman

Shoutout to Mustafa Hoda for illuminating our apartment with his infectious laugh, angelic voice, and beautiful heart. Already looking forward to when you’ll come back and visit us. -Farooq Shoutout to Abdul Basith for never yelling at me for keeping half of our room extremely, extremely messy. -Farooq Shoutout to Hamza Syed for gifting us with your humor, and allowing us to watch you grow this past year and become the tremendous man you are. -Farooq

Shoutout to MSA theater troupe. We famous now guys loll. I had so much fun messing around and listening to Disney songs with you guys, thanks for joining me in making fools out of ourselves. -Sarah Basheer Shoutout to Nuha and Farooq for being the most dedicated, passionate, and self-sacrificing people I’ve come to know these few years. In all the work that I see you guys do for our MSA and all the work no one sees, just know that we appreciate you so much and you guys are awesome. Keep being awesome. -Sarah Basheer 8


“I was asked who my favorite senior is but… that’s DEBATABLE” -Anonymous

Shoutout to 1254 aka “THE IVE” for giving me an experience I would not have had anywhere else. We witnessed the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, Donald Trump becoming president, and how to finesse UberEATS. But most importantly we created a bond that’ll never be broken. We started the school year off as friends but now we’re nothing less than family. Much love. -Irfan Safvi

Shoutout to the best intramural team ever, GOATS. For visiting me in the hospital after our championship game loss. And for giving this poor soul some of the best memories these last couple years. - The guy who almost broke his nose Shoutout to my son - Your Dad Shoutout to Our Fearless Leader. You kept the ship afloat while your running mate was losing his mind. This community is better because of you and your hard work. God bless. - Old Man

Shoutout to Syada, The strongest person I know. -Nuha Shoutout to #303! The best group of guys I have ever met and the brothers I never had. I love you all. -Nuha Shoutout to Arman for getting me through finals. -Nuha Shoutout to Manal. FOR EVERYTHING. -Nuha

Shoutout to all the senior girls graduating this semester. Thank you so much for your words of advice, encouragement, and motivation. Thank you for helping make UIC like a home to me, and becoming the older sisters I truly needed. From your genuine character and meaningful hugs to the way you cared about the world and the people around you, I have learned so much from you all. I really wish we had more time together, because honestly, goodbyes are the worst, but I hope you know that I, and the rest of the freshmen girls, will miss all of you dearly. Please keep in touch and visit, and I pray that Allah grants you the best of success after graduation. -Ummesalmah Abdulbaseer

Shoutout to the guy who reviews coffee shops - the guy who used to dislike coffee until he had a cup with you

Shoutout to this incredible MSA. I am who I am because this MSA loved me. -Farooq

Shoutout to This year’s Shura. We survived. -Nuha

Shoutout to the best Albom book supplier - Eagle down

Shoutout to Shapla Shaheen for being the definition of a true friend. -Aamna Ghafoor

Shoutout to Abubakar for teaching me Anatomy -Nuha

Shoutout to the best apartment on campus. Thanks for being my brothers. Forever GOAT 1418. - The Chief

Shoutout to Family Matters through thick and thin, but also for all the cuddles. -Aamna Ghafoor

Shoutout to my Egyptian sisters who will facetime me at any time to help me buy makeup. -Nuha

Shoutout to the MSA mascot, Leia. She loves you all very much, even though she may not have met most of you. - Abu Leia

Shoutout to this year’s Shura. It was nothing short of a gift from God to be able to work with you all, and learn from you all. May every step you take be blessed. -Farooq

Shoutout to Rehan for those awesome hugs. -Nuha

Shoutout to Nuha for being the backbone of Al Bayyan. As lovely as Al Bayyan has been this past year, it is in no comparison to the friend you have been these past three. I am always grateful. -Farooq

Shoutout to Peymaun because Peymaun. -Nuha Shoutout to my Amnesty Fam For putting up with my hot mess of a year -Nuha Shoutout to Naveen because you are amazing -Nuha Shoutout to Waseem. Sorry for falling asleep mid conversation. -Nuha

Shoutout to Farooq. -Nuha 9

Presidential Reflection Aamna Ghafoor

How do I even begin to put into words all that this community has done for me. From being taken in as a freshman, treated with such genuine love and care, to being given the opportunity to give back and serve for a full 2 years, can only be considered a blessing from the Almighty. I, like many others, can say with complete confidence that this MSA changed my life. It truly seems that just a number of days ago I was walking in on my first day of freshmen year, lacking a sense of identity and a sense of purpose. The next three years would cultivate both of these things in me through experiences I could have never imagined, but look back on and wouldn’t change for the world. I have learned so many lessons from this community that I hope to carry with me for

years to come. I learned what it means to feel like you belong somewhere, to truly feel like you have people who love you for the sake of God. I learned to listen to the people I love when they have constructive criticism for me. I learned that not everyone has the same warm, welcoming experience I had during my college career, and that there is still much work to be done to change the way Muslim communities operate and how we interact with each other. The list goes on and on, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I have had to learn and grow. As I look back on my time at UIC and how much this MSA has been a means for me to grow closer to my brothers and sisters and closer to God, I’m reminded of the insightful words

Presidential Reflection

Softened Souls Nui Waris

Abdul Basith Basheer

When I first stepped foot on to UIC’s campus as a freshman, I had this idea, this goal for myself. I wanted so badly to be someone else, to be someone entirely different. I wanted to shed my high school persona, my former self, and move on to bigger and better things. And this new image didn’t necessarily include being visibly and practically, Muslim. I grew up in an area with no masajid within 25 minutes, and little to no Muslim families. And so when I started college, this concept of practicing my faith diligently, and with a passion to better myself both as a person and a member of a religious community, was almost non-existent. It may seem hard to believe, but initially, I just wanted to be free. Free in a sense that, I finally had no one telling me what to do, and how to do it. I can say with utmost confidence that this new sense of freedom would have destroyed me, if it weren’t for a group of individuals, a community, that somehow God guided me towards, and I thank him everyday for that. The past four years have been the greatest of my short life, and I have to thank the MSA largely for that. It wasn’t the IAW dinners, the story night lectures, the basketball tournaments, although all of those

of Dr. Cornel West: “I am who I am because somebody loved me.” That is the single most important lesson I pray that I never forget. Love changes people. It connects people, to each other and to their Creator. I pray that this community remembers and upholds this lesson, and continues to cultivate love between its members. I pray that the Almighty continue to give this MSA all that is good. I ask that you all forgive me for my shortcomings, and attribute all praise to Him for any small amount of benefit I was able to provide in my time here. Thank you so much, UIC MSA, for all the lessons, for days and nights I’ll never forget, and for the ride of a lifetime.

were phenomenal and make up some of my fondest memories. What made my MSA experience beyond compare, and what makes it something I would not trade for anything, are those nights when life was not going so well. Those nights where a 19-year-old kid wanted to give up, but someone was there for him. Someone to lend a listening ear, or helping hand. The MSA is a beautiful thing, in my eyes, because it has been and always will be full of loving, caring people who never overlook the importance of being there for people. I always say that college is a time where you truly learn so much about yourself, and the people you surround yourself with make up a large part of that. I learned so much from this community these past four years. I learned what it means to serve, what it means to truly show someone you care, and what it means to know God, and yearn to please Him. I owe you all my life, and I cannot thank this community enough, for giving a lost kid from Algonquin a sense of belonging. I just ask all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for forgiveness. Forgiveness for my shortcomings, and my mistakes. I will always be here to lend a helping hand, for it is just me, doing my job.

Have you ever met someone and immediately felt a calm, soothing bliss take over your spirit? It’s as if Allah, himself, has showered them with inner-peace. It’s as if they are a close and dear friend of the Prophet (SA). It’s as if actual rays of sincerity radiate from them, warming you like the rays of the sun. They speak with a calmness, a serenity that eases your heart. Their gentleness in matters makes all the world’s worries seem merely like a leaf blowing in the wind. Like the comforting pitter-patter of a rainy, warm summer night, they inspire a reflective tranquility which fuels your soul. Allah mentions their names to the angels. Word spreads about their goodness among all beings on Heaven and Earth. We recognize them as one of Allah’s Awliyah, but perhaps the most beautiful thing about them is they have a sincere innocence, unaware of the grace their presence emits. It’s what I describe as pure beauty.



Editors in Chief Farooq Chaudhry Nuha Abdelrahim Managing Editor Ibrahiem Mohammad Staff Writers Abdul Basith Basheer Sarah Basheer Lilian Maali Nahian Saed Samirah Alam Taha Sharif Safa Shameem Nayfah Thnaibat Ummesalmah Abdulbaseer Javerea Ahmed Staff Artists Shapla Shaheen Saba Ali

Layout Hyatt Hasanieh Creative Direction Noor Abdelrahim Interested in contributing to Al-Bayyan? If so, email submissions to

Cover Photo Courtesy of Hadeel Abumunshar

Doodles Sumaiyya Ahmed

April 2017  
April 2017