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Alumni | Creative Writing

SHE SAID: The MWM Mastermind Plan By Sanjana Quasem The other day, I was in a meeting with some brothers and I heard one of them ask if the MWM was even real. How did he know? Does he also know that we only exist to funnel money out of the SGA to fuel this mastermind plan? I wonder if he caught wind of what actually goes down at the MWM Ball and our ―sisters only halaqas?‖ As I sat in this meeting, with a fake smile plastered on my face trying to conceal these thought that were whirling through my head, I didn‘t know what the MWM was going to do. How could we continue with our Pinky and The Brain plan of MSA domination if they were on to us? We

need to give these brothers a legitimate reason as to why we exist so to allay their suspicions and keep them complacent. After calling a top-secret meeting of the finest MWM aides who had greatest insight into the inner-workings of those bearded heads, we finally came up with a plan. It was so simple! We could just say that the MWM exists to address ―girl stuff!‖ Alhamdulillah, this could work! Whenever we use the ―girl-stuff‖ card it always works! So here‘s our line sisters: The MWM exists to address issues that are specific to sisters only – things that brothers couldn‘t ever understand and give advice on because of the mere fact

that they are brothers. Plus, when the typical MSA cabinet is almost 85% male, the leadership may not be equipped to address issues that affect more than 50% of their population. When inevitably questioned about the MWM, we can throw in that the MWM helps improve gender relations and communication for good measure. Until further notice, we will say that the MWM exists to complement the MSA. We are our own organization with our own events, mission, and leadership, however we work in conjunction with the MSA. Where the MSA cannot venture, the MWM does. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 15 Issue 1

HE SAID: Let’s Start an MMM By Adam Kareem MWM? At first, I had difficulty coming to grips with it. The first question that came to mind was, ―Well, if the girls have an MWM, then who‘re all these other sisters in the MSA?‖ My first inclination was that they were spies, no doubt, hoping to infiltrate the ranks of (what I was slowly assuming to be an all-male) MSA. But trust that I am not alone; many of my comrades, colleagues, associates, and regular business partners all came with the same questions and concerns. ―Does this mean that they‘re breaking away from the MSA?‖ ―Is the MSA so wack to these girls that they were better

off doing things on their own?‖ ―When will the first MSA/MWM Civil War break out?‖ All very legitimate concerns, I might add. But amidst the clamor of just figuring what this dastardly MWM was up to, one enlightened voice cut through the crowd of ignorance and doubt proclaiming, Let‘s start an MMM!‖ Brilliant. The rationale was simple: since the MSA doesn‘t receive university funding due to its presidential election process, we would get that money through the use of a marionette group titled the Muslim Men of Maryland to procure those funds and deliver them to the MSA. What a plan! How could it possibly

fail? Well, except for the fact that it failed miserably, it was foolproof! All jokes aside, alhamdulillah for us, the MWM is great and is eager to serve all of our Muslim women on campus. Its mainly run by a strong, although small, group of committed women who put together a number of events to help everyone feel welcome and a part of the community here at Maryland with events like the MWM Ball and the Your Best You to name a few. But that‘s the reason the MWM is here - to make it easy to do what you can to please Allah {swt} – what other reason is there? Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 15 Issue 1

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Alumni | Lifestyle

The Other Halal Place near CP By Tooba Mohammad For zabiha-eating food lovers, there aren't many options around College Park. Many college students have found comfort in the well-known food joint named Pizza Roma's. It's accessible, quick, and hits the spot when you're craving a sandwich or of course pizza, but what to do when one is craving something a little...different? Luckily for us, RJ Cafe opened in Beltsville a little less than two years ago. Being someone who is obsessed with food, it is not an easy feat for me to choose between so many great-sounding specials. The owner very patiently described the different entrees and suggested the Chicken Fried Steak. I ordered per his suggestion and added an order of Buffalo wings as well. They were as amazing

as they looked, perfectly fried and coated with exactly the right amount of sauce. I was only brought back to reality from food-heaven when I realized my main entree was ready and just when I thought it wouldn't get any better, lo and behold, the most beautiful thing I‘ve ever seen in my life. A perfectly fried fillet of chicken coated

“Perfectly fried fillet of chicken coated with herbs and spices “

with colorful little specks of herbs and spices sat on the table. The aroma of the mashed potatoes, gravy, and the sautéed vegetables made this plate all too perfect. Needless to say, I finished every single thing on that plate and there was not a morsel left. I have not been back to RJ since then but I did try some of the desi food off their menu. I would suggest sticking to their specials if it's your first time there. The owner takes special pride in those and it comes across in the quality and taste of the food. So if you haven't been down to RJ yet and are craving something different, there's nothing that'll satisfy your taste buds quite like a chicken fried steak. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 15 Issue 1

Humility & Humbleness By Mohammed Usman Zia Sir Isaac Newton is considered to be one of the greatest scientific intellectuals of all time. I found it extremely unique when I came across this quote by Isaac Newton: ―If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.‖ This quote really makes me realize that our achievements, accolades, and successes have not been attained merely by our own actions. When I think about award ceremonies that I have attended or achievements that I have been recognized for, I forget to think about how many exterior forces play a role in attaining success. For example, I could never have graduated high school without the help of the wonderful teachers I had. My English teacher Mr. Ritchick taught me so much about writing and without him I wouldn‘t have been able to write essays for college or for any classes. I could write for years about the salient impact all my teachers have made on me by providing me with a nurturing

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Muslim brothers working together on a project.

education. I have had so many selfless individuals teach me about religion, kindness, and morality. More importantly, my parents have given me so much in this life and I cannot even begin to thank them for all their dedication and kindness. Most importantly, I feel the dire need to always thanks Allah (GOD) for blessing me with so much in my life. Piece by piece these events have allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the world. When I begin to realize how weak I am without the help of others, I also begin to see how bad it is to speak ill of others. Backbiting destroys rela-

tionships, lives, and sometimes entire societies. If I could only begin to see how important humility is, then I‘d be sure to think twice about saying even the smallest negative thing about someone behind their back. Humility enables us to concentrate on our own flaws instead of others. Consequently, both individuals and society can create positive lifestyle changes. So then let‘s think about how we as individuals can play a momentous role in creating a better world by utilizing all that we have to improve the lives of others. When we see that the blessings in our life could not have happened without help from others, and hard work (an ideal either taught to us by others or an ideal that developed in us based on experiences that have resulted from outside forces), then we begin to understand how imperative it is for us to look beyond ourselves and to greater humanity. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 15 Issue 2


Alumni | MSA/Current Events

March Member of the Month: Mariam Khan By Sanjana Quasem The Friday khateebs are constantly urging us: ―Brothers, sisters, spread the word and message of Allah (swt) to everyone around you.‖ We all probably roll our eyes as the dawah schpeel is given. However, as cliché the command to give dawah may appear to us, it is an extremely important duty incumbent upon all Muslims. As Muslims in a non-Muslim nation, we should seek every opportunity we have to spread the message of ‗There is no God but Allah.‘ And the task is not easy. Alhamdulillah, the MSA would like to recognize one member who is truly dedicated to the task of giving dawah. As head of the Dawah committee, Sister Mariam Khan has worked tirelessly and effortlessly to ensure that the MSA is doing its part to give dawah to

the campus community. Sr. Mariam brought in a new energy that refreshed the committee members. Not only did she hold weekly meetings, but she also held the same meeting twice a week to ensure that anybody interested could take part of the committee. Along with the regular tasks of dawah tabling, she planned and conducted an MSA meeting about giving dawah. In addition, she started new projects to include the entire MSA in dawah-giving efforts instead of just committee members. Such projects include Images of Truth, a Qur‘an based photography contest that asked members to reflect the meaning of verses in photography In addition to her efforts as Dawah Committee head, Sr. Mariam is also an active member. She is a

regular fixture in the Musallah and has worked arduously in the past on various other events, such as Fast-aThon. She is always willing to offer a helping hand and constantly seeks to help build the community which is so integral to the MSA. Dawah Committee has already laid the foundation for this event. All that YOU need to do is get your friends and classmates to attend. Giving dawah is an obligation upon all of us. I will leave you with the words of the holy Qur‘an. ―And let there be such a group among you, that they may call towards goodness and command what is just and forbid evil. And the very same attained to their goals.‖ {Surah Al-Imran, Verse 104} Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 14 Issue 2

Gaza Unveiled By Hiba Akhtar Mohammed Omer told stories about Gaza. His stories were about people he knew and people he did not know. They were about the mothers who watched their young children bleed to death and the little boys who were playing soccer, but who never lived to see the score of their game. His stories were about homes. Little girls grew to become grandmothers in the homes which were demolished and destroyed within mere, unexpected, moments. Families were left shattered and homeless. Now fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons are knee-deep in what‘s left after the demolitions, lifting, tossing, and rummaging, to find the remnants of their lives left scattered among the rubble. ―My older brother Hosam was 13 when he was killed by seven M16 bullets in his head, neck, and chest,‖ said Omer. ―He was killed while he was going to school. Our 34 -year-old neighbor tried to drag his body to the hospital. She was shot dead by an Israeli officer. Her husband tried to help. He was shot and is paralyzed to this day. His brother

tried to help. He was also shot. I saw my brother‘s body in the hospital. I identified it.‖ Omer was born in the Rafah Refugee Camp and began reporting when he was about 18. Today he is a reporter for the Washington Report on Middle East

Affairs. Omer has dedicated his life to exposing the condition of Palestinians living in Gaza. In 2007, Omer was awarded with the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. His citation dubbed him ―the voice of the voiceless.‖ ―I hope to bring the story of Gaza to the world,‖ said Omer. ―It is essential for people to know the stories brought forth by journalists. We have to build the bridges of understanding.‖ His stories and photos reveal the desperation of the Palestinians, but Omer insisted that all hope was not lost. This message was made clear through the example of Abdallah, a Palestinian boy who Omer woke from a nap to ask him what he was dreaming about. ―I dream of drinking a cold glass of mango juice,‖ he said. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 15 Issue 1

Mohammed Omer

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Alumni | Personal Experiences

My Way to the Truth By Parise Henry I became Muslim during the spring not good enough. I never really put of my junior year in high school. The any thought into my beliefs. All I knew first time I was exposed to Islam was in was that I believed in God. the summer during my elementary At the same time that I was readyears of school. My grandmother re- ing the Bible I occasionally read a verted to Islam when she was older. Quran that my grandmother had given She took me to the masjid, had me in me. I found many similarities between Arabic class, and I prayed the five daily the two so this persuaded me to conprayers. I did not take shahada (I was tinue reading. I found that the Quran not Muslim) and I did not fully under- shared my rejection of trinity and constand what I was doing, but I did not firmed my belief of Jesus being the object because it did not seem strange son of Mary, rather than the son of to me. God. This made me happy; I couldn't Now I will jump to the tenth grade. believe that I held the same beliefs For some unknown reason I got the that were in the Quran, but I became idea in my head that I was going to frightened because as I got closer to hell. I didn't exactly know why I had Islam I realized I was distancing mythat feeling because according to my self from Christianity, and I was unbeliefs of what a good person was, I sure if I was doing the right thing. was up there. I didn't lie or steal; I nevWhile visiting my grandmother I er had a boyfriend; I was a good stu- opened the Quran randomly to a page dent, played sports, did what my par- and this is the first thing that I read: ents told me to, and I believed in God. " .. This day have those who reject Yet, I thought that somehow this was Faith given up all hope of your reli-

gion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion ... " ( 5:3) Immediately after I read this I told my grandmother that I wanted to take my shahada and become Muslim, officially. I took my shahada and I have never looked back. I thank Allah for making me Muslim. I no longer feel that hell is my certain destination because now I have the Quran as my guide and Islam as my deen. With Allah's mercy and forgiveness Jannah will be my final home. Insha' Allah. If you want Jannah strive for it and if you fear the hell fire stay away from that which brings it closer and if you want the truth as I did you will have it. Excerpt from an-Nur: Volume 10 Issue 1

Praying In Public By Adam Kareem What‘s the first thought that comes to mind when you think of the times that you‘ve prayed in public? For some, it‘s uneasiness; for others, a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to make the ultimate assertion to passersby: ―I am a Muslim.‖ But for me – it‘s another good laugh. This is because of the times that I do pray in public, the people around simply don‘t know how to act. Individuals who I would otherwise classify as impressively intelligent suddenly resort to behavior I can respectfully classify as humorous, to say the least. As an illustration of this concept, the very first time that I did pray in public, a good friend of mine happened to find me in rukuh. He pauses, looks around, and suddenly sees me kneeling for what we know to be

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sujood. Finding these motions somewhat odd and indescribable, he asked with puzzlement and concern, ―Are you looking for something?‖ What‘s even more amusing than individual instances is what they all have in common. If you‘ve ever prayed in a classroom on campus, and had an awaiting class walk in on you, you know that the response is a-l-w-a-y-s the same: Person A walks in and first sees an empty room, then a random

Muslim brothers praying outside Shoppers.

person standing with their arms folded and apparently whispering something to themselves. Next, they always happen to say and do just about the same thing: ―Oop, I‘m sorry, I…you…,‖ then, do this little nervous hop or walk thing, and quickly redirect themselves to the nearest exit. Alhamdulilah, at the very least, they are respectful. Walking out of the room itself is a scene straight out of a Red-Carpet Premiere sans the Paparazzis, the cameras, Zach Efron … or even the carpet itself… but you get the point, right? You walk out of the room with a heightened sense of celebrity, maneuver through the 15 awkwardly silent people standing in wait, and add this story as just another time of praying in public. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 15 Issue 1


Alumni | Spirituality

Take One Step at a Time, No Need to Rush By Eman Haggag Allah often tests us with crazy, pressured, mind-blowing exams that make us buckle. I often think of our faith like a sine curve, where the x-axis is Islam (it is unchanging, our beliefs are fundamental), and the y-axis represents sin (Islam), our faith, ebbing and sinking to the rhythm of imanpulses in our hearts. And we‘ve all definitely heard of people who have had these situations as well. The problem is, we often forget to smile and say Alhamdulillah! What matters most is our perceptions and how we deal with them. There has been no other ayah that has resonated more harmoniously with my heart than: ―Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it is (the benefit of) what

it has earned and upon it (the evil of) what it has wrought.‖ SubhanAllah, when the Rasu (sallalahu 'alaihi wa sallam) passed away, people were devastated. They kept on crying and bawling, and some people didn't even believe Rasulullah (s.a.w.) was dead. At this conduct, Abu Bakr (radi-Allahu anhu) was upset. He stood up and said: O People! If Muhammad is the sole object of your adoration, then know that he is dead. But if it is Allah (The One God)

you worship, then know that He does not die.‖ Whoa man. This is Rasulullah (s.a.w)! Allah is reminding us to move on and not forget the bigger picture. Don't forget that Allah is merciful, too. Some of us are so wrapped up in the crap of our lives, we don't remember a time when all was bliss and harmony, and we end up becoming nostalgic of our past and how "beautiful" it was. Man, your past wasn't that beautiful; you just missed it and thought it was cooler compared to your situation now. So when Allah bestows a blessing upon you, TAKE IT!! And don't take it for granted. Be happy and smile, son!! Shout it out!! Don't reach that point where you truly forget what it means to be happy. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 14 Issue 2

Your Guide to Making it Through Finals By Omar Chatila and Susan J. Shatila In a hadith Qudsi, Allah {‗azza wa Superior, descends to the jal} says: ‗I am what my servheaven of the world when the ant thinks of Me, and I am last third of the night is left with him if he calls up on and says: ―Is there anyone Me.‘ invoking Me so that I respond, In another hadith of the Prophet is there anyone asking Me so (salla Allahu alayhi wa salthat I give him, is there anylam), says: Allah the Most one asking Me for forgiveness Generous, is shy if a person so that I forgive him?‖ raises his hands to Him in In a hadith by Prophet Muhammad supplication, to return them (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) empty and disappointed. said: ―Supplication of a MusA hadith by the Prophet (salla lim for his Muslim brother beAllahu alayhi wa sallam) hind his back, is answered, says: ―The servant is closest and the appointed angel says: to his Lord when he is prosAmeen, and for you the trating (in sujood), so insame.‖ crease in making duaa‖. Some Duaas to be said and used: The Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi "Our Lord! Give us good in this wa sallam) said: Every night, world and good in the HereafAllah, the most blessed, the ter, and save us from the

torment of the Fire!" "Our Lord! bestow on us Mercy from Thyself, and dispose of our affair for us in the right way!" "O my Lord! truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that Thou dost send me!" ―Oh Allah, nothing is easy unless You make it easy, and You can make sadness easy.‖ A hadith said by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): ―Nothing changes fate except for Duaa‖. Note: All mentioned ahadith are classified as authentic by Sheikh AlAlbani. Excerpt from al-Nur: Volume 13 Issue 4

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Alumni | Spirituality

Qur’an Advice By Shabnom Khan There was once a woman, who upon hearing that we will be held accountable for everything we say, only spoke through the words of the Qur'an. SubhanAllah. Every comment she made, every question she asked, every answer she gave, was from the Qur'an. In the style of this woman, the majority of this article is from the Qur‘an. This article is meant to be a reminder. Allah says ―But remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the Believers‖ (51:55). And of course, this is a reminder to myself, first and foremost… We can get a little frustrated with our brothers and sisters sometimes, but in the end, the Believers are but a single Brotherhood (49:10). And when we hear rumors ab out our s el ve s a n d o th er s , ...ascertain the truth, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, full of repentance (49:6). And when we see divisions within ourselves remember Allah created you from male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another (not that you may despise each other) (49:13). And when we go through tough times, remember, On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear (2:286) and that Verily, with every difficulty, there is ease; Verily, with every difficulty there is ease (94:5-6). Hard time studying? ...And they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills (2:255). And we know Help is always there: And when My servants ask you, concerning Me — indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided (2:186). And remember to purify our intentions, because Allah says: And I did not create the Jinn and men, except that they

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may worship Me (51:56). And let's strive to do what Allah has told us to do: • And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination (31:14). • O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters (7:31). • Through the Wisdom Allah (swt) gave him, Luqman advised his son: ―And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass‖ (31:19).

• Say to the believing men/women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty... (24:30/31). • And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Allah takes careful account of all things. (4:86) In the end, we are all looking for the same thing: For those who have believed and done righteous deeds will have Gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great attainment (85:11). So remember, there are answers to all our problems, just pick up the Qur'an and Read!... (96:1). Article from al-Nur: Volume 13 Issue 4

The Holy Qur‘an—image taken by current MSA student


Sneak Peak

Time By Jamal Jeter Recently something great has come to my attention. I was awake at 3 am working on an assignment one night, and thought to myself, Subhana‘Allah, where has all the time gone? It seemed like just yesterday that I was a freshman with priorities that spanned in every direction. I wanted to join the club teams, all the students groups I could think of, work, and have time to spare. Alhamdulillah, in my final years here, I can say many of the things I desired were fulfilled by Allah (swt), but only after realizing one fundamental principal; time is only given once and we need to make the most of it. this time is for me to reflect and share my experiences with all the students, especially upcoming seniors, on the subject of time. There have been numerous lectures where all I‘ve heard again and again is ―brothers and sisters, take advantage of your youth while you have it‖. However, it never occurred to me how precious our youth really is. This summer, I realized that as I near

graduation, a whole new frontier of my life is about to open . Although this can possibly mean no more 3 am mornings working on assignments, it also means a whole new life style. In many cases, it means no more hanging with MSA brothers on a daily basis. it means fewer opportunities to join the club sports teams, or more importantly, to join that community service group. I have seen others fall far into the routine of a 9 to 5 job, until they have reached a point where they don‘t have time to do side community projects, or to be with their brothers and sisters. Why is this important? Because right now we have the opportunity to set definitions to our lives that insha‘Allah we can continue to perpetuate throughout our lifetime. this is now time where we can all ask ourselves what we are doing and who we are doing it for, and constantly remind ourselves this: Abdullah bin Abbas (Radi-alla-u-Anhu) reports that Rasulullah said ( ‫صلى هللا‬

“Abdullah bin Abbas (Radialla-u-Anhu) reports that Rasulullah said: “There are two bounties of Allah wherein most people are deceived, health and free time.”

)‫)عليه وسلم‬: ―There are two bounties of Allah wherein most people are deceived, health and free time.‖ After much thought I realized that even the seemingly insignificant tasks we do can have the most meaning to them. Take, for example, time you spend with brothers or sisters, including non-Muslim friends. How can you make the most out of this time? This is can be critical time to reflect and renew your intentions, even if you‘re watching a movie, eating, or playing a game. Our lives truly are dawah in action, and being an example, learning from one another, and getting closer to one another for the sake of Allah (swt) is what being Muslim all is about. After considering this, I thought about how much time I waste watching TV, sitting around, or on the Internet. It made me think again that this is time I am truly never going to get back. I thought about how many times a week most of us call our parents, and even grandparents. It‘s true that sometimes we all get caught up in an assignment, followed by a test, and then by school. As time progresses, you find yourself caught up in your work, and one day, insha‘Allah, it may be your kids. before we know it, time has flown by and it may be too late to make that call. So in closing, what I have picked up in these four years is that life is about taking time to stop and smell the roses. Stop, look around you, and take heed of what Allah (swt) has placed around you, and where Allah (swt) has placed you. Then take the time to pause and renew your intentions before you do anything. You may come to find out that you have a bit more time to help your community, finish your paper, call your family, admire Allah‘s (swt) bounty, and realize that our time here is precious.

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Sneak Peak

Elections By Anonymous Many Muslims were filled with excitement for the debates, and political activism during the 2008 presidential election, when Barack Obama ran for President,. Fast-forward to the present and the amount of discussion about the upcoming November elections is negligible at best. This is unfortunate because these are the elections that affect us the most. Most roads are funded by our county or state, as are police departments, schools, universities (including this one), parks, many hospitals, and many other public services we use. While it is important to focus on who represents us in Congress or as president, Muslims and the rest of our communities need to be concerned about what goes on in the politics of our cit-

ies, counties, and states as well. Let‘s assume that, for some reason, Muslims are only responsible for participating in politics when it affects Muslims, which is untrue. Here is an example of how things can turn out badly for Muslims when they do not participate in the political process as a whole. The Texas State Board of Education, a board comprised of 15 elected officials, recently decided to adopt a resolution limiting the amount of references to Islam in textbooks that are used in the state‘s public schools. According to them, the textbooks had a pro-Islam and antiChristianity bias. It is common knowledge that people already aren‘t getting a holistic view of Islam as it is;

now all the students in the public education system of a whole state will be getting a view controlled by a board with very little knowledge of Islam. Remember, this is a prestigious university (yes, I know it‘s hard to believe) and we are all receiving a top -notch education in our respective fields. I know Muslims who are studying civil engineering, education, government and politics, public health, and many other related fields. Even if you haven‘t graduated yet, you know more about your field than most of the other people registered to vote in the upcoming elections. Having been blessed with knowledge that could greatly further society, it becomes all our responsibilities to take part in the upcoming elections.

Large Muslim congregational prayer at Capitol Hill in October 2010. Image taken by Manaar Zuhurudeen.

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