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Oct. 22, 2014

Muslim Student Association revived after a three-year hiatus

by Brian Le, Online News Editor
After three years of scattered activity, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) has been made an official club at Blair with librarian Andrea Lamphier as teacher sponsor.
Co-president Walee Khan, co-president Nazea Khan and vice president Zaafira Elham of the Muslim Student Association. Donald De Alwis
Co-president Walee Khan, co-president Nazea Khan and vice president Zaafira Elham of the Muslim Student Association.

The club meets from 2:15 to 3:00 every Friday in the Media Center's Conference Room B for a Muslim congregational prayer. Co-president and junior Walee Khan leads the meetings, which consist of lectures, group discussions and prayer. Khan said that the MSA also holds parties for its members to observe various holidays such as Eid al-Adha, which they recently celebrated.

The MSA has been around for at least ten years, but club activity declined after the senior members graduated in 2011, leaving no underclassmen to continue it. However, Khan's older brother, who was once a president of the MSA, did not want it to fall apart completely. "He told me to start it back up and it sort of just went from there," Khan said.

The club faced some logistical difficulties. "We had about thirty people, but we couldn't find a sponsor and we didn't have a room to pray in," co-president and junior Nazea Khan said. Club members either met in obscure places to pray or relied on teachers for temporary use of classroom space on Friday afternoons.

But in November of 2013, Blair librarian Andrea Lamphier found the thirty kids praying in a stairwell and decided to help them out. "She saw us struggle and offered us a room in the back of the library," Nazea Khan said.

While the MSA only meets for Muslim prayer, non-Muslims can also join and learn more about the religion. "People can learn about what we do and realize that we're not just hateful people," Walee Khan said.

Junior Zaafira Elham, who is vice president of the MSA, found that Blazers generally accept her beliefs. Still, some students joke about her customs, such as wearing the hijab. "People have asked me questions like if I have a throat or if I shower with my hijab on," she said.

Walee Khan acknowledged that media is often "biased against Muslims" but stated that there has been a big improvement in people's acceptance of Muslim culture. "Things are definitely getting better, people are learning that Muslims are just like anyone else, kind and pro-peace," he said.



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