Celebrating achievement and faith, the Muslim Student Association hosted their annual banquet Friday night with a menu of traditional Arab cuisine and a lineup of speakers and performances.
The event, held in the North Campus Research Complex, drew about 200 alumni, students and other guests who gathered to celebrate MSA accomplishments during the past semester.
Many guests wore traditional clothing in nearly every color of the spectrum, and crystals often adorned the hijabs, or headscarves attendees wore.
The MSA, comprised of approximately 250 active members, works toward building a Muslim community on campus through community service, social connections, religious enrichment, social justice and interfaith relations.
The banquet also featured keynote speaker Amjad Tarsin, a University alum who is currently the chaplain and executive director of the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto.
During his speech, Tarsin discussed spiritual empowerment and concepts of unity and diversity.
“I think that one of the beautiful things about places like the University of Michigan, and just kind of the commitment to diversity as a whole, is that people can agree on really broad primary principles and values,” he said. “For example, helping those in need, not harming one another, live and let live and working together on areas of overlap and agreement.”
Tarsin also noted Islam’s emphasis on personal freedom.
“I believe, as a Muslim, as an educator within Islam, is that everyone is free to choose their belief, their walk of life and I really believe that believing in that freedom of expression, that freedom of choice, is a thing that is a part of our religion,” he said.
At the event, Zain Shamoon, a Michigan State University student, delivered a spoken word performance.
Shamoon discussed the right to choose one’s own path and the connections that bind all people, as well as an interactive song referencing cultural staples from the 1990s.
MSA President Saher Rathur, an LSA senior, said the organization provided her a Muslim community on campus.
“When I was in high school I wasn’t really part of any Muslim community and I didn’t really have Muslim friends growing up,” Rathur said. “When I came here I had heard about this MSA and about how it’s very active and the people are great. So I was like, ‘Okay, might as well try it out,’ and I did, and I just never stopped going to their events.”
MSA also collaborates with MSA organizations at other schools. This past semester, they held a joint dinner with MSU as well as a weekend retreat with Ohio State University.
LSA junior Farah Alam, MSA sisterhood social chair, said the organization aims to be inclusive.
“Something you can really connect on is our faith,” Alam said. “For the most part this is a priority, so finding other people that share the same belief system, and coming together, is just a good way to get a better college experience.”
Alam added that this year’s event differs from previous years.
“Many years ago, back when our holy month of fasting, Ramadan, was in the summer (it moves up two weeks every year), it used to be a big dinner to commemorate and break our fast with family and friends,” Alam said. “Now it’s become a social dinner that everyone looks forward to every year.”
LSA junior Dana Mosa-Basha is not a member of MSA, but said she attended the event to support her friends who are members. Like most guests, Mosa-Basha wore a traditional ensemble to the event.
“I’m involved because I go to school here and I’ve met a lot of people along the way,” Mosa-Basha said. “They have a bunch of events throughout the year so I really like to go. They have 18 board members and each one has different tasks and things to do, so it’s a really wide array of events, so I like to go to everything they have.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated the name of the university Amjad Tarsin works at.