Is MSA National Dead? [Updates: 3]

Update 3 (6/21/07) – has an article, “MSA National: We can’t let it die!

Update 2 (6/20/07) – I have launched an independent study on MSA National in order to properly compile and organize criticism and suggestions.

Update 1 (6/19/07)Maniac Muslim writes How screwed up is MSA National?
Jinnzaman blogs his reflection to “Is MSA National Dead?”

Everyone knows that MSA National is one of the oldest Muslim organization in America. For all those on the MSA National mailing list you would have received a bunch of emails regarding nominations and elections for the 2007-2008 period. There are two major issues I have with MSA National here:

  • Issue #1: Only 6 nominees were selected for 9 positions. The election should have at least 18 nominees, 2 for each position.
  • Issue #2: All 6 nominees are sisters! Relax sisters. I have nothing against sisters taking leadership positions, but when there are no brothers involved in such a large scale Muslim organization, I am concerned.

Issue #1

Regarding the first issue, basically what happened was that MSA National sent out a bunch of nominations emails making it seem they were desperate for nominees. Then they finally sent out the ballot and to my surprise, each position only had 1 person running or no one running for it. Usually ballots have people you can vote for not a list of each position with one name next to it.

Let me break it down to you why this seemed so surprising:

  • April 25 – Received email regarding nominations, deadline was April 30
  • April 27 – Received another email regarding nominations, deadline still April 30
  • May 1 – Received an email saying the extended the deadline to May 10
    At this point, to me personally, it seemed they were desperate to get nominees
  • May 11 – Received an email in the morning saying the deadline was extended to May 11 at 11 PM
    Now it’s looking realllllyyy desperate.
  • May 18 – Received an email saying the deadline is extended to May 20
    At this point MSA National is a like a 35 year old single brother, never married, trying to find a wife.

After seeing all those emails, I felt they were desperate to get nominees, but when they sent out the email with the ballot, these were the nominees:

  • President
    • Asma Mirza (Georgetown University)
  • Treasurer
    • Runda Kuziez (St. Louis University)
  • Vice President Canada
    • Zeina Sleiman (University of Ottawa)
  • Vice President USA
    • Hajar Abdul-Rahim (University of Florida-Gainesville)
  • East Zone Canada Representative
    • No Eligible Nominee at this point in time
  • West Zone Canada Representative
    • No Eligible Nominee at this point in time
  • East Zone USA Representative
    • Sumrah Haider (University of Alabama)
  • Central Zone USA Representative
    • Nura Sediqe (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)
  • West Zone USA Representative
    • No Eligible Nominee at this point in time

So basically out of all those five emails and a 20 day period of constant changing the deadline for nominations all they got were 6 (and there all sisters!). I find that hard to believe for many reasons. First, literally thousands of people are on the mailing lists. Second, they kept extending the deadline thus more people could have been nominated. Thirdly, people I know were nominated and definitely capable of doing the job at MSA National were not on the ballot.

Issue #2

Shaykh Ramadan al-Bouti said:

The Quran imposes what the Islamic Law calls for the mutual responsibility undertaken by the man and the woman. Thus it makes the man responsible for looking after the woman, and makes the woman responsible for looking after the man when it says: The believers, men and women, are Awliya (helpers, protectors and supporters) of each other, they enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil . [Al-Tawbah 9:71]

From this we can see that men and women are equal in Islam in terms of helping and supporting each other. You can also read an article by Imam Zaid Shakir called “The Social Involvement of Women in Islam” which highlights contemporary issues the West has towards Islam regarding women. In the article there are clear proofs which show that Muslim women can work with men on all different levels of social, political, economical and spiritual areas. The key point here is with men not by themselves. The problem with the current 6 nominees on the MSA National board is that there are ALL sisters and that the organization is for all Muslims students in North America both brothers and sisters. I believe it is only fair that the board have a few brothers along with the sisters in the organization.

I have nothing against the sisters who were elected nor (as I said before) do I have anything against sisters being in leadership positions. I just feel that with the 20 days or asking for nominations there at least could have been 1 or 2 brothers that were nominated but may have been mistakenly rejected by the approval committee.

Is MSA National Dead?

Well based on the emails, the in-activity of the websites and the fact that they only have 6 people on a ballot where minimally should have at least 9 nominees and by default 18 nominees, it clearly appears to me that MSA National is either going through some type of inactive crisis or the ummah of North America has lost its interest in MSA National. For those of you who are active at your local MSA, what exactly has MSA National done for your MSA or in general for all MSAs in your area? Being a former vice-president of SBU MSA, I can honestly say, we functioned completely self-sufficient without any help or communication with MSA National.

There is good that MSA National has done and is doing which is the zonal and national conference yearly. In reality, most of the zonal conferences are organized and run by local MSAs depending on the location. For example, when the MSA East Zone conference was in New York City, MSA National didn’t do much. It was all MSA-NY (Stony Brook, NYU, Pace, Hofstra, Queens, Hunter, and others).

Other than conferences, what has MSA National done in the past 2 years? If you were to take a poll of every single MSA in North America and asked them how does MSA National help you, what would be the results? WhyIslam, CAIR, Zaytuna, Al-Maghrib, SunniPath have done a lot for many MSAs and I’m almost positive these MSAs can agree to that. These organizations are not focused on helping MSAs rather in general the Muslims and non-Muslim communities. From what I understand MSA Natoinal’s focus is towards the MSAs of North America.

The real question is: What exactly does MSA National do for MSAs in North America and what is it doing now?

May Allah (swt) forgive me for anything wrong I have said and may Allah (swt) guide MSA National to what is best for them and the ummah in North America! Ameen.

[Totally random: They really need to upgrade there logo. It’s 2007!]

57 Replies to “Is MSA National Dead? [Updates: 3]”


  2. As-salam-a-lay-kum,

    I feel that I might be able to shed some light on this topic. I served as the former CZ-rep for MSA-National back in 2001/2002.

    Historically the terms used to be 2 years, but very few students were able to put forth that amount of effort to work for MSA-National for 2 years, and be in school. Most officers ended up having to resign their positions due to it being too much work for them. Myself included. As such new officers had to be found during the middle of the term.

    When you 1st get the job as a zonal rep, it’s very daunting. All of a sudden you are responsible for HUNDREDS of chapters, with no help. I started creating state reps, and zonal councils to help me with this, but it still wasn’t enough.

    Making that 1st phone call to an MSA chapter to gather contact information about them…is very terrifying. You need to overcome your own fears, and make a cold call to someone you’ve never met or talked to before. A lot of people can’t get over this, so they rely on their own personal contacts to get work done.

    Someone else hit upon the point that all MSA-National workers are local workers. EXACTLY. All of the volunteers are local workers. Even the officers. Unfortunatly most of them put their LOCAL chapters first, and slack on the work for National. Hence why people ask for speakers, or help & don’t get it. The people answering those email accounts are VOLUNTEERS who might/might not put MSA-National as their 1st priority. What we need are a bunch of volunteers who are willing to work just for National.

    As for paid workers…that was discussed, but funds were never able to be collected to go forward with that. It’s an idea with merit, but the proper funding needs to be given. Alas this has always been a problem in Islamic work. I remember being invited by an MSA state to visit them, and not having the funds to go and do an outreach trip. The entire trip would have cost $100 (gas/hotel).

    The conferences are setup at such a price that it’s at cost so that as many people can come. CZ conference during my year was $59/person…and that included hotel/food/admission. From the continental conference they only get a portion of the registration fees, and that only from those registered as “MSA”. If you’re registered as MYNA/ISNA, or other they get none of those funds.

    Historically the elections have had a low turnout. No one bothers to run, or to ask “what do I need to do to get someone as an officer?” Most people think that it’s too much work, and don’t want to volunteer. To be fair, MSA-National probably hasn’t done the job to adequatly explain what it takes. During my election it took the following:
    1. Nomination from 2 chapters in your zone
    2. An “Islamic Resume”
    3. A letter of recommendation from a local masjid/Islamic organization.
    4. I think their was something else but I can’t remember now….it’s been too long.

    During my term, I was probably putting in a good 6-8 hrs of work a day for National work, along with classes. I know it drove me insane, and I used to get testy with my roommates. Alhumdullilah they fully understood, and did what they could.

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