The Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosts Noor Night as Ramadan approaches

Members of MSA share the purposes of their ongoing and upcoming traditions


Photo courtesy of MSA

Juniors Lauren Dotson and Aaron Chang pass out food at Noor Night.

The many religious and cultural clubs on campus allow students to feel like they have a home within the Trinity community. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) welcomes students from all backgrounds, particularly students who practice Islam. MSA has roughly 40-50 members, some of whom have stated that they have created a community in which they feel like they belong.

On Feb. 16, MSA and Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC) hosted a special event known as Noor Night to educate students while also seeking to demystify Islam. Saqhib Syed, sophomore business analytics and technology major and vice president of internal affairs, shared that their motivation was to plan an event where all students on campus could come together and learn about Islam. As a Muslim student on campus, Syed said that there have been a lot of questions surrounding his religion, so he thought that hosting an event to educate others would be beneficial.

“We wanted to make it open to everyone, even if you weren’t in MSA or didn’t know much about Islam. We had one of the best turnouts from all of our events. It was also food and activity-oriented, which made it more of a community bonding event as well,” Syed said.

During Noor Night, stations were set up to symbolize the five pillars of Islam. The first pillar, the declaration of faith pillar (shahada), was set up to symbolize one’s name. Melika Mohammed, treasurer of MSA, handed out name tags with students’ names written in Arabic.

The second pillar, the prayer pillar (salat), was demonstrated by giving students the opportunity to string together prayer beads. Syed shared that they wanted to create a hands-on activity for the second pillar, as praying incorporates the body, so a craft such as prayer beads fit the mold well.

For the third pillar, the charity pillar (zakat), MSA created a station where students could make necessity bags to donate. Combs, socks and other items were distributed for students to put together in a pouch.

Goodie bags provided at Noor Night. (Photo Courtesy of MSA)

The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting (sawm). The food catered for the event demonstrated gratitude and reminded students of the unfortunate circumstances around the world such as food insecurity which numerous face.

Mia Kholy, senior neuroscience major and MSA president, was very happy with the outcome of Noor Night and is looking forward to other events the club has coming up. Both Syed and Kholy shared that planning Noor Night was stressful and took weeks to organize, but was very worth it.

“MSA hasn’t had an event that big before. Now that they have a full board of people within the club, they can do more and incorporate more people with fun, educational and interactive events. I think roughly around 60 more people came, it was a great turnout,” Kholy said.

With Ramadan coming up around the end of March, the MSA is already prepping and planning for this event. Syed shared that Ramadan is the time of year in which Muslims are the most tight-knit. As students fast for the whole month, the MSA hosts and plans weekly “iftars,” or breaking of the fast nights, where students unite and share a meal together. Many professors and staff on campus, like Chaplains Usama Malik and Alex Serna-Wallender from Chapel | Spiritual Life provides food and hospitality during the month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan is the busiest time for MSA. We are even planning on doing collabs with other cultural organizations like SASA (South Asian Student Association) and VSA (Vietnamese Student Association). Ramadan can be isolating for students so having these dinners and events during the month is really important for us,” Kholy said.

MSA also provides H-E-B gift cards for students to stock up on food, as Mabee Dining Hall and other restaurants open after sunrise and close before sunset, outside the hours in which they are permitted to eat during the month. While a lot of money goes into planning out the month and providing resources, students of MSA feel supported during this time.

“MSA was the first organization I joined as a freshman,” Syed said. “It was my first experience within a smaller community and the first place I met some of my best friends. I found such solace in the people there and felt as though I bonded with them so much. It really became my home away from home. It even removed feelings of practicing a religion on campus I am already a minority in. I want to give back to the club and that’s why I am an officer because I want to create better experiences for other members.”

Isairah Moreno, a sophomore business major, shared that going to Noor Night was a great learning experience for her. She got to bond with friends as a part of MSA and also got to bond with a new club.

“I really enjoyed going to the different [pillars] that they had set up. I got to learn about the different pillars of Islam. Although I am not in MSA, I had a chance to learn and engage with others,” Moreno said.