The Muslim Students' Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MSA-MUN)
University Center (UC) 6004
Origins of the group: The Muslim Students' Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MSA-MUN) was established during the mid-1960's. It was formed by a group of international Muslim students who were studying at Memorial University. Its purpose was to accommodate Muslim students who were new to Canada and to provide an on-campus space and community for Islamic worship.
Main Purpose: The MSA works to help Muslim students adapt to life in Canada, to accommodate their religious beliefs and practices, and to increase awareness about Islam among the student population and the St. John's community.
Present goals of the group: The group is continually working toward internal and external growth. Internally, it aims to help new international Muslim students adjust to Canadian culture by making connections between newcomers and long-time members. These connections, along with other programs offered by the MSA, help Muslim students adjust to life in Canada by providing an understanding of different cultural norms, usually around gender, sexuality, and diet. Externally, the MSA assists Muslim students in resolving issues of discrimination from the public and within the university.
The MSA is currently working with Memorial University to create new regulations that accommodate the Islamic calendar. Because Memorial operates on the Christian calendar, Muslim students are often forced to skip classes or defer exams because of religious needs. The MSA wishes to develop regulations, modeled after other universities that accommodate the religious needs of all students of any religion.
The MSA's goals can be divided into addressing the different needs of the Muslim students on campus as well as raising awareness of Islam on campus. The MSA facilitates the most essential religious services for its members such as accommodations required for daily and Friday congregation prayers, as well as organizing events relating to religious events such as Ramadan iftars and Eid parties. The MSA also organizes various social and educational events for its members throughout the year.
In addition to addressing the needs of its members, the MSA also aims to raise awareness of Islam on campus through its different outreach activities. These include regular booths at the University Centre, which aim to answer any questions the university community has about Islam. The MSA also invites the university community to participate in fasting in Ramadan and organizes an annual Islam Awareness Week to fulfill the same goal of raising awareness of Islam on campus. The MSA at Memorial strives to build gaps of misunderstanding, and is always looking forward to educate the university community regarding its vast ethnically diverse group of members.
Life in St. John's/in NL: The MSA has formed relationships with many organizations in the St. John's community, including the Al-Noor Mosque, Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (MANAL), and St. Augustine's Anglican Church, with which they often share a community space.
Membership: The group is composed mostly of undergraduate international Muslim students. English is the main language used, as it is common among all members. MSA-MUN has 350-400 members on its mailing list, and usually has 80-150 attendees at its events.
Leaders and Contacts: MSA-MUN executives are elected annually via ballot voting, which is open to all Muslim students.
Office: University Center (UC) 6004, Memorial University
Prayer room: Earth Sciences (ER) 4070, Memorial University
Information: Information about the group can be found on its website (<www.mun.ca/msa>). The group also has a mailing list, which can be joined by e-mailing email@example.com.
Schedule of Events:
Weekly prayer is held at the Al-Noor Mosque on Fridays from 1-2pm. Students are bussed to and from the mosque at a small cost of 2-3 dollars.
Daily prayers are held in the on-campus prayer room throughout the day.
MSA-MUN organizes annual events, including Islam Awareness Week, which collaborates with the Al-Noor Mosque and other organizations and people to provide several educational sessions about Islam to Muslim and non-Muslim persons. The group is also highly active during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, during which it holds many events and activities including iftars, social gatherings to share evening meals to end the daily fasting during Ramadan.