Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Muslim Student Association (MSA) is an organization founded on a core principle of Islam – peace. With an open general body meeting held on Friday, Jan. 19, MSA wanted students to feel welcomed to the practices of Muslims.
MSA seeks to inform students at FAMU about Islam’s purpose by welcoming members of the Islam community and those who want more information to their general body meetings.
Wendor Beldor, known by his Islamic name, Yusuf, founded FAMU MSA in 2016. Beldor said that he converted to Islam after growing up as a Christian in the Baptist denomination.
“I decided to do some research about Islam. What I found was enlightenment and peace. A religion and way of life that aligned more with what I truly believe,” Beldor said.
“The media has a way of warping the religion and making it seem like something violent and middle eastern. I wanted to show the campus (FAMU) that there are black Muslims and that we are on campus.
Hema Hasona, who is a junior biology student, is the current president of FAMU MSA. Hasona said that as president he wants students to know that the Muslim community is like any other group of students and that the main purpose of the organization is to raise awareness to Islam.
“We want to have events to let people know we are just like them. We would like people to know we are the same and learn about Islam at the same time,” Hasona said. “The main purpose of the organization is that although we are at an HBCU, Muslims are still a minority. So, the whole purpose is to raise awareness of what Islam is and what Muslims believe in.”
Asia Islami, a second-year master of occupational therapy student and the outreach chair for FAMU MSA, wants people to know that many of the same values taught in Islam are similar to those in other religions.
“I love to learn about other people’s religions and compare them. I’m like ‘wait, we have that same story, just with a different name.’ The lessons are the same,” Islami said. “You don’t have to be Muslim to join. The main thing is to let people be more aware of what Muslims are and what they do. We’re normal people.”
According to member and past president, Tarik Siddeeq, the two Arabic words “ummah” and “dawah” means community and inviting people of the Islamic religion and those who are not Muslim to be informed about Allah (God), respectively.
“MSA is the vehicle for fulfillment of two main goals of being a Muslim – building a community (ummah) and dawah,” Siddeeq said.
Beldor established FAMU MSA for these very reasons.
“The MSA means quite a lot to me. I viewed it as a way to introduce those who don’t know anything about Islam to Islam.” Beldor said.