Muslim Student Association Visits a Mosque

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With the rise of Islamaphobia in America, I wanted there to be a safe space for my Muslim peers here at school. Over the years, we have been able to attend field trips to mosques to learn more about the faith. This was our third field trip to a mosque.

In recent times, there have been many changes that have been affecting lives. The rise of hate and prejudice towards groups of people was and still is growing. As a result, I wanted to help reduce that by helping to bring the community together at school.

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) was established three years ago to allow the Muslim community to come together during a time when the political climate all around the world was extremely toxic. I wanted there to be a safe space for my Muslim peers to express their opinions without feeling judged.

Throughout the years, we have been able to do a lot more than have weekly meetings. Our first year, we came up with the idea to go on a field trip to a mosque to learn more about the faith. I never knew if it would be possible because the process of going on a field trip is long and complicated. However, just this year we went on our third field trip.

After the first field trip, I decided to keep this as an annual event. I realized that many people were learning, whether they were Muslim or not. As these field trips continued, I decided to not limit the field trips to MSA members only. I wanted everyone interested to have the opportunity to go. Therefore, MSA field trips have always been opened to all of Pinole Valley. We have gone to multiple mosques in the Bay Area and this year we had the opportunity to visit the Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara.

I had a large group of people including staff and students; Muslims and non-Muslims attend. I decided to interview a few people to reflect on their experience.

I interviewed Terylin Simms, who I have known for a while. Simms has previously mentioned to me about her interest in Islam, therefore, I decided to invite her to the field trip. She went ahead to describe her day:

“When getting ready to leave, I was nervous, wondering how people would look at me. The MCA was everything I expected, but much more. Everyone was nice, the coordinator was able to teach us about the building and the 5 pillars. I learned that Muslims believe many messengers you would see in the Bible. I loved how I felt like I belonged, there wasn’t any judgment I heard or saw,” Simms said. “I also loved the part where we took off our shoes, the floor felt like the clouds. I will definitely be attending the next field trip.”

Next, I interviewed Mr. Nalic, the sponsor of MSA. I asked him to reflect on his experience of being in MSA and the field trips over the years. Here’s what he had to say:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed MSA trips over the years. Each trip was different and unique. During each, we had the opportunity to have discussions about the particular location, community involvement, and various events that take place there. This location [MCA] was a fully functioning school while at the same time serving religious needs to local Muslims. I was particularly impressed with the activities that take place after the Jummah prayer.”

Towards the end of the day, we were able to be part of the weekly Congregational Prayer. After the prayer, we got to walk around the bazaar.

Overall, the field trips have been an educational experience for many. I am so grateful to be able to allow many people to come together and feel safe during MSA meetings and events. Along with that, I’m grateful for the amount of knowledge we gain every year from the field trips. I hope one day hate and prejudice towards people go away.