Muslim Student Association of North America
MUSLIM STUDENT ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA
Muslim students in universities across the United States formally inaugurated the Muslim Student Association in a national conference held in Urbana, Illinois, on 1 January 1963. The participants in this first conference represented immigrant students from all over the Muslim world. On almost every major college campus where there were Muslim students (about two hundred in all), a MSA was established as part of a network of local chapters with regional and zonal structures. The central organization was run by an executive committee, as was each local chapter, and a general national meeting was held every year in a different city.
In September 1975, the MSA established a general secretariat and a headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana. Accordingly, departments were created to oversee the dissemination of Islamic education and publications, training, public relations, finance, and administration. As members graduated, they remained active and some made the organization their life's work. By February 1977 the MSA had become the largest, best-organized, most active, financially stable, and influential American Muslim organization. It had also come to be dominated in leadership and membership by Muslim students from Southeast Asia. Since 1977 the numbers of MSAs has grown and although immigrant Muslim students from all over participate, South Asians predominate in the leadership roles.
One immediate result of the organization and influence of this group was criticism for expanding that influence to community affairs. Though students were naturally members of various communities, they had competition in the leadership of community affairs. This tension caused the emergence of the Muslim Community Association. The two groups were then organized in 1981 under an umbrella organization, The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Today, almost everywhere there are Muslim students there continues to exist an MSA to serve their needs on campus.
Aminah Beverly McCloud