From left to right, the MSA student leaders: Rosie Abdelmaguid, Ayah Zaki, Laila Abouhaiba, and Kira Farooqui
Credit: Trinity Heard, 42Fifty

Editor’s Note: Kira Farooqui is an editor on staff but was not involved in the writing, reporting, or editing of this story.

Junior Rosie Abdelmaguid began the plan to start a Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Oswego High School in the school year of 2019-2020. Abdelmaguid founded the club and held the first meeting this school year (2020-2021).

“[I started planning] the first semester of my sophomore year,” Abdelmaguid says, with the help of juniors Kira Farooqui, Ayah Zaki, and Laila Abouhaiba. 

Although plans were interrupted due to COVID-19, that didn’t stop them from creating a club that helps teach all kinds of students about Islam. 

“I heard that other schools had [MSA] and I [thought] we should have one,” Abdelmaguid says. 

One of the teacher sponsors, Tiffany Murphy, became involved when Abdelmaguid, who is one of her students, had to create a community service-learning project for AVID.

“When I started wearing hijab…I noticed a lot of people really don’t know about our religion.”

Rosie Abdelmaguid

“[Abdelmaguid] came up with how to teach the community about Muslim[s] and Islam…and that was her topic. After they research a topic, then they develop a plan, [hers was to] develop MSA,” Murphy says.

This is when she decided to create an MSA club for OHS students. One event that made Abdelmaguid realize the importance of having an MSA club was when she first started wearing hijab.

“When I started wearing hijab…I noticed a lot of people really don’t know about our religion. [I wanted to know] how can I change that, at least with my circle of friends or the people around me,” Abdelmaguid says. 

The founders of MSA hope to change the lack of knowledge about Muslims and Islam through the club. 

“[Abdelmaguid] wanted to teach others about Islam and just clear up any negative stereotypes anyone has about us,” Zaki says. 

A key part of the club is that it’s open to all kinds of people and promotes diversity.

“Anybody can join,” Zaki says. “It doesn’t matter what race, gender, [or] religion. [The whole goal of the club is to] teach others about Islam. It’s not just for Muslims.” 

The club invites all kinds of people to get involved and make a difference.

“I encourage people who are not Muslim [to join] just so you know more about the people around you [and help make] Muslims in the school feel comfortable,” Abdelmaguid says. 

“Anybody can join…it doesn’t matter what race, gender, religion.”

Ayah Zaki

Many of the students were non-Muslim and learned about a culture outside of their own. 

“We had a bunch of people from all backgrounds…It was so diverse in there…not everyone was Muslim and everyone seemed really happy to be there,” Abdelmaguid says. 

Many students aren’t aware of what the Muslim Student Association does during their meetings. 

“[T]he students develop the lesson plan [and] the students plan what they want to talk about,” Murphy says. 

All meetings are student-led; the sponsors are there just for safety and school rules.

The students begin the meeting by going over a presentation on a specific topic and having a quick discussion. Afterward, the leaders find some kind of activity to teach in an engaging way.

“We’re going to play games…[and] try to learn about other people’s culture or religion,” Zaki said. 

“We had a bunch of people from all backgrounds…It was so diverse in there…not everyone was muslim and everyone seemed really happy to be there.”

Rosie Abdelmaguid

Meetings are held one Friday of the month around 2:40 p.m. in room 108. If students are busy but still want to learn more, they can come to as few meetings as they like. The MSA leaders are currently working on a calendar that describes meeting topics for those who have something specific they want to learn about, according to Abdelmaguid. 

Fortunately, the MSA currently has a fundraiser that anyone can help with. 

“We also plan on having henna booths at football games [and are] selling popcorn from the Popcorn Store,” Zaki said. 

The MSA is currently self-funded, so any help with the fundraiser will help build the club as it is still in its early stages. If you aren’t able to donate, there are other ways to still help out.

“Tell your friends if you hear anyone say any misconceptions [and] …correct them in a nice way,” Abdelmaguid said.

As juniors, the club leaders are hoping to continue the club even after they graduate. Abdelmaguid hopes to upgrade meetings to twice or every week by next school year. Her sister, Sedra Abdelmaguid, is a freshman and plans to become a club leader. 

All the student leaders strive to make a positive impact on our school with the MSA club and hope to continue it further into the future. 

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My name is Trinity Heard, I am a Senior at Oswego High School, and this is my second year writing for 42Fifty. I am very excited to continue working with the team and help other learn more about journalism. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, baking, and editing. I also am a part of the Student Council as President and work as a crew member at Culvers. I look forward to being involved in 42Fifty as a managing editor for this year.

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