Chronicles of a president is a series of reflections on how my journey as a Muslim Student Association President unfolded.
“Leadership can either be a blessing or burden, if not both.” – Me
Not too long ago, I took up a leadership role that I didn’t have the slightest clue about. I only did it because I believed I could bring Muslims together on campus. I wasn’t the slightest bit confident or comfortable for that matter but rather uplifted by my most recent success. I defeated all odds successfully and not to mention single-handedly by fundraising in a third world country such as Uganda to aid our brothers and sisters in Syria, a war-torn country. That success overwhelmed me to an extent where I believe I can accomplish anything as long as I set my mind to it.
A few months later, I enrolled at a College which I felt lacked a Muslim presence. I saw an opportunity to lead an Islamic Organization on Campus, and I had a sincere intention. Alhamdulillah, I wasn’t the only person who envisioned this vision. However, a few individuals imposed their lack of vision and necessity for a Muslim community on campus, but that’s beside the point; the point is that it was a rough journey, and every happening was an opportunity to learn.
Registering the organization was by far the easiest part. I had no team and was extremely shy and still in my comfortable cocoon. In the beginning, I unrealistically hoped I could work solely behind the scenes as an anonymous leader; however, I don’t recall how I anticipated for that to work. Regardless, I had to come to terms with a lot matters as a Muslim leader, including the right mix of genders and the flow of information.
At the end of every day, everyone mashallah had their opinion to dish out or impose even when it wasn’t asked for. Maya Angelou once said, ‘People won’t remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel.’ I remember a day someone told me how an organization run by a single individual would likely not succeed and would evidently fail because the married life teaches you everything you need to lead? They made it seem and feel like a) single people were less than them and b) that we were less focused, hence, prone to more distractions. As extreme as that sounds and as uncalled for that was, I think a part of me despite being furious understood what they actually meant. I don’t remember the remainder of that conversation, but I most probably didn’t give into such rubbish. However and unfortunately my lack of direction enabled me to be easily swayed at times by those who had the best leadership style argument, Alhamdulillah nothing too drastic.
So, our first success was establishing Friday prayers. Subhanallah, that alone was a rocky journey.
During the beginning of my self-appointed presidency (I only say that because no one wanted the role), every Friday, a group of brothers would patiently sit and wait for a Khateeb to deliver a Khutbah and I blamed myself for not finding someone to provide that service. By the will of Allah, some brothers spoke ill of me and my inability, and my heart shattered every single time, just like every Friday. The truth of the matter is that they were right, and the role I filled required me to be in the service of my brothers and sisters by easing their affairs. Alhamdulillah in a few months a brothers’ whose name I do not know stepped up; God bless his soul. One day, he couldn’t make it for whatever reason, and I posted on our Facebook group with 30 something members, a ‘Khateeb Needed’ post, and by the will of Allah, a brother asked a reverted brother to lead. He alhamdulillah did so, and I believe he eventually recruited another brother to joined the Khateeb team, and they alternated for the remainder of the year. Subhanallah that brought so much joy to my heart. I don’t know who conveyed my message but Jummah Prayers at our College started with them, and since then we’ve grown from a minimum of three attendants to a full house and from one to two to four khateebs, and I couldn’t be prouder. Friday prayer is something I no longer worry about.
This brings part 1 to an end. Stay tuned for Part 2.