Goodbye to the NYU MSA [Posted: 4/16/17]

As this year comes to an end, so many of us are inclined to reflect upon the time we have spent here at NYU and how it has permanently impacted who we are as individuals. In trying to reflect myself, a moment a few days ago really spoke to me.

Last Friday, Humayra Mayat and Omer Malik led a group of students and community members to the Brooklyn Bridge for Shuruq’s annual Fajr on the Bridge event. At a little after 5AM, a group of about 40 of us walked together from Bobst Library to the top of the Bridge where we secured a spot, laid down a few cloth sheets and began lining up for the Fajr prayer. When the actual congregational prayer began, I was standing in the first row directly behind Arif Khalil (the imam). As Arif began reciting the first few verses of Surah Fatihah, I remember having difficulty hearing each of the words due to the sheer loudness of the cars that were passing by on the bridge beneath us. I realized how close I was standing to Arif and it made me think how much more difficult it must have been for the rest of the brothers and sisters praying with me to hear his voice. Of course, the prayer continued and even after we ended, my ears were largely preoccupied by the sounds of the cars below.

Reflecting back on this moment, I started to think more deeply about my direction in life and the path that God placed me upon, part of which involved me coming from California all the way to NYU. It is true that our sole purpose for being created is to worship God in all that we do and there is certainly something unique in all that we experience, including the journeys we take that should help us better worship Our Creator.

As I was standing on the bridge in prayer, the Word of God was so evident in that it was being recited right before me. In this case, it feels like the recitation of God’s Word is the Permanent Truth that remains throughout every stage of our lives. My lack of ability to focus on this Truth was hindered by the rush of cars beneath me. To me, these cars represent the daily sources of interference and interruption that seek to pull me away from the Truth and that which I am created for. So then I ask myself: Why is my body and mind still physically oriented in the direction of the Truth when the world around me is seeking to confuse my thoughts and pull me away from what is good for me? It is here that it occurred to me that my fellow friends, my fellow brothers and sisters, my companions were standing right next to me shoulder-to-shoulder and around me to keep my mind, body and heart pointed in the right direction. To keep me focused on the Truth no matter how distant it may feel or how difficult it is to recognize. To keep my soul oriented towards God even when my mind begs me to turn around and start walking the other way. This is why I was brought to NYU.

I was brought to NYU so I could be a part of a Muslim community that continues to give me more faith and confidence in who I am as a Muslim in America than I could have ever imagined. I was brought to NYU so that I could be surrounded by souls that continue to choose love over hate, especially in times when our faith is faced with nothing but hate. I was brought to NYU so that I could put my forehead on the ground and be reminded that my Creator is continuously looking to elevate me, especially when I can only see the flaws in myself.

I thank God, the One in whose Hand lies all our souls, for blessing me with company unlike anything I have ever experienced because if it was not for the sacrifices you all made to keep me oriented towards The Truth, nothing in these past 4 years nor in this past year would have ever become a reality for me. I believe a special shout out is necessary for Sana, Hina, RJ, Sameen, Mariyamou, Eeraj, Ayesha, Aadil, Zarif, Shehzil, Alina, and Meyhad for all the incredible work they have done in serving this community and the unconditional support they have given me during my time on Shura this year.

It is with such gratitude to Him and to the souls around me that I also find it important to acknowledge the wrong I have done. For all the things that I have done that were unjust or harmful to any of you and all of you, I sincerely seek your forgiveness and hope that I can better myself moving forward.

I pray that Allah, The Source of All Strength and The Righteous Teacher, continues to educate the souls of our community after we leave NYU so we can strive to achieve our God-given potential in both our worldly and spiritual affairs. I pray that Allah, The Guide, grants this new Shura and next year’s MSA community the best of wisdom and direction to effectively approach all that they do with the sole purpose of achieving Our Lord’s Pleasure. I pray that we, our loved ones, and those who are connected to us both by faith and by humanity are granted nothing but the best in this life and the best in the next.

An incredible honor and privilege to have served you all. Much love.

Afraz Khan