Reflections of Youth

Help Local MSAs

by Shadi Jabali,  Carl Sandburg High School

Two years ago, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Carl Sandburg High School achieved incredible heights with their weekly halaqas, or learning circles, averaging 50 attendees a week, some of whom stayed close to their communities and strived to serve, while even others made it their mission to memorize the entire Quran within the next five years. This was just the foundation among the many other feats acquired within a five month period. All of it was achieved with neither recognition nor funding from the school, but simply hard work and sincere hearts of dedicated volunteers. All praise and thanks are exclusively for Allah. The success of the Sandburg MSA was contagious. Richards and Stagg High Schools both caught on to the MSA movement and established their own Muslim student body which made the total number of students increase to over 150. It was as if tiny masajid were being built within the public high schools in Illinois. But this momentum seemed to have recently come to a halt due to the lack of resources, experience, guidance, and let's face it, funding. The flames seem to have died out in our public schools' Muslim identities and presence, and we're left with dimming sparks, which was the inspiration for Project SALAM.

Project SALAM (Student Association Leading the Advancement of Muslims) is a branch of MAS Youth Chicago that intends to act as the umbrella organization of MSAs in the Chicagoland area. We are offering the support and assistance of our community's MSAs through MAS Youth. Our experienced project leaders are ready to offer the mentorship and the opportunities (both financially and resourcefully, i.e. events, trips, etc.) to assist secondary and higher education students in either creating or reviving, and then maintaining, Muslim groups in their schools in order to guide our children who may have gotten lost or are fighting the bloody battle that we call peer pressure. This will be done, if Allah wills, through a professional, practical, and organized system run by students who know the ins and outs of MSAs (yes, including the drama).

At the moment, the project is concentrating on a two-step plan to build the foundation of these MSAs.

  • Step one: Outreach. Started on July 30th, the project leaders have been reaching out to every MSA in every high school they can find. So far, we’ve officially partnered with the student bodies at eight high schools, including Reavis, Andrew, Lake Park, and Oak Forest, and the veterans, as well as many others schools and two community colleges which have agreed to be a part of Project SALAM. Additionally, seven schools have agreed to join without an official answer. Fifteen other schools have been either reached out to or are being looked into for contacts and human resources. This makes a total of 30+ schools on our list which has been achieved, by the Will of Allah, within a mere 48 hours of work. The momentum has almost been overwhelming, and it has reached schools in the North and South sides of Chicago, forcing us to have representatives for both regions.
  • Step two: These MSA leaders will be introduced to a support system. As long as they stay in touch with us, and attend monthly leadership meetings to maintain efficiency within their schools, Project SALAM will assist them in every way possible through MAS Youth Chicago. This includes, but is not limited to, trips like Illinois Muslim Action Day (IMAD), Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST), the MAS Conference, monthly iftars, and other financial/opportunistic supports.

What we ask of every individual is simple.

  • Firstly, if you know of any Muslim students that may be interested in becoming a chapter of Project SALAM, have them contact us or send us their contact information in order for them to sign up. If their school already has an MSA, we will help maintain it (including financial sponsorship), and if not, we will do what we can to help establish them and get them on that level.
  • Secondly, volunteers in every area are greatly needed. Please contact us if you are interested in helping your local schools (whether you attend them or not).
  • Thirdly, please spread the word.
  • Finally, although this project has some funding from MAS Chicago, contributions are highly appreciated and would further assist us in keeping up with our rapidly growing union of schools.

For this to continue, and for our youth to be taken care of in a non-Muslim setting, we need everyone to support us by any means possible; even if it is simply spreading the word. This cannot happen without awareness of the movement. Most of the schools on our list have MSAs simply because of Facebook references. So please search (and share) “MAS Youth Chicago-Project: Salam” on Facebook, or contact the Project Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (708) 669-9016 in order to offer your insights and support. We encourage you to take our hand and join us in bridging the gap between tomorrow’s Muslim students. Thank you for all your time, support, and effort. As always, please keep us in your prayers, wassalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.