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A campus club helps students of different faiths see how alike we really are.

When Yousef Hakim, MD ’25, began his studies at Geisinger Commonwealth, he noticed something was missing. That something? A Muslim Student Association, a common fixture on many college and university campuses. So, he raised the issue with fellow student Syed Qadri, MD ’23.

“He approached me and another student (Shahid Manzar, MD ’23) about starting a Muslim Student Association — or an MSA,” said Mr. Qadri. 

Together, the three founded Geisinger Commonwealth’s MSA in early 2022. And their goal was clear.

“Our mission is help educate the student body about the Muslim population at Geisinger, help them to understand the needs of the Muslim population in our larger community and to create a space for students of every faith to interact,” said Mr. Manzar.

Building understanding

The club has impacted the Geisinger Commonwealth community in important ways, through events like talks led by guest speakers and open invitation iftar dinners during Ramadan. 

Mr. Hakim stressed how tenets of Islam relate to healthcare, helping to strengthen students’ knowledge. “Certain medicines use porcine products which Muslim patients might not know when they’re prescribed. It’s important for physicians to be aware and to have that discussion. This aligns with GCSOM’s goal to educate aspiring physicians who are culturally competent and socially responsible.”

Exploring our similarities — together

Besides revealing things specific to Islam, the club is realizing another goal — demonstrating what Islam has in common with other faiths. 

“Seeing the interfaith focus of other student clubs made us want everyone to feel like the MSA is their club,” Mr. Qadri said. 

Because most members aren’t Muslim, Mr. Syed says the club is a good venue for everyone to explore Islam together. 

He pointed to three universal principles of Islam that can unite us all: 

  • Promoting spirituality
  • Being a better person
  • Being mindful

“People can see the commonalities. That is a big goal for us — to show there are more similarities than there are differences,” said Mr. Syed.

a group of students having dinner