MSA Ibn Firnas was founded to help support the spiritual and academic well-being of Muslim students at TU Delft. Board Member Irum Faisal explains how that works.
Irum Faisal: “We are not just for Muslim students, but we are open to all.” (Photo: Heather Montague)

MSA Ibn Firnas was founded to help support the spiritual and academic well-being of Muslim students at TU Delft. Board Member Irum Faisal explains how that works.

 “I’m from India and I’m doing a master’s in Building Technology (Faculty of Architecture). It’s my second year now at TU Delft. When I came here it was my first time in the Netherlands and it’s been pretty good so far. Last year I joined quite a few student associations and Muslim Student Association Ibn Firnas was one of them. I helped the marketing and design team last year but this year I am a Board Member.

The organisation has been active at TU Delft for more than 15 years and the work that we have been doing is to try and support both the spiritual and academic welfare of students who come from different cultures and backgrounds. As Muslim students we pray daily, we fast for a month during Ramadan and we celebrate some festivals. It’s good to get together with other students of the same faith but coming from very different backgrounds. We have people from the Middle East, India, Europe, Morocco, all over the world. We aim to provide an additional sense of community for this varied and diverse group of students.

‘We exchange a lot of food’

There used to be a prayer facility at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, but it got closed down. Now we use either the Contemplation Room at X or the Silence Room at the Faculty of Aerospace. But on Fridays we book a big hall at X for the Friday prayers which are from 14:00 to 14:30. We have a registration form on Instagram and Facebook that people can fill out if they want to join because there is a limited number of people that can attend right now due to Covid restrictions.

I have many non-Muslim friends, but it’s also nice to have people around who understand the way you feel. We have social events which I really enjoy. We exchange a lot of food and with people from so many cultures that makes it interesting. Many new students have joined recently and we have a fresher’s party happening soon where we will explain more about the association. It will be held during the last week of September.

Being part of the association is a good way to connect with other students with similar backgrounds. But everybody has their own way of looking at the faith so you can learn from each other. It’s the same faith, but for example the rituals for a festival might be a bit different so it’s good to exchange ideas with each other.

At previous Ramadan parties we have had many non-Muslims who joined to get to know how we practice our religion, including the Mayor of Delft one year. People are welcome to join any of our events and come to get to know us. We want people to know that we are not just for Muslim students, but we are open to all.”

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Also read: ‘A lot of Dutch students don’t even know about Erasmus Student Network’