10 things that I’d tell the current and future MSA EXCO (part nine)

9. Keep a detailed record of previous EXCO meetings and keep in touch with EXCO alumni

I like things detailed.

I always have and always will.

It is in the details you can figure out strengths that need to be cultivated and weaknesses that need to be addressed. It is in the details you can capture what happened and know how to grow.

MSA-EXCO meetings consist of tasks and responsibilities. 

My responsibility was to note down everything mentioned and follow-up. I had the habit of writing down what to mention in the meeting beforehand and write down whatever thoughts emerged from the meeting thereafter. I wrote down who attended the meetings and what each person proposed. The reason I would write who said what is because it helped understand the angle every different person looked at things. It highlighted their strengths and also gave the chance to encourage overall involvement in case someone did not say as much. I liked to also write down the differences mentioned, and how things were settled, or resolved. There were brothers that would meet elders off campus where I noted it down on the side the updates they gave, and whenever I met an elder, I would note down whatever they said.

I liked having things detailed, but I only shared the bitesized version, due to not wanting to feel anymore different than I already did with my physical disability. I hated doing things differently and I got to know early on that we live in a bullet-point culture. The culture of how we have a lot to do but have little time — a motto I found hard to understand since I have double the amount to do, due to my health, and even less time.

It was only few years after graduation where I realized that I should have shared not only the bitesized version but also the detailed version. How there were struggles with the new batch with regards to how to work when there are more brothers over sisters and how to resolve differences of opinions. I recalled that I wrote down similar issues brought forth when we were new with the MSA — how we had to figure out how to navigate in a respectful and progressive way. What made things helpful was the involvement of elders and the value towards mentorship. Imam and his wife made things easier in avoiding gender differences, or feelings of exclusion, and the first president did not work on his own but had elders as mentors—a knowledgeable uncle and also a phD brother—alongside MSA brothers.

I, therefore, realized that even though we live in a bullet-point culture there is potential waste of time in the future if you do not share the details of the past. Mistakes will only be repeated if they are not shared to begin with. Hurdles are still hard to cross that is better to give a detailed map over how to either avoid them or move pass them with minimal effort and time.

I could have just written down 10 points for this 10-post blog series into one article. It is so much easier, and it takes less time, but isn’t there more substance and overall benefit in exploring each point?

Is there not a more clearer map of how to move forward without succumbing to the same stumbles and falls?

Will it not give more room and better equip for overall progressive growth? 

Dear MSA EXCO,

Keep things detailed and also have a bitesized version. Be in touch with previous EXCO and request them to share any previous hurdles. Make a document with all hurdles and solutions thereof. Share it with the next batch while requesting them to add on to the document. I sincerely hope that we do not keep getting stuck over the same steps and rather only keep climbing uphill. Previous EXCOs are in the back seat, but they are there to help you move forward, and will let you know of any shortcut or if there are any rocks to avoid.

The map is in your hands — keep on climbing and trust that Allah (swt) will give you strength.

I leave you with Surah Al-Asr in response to our “bullet-point,” “lots-to-do-but-little time,” culture:

By time,

Indeed, mankind is in loss.
Except for those who have believed, and done righteous deeds, and advised each other to truth, and advised each other to patience.” (Qur’an 103:1-3)

Sister Sa’diyya is an alumna of The University of Hong Kong and was instrumental in the formation of the MSA.

She lives life with physical ‘disabilities,’ where she is now a writer and speaker that focuses on uplifting souls into living a better tomorrow.

Updates of her work can be found on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sadiyyanesar