It was mid-April and we were one month into the pandemic. Ramadan was a couple of weeks away and we had settled into the “New Normal,” but still learning every day of changes. The most recent one was schools, colleges and universities canceling graduation ceremonies. Many choosing to not to postpone but to cancel.
My wife received the email from her graduate program and was lamenting how she wouldn’t be able to wear the cap and gown she had gotten for the commencement.
Her phrasing made me think of the popular slang term “No Cap” that is used heavily these days, and I tweeted out what I thought was a funny joke.
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The tweet quickly got traction and was being shared as people resonated with it with people responding in various ways. One of these interactions seemed benign at first.
At the time, it didn’t go anywhere. Sara had left me with the thought but I didn’t act on it. Alhamdulillah, she did. Two weeks later, she messaged me. “Let’s do this,” she said. From there 2020 Muslim Virtual Graduation was born.
We realized there was an opportunity to connect with the amazing organizations in our communities that are focused on Muslim students and the unique challenges they face. Since then, we have partnered with Midwest Muslim United Student Association (MMUSA), MIST Chicago, and A Continuous Charity, all of which are Muslim organizations dedicated to serving high school and college students in different capacities, from on-campus services, to inter-school competitions, to interest-free financial aid.
The 2020 Muslim Virtual Graduation will be free to attend and live streamed May 30th at 5:15 pm CST and live streamed to MMUSA’s Facebook Page. Inshallah, Dr. Omar Suleiman, President of Yaqeen Institute, (and a 2020 graduate himself) will be giving a Commencement Speech. There will be entertainment at the end.
It is open to high school, university, and professional grads, all around the world.
Graduates who would like to be recognized can submit their slide with their name, degree, school and photo (optional), and a dedication or message to the following URL: bit.ly/vmggrads. The deadline to register is the of the day Friday, May 29th, 2020.
Sara had previously recognized the merit of online organizing and resources, and compiled a master list of Islamic lectures and seminars that had been recently being streamed online due to the pandemic. “Online events cannot totally replace the spirit of in-person gatherings. But I think organizing during this time requires a shift in perspective: what challenges do we face when organizing in-person, and how can we take advantage of the new opportunity we do have now since those are gone? This is what inspired us to go global with the event,” says Sara.
Alhamdulilah, we already have graduates from the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore registered!
MAJOR UPDATE! We have partnered with @mistchicago and opened 2020 MVG to all Grads, college and High School! Allhamdulilah we are even more excited by this opportunity and have extended the deadline to Friday May 29th! Spread the word! Open worldwide and streamed to FB page! pic.twitter.com/ttaqStbFoO
— MMUSA (@MidwestMsa) May 27, 2020
Ziyad Dadabhoy is a Civil Engineer living in Chicago, IL and Co-Founder of Midwest Muslim United Student Association (MMUSA). He has also been a part of AlMaghrib Chicago and MIST Chicago.
Sara Alattar is a student of Islamic Sciences, upcoming medical student, and Director of Operations at thinkbites.org, a new multimedia Islamic publication for personal development.
A Continuous Charity (acceducate.org) is the first and only national Muslim 501(c)3 that provides interest-free loans and financial mentoring for higher education.
The Midwest Muslim United Student Association (midwestmsa.com) is dedicated to connecting college Muslim Student Associations (MSA’s) from around the Midwest for collaborative events and projects.
Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (mistchicago.org) is a non-profit that hosts annual educational and creative competitions for high school students across the US, and in 19 regions across the world.
Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research (yaqeeninstitute.org) is a non-profit research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.