How MYNA Changed My Life

What is MYNA? Like, what is MYNA really? The definition is different for each MYNA youth, staff, or alumni. Because it impacts everyone in a different way. That is what I always say at any camp or event I attend for MYNA. MYNA creeps up and surprises you. What you expect to get out of MYNA is something completely different then what you actually achieve. This past summer camp, at one of our bonfires, I decided to share how MYNA has impacted me today.

I live in a huge Muslim community in Northern Virginia. My masjid reaches 10,000 Muslim families, and there is constantly youth programs for Muslims in my area. I went to an Islamic school for all of elementary and middle school. I knew everyone there, and they knew me. I thought I was on the top of the world. My father always told me, “Make sure you always have a great group of Muslim friends to keep you close to your deen.” I felt that if I was at an Islamic school, I already had those friends. But just because you have Muslim friends, doesn’t mean that they push you to be a better Muslim all the time.

The environment at this school was one that really pushed me away. Kids thought not reading their Quran daily was cool, memorizing hadiths were tedious, and made any duaas, prayer, or sunnah as work for school, not for the Akhira. I started to not do my memorization, didn’t practice my Arabic, and started to slump at any religious commitments I had. I did not realize how much would I regret it to this day. I started to not enjoy my school. I realized I didn’t have anyone to relate to or much talk to. My father is the Imam of my community, and my mother was the principle of my school, and children believed me to be a snitch, and too conservative. They couldn’t be more wrong. I started to forget about faith, and instead of trying to please Allah, I started to try to please my fellow classmates. When that didn’t work, I started to spiral down. I didn't talk to people at school, at home, and would spend my time hating myself. I had nothing. I don't trust people. Anytime I would try to tell someone something, they would either go and repeat it, or dismiss it. I would never confide in people, including my parents. My close friends who I still have today couldn’t crack me either, and I was really alone. I started to go to therapy, because I couldn’t handle it anymore. It was a tough time.

When I went to highschool, I told my older sister, “I am done with having Muslim friends. I want to make non-muslim friends.”

She turned to me and said, “That won’t last long.”

I didn’t believe her. I got to highschool, and made friends. Most of them are still my friends today. But these friends weren’t pushing me to pray, to read quran, and to keep close to my deen. I started to forget to pray at school, never read quran at home, and started to drift away from the small strand of faith I had.

A month before winter break, my sister came to me and asked if I could be on the PR subcommittee for the MYNA Winter Camp she was chair for. I said okay, even though I didn’t really understand what I had to do. I got on one call, and was told to just contacted masjids. I did it, and didn’t really pay much attention to it.

MYNA camp came. On the last day, the committee was told to stand at the front of the main hall. There was my older sister and her friends. We clapped for them. I knew the long calls my sister had, and the work she put into making that camp a success. She deserved all the praise in the world. Next, I heard Br. Fiyyaz ask all the subcommittee members to rise. People stood up from in the crowd. I saw Mona, my sister, point to me and motion for me to rise. I then remembered the miniscule amount of work I did and was confused of why it needed to be recognized. I stood up anyway. People started to clap and started to to smile. I mean, who doesn’t love praise. And then started to make duaa for “all of the hard work these amazing leaders put in to get this camp to where it is.”

That did it for me.

I started to cry.

And cry and cry.

At that very moment I knew I wanted to do this again. I wanted to make these people as proud as they looked in that moment. I applied for REC that year, and became the Mid-Atlantic PR Chair. I started to have Islam in my life again. I wasn’t just a week at MYNA and forget everything. It was a yearlong commitment that I took pride in. I worked hard in that position, and managed to do PR for MYNA Convention that year. Now, I work hard to give other kids the chance to be on MYNA leadership, and hype it up every camp. Because a little bit of work can make you feel like you are worth it. People believe in me at MYNA. I have been able to make the true Muslim friends that my dad told me about. From online halaqas to book clubs, to dinners at Silver Diner for a post-camp evaluation meeting. From fireworks on the tops of buildings to popcorn duas at bonfires. From snowball fights, to fajr wake ups. MYNA has been there for me these past three years. Right now I am a junior in highschool, the Mid-Atlantic REC Chair, a girl with great friends, great committee members, and a great life alhamdulillah. I couldn’t be more blessed.

So, everyone has a different way MYNA has impacted them. That just shows how great a organization is. If it can impact people in so many ways, it is an organization that should carry on for generations.