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New Shia Student Organization Establishes in Arizona State University

Faith-based community enrichment and educating the ASU community about Islamic values are at the forefront of the Al-Mahdi Association, an organization created last semester to establish a space for Shia Muslim students.

Shia is the second largest branch of Islam, accounting for approximately 15% of the total Muslim population in the world. The largest branch, Sunni, accounts for nearly 80% of the Muslim population worldwide.
Hajer Rahee, a senior studying molecular biosciences and biotechnology and anthropology, is the president and founder of the Al-Mahdi Association. Coming back to ASU following the pandemic, she felt somewhat alone and lacked a sense of community around her, so she started the club to cultivate a safe space for students like herself.
“I started the club to have a known Shia Muslim presence at ASU. We wanted to be able to bring the teachings of the people we follow and incorporate that more into ASU,” Rahee said. “We wanted to create an environment where we can share our values with other people and hold events to invite everyone, not just Shia Muslims.”
When founding the club last semester, Rahee found difficulty publicizing the message of the club and garnering members. However, this has only led Rahee to persevere, pushing past discouragement to find a community of friends to work with.
The club has allowed students to share their values with community events, such as passing out free sweets in front of the Memorial Union on Valentine’s Day to honor “the love of Imam Ali and Fatima Alzahraa.”
They hope to hold socials, game nights and larger events in the future to show people what Islam is and unite the ASU community.
Fatima Alassadi, a senior majoring in biological sciences, is the vice president of the club and joined to bring together an underrepresented community and help people understand Shia Muslims.
“The purpose of the club is to raise awareness of our sect in Islam and to close the dividing gap between Sunnis and Shias. Being a part of this club has taught me teamwork and patience, and has gifted me a community filled with love and kindness,” Alassadi said.
This sentiment of community is shared by nearly all club members. Semat Mahdi Abushaheen, a senior studying geological sciences, joined after seeing the club’s Instagram account. She is now in charge of outreach for the club, helping to find and recruit new members and plan events.
“The club has helped me with some personal crises,” Abushaheen said. “I had friends but at some point, I figured these friends weren’t good for me and didn’t share my values. The club helped me to find sisters who have positive energy and are supportive of me. We’re like family and I feel like each of us has our own creative thoughts, so when we combine them it makes the club perfect.”
Abushaheen says her favorite part of the club is the good deeds they do as a group. Service was a big part of her experience growing up, but she found it difficult to continue with the same sort of work after coming to the United States.
According to Abushaheen, having the ability to serve the community through the Al-Mahdi Association has helped her to stay in touch with her religious side.


About Ali Teymoori

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