Glasgow University Muslim Students Association
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|Founder||Dr Mohammed Aslam Ibrahim|
|Affiliations||Glasgow University Students' Representative Council Federation of Student Islamic Societies|
The Glasgow University Muslim Students Association (GUMSA, pronounced gəmsjɑː) is an Islamic society aimed at catering for Muslim and non-Muslim students at the University of Glasgow. GUMSA was established in 1968, it is one of the largest societies on the university campus as well as being the oldest Muslim student organisation in Scotland and one of the oldest in the United Kingdom.
- 1 History
- 2 Activities
- 3 Discount card
- 4 Awards
- 5 Past Presidents and committee members of GUMSA
- 6 External links
- 7 References
1968–1973 (Founding Fathers)
The society was founded on 11 November 1968 under the guidance of Professor Salah Shahin from Paisley University (now University of the West of Scotland) who approached a group of youth at the University of Glasgow informing them that they should form a student organisation for Muslim youth at the University. On 11 November 1968, the inaugural meeting for the society took place in the Glasgow University Union extension. The meeting was advertised in the Glasgow University Guardian. The extract emphasised the inclusivity and openness of the society:
The inaugural meeting of the Glasgow University Muslims Students' Association was held in the Union Extension on 11/11/68.
The Association aims to provide a meeting place for the many Muslim Students at Glasgow University, from different parts of the world and also a forum for discussion for discussion with other interested student bodies at Glasgow, and thereby help to foster a better spirit of understanding. The Association, therefore, cordially extends an invitation to ALL students to their weekly meetings.
For further information please contact:
Mr Mohamed Aslam Ebrahim,
Glasgow University Students' Association c/o Mens' Union" 
The group of individuals kept GUMSA running for its first four years, but elections did not take place. Since social media and e-mail had yet to come into existence, publicity was achieved through the medium of hand written flyers which were posted across campus. The group also ventured between different faculties inviting all to attend the GUMSA meetings.
Meetings would take place on a monthly basis, with roughly 20-25 individuals attending and different speakers being invited to speak. The University granted a space for meetings, but contact was limited to this. The society was met with no resistance and had regular interfaith contact, particularly with the Christian Union. "Iftaars" for the breaking of fast were held for the community in Ramadhan. With members at the time being unaware of funding available, they would bring home-cooked food for these events.
In the same year of founding, the first Scottish President of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies was elected - Aziz Khan - who was also a GUMSA member.
In 1971, GUMSA members helped to form their sister society at the University of Strathclyde, which would go on to be known as The Strathclyde University Muslim Students Association (SUMSA).
Following the departure of the founding members of the society, the organisation began to dwindle in size. Whilst substantial efforts were made to keep it running, the society underwent periods of inactivity, notably in 1973 following the departure of the founder- Dr Ibrahim and again in 1976 following the departure of the President of 3 years, Dr Mahmoud Akhtar.
Little information is available for this period of time, with speculation that some years may have had little to no activity. it is known that in 1978 the President and secretary of the society were Mohammed El-Mahdi and Riaz Ahmed respectively.
Following this, from 1978 - 1987 it is known that the society was run by predominantly by students who had come from Malaysia to seek an education at the University. Unfortunately the current society has been unable to reach out to these members, despite numerous attempts.
In 1987, leadership came from an individual who has gone on to become a prominent member of the academic circle in Malaysia - Prof Dr Mohd Tengku Sembok.
The following year would bring a change which had never before been seen in the history of GUMSA; as grants given by the Malaysian government to study overseas began to run dry, the society would be overtaken by individuals who were both born and brought up in the city of Glasgow. This led to the dawn of a new era in the society; individuals who were brought up in the city and considered Scotland their home were more comfortable challenging societal norms and standing face to face with the status quo. As such the first recorded GUMSA member to run for elections in the Students' representative council was elected - Dr Majid Anwar - the President of GUMSA at the time, was elected as the representative for the faculty of medicine.
Despite the new energy the organisation had found, its sister organisation - SUMSA - was much larger than it, and it was consistently struggling to gain prominence in light of the much more popular 'GUAsia' to which most individuals of South Asian descent would favour over GUMSA.
The society had membership cards (pictured is the card of the treasurer at the time - Shahed Quayum).
The society co-wrote a fortnightly newsletter with its sister organisation from Strathclyde University - SUMSA.
In 1990, under the new leadership of Zaid Akhtar, the society managed for the first time to allow halal food to be served in the University canteen. For a variety of reasons, the society had little to no female involvement at this time.
Whilst there was no pause in GUMSA's running between the academic session of '90 and '91, there was no communication between the individuals who took over the society in this period and those who preceded them. The society at this time was run by 2 individuals who had previously never been to a GUMSA event - Ruzwan Mohammed and Zahid Hanif. With little to work with, the society had to be started from scratch.
The society made hoodies for the first time (see picture of "Shaykh Ruzwan Mohammed" in photo gallery below), but as was common, had little engagement when compared with the Pakistani society of the time. Ruzwan, who served as the "chairman" at the time, made a concerted effort to keep in contact with the society following his departure from the University and was delivering lectures for the society as little as 7 years later in 1999. He continues to hold a yearly class for the society.
Following a short period of inactivity GUMSA would soon be taken over by some of the most active members it has seen to date. The society again had to start from scratch with initial meetings taking place in a mosque off the University campus on Oakfield Avenue. Many large events were held by the committee in this period such as in the University Bute hall with renowned nasheed artist yusuf islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and ground breaking lectures "Islam: Oppressed or Oppressive" and a unique play titled "The return of Salahudeen" featuring prominent figures in the Muslim community. Prominent Muslim speaker Imam Siraj Wahhaj also visited the society to speak, the event took place on the Glasgow University Campus in the Wellington Church. The era saw the society make a website for its first time – a feat which was a rare achievement for the time period- Imran Kausar learned how to code and apply website design language in the University's first (and only) computer lab in order to bring the site to life.
Following a trip to London for the "Islam and Science" conference which was delivered by Prof Salim Al-Hassani, a crash led to the minibus (which was hired from the Students' Representative Council) being written off. The society was not allowed to hire the minibus for a number of years following this incident.
The period also became one of the most politically active the society has seen. Many members ran for positions within the Student's Representative Council (SRC) - particularly for positions within the council executive committee, below is a summary:
|Position||Name of Candidate||Result|
|1995||Vice-President International||Zakariyya Abdel-Hady||Won|
|Vice-President University Affairs||Azhar Ali||Lost|
|Director of Publications||Imran Ali||Lost|
|1996||Vice-President International||Ahmed Abdel-Hady||Won|
|Vice-President University Affairs||Imran Kausar||Won|
|Senior Vice-President||Zakariyya Abdel-Hady||Lost|
|1997||Senior Vice-President||Ahmed Abdel-Hady||Lost|
Around this time period GUMSA helped another of its sister organisations to form - CUMSA (Caledonian University Muslim Students Organisation), which would grow into another prominent and active society within Muslim community of Glasgow.
The general secretary of the society was Dr Azhar Ali, during these years Dr Ali also went on to revive the FOSIS Scotland branch. Since his University days he has gone on to become the executive director of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in America).
The period was also the first time in which the society held an "Islam Awareness Week", which it continues to hold to this day. The week involved interfaith events which were amongst the first being held in Scotland at that time.
2003 saw the first big change in the logo used by the organisation. A GUMSA member - Maarya Sharif sketched a design of someone in "sujood" or 'prostration' as Muslims do when they carry out their 5 daily prayers. The logo was then uploaded to a digital format from the sketch by then GUMSA member Omar Tufayl. This iteration of the logo was used 2003-2016, yet the concept of a Muslim in prostration continued onto the next logo version.
On Friday 6th July 2007 Aijaz Mohammad (who was President in 2003) won the "Male Inspirational Young Scottish Muslim Award" at the inaugural "Young Scottish Muslims Conference & Awards". He was awarded for his work in numerous organisations, among them his role as "chair of GUMSA."
In 2003, the society was once again started, almost from scratch due to lack of proper progression planning.
In 2005 GUMSA saw President Humza Yousaf MSP take lead of the society. He has since gone on to become the Minister for Europe and Development, Minister for Transport and the Islands and Cabinet Secretary for Justice.
The first 'Interfaith Dinner' was also held, one of GUMSA's biggest events which attracts people of all faith and none to come together and enjoy a free 3 course meal courtesy of the society. The event has become of the society's annual calendar during "Islam Awareness Week."
Reverend Leith Fisher, who was formerly the minister at the nearby Wellington Church, passed away whilst fundraising for GUMSA in these years. The cause was raising funds for Palestine.
In 2006 the society started focusing more on charitable activities, in particular "Water Wells Week" for which the organisation helped fund water wells in impoverished areas in the developing world. The society raised a total fo £10,000 in just one week.
The society held their first 'outdoor' prayer near the library during "Islam Awareness Week" as part of an ongoing project to make people more aware of Muslim forms of worship.
In 2007 the 'Interfaith room' was introduced as the first full time place of worship on the University campus, after needs were seen for it by the interfaith chaplain at the time, Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie.
In 2008 whilst Ahmed Shaikh was President, the society saw a number of improvements for Muslim students on campus.
The first library prayer room was established in this time period on level 3 of the main Glasgow University library. Prior to this students were praying in corridors and in stairwells which led to the University Chaplain Reverend Stuart Macquarrie commissioning the new space. The space has since moved many times within the building and has also seen the introduction of complimentary ablution facilities. Discussions also began for a space in the dental school which would be made 3 years later.
The society also hosted the first year round Islamic course in Glasgow - iSyllabus, the course was taught by two of the UK's most prominent Islamic thinkers - Shaykh Ruzwan Mohammed (who was President of GUMSA in 1990) and Shaykh Amer Jamil (who had been the Vice-President of SUMSA) in the University's Boyd Orr Building. The course has been run in the University every year since, and has spread to other universities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Dundee, Edinburgh and has plans to move to London.
The University also started supplying halal chicken in official cafeterias across campus, this has vastly improved ease of consumption for Muslim students on campus.
The academic year 2008/09 also saw the society bring "Charity Week" (see "Activities") to Scotland. In this period over [insert amount] was raised for orphans and needy children across the world. GUMSA has participated in Charity Week every year since.
Freshers' week takes place a week before classes begin at the University of Glasgow. GUMSA traditionally hosts daily activities Monday - Saturday during this week including the following set-up:
- Monday - Meet and Greet Event
- Tuesday - BBQ in Kelvingrove Park
- Wednesday - Social Event
- Thursday - Freshers' Dinner
- Friday - Friday Prayers & Tour of the City
- Saturday - Day trip to local Scottish Attraction
Every year in October, GUMSA participates in Charity week with Islamic societies (also known as 'isoc/isocs') across the UK to raise money for orphans and needy children. Activities change on a yearly basis, however in previous years these have included football tournaments, bake sales, speaker events as well as dinners. During this week GUMSA raised over £4,015.11 in 2017.
Islam Awareness Week
Islam Awareness Week normally takes place in February with an aim of uniting the interfaith community of Glasgow University Campus. There is a stall daily during the week outside the Glasgow University Library for individuals to ask questions about Islam and find out more about the faith. The following events are also regular occurrences:
- Monday to Thursday - Stall
- Wednesday - Topical panel discussion
- Thursday - Interfaith Dinner
- Friday - Open Friday Prayer
Annual Interfaith Dinner
The GUMSA Annual Interfaith Dinner has grown in repute in recent years, attracting hundreds of students of all faiths and none to a free three-course meal. In 2017, the dinner attracted Glasgow University Rector and prominent human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar as a keynote speaker. The dinner has helped developed bonds and has been praised for its role in interfaith dialogue on campus.
Islam Awareness Week flag
In 2017 for the first time the University flew the GUMSA flag as a tribute to the celebrations taking place during Islam Awareness week. The move was met with praise across campus.
Believe and Do Good Month
In the month of February GUMSA participates in a national campaign in collaboration with FOSIS and Muslim Association of Britain which instructs its members to partake in activities that help the community and in general 'do good' based on the Quranic verse "Except those who Believe and Do Good Righteous Deeds. Theirs is a never ending reward" - Quran [95:6]. Previous activities have included graveyard clean ups and community blood donations. A particularly popular activity was the donation of knitted hats to a local hospital ward for newborns in 2018.
Annual Ramadan Iftaar
GUMSA holds a yearly iftaar during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The iftaar has built up notoriety in recent years and has become the largest gathering of Muslims for the breaking of their fast in Scotland. The event is free to attend and is not limited to students or GUMSA members, with general members of the public outnumbering students. The leftover food is often donated to a local homeless shelter. In 2017 the event was attended by around 400 people. (See picture).
The society organises weekly speakers (khateebs) for the congregational prayer every Friday. Two prayer timings are provided so that students with class can have a larger chance of being able to attend. Notable regular speakers for the sermons include Ustadh Shoket Aksi, Shaykh Sohaib Saeed, Shaykh Amin Buxton Ustadh Zubeir Alvi, Ustadh Ahmed Shaikh & Shaykh Amer Jamil.
Educational and religious activities
GUMSA is involved in various other activities throughout the year. The society hosts "circles" weekly for individuals to come and speak about their faith, but also as an outlet away from University life. In recent years the society has also hosted reputable Muslim scholars from across the globe. Most notably these have included Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, Mufti Ismail ibn Musa Menk, Imam Siraj Wahhaj and Shaykh Ruzwan Mohammed. The latter hosts a revision lecture series at GUMSA on a yearly basis. The society also hosts social events on a monthly basis ranging from tea nights to ice skating.
GUMSA delivers free lectures and workshops for the subjects of medicine, dentistry engineering and certain science subjects during exam times (typically December and May). The society has built a reputation on campus for its proficient and easy to follow lectures.
In 2015 the Society released its "halal discount card." which was one of the first of its kind in the UK. GUMSA has since presented at numerous national conferences showing other societies how the card has been implemented and can be used as a means of both attracting individuals to the organisation as well as a means of revenue and income. The number of businesses taking part in the discount card scheme has increased exponentially from the first card having just 16 businesses to the current iteration which boasts over 50 halal outlets across Glasgow.
Over the years the society has won a number of different awards from various bodies including, but not limited to, the following:
|FOSIS National Awards||"Best Networking and Collaboration"||Won|
|Students' representative council Volunteering, Clubs & Societies Awards||"Best event" - Charity week||Nominated|
|"Most dedicated committee member"||Nominated|
|FOSIS Scotland Awards||"Best Socials" Award||Won|
|"Best Head sister" - Niha Mahmood||Won|
|Students' representative council Volunteering, Clubs & Societies Awards||"Raising and Giving Award"||Won|
|FOSIS Scotland Awards||"Best Socials" Award||Won|
|Students' representative council Volunteering, Clubs & Societies Awards||"Exceptional Club/Society Event" - Interfaith Dinner||Won|
|FOSIS National Awards||"Academic" Award||Won|
|FOSIS Scotland Awards||"Academia" Award||Won|
|"Best President" - Moiz Shah||Nominated|
|"Best newcomers" - Loubna Kraria & Fatemeh Nokhbatolfoghaihai||Nominated|
|"Most dedicated brother" - Waqas Hussain||Won|
|FOSIS National Awards||"Political" Award||Won|
|"Isoc of the year" Award||Nominated|
|"Most Promising" Isoc||Nominated|
|"Best Isoc committee member" - Haiqa Jamil||Nominated|
|FOSIS Scotland Awards||"Political" Award||Won|
|"Isoc of the year" Award||Won|
|FOSIS Scotland Awards||"Political" Award||Won|
|"Isoc of the year" Award||Nominated|
|FOSIS National Awards||"Best Creative act of Good" Award||Won|
Past Presidents and committee members of GUMSA
|Year||President||Subject of Study||Current field|
|1968–1969||Dr Mohammed Aslam Ibrahim (pictured) ||Medicine||Consultant Urologist|
|1969–1970||Dr Mohammed Aslam Ibrahim||Medicine||Consultant Urologist|
|1970–1971||Dr Mohammed Aslam Ibrahim||Medicine||Consultant Urologist|
|1971–1972||Dr Mohammed Aslam Ibrahim||Medicine||Consultant Urologist|
|1973–1974||Dr Mahmmoud Akhtar||Medicine||General Practitioner|
|1974–1975||Dr Mahmmoud Akhtar||Medicine||General Practitioner|
|1975–1976||Dr Mahmmoud Akhtar||Medicine||General Practitioner|
|1987–1988||Dr Majid Anwar (pictured)||Medicine||CEO of picsel Co & modo inc|
|1988–1989||Dr Majid Anwar||Medicine||CEO of picsel Co & modo inc|
|1989–1990||Prof Dr Tengku Sembok (pictured)||PhD in Computer Science||Dean at Faculty of Information and Technology
Founder and former President at PECAMP
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic & Internationalisation) at National Defense University, Malaysia
senior professor in Computer Science at International Islamic University of Malaysia
|1990–1991||Zaid Akhtar (pictured)||Electrical &
|Vice President-Sales at Computer Services, Inc.|
|1991–1992||Shaykh Ruzwan Mohammed
|Geopolitics & Arabic||Founder at iSyllabus inc and Solas foundationIslamic Scholar|
|1994–1995||Prof Zakariyya Abdel Hady||PhD in Islamic Studies||Associate Professor of Islamic Thought & Culture,
Department of Dawa & Islamic Culture,
College of Sharia & Islamic Studies,
|1995–1996||Prof Zakariyya Abdel Hady||PhD in Islamic Studies|
|1996–1997||Prof Zakariyya Abdel Hady||PhD in Islamic Studies|
|1997–1998||Dr Imran Ali (pictured)||Medicine||Consultant Psychiatrist|
|1998–1999||Omar Shaikh (pictured)||Accountancy & Finance||Chartered Accountant & Islamic Finance Council
Went on to become FOSIS Scotland Chair
|1999–2000||Dr Amanullah Durrani||Medicine||Consultant Psychiatrist|
|2000–2001||Osama Saeed||Head of Marketing & PR Relations at Al Jazeera Network|
|2001–2002||Adeel Ibrahim||Sports Science||Head of Interpal Scotland|
|2002–2003||Wajid Bashir||Accountancy||Chartered Accountant|
|2003–2004||Wajid Bashir/Aijaz Mohammad||Accountancy||Chartered Accountant|
|2004–2005||Mohammed Osman||Mechanical Engineering||n/a|
|2005–2006||Humza Yousaf MSP (pictured)||Politics||Transport Minister for Scottish Government|
|2006–2007||Dr Fadil Latheef||Medicine||Doctor|
|2007–2008||Nadeem Hamid||Business Management||n/a|
|2008–2009||Ahmed Shaikh (pictured)||Dentistry||Dentist
International lead for "Charity Week"
Went on to become FOSIS Scotland Chair
|2010–2011||Dawud Duncan (pictured)||MA Religious & Philosophical Education||Secondary Education teacher of RMPS|
|2011–2012||Dawud Duncan||MA Religious & Philosophical Education||Secondary Education teacher of RMPS|
|2012–2013||Aaysha Anwar (pictured)||Law||Lawyer|
|2014–2015||Anwar Abushaala||Civil Engineering||Civil Engineer
Went on to become FOSIS Scotland Chair
|2016–2017||Waqas Hussain||Life Sciences||Medical Student
Went on to become FOSIS Scotland Chair
|2017–2018||Usman Abdul-Quayum||Medicine||Medical Student
Committee Members (Past to Present)
The following is what has survived through various archives of GUMSA members present in different years.
The list takes from sources such as meetings minutes and University archives, but is by no means exhaustive.
|membership||Dr Rahila Bhatti|
|Dr Rashid Ahmed|
|Dr Ashfaq Ali|
|1973–1976||membership||Dr Ashfaq Ali|
|Dr Rashid Ahmed|
|Abdulhamid M. Irhouma|
|Muhammad Kamal Ahmad|
|website & logo design||Dr Imran Kausar|
|Secretary||Dr Azhar Ali|
|Dr Javid Gill|
|Shaykh Amer Jamil|
|Mehmet Ali Sozen|
|Dr Imran Kaussar|
|Dr Imran Ali|
|Dr Suzanne Al-Ghammal|
|Head Sister||Sadaf Maqbool|
|Deputy Head Sister||Shazia Shaikh|
|1998-2000||Head Sister||Fatima Betalgui|
|2001–2002||Head Sister||Myzoon Ali|
|2002–2003||Head Sister||Myzoon Ali|
|logo designer||Maarya Sharif (paper)|
|Omar Tufayl (digital)|
|2003–2004||Vice-President||Dr Fahad Sheikh|
|Head Sister||Myzoon Ali|
|Head of interfaith work||Humza Yousaf|
|2006–2007||Head Sister||Nasiha Mohammed|
|Head brother||Humza Yousaf|
|2007–2008||Head Sister||Nasiha Mohammed|
|Charity Co-Ordinator||Ahmed Shaikh|
|FOSIS representative||Safa Yousaf|
|Publicity & Design||Nida Ilahi|
|PR & Web design||Maida|
|Ramadan & Eid Programme||Ammad Mahmood|
|Islam Awareness Week||Safa Yousaf|
|Reunion & Fundraising||Aminah R.|
|Zed Kay Qureshi|
|Dr Nazim Ghouri|
|FOSIS Co-Ordinator||Amina Iqbal|
|Charity Week representative|
|Sisters Social Convener||Aman Adyeeri|
|2013–2014||Vice-President Sister||Niha Mahmood|
|Vice-President Brother||Anwar Abushaala|
|General Secretary||Niha Mahmood|
|2014–2015||Vice-President Sister||Niha Mahmood|
|Vice-President Brother||Ahmed Kamara|
|General Secretary||Maryam Abbas|
|Sisters Social Convener||Iqra Rafiq|
|Brother Social Convener||Waqas Hussain|
|2015–2016||Vice-President Sister||Maryam Abbas|
|Vice-President Brother||Waqas Hussain|
|Treasurer incoming||Usman Abdul-Quayum|
|Treasurer outgoing||Iqra Iqbal|
|General Secretary||Rafa Abushaala|
|Sisters Social Convener||Nimra Zaida|
|Brothers Social Convener||Moyad Safadi|
|2016–2017||Vice-President Sister||Haiqa Jamil|
|Vice-President Brother||Ghulam Nawaz|
|General Secretary||Loubna Kraria|
|PR & Marketing Officer||Rabeah Alam|
|Sisters Social Convener||Hannah Kerfoot|
|Brothers Social Convener||Fuhad Ahmed|
|2017–2018||Vice-President Sister||Amna Zahid|
|Vice-President Brother||Jowad Farooq|
|General Secretary||Mubeen Zafar|
|PR & Marketing Officer||Rabiya Hamid|
|Education & Development Officer||Tayyabah Sardar|
|Sisters Social Convener||Aaisha Khan|
|Brothers Social Convener||Maaz Talha|
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