Bronx Science Muslim Students’ Association Moves to MIST Nationals!

The Bronx Science MSA, one of the largest clubs at Bronx Science, participates in an interscholastic tournament every year for regionals. This is their second year in a row moving to Nationals.


Provided by MIST New York

Here is a photo of the Bronx Science Brigade placing second at MIST New York Regionals.

February 24th, 2023

It’s barely 7 A.M., the sun has just started to grace the sky, and the city is starting to wake up. 

Although New York City public schools are on their midwinter break, unique groups of teenagers from all over the city are making their way through the MTA bright and early in the morning. Each one is dressed their very best, backs-hunched over notebooks and papers, lips silently reciting and memorizing speeches.

Here is the BxSci Brigade walking into Townsend Harris High School on Day 1. (Provided by MIST New York)

All the way in Flushing, Queens lies one of the top high schools in New York City, Townsend Harris High School. It is open on this day despite the city-wide break, and around its gates stand crowds of students in matching outfits. Streaks of red, blue, green, and beige are grouped together as students start filling inside the school. 

This was Day 1 of the three-day annual New York City Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) Regionals, where the different Muslim Student Associations (MSA) of high schools all over New York City come to compete with each other on various cultural topics. 

Muslim Interscholastic Tournament

There are 15 regional competitions held all over the United States and Toronto, with a national competition held in the summer of that year. The students participate under team names, in events ranging from debates to essays to artwork to Quran recitation. There are six different categories of events: Arts (2D art, 3D art, fashion design), Knowledge and Quran (knowledge and recitation), Writing and Oratory (spoken word, poetry, short fiction), Bracket Competitions (debate, Math Olympics, extemporaneous speaking), Group Competitions (humanitarian service, science fair, business venture), and Region Specific Competitions (basketball, culinary arts, scrapbooks, chess). After being ranked during the award ceremony, the students at the very top qualify to compete at the National level.

MIST is a forum for high school students to go head-to-head against their own teammates and students from schools all over New York City, namely Bronx Science, Townsend Harris, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and Francis Lewis. 

Overall, the organization provides a chance for students to relate to one another and grow with peers their age who they share similar interests and faith with. MIST is a wonderful opportunity for Muslim and non-Muslim students to come together in friendship and overcome stereotypes.

Every year, there is a new theme that serves as a guideline for all the competitions involved. The artwork, the speeches, the debates — everything will be inspired by the theme of the year. 

This year, the theme was “The Weight of Power: Ruling the Self to Serve Others.”

As MIST states on their website, “You hold tremendous power, even if you may not be aware of it. You have the power to perceive your environment and to act upon it by making decisions that can generate many outcomes. 

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, encouraged us to channel the power we hold, for ‘each and every one of you is like a shepherd, and each and every one of you has a flock to take care of, and each and every single one of you will be held responsible’ (Bukhari).

Being thrust into a position to lead, by choice or by fate, is a heavy responsibility to bear as you become accountable to those around you. In such a position, you must be critically aware of yourself and your intentions. If not, your service can quickly become self-serving, rather than serving others. 

Both Pharaoh and Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, made conscious decisions to lead their people towards arduous goals. If you were allowed to be in a similar position, how would you act? To ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ starts with you, navigating your doubts, desires, and dreams, and enriching the lives of yourself and others in your home and in your community. 

Whom do you serve and why? How will you check yourself and your intentions? Where do you draw the line? Are you willing to sacrifice your desires, and if so, for what? How do you manage the stress of responsibility? What will be the legacy you leave behind?

This excerpt showcases the important lessons with which the organization tries to inspire students. They choose to combine Islamic values with real life conflicts in order to impose thought-provoking questions as their competitors work on their admissions for their competitions. Students will reflect on their lives and the impact they are leaving on the world while they create artwork or raise money for charities across the world. 

Hassanat Ishola ’25, the Treasurer and PR Manager of Bronx Science’s MSA said, “As a board member, the weight of power to me is, being a source of inspiration. Since we are the face of MSA, whatever we say is a reflection of MSA. It is slightly overbearing but as time passes, you learn to manage it. People have power and they fumble it and that will have detrimental effects. If I say something to a friend, and someone overhears it, it can be taken out of context and it can be a bad image of who I am and what I represent.”

In this day and age, with stereotyping becoming commonplace all over the world, teenagers have a hard time figuring out their individual identity and place in society. Cultural groups and organizations provide opportunities for students to partake in fun or character-building events as a community and to find a sense of belonging.

Reditha Yousafo ’25, the Events Coordinator of MSA, sheds light on this. She said, “Having a lot of muslims in one place is really comforting because in most of my classes I’m the only hijabi there. There might be one or two muslims but I’m the only one who wears the hijab. When I’m in MSA, I see so many girls wearing the hijab. When we all talk together we can relate to things we’ve experienced in life like our fears, our values, and our interests. It’s really safe and comforting for me to see people like me in a school space.”

Shad Talha ’23, the Secretary of MSA, adds on. “People might be ridiculed for praying because it’s out of the norm for many people. MSA provides a sense of community for people whenever they’re feeling excluded,” she said.

Representation in our schools and in our city can help our society evolve, and help our younger generations grow up instilled with confidence and self-assurance.

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the Bronx High School of Science gives the Muslim students at this school a safe space, and non-Muslim students an opportunity to learn about the various cultures their peers belong to. 

Bronx Science MSA holds meetings every Wednesday in room 319 at 3:45 PM, and holds “Chill Days” on Fridays where the club gets together to socialize at parks and restaurants. 

The board of MSA makes it a point to create an inviting and inclusive environment to build a community based on Islamic ideals. 

Zabed Iqbal ’23, the Vice President of Bronx Science MSA, said, “You go to have a community behind you and you ground yourself in Islam, because those principles of that religion, my religion, I think have a good ethical and moral understanding and ideals which I value. It’s a club that is a community where you can make friends and have fun. During my ninth grde year, MSA really helped me grow to become myself.”

Bronx Science MSA starts every meeting with the entire club greeting one another with “Assalamualaikum” (peace be upon you), a customary greeting done upon one another by Muslims all over the world. Their meetings are gender separated to follow the modesty customs of Islam, but most of their meetings are based around this structure to create a fun and inclusive atmosphere. Most meetings are structured as competitions between “brothers and sisters” or “boys vs girls” during meetings such as trivia night. The MSA board tries to emphasize the fact that being religious does not mean that 0you are “boring” or “extreme.” Rather, you can be yourself and still have religious knowledge, pray, and be faithful to a god. Most of all, Bronx Science MSA promotes kindness above all, following one of the teachings of Islam. 

Cultural clubs such as MSA are about connecting a culture that is prominent in schools such as Bronx Science and around the world. There are many non-Muslims who want to learn more about Islam, to the point where there are often many non-Muslim students participating in Bronx Science MSA meetings and in MIST. 

MIST is a wonderful opportunity that enhances MSA clubs all over the city and the country, and the overall teenager experience. It is crucial to have representation at a young age to have self-assurance and confidence in one’s identity in order to become the leaders of the next generation.

Humairah Chowdhury ’23, the President of MSA, provides insight. “MIST stands for unity and community and loyalty for one another. Even if you’re in competition with one another. When we were competing, the competitors were testing one another and helping each other be prepared moments before the competition, saying ‘You had a mistake here’, and ‘You had a mistake there’. MIST is generally about community and being together and loyal to your fellow competitors. Sometimes we make group duas before competitions because we’re all nervous. We’re all teenagers and we all think the same, it just brings everyone together,” she said. 

Duas are prayers, often made when one is feeling troubled or wants to seek guidance.

“We were all so close during competitions. Despite the fact that we were going against each other, if a judge did not clarify something and a team did badly because of it, other teams would speak up for them saying that it wasn’t fair,” Ishola ’25 added. 

The values that this interscholastic tournament stands for are religion, community, hard work, respect, perseverance, unity, and integrity. All these values are learning blocks to build character and wonderful opportunities for teenage members to learn from and feel supported. 

Ms. Erika Rubio, a Spanish teacher at Bronx Science and MSA advisor, said, “They’re very respectful. The group they have is very instructional. They have fun, they learn about their religion. I think it’s very important what they have with the ‘sisters and the brothers’, how they speak about their fears and things that they’re going through right now, and how they come together and share with the entire group.”

When asked about Rubio’s involvement in Bronx Science MSA, Iqbal ’23 said, “She’s so integral. She makes what MSA is, and what MIST is. Without her, MSA would just be MS. Muslim Students, no association.”

“Brigade is family,” Chowdhury ’23 said with finality.

This year, Bronx Science Brigade placed second place in MIST NY Regionals, and out of 52 members, 48 will be moving on to the National level in the summer. 

Tasnim Maisha ’25, reflecting on her cherished memories in MIST, said, “From the ups and downs, such as running after spirit points, to the preparation of group comps before interviews to the endless messages in that one tiny messenger group chat filled with many members, it was all a journey that I will cherish forever.”

Cultural clubs such as MSA are about connecting a culture that is prominent in schools such as Bronx Science and around the world.