This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of Muslim Student Movement in Australia and FAMSY will be marking it with a celebration planned for Sunday 30 November 2014 in Melbourne.

It all started with the formation of the first Muslim Students Association in Brisbane namely the Muslim Student Association (MSAQ) in 1964, then the nation body, the Australian Federation of Muslim Students Association (AFMSA), renamed Ittehad for a while and finally Federation of Australia n Muslim Students & Youth, Famsy.

MSAQ inspired the formation of other MSAs across Australia in Adelaide, Armidale, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle. In 1968 the six pioneering MSAs formed a national body known as the Australian Federation of Muslim Student Associations (AFMSA). By 1981, AFMSA comprised of 13 university based MSAs across Australia.

‘The main aim for MSA and the national branch was to educate about Islam, provide services to Muslim students at the campus, and show to the society that we are not much different than other Australians’, said Dr Zakir Rahmani, one of the founding members and first elected President of both MSAQ and AFMSA.

The MSAs were pivotal in Australia for initiating several innovative programs. AFMSA was the first Muslim organisation to hold annual conferences at a national level for Muslims in Australia from 1968 onwards offering lectures, workshops and discussions centered around Islamic topics. The organisation also established the first Muslim quarterly magazine ‘Light’, as well a newsletter named ‘Salam’.

The idea of study circles called usrah, also known as halaqa, was first introduced in 1975 by then AFMSA President, Khalid Yousuf, a student of medicine at the University of Melbourne. It was a way of motivating students improve one’s character and practice by attending regular student run close knit study circles.

In 1983, a major change in the constitution and direction of AFMSA took place with the renaming of the organisation to Ittihad al Jamaat Al-Islamiah (Federation of Islamic groups), branching out from its university base. The organisation transformed itself again in 1991 as the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth, FAMSY.

Today almost every University in Australia has MSAs while FAMSY has chapters in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. It currently holds halaqa, camps, lectures and workshops catered towards Muslim Youth.

The special invitation only 50 Year Celebration Event will be held at Laila Reception in Melbourne on Sunday 30 November 2014. Those interested should contact: famsy50years@gmail.com for further information.