Prayer room is an oasis
Jacob Waring—Opinions & Features Editor
Members of Muslim Student Association (MSA) stood in the starting position known as qayam while performing Isha, the last prayer of the day for those of Islamic beliefs.
Haroon Chaudhry, President of MSA, said the prayer room is open for anyone regardless of their religious affiliations, as it is a room for prayer and meditation. He said that the room had been refurnished with pillows, mats and more.
“Its been a meditation room for two to three years. Now, they turned it into a prayer room. It’s not only for Muslim people, but for anybody, if anyone is interested in praying as everyone has a different style of praying,” he said.
According to Chaudhry, in the previous room they utilized, only three to four people were able to fit at a time. He also said there was difficulty locating the previous room due to the knowledge not being as widespread.
Shahbaz Farooqui, vice president of MSA, said having the space of the prayer room made it more convenient to pray on campus.
“We don’t’ have to go far. We don’t have to leave the campus and go to the mosque,” said Farooqui. “We can meet other people in here and engaged with our community.”
He said that the prayer room creates a communal bond amongst people of his faith as well as those of different faiths. Farooqui said that the prayer room opens up opportunity for people to learn about other faiths, and their culture.
Zaha Naeem, a member of MSA, said it is a blessing to have the prayer room and have given the opportunity to pray, as it is mandatory in Islam. Naeem noted how a prayer room is usually a rarity, or typically tends to be small.
“I’m a transfer student from Housatonic Community College. They did have a prayer room. Theirs is pretty small, half of the size of this [Southern’s] room,” he said.
He said that they use prayer rugs and situate themselves towards the Qibla, which is the direction that Muslims pray towards. Its the direction of the Kaaba in the Hejazi city of Mecca. He also said that Muslims pray five times a day.
Naeem said that they set up facing towards Qibla while someone leads the prayer, and people line up in front of that person. He recounted a time the prayer caught the attention of people passing by while the blinds were up, which provided an educational moment.
“There was one [opportunity] last semester when we had the blinds up and we began praying. We had a lot of people walk by and take interest in what was happening in [the prayer room], one or two actually walked inside to ask a question,” Naeem said
. Rachel Schaffer, secretary of MSA, said that for her the prayer room is a safe place where students could not only pray but also be surrounded by like minded souls. She likened the room to be a calm oasis.
“It’s a place on campus that is quiet and nice,” said Schaffer. “It’s a nice little oasis, I guess. It’s calm.”