MSA gets larger room for prayer

After years of proposals, a student religious group is receiving a more suitable space on campus.
The Muslim Students Association announced the opening of its new prayer room on August 23 to members in an e-mail, according to Mariam Abdelghany, MSA secretary.
Previously located in the University Center, the prayer room has been moved to Marillac Hall Room 312A and B.
“We’ve been asking for years and have had to take pictures showing the safety hazards of the old room,” Abdelghany said. “It took a lot of effort to get this new prayer room.”
Discussions about the new religious facility began in March after school officials planned to renovate the University Center. MSA members and administrators spoke about new locations better suited for the Islamic community on campus.
Amina Sanders, last year’s MSA president, was happy with the new room. “[The room is] actually twice the size of our old prayer room,” she said. “It was really great.”
Some of the problems associated with the old prayer room included the lack of two entrances for males and females (preferable in Islamic centers of worship), the small room capacity and lack of storage receptacles. The new prayer room has two entrances, a larger room capacity and cabinets for personal belongings.
“It’s great that a Catholic university helped us get the room because they are supporting other religions and beliefs.” Abdelghany said. “It’s a nice environment for all of us to pray in.”
The windows of the new room face east, in the direction of Mecca, a holy city in the Muslim faith.
Along with daily prayers, the rooms of worship are also used for weekly religious classes and ceremonial sessions on Fridays, known as Jumu’ ah, a requirement for Islamic men.
Nashia Whittenburg, associate director of Multicultural Affairs at the University, is excited that MSA was granted a new prayer space.
“The new Muslim Student Association prayer room is in keeping with the Vincentian mission of advocating and supporting religious diversity,” he said.
Whittenburg said that there is a possibility of adding a sink to wash hands and feet inside of the prayer room. She also mentioned that the room will be air conditioned with the start of the semester.
“The prayer room has a lot to do with the growth of Islamic students at St. John’s,” she added. “Underclassmen spoke about the reason why they chose St. John’s over other institutions and it was because of the support that the Muslim students on campus receive.”