Eastern Michigan University is considering turning the Muslim Student Association’s prayer room in King Hall into an office and relocating the prayer room.
The Muslim Student Association received an e-mail from university officials inquiring to what extent the room is used by the association. They indicated that they were considering plans to convert the room to office space if it was determined the room was under-used.
“We don’t keep track of the number, but we do know a good number of students use the prayer room regularly,” said Yasmine Nahlawi, a member of the Muslim Student Association’s advisory board. “But, as far as we know, students are in and out of the prayer room all day.”
The prayer room and the club play large roles in the lives of the Muslim Student Association members.
“The biggest challenge we face in practicing our religion is becoming understood. While Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and the third largest religious demographic, our classmates, faculty and colleague aren’t very aware of our religious obligations,” said advisory board member Hani Mohamud.
“While Eastern Michigan University has been amazing at helping us accomplish our goal as an organization to provide a more Muslim-friendly environment, our challenge still lies in showing our peers that what we believe in isn’t that different, or radical. That Islam is a way of life that urges us towards peace and not to strange, weird philosophies.”
For other students, being a part of this religious organization not only keeps them involved in their faith, but is a way to make a foreign place feel more like home.
“I am here attending Eastern alone, my family is in a different country. So being a part of a Muslim Student Association brings a little bit of a homely feeling for me. Spiritually, it helps to know that there are others that I can connect with and bounce any religious questions off of if any arise,” said advisory board member Muneeb Khan.
“Socially, it helps me meet new people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as well as keeping me busy with event planning and gives me the feeling of being part of a group. Academically, it also helps, I have made friends in the association who have taken the same classes or can help guide me and others on what to take and what not to take.
“Being part of an organization also helps you shape up your schedule as well, you are more aware of how important your time is and get things done accordingly instead of procrastinating so much,” Khan said.
“The creed of this University acknowledges diversity. We need to keep places such as the prayer room on campus to live up to that creed,” said Association Vice President Muayad Mahmoud.
“There are many religious groups on campus, and it is something we need to be proud of as a community. It’s a place where people can get away from their busy schedules and have a place to pray on campus.”