By Shirin Toshkhujaeva
KU welcomes and encourages diversity on campus. In fact, several organizations are dedicated to support minority groups and provide all the resources necessary for their safety and the practice of their beliefs.
KU has the largest GLBTQ center among the other fourteen partner schools. The Women’s Center creates a nurturing environment for both female and male students on campus.
Now it is high time for the university to meet some basic needs of its Muslim community as well.
The Muslim Students’ Association has been a primary place for university students and faculty of faith to gather and perform group observances. However, there are only Friday congregational meetings, and there are five mandatory daily prayers for every practicing Muslim. There is nowhere on campus to perform them these daily prayers.
The prayers not only consist of oral recitations of the Holy Quran, but they also include physical moves like bowing, kneeling and putting your head on the ground.
For anyone not familiar with Islamic traditions, observing the performance of such prayer can seem quite strange. Even though some corners or side aisles in the library, for example, could be singled out to pray in sometimes, they are not always available.
Muslim students have to keep wandering around the buildings to find an adequate spot, hoping that no one will see them.
When other Muslim students were asked about the situation, they reported that they always feel uncomfortable and cannot focus on the prayer. This completely destroys the whole purpose of praying in the first place. As a result, they end up not praying at all while on campus.
KU senior biology student Nayem AbdulQuadir said, “Campus is not catered to Muslims in any way. There is no place for prayer.” He also stresses the fact that those five daily prayers are mandatory in Islam culture, unlike other popular religions.
Most students spend their time on north campus because that is where classes are, so it’s hard to pray around them, which is why having a small area to pray in either the library or the student union building would greatly reduce the unnecessary anxiety that Muslim students face.
It also could help them stay motivated and productive, and might spare them time if they don’t have to search for an area to pray. Plus, it’ll reduce the stress caused by missing a prayer.
The Muslim community is a vital part of the KU campus just like any other group of students. While the university strives to provide a welcoming environment for people of different faiths and beliefs, dedicating a small space for Muslim students to pray can exemplify that.