Join The Muslim Student Association on Their Quest for a New Prayer Room!
October 29, 2021 – Alia Quadri & Imman Sohail of the Muslim Student Association; Isaiah Hilman-Smalls
What’s going on?
The Muslim Student Association of Farmingdale State College needs your help in their search for a new Prayer Room! Due to the current construction process at Roosevelt Hall, the MSA needs a new room that will be appropriate for them to practice their rituals. Possible rooms were suggested but they were not suitable for the needs of the MSA, so let’s work together to achieve justice!
This is what Imman Sohail, Vice President of the Muslim Student Association, had to say:
“In 2020, there were 10,070 students enrolled in the fall semester and the numbers have remained consistent since then. So how many of these students are Muslim? It is estimated that there are at least 1,000 Muslim students currently enrolled at Farmingdale State College. The reason I am bringing up these statistics is to emphasize the large presence of Muslim students on campus. At the beginning of this Fall 2021 semester, we were alerted that certain buildings, including Roosevelt hall, will be closing down mid October due to construction.
For the last several years, the “Meditation Room” in Roosevelt Hall has been used as a prayer room for the Muslim students on campus to use for prayer five times a day. Due to this room’s vital role for Muslim students, the college administration or Office of Student Activities should be able to provide an alternative. The e-board members of the Muslim Student Association have been in contact with the school since the start of the semester asking them to provide us with a room where Muslim students can go to pray in a peaceful environment— especially the students who live on campus.
However, the school administration has not yet found a suitable room that will meet all of our needs. Let me start by stating that Stony Brook, Binghamton, Oswego, Old Westbury, and Buffalo University all have designated prayer areas for Muslim students— and these are all SUNY schools. Yet our administration at Farmingdale is unwilling to even call it a prayer area claiming that is “too controversial.”
This is the SUNY New Paltz Prayer Room. You can see that a Wudu area is shown for cleaning oneself.
This is Room 103 at Quintyne Hall, which was the room provided by Sunil Samuel. More than 3-4 students won’t be able to pray at once. Also, how will social distancing be practiced?
This is Stony Brook’s prayer room. Outside as you can see there are two entrances for men and women. Also, the sign states “Mosque” and not prayer room/meditation room. This allows for everyone to know that there is a Muslim presence on campus. Stony Brook is advertising the Muslim lifestyle present on campus. They aren’t simply shoving them in corners or stating nothing can be left in the room so that there is no trace of them in that room.
(First Two Images): SUNY Buffalo Meditation Room
(Last Two Images): SUNY Buffalo Prayer Room
SUNY Binghamton Prayer Room.
What is controversial about a prayer room? We made every effort to find suitable alternatives yet every option we brought to them— they denied. They offered us the small conference room located on the first floor of Quintyne hall. This is the hall where students go to lounge— there’s almost always loud chatter and music playing— hardly a peaceful environment to pray in. Even with all these problems associated with the room we were willing to work with them; However, they had the nerve to say that they will not be removing the large conference table or chairs which take up the majority of the room and not to mention there were boxes full of storage stuffed inside the small room. This means that not even one person could pray there comfortably, much less multiple people at the same time.
We told them that we will not accept that and we need better. Since then, they have decided to give us a room in Dewey hall where they will shift the “meditation room” as they call it. The problem here is that this is the building where residential students who have tested positive for COVID quarantine. I cannot even fathom how the school administration thinks it is acceptable to send healthy students into an environment that is such a high risk for their safety. It is truly disappointing that a school which claims to have a foundation built on diversity and inclusivity is unwilling to provide its students with a safe and peaceful environment to pray in.
Praying is a practice of love and faith, the showing of gratitude for all the blessings we have received, and a plea for forgiveness for our sins. It is a shame that to take part in this good deed, students are now essentially being asked to put their lives and their health at risk. Please, whether you are Muslim or not; whether you are religious or not— sign the petition to show support. The more voices join together, the louder we will be and they will be forced to listen. Let’s make history together at Farmingdale State College and provide our fellow Muslim students a designated prayer room!
These are two areas where students had to pray when there was no room available for them:
Students had to pray in the corner of a staircase, and outside late at night. There must be a peaceful environment for students to feel comfortable praying. This is why the quest for a new MSA Prayer Room is far from over.
This is the room that the MSA suggests be considered for their new official space:
This is Room 211 at Sinclair Hall. This room has much more space than the one provided in Dewey Hall, and the MSA could leave what they need in the room for them to return to each day before they pray.
This is what other members of the MSA, and other students, had to say about the situation:
I believe that MSA deserves its own prayer room because many students on campus are Muslim. Prayers in Islam are obligatory, and students are missing prayers because there is no room designated to them that gives them the ability to pray. Other SUNY schools have provided prayer rooms as well as separate meditation rooms. Farmingdale students deserve the same.
— Faaiza, MSA Secretary
As per Farmingdale State College’s Mission Statements, one of the primary objectives of FSC is promoting, embracing, and implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It is of absolute importance to many FSC’s Muslim students to pray 5 times a day at their prescribed times. And when the student’s culture and religion necessitates praying multiple times a day in a peaceful, clean, and secluded place and the institution is unable or is reluctant to accommodate the student. It goes to show how much an institution is diligent in implementing values that it stands for in its mission for the society. As a student of FSC who takes his religious values very seriously, when the administration abruptly closed the Prayer room in the Roosevelt Hall. I was deeply disturbed and had to resort to praying in odd and unsuited places while on campus for classes.
— Maaz Hussaini, Junior at FSC and majoring in Computer Science.
A prayer room should be provided for all Muslim students because they pray five times a day. There is a majority of Muslim students who need to pray in their daily lives while being on campus. I think it is the college’s responsibility to respect students’ religious obligations and provide them with the best peaceful environment to pray in. There is no reason why anyone should feel ashamed of their beliefs as humans. We all need to feel like we belong somewhere.
— Hafsa Ikram, Student Government Association Representative. A Junior at FSC and majoring in Bioscience
The act of Prayer is an integral part of every Muslim’s life. It is essentially an embodiment of our identity and religion. Therefore, to designate a place of worship for us will truly be an act of benevolence and great convenience as we continue to pursue higher education at Farmingdale State College.
— Hamnah Teli, Junior at FSC and majoring in Applied Mathematics.
Where do we go from here?
We continue working towards securing a room that the Muslim Student Association will approve of based on these three requirements:
1 – The room and bathroom must be cleaned properly for Prayer and Wudu to be conducted in a safe environment.
2 – Prayer carpets must be allowed to stay in the room for students to have the ability to come in at any time.
3 – The name of the room be changed from “Meditation Room” to “Masjid” so the members of the MSA can have a sense of belonging and feel the respect they deserve.
Let’s all work together to help the MSA secure a Prayer Room! Continue to follow them on their journey right here on The Dale News website!
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