By: Kulsum Musani
With all of the changes gracing the halls and buildings of Benedictine University, there is one that has made a significant impact on many students. The prayer area for the Muslim students on campus has moved from its former place at the Founders Woods Clubhouse to the Old Chapel in Lower-Level Krasa.
This move has taken place over the summer and with a lot of assistance from the administration, namely Associate Vice President Marco Masini, the new advisor of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) Mark Kurowski, campus services, and many others, the Old Chapel has transformed into a welcoming area of prayer and worship for all Muslim students on campus.
This move comes with changes for many people on campus, but it also brings a lot of promise, namely that it will allow and encourage for the further integration of Muslims into the BenU community.
A significant part of encouraging this type of open community is when there is an open forum to ask questions and receive answers. For many religions, including Islam, witnessing the beauty of prayer is one way we get encouraged to ask questions and learn more about religions other than the one we follow. Similarly, by moving the prayer room to the old chapel, BenU has provided Muslims with a unique opportunity to give answers that anyone might have about the religion of Islam.
I think that this move encourages a greater understanding of the diversity on campus; it allows the Muslim students to be closer to the center of the campus and also makes the Muslims on campus more visible. The move also allows for students who are not Muslim to see and understand Islam by being able to ask more questions and seeing the MSA in action. I think that it is an important move for the entire Benedictine University community, regardless of religion.
The prayer room is important to Muslims for several reasons. Prayer is the second of five pillars in Islam and is obligatory upon all Muslims after puberty. Muslims pray five times a day, with the timings usually varying based on the positioning of the sun. Each prayer has its own time frame, and must be prayed before the timing of the next prayer start.
Muslims can pray individually or in congregation, with the group prayer being more preferred for males and is more vocal. Ablution must be performed before praying, which consists of purifying oneself both physically and mentally. The act of prayer itself consists of reciting from the Quran and supplicating to God.
With the new move, we are hopeful that it will help students reconnect with their Muslim faith, and provide answers to the questions many people have about Islam.
The official opening of the prayer area will be on Friday, August 31st.