One room filled with prayers from people of various religions.
That’s what the Muslim Student Association is attempting to work out with the Student Government Association. The organization, which is tasked with reserving a new room in the Student Union for prayer every day, is aiming to establish a prayer room for members of all religions.
Establishing a permanent prayer room would eliminate a major obstacle for the organization.
Muslims pray five times per day according to the position of the sun, and daily prayer is an essential aspect of Islam. The MSA aims to provide a safe space for its members to pray, but the constantly changing room assignments can be challenging.
Although the organization has recently adopted a system of text messages notifying members of room locations for the week, gathering members for prayer is still a challenge.
“Since we pray five times a day every day, we need a prayer room every day,” said Noor Qadri, secretary of the MSA and a junior interdisciplinary studies major. “The registrar’s office takes a while to get back to us regarding room reservations, so I have to reserve the room, and on top of that, I have to tell everyone what room we’ll be praying in.”
Reserving a room for Friday, Islam’s holy day, is a particular challenge for the organization. Most of the time, the room the MSA is given isn’t large enough to accommodate the influx of students who come to attend Friday’s sermon.
“We usually have upwards of 70 people come and pray,” said Mohamed Mohamed, president of the MSA and a senior biomedical sciences major. “A lot of times, the room gets really tight.”
Former Student Body President Melissa Westbrook’s SGA administration attempted to create a prayer room two years ago, but the project fell through due to space conflicts.
“The prayer room was supposed to be a room on the second floor of the Student Union, but the LEAD Scholars office occupied the space at the time,” said Westbrook, who is pursuing a master’s degree in nonprofit management and public administration. “I do think it’s still an option on the table at this point.”
The prayer room would be modeled after Orlando International Airport’s “Reflection Room” and the University of South Florida’s “Serenity Room.”
For Maha Qureshi, the public relations director of the MSA and a senior communication sciences and disorders major, a prayer room is more than a space for fulfilling her duties as a Muslim.
“It helps us stay connected to our faith and reminds us that we’re not alone,” Qureshi said.
Nicole Garcia is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.