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Muslim Students Search for College Prayer Space


October 27, 2015
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Should college and university campuses create private prayer spaces to better accommodate Muslim students? Such is the dilemma for Wichita State, where Muslim students must pray in the library or walk to the nearest mosque and risk being late for class. Public universities routinely face this challenge and are unsure how to respond - they must simultaneously balance the needs of Muslim students while abiding the First Amendment, which prohibits the promotion of religion. One proposed solution is to clear out the pews from the campus chapel to make for a flexible space.

Should college and university campuses create private prayer spaces to better accommodate Muslim students? Such is the dilemma for Wichita State, where Muslim students must pray in the library or walk to the nearest mosque and risk being late for class. Public universities routinely face this challenge and are unsure how to respond - they must simultaneously balance the needs of Muslim students while abiding the First Amendment, which prohibits the promotion of religion. One proposed solution is to clear out the pews from the campus chapel to make for a flexible space.

In contrast to public colleges, private institutions do not face the same legal issues. For example, Georgetown University has 50-60 students gathering daily in an on-campus Muslim prayer room. Even the University of Colorado at Boulder is seeking to create a quiet zone that's religion-neutral because "prayer would be one of the many functions that would go into the room." The Muslim Student Association (MSA) has created a guideline called "How to Establish a Prayer Room on Campus," and MSA President Mubarak has stated that “the issue of prayer for Muslim students is a little bit unique in that Muslims have to pray at set times of the day...it's very likely that they will need to pray at some point when they are on campus." The MSA believes a prayer room should be centrally located, easily accessible and clean place and possibly have bookshelves, shoe racks, and bulletin boards.

A large portion of the students on Wichita State's campus are OK with the concept of having an interfaith prayer space, but there are always those who question, "Why would WSU change the chapel into a mosque?" In your opinion, how should WSU and other universities address the prayer room issue? If you are spiritually strong in your faith, check out some of our specific religion scholarships to help fund your college education.

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Posted Under : College Culture
Tags: College Culture

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Wanderer N  on  11/18/2015 12:19:47 PM commented:

What I read in this article and in many of the comments conveys to me a very disheartening thought. It would seem that the first things are no longer well-understood or remembered. What are the first things? That not only closed spaces are sacred, but also the entire universe is a sacred space. That all people inhabit this sacred place is cause enough for us to do for the stranger what we would appreciate done for somebody we care about. Nobody asked to come into this world, and life is a really difficult burden to carry, but I guarantee you that anyone who honors others above themselves will find fulfillment.

Marcos N.  on  11/3/2015 1:50:08 AM commented:

This issue isn't only for people that strongly believe in Islamic values. It also go towards other religions, like Hindis, Jews, Buddhists, etc. If colleges and universities can fund or give these strong religious people a room, that will be great! Every human being has a right to practice their religion/faith in any place at any time throughout the day.

Stephanie B.  on  11/2/2015 11:11:06 AM commented:

If there are areas for other religions to meet on campus and hold religious services, then there needs to be an area of equal size for the Muslim students to meet. We do not have to agree on there faith as they don't have to agree with ours, but I do believe that they have the right to conduct their religious services just as any other religion does.

Rich D  on  11/1/2015 10:02:25 AM commented:

As long as a Christian chapel, a Jewish synagogue , and a Buddhist temple stand side by side with a Muslim prayer room! If not stick to the separation of church and state

Karolina O.  on  10/31/2015 9:57:52 PM commented:

It stood out to me, as well, that these schools have no problem having a chapel and yet a problem suddenly arises when it has to do with a Muslim prayer place. Muslims need to pray at specific times, and all they need to do so is a clean space. It doesn't need to be an isolated space or a large space, just clean. I can guarantee it's less awkward for non-Muslim students when there aren't people randomly praying under staircases and between bookshelves.

Anas  on  10/30/2015 10:39:30 PM commented:

All university should have small rooms for each religion , so that students can fullfill their religious duty.

Meysar A.  on  10/30/2015 2:09:17 PM commented:

I'm currently a senior and soon I'll be attending college and this matter will strongly affect me due to my religion. I'm a strong Muslim and I take my religion seriously. I pray 5 times a day and I would like to have a clean and quiet place to make pray at the right time. With that being said, this should be a serious matter to colleges and univervisities.

Deena m  on  10/30/2015 10:28:32 AM commented:

No, do Christians have special prayer space???

Cesar F  on  10/29/2015 4:19:59 PM commented:

That's mess up because religion can't be broken, life is to express eachother feelings,everything is meant to be equal like what everything says in the constitution.

Srivibhavan C.  on  10/29/2015 11:36:06 AM commented:

"Unity in Diversity" is one of the main concepts American campuses lack. Race hangs out with race in diversity lacking colleges: Indians stick around with Indians, Muslims with muslims, etc. However, if the American universities provide a common space for every religion, then everyone would have an unique insight on various different ethnicities, cultures, and faiths. Emperor Akbar, a Mughal monarch of India, was a devout muslim, yet he provided his people with private spaces to pray and rejoice. Attacks based on faith were few back then due to cultural awareness of each other. Students can sit and pray together which makes one self aware and will help eradicate the negative stereotypes every culture is labelled upon.

James W.  on  10/29/2015 10:12:42 AM commented:

Separation of Church and State. Well how about we leave religion out of this as well. Lady I checked, the goal of attending college is to attain a degree so the individual might better themselves! Focus of helping students pass classes, add tutors or study space instead of this waste of thought!

Steve C  on  10/28/2015 9:32:17 PM commented:

Yes, in the name of diversity we should provide a prayer room for muslims and hindus and buddhists and new agers. Let's continue to drive this once great nation into the ground for the sake of diversity. What ever happened to common sense?

Hajira M  on  10/28/2015 9:10:03 PM commented:

I absolutely agree with giving Muslims a place to perform their prayer, many do not get a chance to find a place during school to go pray and if the college is able to fund and provide a prayer room for the Muslims I think it would be beneficial to them and others if they feel the need to pray. Also, many oppose to the idea of giving Muslims a room to pray but it won't affect them as much as they think it would because it won't disturb others whatsoever and the Muslim community as well as others can give into providing a prayer room for the Muslims. I think giving a room for Muslims to pray is an excellent idea and should definitely be taken into consideration.

Caden N  on  10/28/2015 8:36:31 PM commented:

Also just wondering, because of the many comments of Jesus being the one and only true God (which is very presumptuous If I may say so), since when is Jesus a god? He was supposedly the son of God, which could make him a demigod, but the actual man named Jesus who was crucified was Jewish. By saying that Jesus is the one and only true God, you are tearing down the religion that Jesus himself followed.

Heather M.  on  10/28/2015 12:11:50 PM commented:

It seems to me that public schools that have campus chapels with pews (very Christian) but are worried about breaking the First Amendment by providing a private prayer space for Muslims are double-minded. Since Muslims gather for prayer at a set time each day, they need a significant amount of quiet space to pray in unison. Making the chapel multi-functional/ multi-religious is a good idea.

Mikayla H.  on  10/28/2015 8:29:52 AM commented:

I think that there should be prayer space open for them. Relgion while it may open a "can of worms," it also shows diversity and acceptance of all. College is for education and change for the better. So opening a prayer space for muslims is opening up opportunities and the acceptance of change for the better. People should be able to practice what they want. If a college can make it easier, it shows that they are more accepting of those with different ideas and beliefs. I think if they do create the prayer space, it could only be for the better.

Sarah D  on  10/28/2015 6:21:46 AM commented:

If you accommodate one religion, you must accommodate them all. By supporting a designated "prayer space" you will inevitably open a can of worms to religions where other "unusual" circumstances exist. I am in full support of whatever religion someone chooses to practice, however feel that it is up to each individual to ensure that they are able to follow through with their obligatory religious routines, regardless of where they are throughout the day.

Jennifer P.  on  10/28/2015 1:42:31 AM commented:

Out of curiosity, how does the university reconcile the fact that they already have an existing chapel with "prohibiting the promotion of religion?" Seems like if it's okay to have a chapel, which would arguably serve to promote Christian faiths, what is the problem with creating a prayer space, perhaps adjacent to the chapel, to serve those students who need it? Sounds like that would make things equivalent, not give special treatment to one religion.

Ashley D.  on  10/28/2015 1:40:22 AM commented:

I think having a prayer room would be useful to not only those of Muslim religion but also to those of other religions such as Christianity and Catholicism. Having a prayer room shows that the campus is ethnically diverse and are friendly and open towards people of different races and religions.

Essence T  on  10/28/2015 1:19:31 AM commented:

No one is "prioritizing" anything. Muslim students feel this was an issue so they are doing something about it. Why are you guys getting so upset? Clearing out a few pews in a chapel or creating a more sacred area on campus for prayer is NOT a problem. The same goes for any other religion. If your idea is reasonable and doable then ask yourself why the hell it isn't being done. Oh yeah...because you keep your mouth shut. Props to all the people out there MAKING things happen instead of sitting behind a screen upset at others for making a change. ????

Jack  on  10/27/2015 11:25:48 PM commented:

I agree with Shirley. The only true God is Jesus Christ. So, naturally I have a bias towards truth. But prayer is something that can be done anywhere. Prayer is a heart-to-heart conversation with God, and such deep things easily transcend one's location.

Caden N.  on  10/27/2015 10:57:41 PM commented:

It seems hypocritical to me to state that the trouble with having a prayer room is that it violates the first amendment's prohibition of favoring any religion, and yet they have a chapel. If they have a location for one religion, it should be opened to all religions as a holy place where one can pray/fulfill your religious needs. Sincerely, from an agnostic

Attaché w  on  10/27/2015 10:19:56 PM commented:

Universities shouldn't be force to create a whole another spiritual place for one religion to practice there word. No religion means more then another . If Muslims get mosque then Catholics should get a church and so on . No religion deserve special treatment.

Mariam sarver  on  10/27/2015 10:01:20 PM commented:

I hunk it's good that Muslims should be given a place for prayer. They have set times to do MANDATORY throughout the day unlike Christians. Christians can do it whenever the need something. But Muslims pray constantly, and I think even a small part of a chapel of some sort should be dedicated for Muslim prayer.

Kim M  on  10/27/2015 9:43:53 PM commented:

I graduated from Wichita State over 20+ yrs ago. I'm assuming prayer for Muslims is not new, but has been at the root of the faith since it's start. I can't recall any designated Muslim prayer areas when I attended WSU, or knew even one student who participated in a 5 daily prayer ritual. Were there no Muslim students at Wichita State over 20 years ago? Im sure Muslims were praying in the 80's, but why the influx of importance now? Was it not important then? What did those practicing this faith do in the past? As our earthly population keeps increasing, it is wise to know there will be increasing numbers of people to all faiths. It is unreasonable and irresponsible to expect Universities to now be asked to build chapels, mosques, temples, synagogues, etc. to accommodate all faiths... as it would be unending. Change is not ALWAYS good. People want change... but I am thankful to serve a God who will NEVER change, Hebrews13:8. That's reassuring about my faith & my God!

Leonardo J  on  10/27/2015 9:17:34 PM commented:

I believe that religion and college work shouldn't interact with each other, unless you're a class for religious studies. The Muslims will just have to find a way for their beliefs to not interfere with their classes.

Anthony W.  on  10/27/2015 8:36:39 PM commented:

First and foremost, this should not be an issue. Reading the comment from Shirley t who is more than likely a caucasian person, demonstrates the racist attitudes that still exist in this country. Then further reading how she disrespects(mixed up country) the same country that has given her entitlement and special privileges.The university and student body should find a reasonable solution to this issue. Students are paying their fees to attend this university therefore they should provided an alternative.

Maya b  on  10/27/2015 8:12:43 PM commented:

Some need to acknowledge the fact that Muslims pray 5 times a day and although Islam is a forgiving religion and you can always make up your prayers at a later time and/or pray anywhere really, some students that are more strict in their rituals may find it inconvenient for them to do so. My university has a quiet meditation space in a corner by the library and it really doesn't take that much space or investment. Just a designated area/room is sufficient. And as diverse as my school is, it was definitely a successful addition to our campus as a lot of students take advantage of it and use it on a daily. Muslims are not getting "special treatment" the religion itself is one that requires call to prayer 5 times a day, which needs to be taken into consideration when coming across such topics.

Sara E.  on  10/27/2015 8:01:47 PM commented:

I'm obviously going to have a bias because I'm Muslim myself, but I don't see what the big deal is to have a space available for Muslims to pray. The college doesn't have to explicitly advertise that they're building a room just for religious purposes, but perhaps it would be beneficial to have a large space available that anyone could use, like a conference, or in this case, prayer.

Tricia Ivette  on  10/27/2015 8:00:18 PM commented:

Every religion has the right to be recognized. Taking a step for the Muslim religion, is just one of many that should have taken place already.

javier a.  on  10/27/2015 7:37:00 PM commented:

Hell no. We shouldn't have to bow down to another religion. if by hey cannot figure that out, now as a student, how are they supposed to hack it as a professional in the professional world. Some businesses will not accommodate to your needs, ie Amazon. If you're not putting your 110% they'll find someone to fill in your shoes.

Husna R  on  10/27/2015 7:24:34 PM commented:

WSU and other universities should create quiet rooms, as opposed or in addition to prayer rooms, to welcome people of every faith and background and provide some escape from the hectic pace of academic life. Without enforcing any particular belief system, quiet rooms provide a comfortable space for those who need to worship or simply to reflect. This is very important for students who practice a religion requiring prayer at specific times throughout the school day, as well as the non-religious students who seek time to meditate or reflect. It is especially relevant at community colleges, where the student body tends to be a more religiously diverse population. It may be more appropriate to label them contemplative spaces rather than calling them “prayer” rooms because of the religious connotations. Creating a space for required practice of a student’s religion, personal meditation or simple silence offers students the option for relaxation and improves mental health. Being a campus with many foreign students, paying attention to a student’s religious needs will improve the reputation of the school. It will make it a friendly campus for those who come from underrepresented ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds.

bridget c.  on  10/27/2015 6:33:14 PM commented:

if it is meant to be interfaith, then you could try to have the prayer space be a room without decor meant for one particular religion, and bring in items as needed.

Sekou Y  on  10/27/2015 6:20:09 PM commented:

My muslims brothers and sisters need a private place where we can worship in the University and college campuses because it's meandering for us to pray at a specific time therefore granting us our need will be very appreciated.

Sekou Y  on  10/27/2015 6:19:27 PM commented:

My muslims brothers and sisters need a private place where we can worship in the University and college campuses because it's meandering for us to pray at a specific time therefore granting us our need will be very appreciated.

Yasmin F  on  10/27/2015 6:19:05 PM commented:

Religion is a personal matter, deciding when, where, and how an individual worships is that persons affair. No college or university should be required to provide religious accommodation. Religion is not water.

Ilhan N.  on  10/27/2015 6:17:26 PM commented:

We are not asking for 'special treatment', we just need a space for prayer.

Kadejah A.  on  10/27/2015 6:15:33 PM commented:

Absolutely yes! As a young Muslimah it would be very ideal for ALL, yes all college campuses should have a private prayer area not just for Muslims but those who believe. We definitely need our prayers answered especially while in college. Whether it's to pray our five daily prayers, dua for others, etc. Believers blessing the campus is what we all need to protect us from all of these true terroist coming into school's shooting up people and holding people hostage but, that's another discussion.

A. Gamble  on  10/27/2015 6:11:14 PM commented:

So let's see. Universities have been belittling and mocking Christianity for years. They claim first ammendment concerns. Now with Muslims they change their tune. They will be building on campus mosques soon. Can anyone say double standard?

A. Gamble  on  10/27/2015 6:08:13 PM commented:

So let's see. Universities have been belittling and mocking Christianity for years. They claim first ammendment concerns. Now with Muslims they change their tune. They will be building on campus mosques soon. Can anyone say double standard?

S Bayoh  on  10/27/2015 6:04:22 PM commented:

Institutions should provide spaces for prayer. It is no argument that doing so is giving any group special treatment. For heaven sake we should learn to respect and tolerate people no matter their background.

S Bayoh  on  10/27/2015 6:03:36 PM commented:

Institutions should provide spaces for prayer. It is no argument that doing so is giving any group special treatment. For heaven sake we should learn to respect and tolerate people no matter their background.

william f  on  10/27/2015 6:00:58 PM commented:

Public schools should not accomodate any specific religion. There could be a meditation room with several rooms that could be utilized for various beliefs. But,in my view, public universities should have no responsibility to provide any special provisions for a particular religion. Secularism should be maintained.

John P  on  10/27/2015 5:54:57 PM commented:

No, there should be no special treatment for Muslims. And why is this becoming an issue? Where's the focus on EDUCATION in these universities?

Amir Abdulmalik  on  10/27/2015 5:40:08 PM commented:

I am Muslim and I believe that Muslims should be given a prayer home so that equality is established. Christians have a chapel to go to and that is absolutely wonderful, but I don't think it would hurt if colleges invested a little money in developing an on-campus mosque.

Amir Abdulmalik  on  10/27/2015 5:40:03 PM commented:

I am Muslim and I believe that Muslims should be given a prayer home so that equality is established. Christians have a chapel to go to and that is absolutely wonderful, but I don't think it would hurt if colleges invested a little money in developing an on-campus mosque.

Aicha K  on  10/27/2015 5:24:49 PM commented:

I do believe that college should provide prayer rooms for Muslims because we mostly likely have class when the prayer time has arrived and it is very important that we pray it on time. It's very difficult to have to make up all your prayers when you get back home, when you can get it done at school.

Shirley t  on  10/27/2015 4:14:24 PM commented:

Absolutely not!!! Muslims are not to be given special treatment. You can not force our county to bow down just to be politically correct. We have so many different religions in our mixed up country. The only one is true through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Kareem c  on  10/27/2015 4:11:35 PM commented:

giving us a prayer room is very little to ask for from a college campus

Valerie F.  on  10/27/2015 3:51:21 PM commented:

If a school does NOT use state or federal money to finance places of worship then any religion should do whatever they want. However, the separation of church and state is fundamental in this country. If we finance sites of prayer for one religion we must do so for all, which is not fair for those who don't practice religion of any kind. Further, if something is financed by the government, pretty soon the government regulates it, hence the separation of church and state.

Mel k  on  10/27/2015 2:42:41 PM commented:

well I'm Muslim myself, and in our religion, any holy place is acceptable to pray. I like the idea of an interfaith prayer area. but yes, this is a situation a lot of colleges are finding trouble with.

Lea J  on  10/27/2015 2:41:43 PM commented:

One religious belief should not be prioritized above another. College students are adults and should be able to balance between religion and school. As they will have to do in a work place!

Moriah L  on  10/27/2015 2:27:09 PM commented:

I attend a public University and we actually have a private room called a "prayer room". It's in a desinated area and is a great resource for religion needs. I recommend universities of all size should invest in a prayer room.

Haroon A.  on  10/27/2015 2:08:11 PM commented:

Yes I believe they should build a private mosque in the mosque so the Muslim students can perform their obligatory prayers.

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