More than 150 Muslim University of Minnesota students and employees filled the conference room for weekly community prayer on the third floor of Coffman Union at 12:30 p.m.
Throughout the week, students can be found spread across campus, tucked in hallway corners or kneeling in open courtyards for their daily prayers.
On Fridays, that prayer is meant to be shared. But many say the Coffman space reserved by the Muslim Student Association isn’t enough to accommodate the University’s Muslim population.
When hundreds show up for Friday prayer, they sometimes spill out into the hallway, said biology freshman Zoha Khatoon.
With a prayer ritual that involves repeated bowing and kneeling, Khatoon said they have to stagger their movements to deal with limited space. Most of the time, she said, it’s simply uncomfortable.
“It gets really hot,” Khatoon said. “And when you bend over, there’s not enough room to put your whole body down.”
The conference room, which is booked in advance for weekly use, and the Al-Madinah Cultural Center’s space on Coffman’s second floor are the only two spaces on campus offered specifically for Muslim prayer.
Though the Mayo Memorial Building on the University’s East Bank has a meditation room, there is no official nondenominational prayer or meditation space on campus, said University spokesman Steve Henneberry.
As a public institution, the University cannot make any special accommodations for religious groups, in accordance with the Board of Regents’ policy for Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
If “the University cannot make any special accommodations for religious groups”, then why are there “two spaces on campus offered specifically for Muslim prayer”? And they want MORE!!
“We have so many mosques all over Minneapolis that you can go to,” Ali said. “But on campus, that’s the only Friday prayer that’s provided.”
That’s what draws hundreds of Muslim students and University employees to the weekly prayer hosted by MSA, she said. The group now provides two times for prayer — one at 12:30 p.m. and one at 1:15 p.m. — to accommodate the crowd.
And then there is that gender apartheid mandate in Islam:
The fact that men and women need to be separated for prayer aggravates the problem, she said.
School sanctioned apparently. And the dawah mandate:
Ahmed said she thinks having spaces open to all prayer and meditation has benefits, like learning from others about their faith.
“When it’s a meditation room, you bring different people all in one space,” she said. “It’s a platform for many conversations to happen.”
And the jizya:
The conference room is already booked for 10 of 14 weeks next semester, Sassila said, so MSA will instead rent out Grace University Lutheran Church on Harvard Street Southeast.
The group will pay about $50 per week to use the church for Friday prayer. The Coffman space was free.
Because of that extra expense, on top of upcoming events that Sassila said will be costly, MSA will request $10,000 in the next student services fees cycle.
Will non-Muslims be required to pay that fee?
The MSA pledge of allegiance: (video below the fold) (more…)
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