For many years, it has been the goal of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to establish an official prayer room on campus for students to practice their religious beliefs. This past week, their hard work was paid off with the opening of the first official reflection and prayer room in the Student Union on March 16.
Mohamed A. Mohamed, a senior biomedical science major and current president of MSA, was one of the students who were involved in the process of establishing this prayer room for the UCF community.
“Ever since I was at UCF, this has always been a goal that we’ve been trying to get established,” Mohamed said. “Even before I came here, students in the past have been working to establish a designated room for prayer.”
One of the requirements of the Islam faith is to pray five times a day. While trying to balance hectic class schedules, students found it difficult to fit in time to pray, and an even bigger obstacle, where they could pray that offered privacy. Mohamed explained that on multiple occasions he has had to pray in stairwells and hallways between his classes.
Previously, MSA has been able to reserve a room daily, however, it was only for a two-hour time slot which still left students without a place to pray for the remanding part of the day.
Saifudeen Nausrudeen, also a senior majoring in biomedical science and the marketing director of MSA, explained that one of the strongest emphasis of having this prayer room is that it is all-inclusive and welcomes students of all faiths to come and pray.
“Our vision is for this room to be open to everyone, even non-Muslims,” Nausrudeen said. “It’s a great idea to have a specific place where students of all religious backgrounds can come and pray as well as learn about each other’s faith.”
While MSA has been the primary student club to organize the arrangements for this room, both Mohamed and Nausrudeen stress the importance of having other student organizations involved and actively participate.
“One of the core teachings of Islam is to work together with other faiths,” Mohamed said. “We have always maintained great relationships with other organizations here at UCF so the more people who come here to pray, the better.”
The UCF Student Union has so far pledged for the room to be opened for at least 6 months but are looking into keeping a designated prayer room open long term.
“For people of other faith, this will be a benefit for everyone so I think it is great that UCF is so all-inclusive to all faiths and diversity,” Nausrudeen said. “It just shows how progressive the UCF community is and how the UCF faculty is always looking to make students feel welcome.”
The reflection and prayer room, located in room 153 near the Pegasus Ballroom, will be open the same hours as the Student Union and students are welcome to come and go whenever they would like. There will also be an optional sign-in sheet available for students in order to show UCF the need for a prayer room on campus and that it is being used regularly.