The article “Praying in the Hallways,” published in Vol. 31, Iss. 28 of The Link on March 29, 2011 really did not sit well with me.
The notion of Muslim students being denied praying got me irritated, because as a Muslim who practices Islam and tries to pray five times a day, this is outrageous.
The question one would normally ask is, “Why doesn’t the university offer a praying space to them?” Concordia does exactly that, though: on the 7th floor of the Hall building, in a space that can hold up to 100 individuals. Okay, so what seems to be the problem? As I continued reading the article, this what I found:
Firstly, making the trek four or five times each day for 10 minutes of prayer adds up to at least two hours of work per week. Okay, but there is a flaw in this logic.
A research student, whether doing their Masters or a PhD, is an employee of the school. The daily schedule for an employee in most companies is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Only Duhur (noon) and Asr (afternoon) praying times fall into this time period, and really, you’re spending a maximum of an hour doing those prayers. In any company, you are entitled to have an hour of break during the day.
Secondly, it takes so much time that the professors are not happy. What? Are you serious? What professor would check in on whether his/her students are in the lab or not? This is research—you can come and leave whenever you want, as long as you are keeping up with your deadlines.
Thirdly, the problem is one of distance. To that I say a resounding, “No!” and “Not true!” With the tunnel linking the EV to the Hall building, distances are shorter and safer than ever. First off, when there is snow/ice piled up on the streets, it would sometimes be considered life threatening to walk out on the streets. Secondly, there are no traffic lights that you have to stop at. As an estimate, in my case, it takes me about seven minutes to reach the prayer space, coming all the way down from the 10th floor of the EV building.
Moreover, speaking from an Islamic point of view, the more suffering one endures to go pray Jam’aa (in a group) the more rewards he/she will get—so it is necessary to go all the way to the Hall building and even farther for collecting those rewards.
I know that this might shock the Muslim brothers who are advocates for the prayer space in the EV building, but from the depths of my heart, I say this is not a righteous cause.
Finally, I’d like to thank Concordia University, the CSU, and the MSA for the present Muslim prayer space, and for letting us exercise our religious beliefs so freely.
—Mohamad Ali Itani,
Masters Engineering and Computer Science
This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 29, published April 5, 2011.