MSO hosts Qiyam night for Libya, Middle East

The “night prayers” were for the recent revolutionary conflicts in Libya and other Middle Eastern countries

In a sharp dichotomy from the loud chants of Wednesday’s rally at Speakers Circle, the Muslim Student Organization hosted a Qiyam Night on Thursday to pray for the situation in Libya and other uprisings in the Middle East.

After Wednesday’s charged declarations of “Down, down Gadhafi” and “Free, free Libya,” about 15 students and Columbia residents fought their way through the unexpected snowstorm to gather in the quiet unfurnished prayer rooms at the Islamic Center.

With Internet shutdowns across Libya, Columbia residents who used to call the nation their home have limited communication with family overseas. MSO President Arwa Mohammad said the Qiyam provided a way for people to participate in the struggle.

“A few of the officers got together and decided that this would be a good way for college students to be involved somehow to try and affect the happenings halfway across the world,” Mohammad said.

Mohammad said Qiyam, or “night prayers,” are a tradition many Muslims already observe year round, and the events in the Middle East provided an extra incentive to do so.

“It’s one way for us to choose to do some extra worship during this time, asking God to alleviate the oppression of everybody around the world, not just in Libya but in all the different countries that are similarly oppressed,” Mohammad said.

Qiyam, the most virtuous form of non-obligatory prayer in Islam, includes readings from the Quran and supplications to God, in this case to help those in the Middle East, junior Taha Hameduddin said.

“It’s a special prayer we’re doing, asking God to help those that are in Libya because they’re going through a very hard time,” Hameduddin said. “Living here it’s the least we can do.”

MSO spokesman Mahir Khan said the prayers are a great way for Muslims in America to have an impact on the conflicts going on in the Middle East.

“We're just trying to do whatever we can to help out, even if it's just prayer,” Khan said. “You know the power of prayer; you can't really quantify it, so that's why we organized that and why we're trying to do as much as we can.”

A second Qiyam Night might be held Saturday in accordance with a request from prominent American Muslim scholars, Mohammad said.

“Some of the scholars in America have called on Muslims everywhere to try to do something, even if they're not directly involved in (the conflict),” she said.

With Libyans and other Middle Eastern countries struggling to overthrow autocratic rulers in the region, Khan said this is an opportunity for Muslims to have a major impact.

“This is a time for Muslims to show, especially Muslim youth, Muslims our age in MSO, to show that they have a voice and can make a difference in this world,” he said.

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