Muslim students can now worship in A.P. Green Chapel

Members of the Muslim Student Organization converse outside of the A.P. Green Chapel Wednesday night. MU has designated an area within the chapel specifically for prayer and meditation by Muslim students.

The Quran requires Muslims to pray five times a day, something that takes time and space. But at least two of the five daily prayer times are during MU class hours, and many Muslim students are pushing for a designated space where they can pray during the day.

These prayers, which take five to 10 minutes, are spaced evenly throughout the day, from pre-dawn to evening. This, according to Muslim tradition, provides a constant reminder of God.

MU provides areas on campus where Muslims students can pray, but some of the places are not conducive to meditation. The Muslim Student Organization recently worked with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs to find prayer space within Memorial Union's A.P. Green Chapel.

The chapel is open to the entire student body, regardless of religious denomination.

"Students can go there as long as the doors are open," Scroggs said.

Other prayer sites used by MSO include Ellis Library and the lactation station in the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building. Ellis Library, however, does not provide a conducive environment for prayer, MSO spokeswoman Nabihah Maqbool said.

"It is difficult to pray there," Maqbool said. "People use the conjoining hallway for phone calls. I end up overhearing a party, breakup or puking incident."

MSO Vice President Faeza Khan said the library site is also cramped, which is an inconvenience because Muslims prefer to pray in groups.

Other students also use the prayer site to research government and microfiche documents.

"It's awkward to be in prayer and in the way of someone pulling out a microfiche," Maqbool.

Khan said the biggest problem with Ellis Library is that it is an informal prayer site. Although library personnel are aware of the space's purpose for Muslims, there are no signs indicating it is an informal prayer site, she said.

The lactation station provides a more private environment and a sink, which is good for absolution, Maqbool said. Absolution, she said, is the act of washing the body in order to inwardly purify oneself.

Still, Maqbool said, there are interruptions at the lactation station.

The group intends to use the choir room and minister's study in the chapel. The decision comes just after the beginning of Ramadan, a month about God-consciousness, Khan said.

MSO has planned a fundraising fast-a-thon event coinciding with Ramadan, scheduled for Sept. 17. Students involved will collect pledges for the Central Missouri Food Bank.

"Anyone can participate," Khan said. "The saying is that you 'go hungry for a day so someone else won't have to.'"

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