Sacred Heart University (SHU) has introduced two new Muslim prayer rooms to its community.
“Both prayer rooms are beautiful and necessary to have on campus. In a society that is often consumed by distraction and frenzy, these spaces offer members of our community in the Islamic faith tradition to have quiet, safe, and easily accessible areas to pray,” said Matthew Shields, Executive Director of Mission Integration.
Prior to completion of the two new Muslim prayer rooms, SHU was home to just one interfaith room located in the main academic building.
“Due to the renovations of the performing arts area, we looked for an alternative location. With space being a premium on campus, we had to find a location that was close to the Park Avenue campus and with shuttle stops as well. So, we found a space in Martire, and it’s a good location for our students,” said Dr. Francis Origanti, Senior Vice President for Mission and Culture.
After finding a home for prayer in Martire, efforts were then made to expand the prayer rooms to West Campus.
“The second location is to support our Muslim students and employees on the West Campus. There were faculty and students who had to use either a public area or their offices to pray, so having a dedicated space for them to gather and pray was important. It’s important that we are inclusive and consider the needs of our students and employees on West Campus as well,” said Origanti.
While SHU is a Catholic university, the Office of Mission Integration acknowledges how important it is to value religious diversity and accommodate all students and staff, not just those who are Catholic.
According to SHU, “Inspired by the ecumenical spirit of the Second Vatican Council, Sacred Heart University welcomes men and women of all religious traditions and beliefs who share its concerns for truth, scholarship, the dignity of the human person, freedom, and the betterment of human society.”
On campus, available resources include, but are not limited to, a university chaplain, Muslim chaplain, Buddhist chaplain, Jewish chaplain, Russian Orthodox chaplain and a Protestant chaplain.
“I can only imagine how grateful other Muslim students feel because I remember worrying about being able to find a place to pray when I was a freshman and the moment I found a prayer room, I was so relieved and happy that the school even thought about it. So, I’m sure there are a lot of Muslims students, especially freshmen, who are happy to find these rooms on a non-Muslim dominated campus,” said junior Khadega Seedahmed.
The new prayer rooms however are not limited to just prayer, as Seedahmed explained how the rooms are also a great place to establish relationships and build a community. “The prayer rooms are not only a place for Muslims to pray, but it’s also a place where Muslims can find peace from all the commotion on campus. It allows for Muslims to find a place where it’s just them and Allah, whether it’s during prayer, reading Quran or making dua. It’s also a place to meet other Muslims to make friends and it’s a place where we can learn from each other since some are more knowledgeable of the religion than others,” said Seedahmed. According to Islamichelp.org, dua is an act of worship in which Muslims ask Allah for forgiveness and mercy. Now open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily, the two new prayer rooms are located on West Campus W-UC-201A and Martire E-252.