Prayer Rooms at YSU Seek to Bring Inclusivity to Campus

By Nami Nagaoka

With all the different views and religions in the student network at Youngstown State University, many are curious to know how the students who practice Islam juggle attending classes with required prayer five times a day.

YSU has provided some open rooms for its diverse student community located in Jones Hall and Maag Library. These rooms essentially provide a silent common area for every student to engage in their religious practices freely and without disturbance.

The English Language Institute provides two prayer rooms in the basement of Maag Library. Lynn Greene, the assistant director at ELI, opened the rooms in 2011 after many Middle Eastern students requested to have a place to peacefully pray.

The prayer rooms are open from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. for everyone regardless of faith, even though more than half of ELI students are Muslim. The Division of Multicultural Affairs also provides two Interfaith Meditation Rooms in Jones Hall. They are also open for everyone from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A Muslim student at YSU who asked not to be named said he always used to pray five times a day when he was in his hometown in Saudi Arabia.

Praying five times a day is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are obligatory religious duties that are supposed to be performed by Muslims. The student said he always prays on time if he has the chance to, but often must combine a few prayers if he is busy during the day or has class.

Islam is the main faith in Saudi Arabia and mosques are abundant, so normally the student can go to pray with multiple people when the time comes. In Youngstown, prayer for Muslim students is often more isolated and can cut into daily tasks, like class.

“Sometimes I have to isolate myself to pray and then come back,” the student said.

Badr Aldossary, a Muslim student at YSU, said he prays five times a day daily. When he registers for classes, he always considers the time of classes so he can try and pray on time.

However, he sometimes cannot help choosing some classes which are the same time as the Salah, or Muslim prayer. After said class he goes back to his dorm or goes to one of the prayer rooms to pray.

“While there are a lot of people who don’t understand our religion and culture, there are also a lot of people who do understand me, and they are really helpful and make me comfortable,” Aldossary said.