Muslim Students Deserve a Worship Space on Campus
Travis J. Dichoso, Class of 2013
October 28, 2011
Filed under Quill
Students in Engineering at CUA endemically have more interaction with students of the Islamic faith than the rest of the student body. Muslim students work hard, are humble, and hold all the same values as Catholics; not to mention their emphasis on practicing modesty and temperance. These students deserve a quiet space for worship on our campus.
With a requirement of praying five times each day, many Muslim students have no appropriate place to go during the school day. They sometimes find empty classrooms, or maybe a corner in the Biomed lounge. However, all of these places are subject to disruption, oblique glances, and many other distractions unfitting for a worship space. And who are they worshiping? As the papal declaration Nostra Aetate reminds us, “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men.” In many ways, Muslims are closer to Christians than even those of the Jewish faith. Muslims at least acknowledge Jesus as a prophet in addition to giving Mother Mary more face-time in the Koran than even the New Testament.
Reason. Faith. Service. This is the mantra of our university. Faith is integral to what it means to be a student at Catholic University and these students have a lot of it. We should support them in their faith in God. The argument is then that we open the doors to obligating ourselves to offer religious worship spaces to all other faiths. First off, we do not believe we are obligated to do so. Providing worship space for Muslims is a kind gesture. There are already resources on campus to connect people of other faiths with local congregations in the area. There is also a difference between providing a peaceful space for prayer and erecting a mosque on campus. And the fact is, there is no practical need for worship areas dedicated for other faiths because there is no other aggregate, devout religious population with the same degree of observances at CUA, as is the case with our Muslim students.
I do not believe that Banzhaf cares for the welfare of the Muslim students at our university as much as he cares to gain more notoriety. I also do not believe that he hopes to create a more civil society on our campus with his frivolous lawsuits as much as he aims to drive a wedge further into our community. What I do believe is that providing worship space for students of the Islamic faith is no detriment to the integrity of our Catholic identity, but rather is a witness to it.