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A Place for Prayer

GPC Muslim students share their dilemma of fulfilling an obligation

By: Fatou Ndow

As one walks through the GPC Dunwoody campus, it is quite noticeable that it has a very large and diverse student body with students from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

This has often been regarded by many as one of the outstanding qualities that make GPC a great place to learn.

The majority of its students are inclusive and responsive, especially through most of the student clubs and organizations that are available.

A club which has been regarded among the most active as well one of the most recent is that of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the GPC Dunwoody campus.

MSA President Danial Ghazipura explains that MSA’s purpose is to unite the Muslim community at the GPC Dunwoody campus through a variety of year-round activities and social events.

“We are a club that is committed to enhancing the spirit of understanding, and dialogue here at GPC,” said Ghazipura. “Everyone is welcome to our meetings and to participate in our events as we are open and always ready to serve the campus community.”

However, due to the growing number of Muslim students at GPC, MSA’s growing concern is for the Muslim students on campus to have a proper and designated place for prayers while on campus.

Muslims are required to perform prayers within a limited time before the next prayer time approaches.

“The prayers can occur in a group or in an individual manner, and it usually takes 8 minutes or less,” said Ghazipura. “But the challenge has been the difficulty of not getting adequate space to pray which mostly forces us to pray in potentially unsafe areas like the parking lot or in between bookshelves along the library. Though it is very uncomfortable, our options are limited.”

Many Muslim students agreed that they struggle when the time comes for them to pray.    

“I am a full time student at Clarkston, and I do not drive. I am here three days a week from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., meaning that I must perform my prayers here on campus. It is very difficult trying to find a space to pray without having to be interrupted or being stared at by other students,” said Jameela Warren.

The lack of a location to pray has caused many students to choose between being late for prayer or being late for class. Some students have to leave school premises to pray and then drive back.

“It is a very tedious process,” said Ghazipura. “We have tried almost everything, from booking a room in the library to looking around for empty classrooms. Both are not always readily available, and when they are, we must always make room by moving tables and chairs around in order to make space for others, but even this takes so much time.”

Many non-Muslim students are also disconcerted by the matter.

“I am not a Muslim, but it seems like is much more of a need than it is a want,” said student Emily Stewart. “It would be great if GPC can allocate a designated prayer space or interfaith meditation room for its students.  GPC respects diversity, and I think this would be a great way or example for them to cater to their students in this respect.”

Numerous other schools and universities have designated interfaith prayer rooms for their students by simply allocating a room which is an inexpensive investment.

“Due to these various facets of Muslim prayer, having access to an allocated prayer room for Muslims on campus would eliminate the problems that Muslim students at GPC face in observing this mandatory act of worship,” said Ghazipura.

The MSA plans on approaching GPC administration and the Dean of Student Affairs in hopes that a great depth of consideration will be given to this matter of having a nondenominational prayer space established.

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