Group endorses religious inclusivity


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Muslim student prays in the behind the book- shelves in the Library on March 20. The Muslim Student Association is coordinating efforts to create a designated space for praying.

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

Right now, the only place for Muslim students at Contra Costa College to find the soli- tude to pray is behind the stacks of books that line the back of the Library and Learning Resource Center.

But President of the Muslim Student Association, Rayah Alammari is looking to change that with the Interfaith Meditation room.

Proposed to Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson by Alamaari on March 10, the

Interfaith Meditation room would provide a quiet and peaceful haven for students of all spiritual backgrounds to pray, meditate or just relax in between classes.

Ferguson who was excited by the idea, brought the proposal to the CCC Operations Council on March 13 and then to the College Council on March 20.

Both committees were recep- tive to the idea and thrilled to establish such a room for stu- dents.

The urban community that CCC provides for has these “nuggets of diversity,” Ferguson said, “If we are able to provide a space for these students, we are living up to our mission.”

For students who follow the teachings of Islam, offering prayer five times a day is essential.

With two of these prayers, Dhuhr, the noon prayer and Asr, the afternoon prayer coinciding with the average time classes are available, a space like the Interfaith Meditation room would be insur- mountable, compensating for the crowded, confined murmurs of students in the Library.

The idea was first discussed during an MSA meeting and mutually agreed upon by its mem- bers as beneficial for all students as well as future family and friends who will attend CCC.

There are many students on campus who follow different religious and spiritual practices including Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism that would be able to utilize the space, Alammari said.

“This room would provide a convenient and respectful environment for religious and spiritual expression and bring together people of different faiths to promote gives off a quasi connotation of religious practice on campus, the idea of the space is to integrate those who need a few minutes to themselves in a silenced ambiance.

“It’s not promoting one religion over another,” Ferguson said, “stu- dents could be in there doing yoga or reading a book.”

Free of judgment and free of persecution, the space would be open to everyone no matter their beliefs or followings as long as while occupying the space they are respectful and kind.

Muslims have been portrayed in a poor light for decades now, Alammari said as she demonstrat- ed the use of a compass to find the direction of Mecca in which to pray toward.

“I wouldn’t want to walk into a room and someone tell me I’m not welcome because of my reli- gious belief,” she said, “That won’t happen to anyone in the Interfaith Meditation room.”

Radiology major Salma Alsharay has also found slight solace behind the stacks of books in the library.

Alsharay who is an English tutor in the Skills Center has tried to get her spiritual boost in a vari- ety of different places.

When in the breakroom, she’s interrupted by peers who are unaware of what she is doing.

Even in the library, which seems to be the most popular and efficient place, lacks cleanli- ness and requires a prayer rug that invites curious students to distract.

“With the Interfaith Meditation room, people will know you are doing something important and won’t bother you,” she said.

These little breaks in the day are my time to rest and reflect and I’m sure students of different faiths feel the same way, Alsharay said.

As of right now, there are only tips and suggestion for a space to house the room.

With parts of the campus in transition for remodel, the rest

of the semester will be devoted to finding the perfect space, Ferguson said.

The space wouldn’t need tobeinany specific build- ing or location on campus, as long as it can accommodate more than 10 students at a time.

It would be modeled as a learning center with pillows
for meditations, mats for yoga and praying as well as a bookshelf for different kinds of literature and informative pamphlets.

An Interfaith Meditation room would be joining an array of other spaces that CCC has developed and dedicated to its students over the past couple of months includ- ing the lactation room, LGBTQ+ Safe Zones, Food pantry and showers.

These spaces aim to connect and care for the diverse student body that CCC serves.