Having a more accessible interfaith space on campus would show a dedicated commitment to religious diversity at Temple.
At the moment, though, space is lacking. That much is clear from a special report in this week’s Features section, on pages 10 and 11. Muslim students, whose religion requires them to pray five times a day facing Mecca, struggle to fit in the Interfaith Prayer Space in the Student Center. But the Interfaith Prayer Space can only fit about eight people at once. And each Friday, when it comes time for Jummah — a congregational service typically attended by about 100 students — a space large enough to fit all the students is hard to find.
Temple, which has one prayer room on Main Campus and about 38,000 students enrolled, falls behind some other comparable schools in terms of accommodating religious diversity.
Nearby universities like Rutgers and Penn State make several rooms available for prayer, meditation and other spiritual activity. When Ibrahim Souadda, the president of the Muslim Students Association at Temple, spoke with President Richard Englert about creating an interfaith prayer center on Main Campus, he was told it wouldn’t be feasible.
“There are probably buildings for lots of purposes that we could do, but we have to invest our resources wisely in the buildings that are most needed as we go,” Englert explained to The Temple News.
We understand that space is lacking on Main Campus, and that making a space for a relatively small group may not seem reasonable to the administration. But an interfaith prayer center — or even an additional prayer room — would help religious students, not just Muslim students, more easily practice their religion as part of a wholesome campus life.
In the next year, when buildings under construction (the library on Liacouras Walk designed by a premier architect and the Student Health and Wellness Center for athletes and club teams) are completed, the university should consider if any space can be allocated for inclusion.