The Muslim prayer room in the N Building has had its day and will be closing in the near future. A common ‘quiet room’ will be opened in the V Building in October, and everyone will be welcome there.

The multicultural student association Iqra runs the present prayer room, and is its major user. Law student and Iqra member Omar Mohammad (26) answers four questions.

Of course, the present room was specially intended for Iqra members. What are your views on the new quiet room for people of all faiths?

“We did want a new room to pray in, but it didn’t necessarily have to be a prayer room. From a practical point of view, I think the new quiet room is being set up a lot sooner because we didn’t mind it being open to everyone.”

You’ve held a survey among Muslim students to ask what they’d like to see in the quiet room. What are the most important conditions for this new room?

“It’s very important for Muslims to have good facilities for ablution near the prayer room, and these will be provided for our use. And we’d also like to see some kind of partition in the room. The Muslim women students in particular have told us that they don’t like it if people can see them while they’re praying.”

So how are you going to ensure that the quiet room remains neutral?

“It doesn’t have to be a fixed partition. But we could set up a couple of those Japanese screens to create separate areas for men and women, plus a general area. Of course, these areas would only be temporary. And we’d very much like to agree with the other religious groups at the university that we don’t want any religious symbols in the room. We’d like it to be a warm and welcoming room with bookshelves, a carpet and cushions.”

Do you think the room will actually be used by non-Muslim students as well?

“It’s hard to say. We haven’t yet held consultations with other religious organisations on the campus, but we definitely want to do this before the new room is officially open for use.” TF