Sheila Raghavendran

Inter-faith rooms

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Inspiration Room provides opportunity for in-school prayer 

Sophomore Aminah Baig will no longer have to ask permission to pray.

Aminah has struggled with balancing prayer times with school hours, but her idea for an Inspiration Room could be her hallelujah.

“I came up with it just because in my religion, I’m Muslim, we have to pray five times a day,” Aminah said. “…I just wanted to create a designated area in the school where students wouldn’t feel awkward and just go to it and be able to pray…in a peaceful environment.”

According to Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart, MHS is able to provide the avenue for this student-driven idea.

“What we’ve done is we’ve made the space available in a safe place, and it’s student-driven so they’re allowed to get the word out and hopefully have people who will take advantage of the opportunity to have the [Inspiration] Room,” McCarty-Stewart said.

Morning prayers are inconvenient when trying to come to school on time, senior Wajihah Baig said.

“Sometimes…the morning prayer time was at the time that I usually left for school, so sometimes I would [be] late to school because I had to pray,” Wajihah said.

According to Aminah, she and other Muslims have had to ask permission from teachers to leave the room to pray, which can be uncomfortable.

“It’s awkward especially to go up to your teacher and just be like, ‘Oh, can I use your bubble room?’” Aminah said.

Aminah is not the first person to come to administration for this type of request, McCarty-Stewart said.

“…I think Aminah’s approach was different, it was more that she wanted it not only for herself but she wanted to make sure it was open to everyone,” McCarty-Stewart said.

According to Wajihah, the Inspiration Room will show Muslims in a positive light.

“I feel like ever since 9/11, or all the other connotations and images that people have about Muslims, a lot of people are afraid to step up and show that not all Muslims are like that,” Wajihah said. “[The Inspiration Room] shows…the part of the image of Muslims that a lot of people don’t really see.”

Wajihah said that she always thought that other students would be unwelcoming to a school-related Muslim activity, but that the Inspiration Room’s positive outlook will bring a better image to the Muslim culture.

The diversity at MHS is not always acknowledged, according to Aminah.

“I know there’s a lot of diversity in this school but I just feel like sometimes it’s not celebrated, and diversity should be celebrated,” Aminah said.

Aminah said that the Inspiration Room is welcoming to people of all faiths.

“That’s why they call it the ‘Inspiration Room’ because religion is supposed to inspire you, and prayer especially, so it’s fine for any religion to go there,” Aminah said.

According to McCarty-Stewart, the relationship between different cultures will change over time.

“I would see that as just a continuation of not just the acceptance but the respect to learn, to have an understanding, and just to have a respect for all the different cultures,” McCarty-Stewart said.

Aminah said that she hopes MHS students will embrace her idea and be at ease to use the room.

“I just hope that people are open to it and they take advantage of it…it should be a place where they feel open, where they feel comfortable going,” Aminah said. “…Our faith shouldn’t be hindered by education, and we should celebrate it instead.”

Author: sheilaraghavendran

I agree with Ellen, let's be kind to one another.

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