New multi-faith space now open

Students can now partake in their cultural or religious practices in peace on campus

M. Daniyal bows his head in prayer in the north side of the new multi-faith space. (Ashley Wadhwani/The Omega)

M. Daniyal bows his head in prayer in the north side of the new multi-faith space. (Ashley Wadhwani/The Omega)

TRU’s multi-faith space officially opens on March 26 and will give students a quiet place to get in touch with their spirituality, faith or cultural practices.

Located in OM 2496 and 2494 (Old Main), the space is divided into two parts, a north side and a south side, by a divider with the north side larger for groups and the south side for individuals.

“The idea that I think is really neat about having a multi-faith space, as opposed to having a chapel and other dedicated prayer spaces, is that it’s really wonderful when people can see each other practice their own observances, and that they bump into each other,” dean of students Christine Adam said. “I think that that leads to greater understanding and tolerance.”

Adam used other universities in Canada with similar spaces as examples. She also met with the interfaith chaplaincy office to make the space accessible and inclusive of all practices.

“First and foremost, there are students from many faith backgrounds who wish to carry on practicing their religion, even in an environment like B.C. or Kamloops,” said Imam Mazhar Mahmood, Islamic Association representative at the interfaith chaplaincy office.

“There’s definitely a need to have a prayer room or a multi-faith space where various religions, various cultural practices are welcome and tolerated,” Mahmood said.

The official opening is March 26, although the space has been open to students for previous months.

Muslim students currently use the north side, or the larger side, of the space for their five daily prayers. For M. Daniyal, a third-year business student, the space allows him to complete his daily prayers on campus, instead of driving to the mosque on the outskirts of Kamloops.

“It’s basically an obligatory thing for Muslims to offer [prayer] five times, and whenever I’m on campus I can come here and offer my prayers,” Daniyal said. “It’s usually two or three times I come up here, … and usually Saudi and Muslim students gather and offer a congregational prayer.”

TRU’s Muslim Students Association offers their obligatory prayer on Friday in room 263 in the Arts & Education building instead of the multi-faith space as it does involve a larger group.

“It’s not a bible study space, it’s not a teaching space … it’s not a church space. We wanted to make that clear. It’s a space where anyone can come and do what they need to do to further their spiritual needs,” Adam said.

There is a code of conduct for the space, which is posted inside for users to read.

Guiding principles dictate that the room only be used for designated purposes. It also disallows one group from “monopolizing” group bookings of the space. According to the code of conduct, no candles are allowed, prayer carpets must be rolled up after use and if there are too many people utilising the space students are asked to return at a different time.

If there is any misuse of the room, the guiding principles suggest raising the issue with the chaplaincy office.

“We’re waiting to see how it all works out. There are some meditations that can be done as a group, but it’s still a quieter silent form, it’s not sitting and teaching and having conversations and grappling with issues.”

Any group interested in booking the space can do so through student services.