Muslim students balance schedules and faith - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Muslim students balance schedules and faith

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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 10:00 am

One Muslim student at Purdue said she’s prayed outside of classrooms, under stairs and even by the side of her car at a gas station.

The Muslim faith requires that its followers all over the world pray five times a day – college students are no exception.

Since keeping a full course-load at Purdue can be a daunting task for any student, regardless of faith or club participation, how do Muslim students find time for it all?

Amirah Azhar and Muhamad Suhairi, both seniors in the College of Science, have been balancing demanding course work and practicing their faith for years now.

“You have to pray in the certain times but can combine some prayers if you have a valid reason, like traveling,” Suhairi said.

Azhar said she has had good experiences with Purdue’s professors and faculty.

“Professors always let us go pray if we ask, because it only takes us about 10 minutes,” Azhar said. “And the prayer times change with the seasons and the position of the sun, so sometimes it isn’t an issue.”

But not everyone is so tolerant, and sometimes they run into people who treat them differently.

“It depends. Most of the time it’s OK. But sometimes I’ll have a lab partner who doesn’t include me and I think it’s because of how I look,” Azhar said. “Or sometimes I travel with friends and people will act negatively toward us.”

A professor’s experiences aren’t so different from a student’s when it comes to practicing his or her faith.

Zarjon Baha, interim department head of building construction management, finds that openly practicing the Muslim faith at Purdue is easier than people may think.

“As a professor, I have not experienced any hardship,” Baha said. “For a typical Muslim, he may find it difficult to eat at the dining courts because of pork content, but in general Purdue is a good environment.”

Baha said he has no difficulty finding the time to pray. He simply prepares himself and asks for five minutes of peace so that he can pray in his office. To him, the United States is great for offering people the freedom to practice their religion freely.

“When I visited a class in China, I told them America is the second best country on the planet. And of course they asked which was the first best country. I said for you China and for me Afghanistan. After your native land, I consider the U.S. as the best place for you, no matter who you are.”

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