AMS plans JDUC prayer spaces for Muslim Queen’s students

One prayer space and four interfaith rooms not enough

Image by: Herbert Wang
Future JDUC prayer room will offer a more accessible space for Muslim students.

Muslim students will receive designated prayer spaces upon completion of the new JDUC building.

The AMS is allocating prayer space for Muslim students in the new JDUC building, with renovations scheduled to finish in 2024. Queen’s University Muslim Students Association (QUMSA) advocated for prayer space for years, and the AMS agreed this week to include a prayer space in the building. The plans have yet to be finalized.

The only on-campus 24-hour prayer space is in Rideau Hall, which isn’t centrally located. QUMSA expected the Rideau Hall prayer space to be larger, but with AMS services relocating to Rideau, their space was cut down to make room for Tricolour Outlet.

“When you have people waking up at university at 4 a.m. and taking a 10-minute walk toward the Rideau building, you can tell how much it means to students,” QUMSA Co-Chair Fawwaz Khan, HealthSci ’24, said in an interview with The Journal.

“If you have a prayer space that’s super far away, it makes it hard to complete these five daily prayers, especially when people have multiple classes back-to-back. You need to have somewhere to go that’s fast, easy, and accessible,” Khan said.

QUMSA has been collaborating with the Queen’s University Muslim Inclusion Network, an organization for graduate students and staff at Queen’s, to advocate for the prayer space.

Though there are interfaith rooms across campus, Muslim students have unique needs requiring a separate space. Muslim students pray frequently, and interfaith rooms are one room. Female-identifying Muslim students often pray in the back of the room and would prefer more privacy, Khan explained.

QUMSA hopes the prayer space in the JDUC will be larger, centrally located, and split into separate male and female areas. Initially there were misunderstandings about whether the prayer space would be permitted, which Khan attributed to changes in the AMS executive team.

“We were told that no clubs would be allocated space in the JDUC, so that’s one of the initial misunderstandings,” Khan said.

Confirmation of the JDUC prayer spaces is coming within the next three weeks, after additional meetings with the AMS. The AMS declined to comment on the topic.

In the past, Queen’s provided prayer spaces for Muslim students and community members. QUMSA, established in 1963, predates the first mosque in Kingston, which was established in 1995.

“For a good 30 years, QUMSA was the main Muslim hub for students, that was because the university provided them a prayer space back then,” Khan said.

Currently, Queen’s offers a gym space on Fridays for QUMSA to host prayers usually offered at mosques. QUMSA doesn’t receive any funding from the University and can’t afford to rent space on campus, which makes the prayer spaces in the JDUC very important to Muslim students.

With more Muslim students attending Queen’s, Khan said the prayer space is needed now more than ever.

“With more hate crimes and islamophobia rising in Canada, I think that’s really important to provide a safe space, especially when many of us are leaving our families to come here,” Khan said.


AMS, JDUC, prayer spaces, QUMSA

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