The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday November 30th

Muslim students seek support on campus

UNC Muslim Students Association raising money for house

<p>UNC sophomore Zeshan Bari prays during the UNC Muslim Students Association’s weekly prayer held every Friday in the Student Union annex.</p>
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UNC sophomore Zeshan Bari prays during the UNC Muslim Students Association’s weekly prayer held every Friday in the Student Union annex.

“It’s kind of unfortunate because it really is just a beautiful experience,” said Shamira Lukomwa, president of the UNC Muslim Students Association. “I feel like it’s important for people if they’re trying to share and to just open up conversations.”

At UNC, Muslim students have access to various resources for social, community service and religious events though MSA.

Khadiga Konsouh, UNC sophomore and MSA community service chair, said the group is raising money for a chaplain and a house for their Muslim students.

Despite being stationed at — and paid by — Duke, Imam Adeel J. Zeb also serves at UNC and N.C. State University, Konsouh said.

“Even though he is not formally ours, we all work together,” Konsouh said.

Lukomwa said having a chaplain available to ensure there are no issues and to make sure the club is running smoothly would be a great help to the student-run organization.

“We’re trying to focus on having a greater presence on campus,” she said.

Because UNC is a public institution, the University cannot offer as many resources as Duke. There is a Center for Muslim Life at Duke with three paid staff members, including a Muslim chaplain. Muslim students at Duke also have a building that acts as a community center.

“Having a physical space makes an incredible amount of difference,” Omid Safi, director of Duke Islamic Studies Center, said in an email. “While officially UNC can’t support religious communities, many religious communities (Protestants, Catholics, Jews) have buildings right on the very edge of the campus.”

Safi taught at UNC for eight years and said both UNC and Duke have strong and thriving Muslim populations.

“I think Duke, as a private institution, is able to devote greater resources,” he said.

“Then again, the decision to ‘reconsider’ the call to prayer is a profoundly disappointing one, not just for Muslims, but also for many pluralistic Christians on Duke’s campus.”

All Muslim students are welcome to attend MSA’s prayer service in the Student Union from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. each Friday.

Lukomwa said as many as 200 students are involved in the organization, including those who only go to weekly prayers.

A prayer room is also reserved for students in the Union from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

MSA also hosts weekly meetings, community service events at Urban Ministries of Durham and social events.

“As a Muslim with everything that’s going on right now, I feel like it’s really important for people to know we are out there and that we do care about the community,” Konsouh said.

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