The University of Maryland Muslim Student Association has proposed an initiative to create a place that is sacred enough to be meaningful yet welcoming enough to be comfortable, where people become self-reliant on their own behaviors towards one another, versus relying on barriers that are not present anywhere else. Through physical changes to the Musallah, the campus prayer and community space, and relevant programming to guide these changes (halaqas, trips, social activities, etc), we hope to bring a unity to the dissonance between “Muslim” identity and “college student” identity.
In the words of the UMD MSA leadership: On college campuses with a Musallah, you can often find a curtain or barrier of some sort that guides people’s behaviors, when outside the Musallah, you find a curtain-less world, where behaviors are self-determined. The clash of these two behaviors (Musallah behavior and outside behavior) has created a personality disorder between many students: must we rely on barriers to guide our ideals? We should think about the Musallah not as a mini-Masjid or as an escape from the evils of a college campus. Rather, just as Islam offers us an alternative lifestyle that ought to be consistent with our culture, the Musallah should be thought of as an alternative social and sacred space to facilitate relevant conversation on the sustainable practice of Islam in the lives of students.