Prayer room battles hot up at Columbia University in New York

Prayer room battles hot up at Columbia University in New York October 30, 2018

While Muslims are complaining that the four prayer rooms allotted to them at the university are inadequate, Hindus are griping that they don’t have one at all.

Spearheading a demand for a “permanent and dedicated” prayer room at the Anglican institution, Rajan Zed,above, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said that such a space would be a step a positive direction given the of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at Columbia.

It was, he said, important to meet the spiritual needs of these students and that some other universities and colleges in USA now offered Hindu prayer rooms.

Zed suggested that the Hindu Prayer Room preferably should have an altar containing murtis (statues) of popular Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Durga, Venkateshwara, Ganesha, Murugan, Saraswati, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Kali, etc. It should also contain, among other things, a ghanta (big metallic bell hanging from the ceiling) and a  dholak (a two-headed hand-drum).

So what’s with the Muslim prayer rooms?

Currently, there are four available to Muslim students: a room in the basement of Earl Hall; a room in the 600 West 113th Street residence hall, also known as Nussbaum; a room in Milbank Hall at Barnard; and an open hallway that doubles as a yoga meditation space on the fourth floor of the Milstein Center.

But these, according to this Columbia Spectator report, do not adequately meet the current needs of Muslim students. Some aspects of the prayer spaces have discouraged them from being used for prayer and have made students feel humiliated due to the lack of respect shown to holy spaces.

Lack of respect. Well, yeah. One room  – the prayer space in Milbank  – is shared with the office and storage space for Barnard Bartending and contains two shopping carts filled with alcoholic beverages, along with bartending paraphernalia.

In Islam, consumption of alcohol is forbidden. According to Zawareen Zakaria, the location of the bartending offices and stockroom within the Muslim prayer space was “extremely offensive” to many students, who  said that  if they had been made aware that the prayer space was so close to such a large quantity of alcohol, they wouldn’t have felt comfortable praying there at all.

There’s also a problem with the most recently added prayer space located on the fourth floor of the Milstein Center, which was opened in September. The space, located behind the staircase, has two new Islamic magic carpets as well as new yoga mats.

According to one student, the fact that the Milstein space is also set aside as a space to practice yoga speaks to a lack of support for Muslim students on campus.

Yoga isn’t praying, and praying isn’t yoga. Yoga is an exercise; you sweat. There are very different uses for both of these mats. To put them in the same space ties back into how you can’t have a Muslim prayer space connected to a bartending office with wine bottles.

When creating the space, you need to think about what you’re equating. Bartending and prayer, yoga and prayer. Although the intention was not to equate them, you’re making a statement.

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  • CoastalMaineBird

    if they had been made aware that the prayer space was so close to such a large quantity of alcohol, they wouldn’t have felt comfortable


  • Cozmo the Magician

    FFS, I didn’t realize I was on Laughing in Disbelief. Oh wait, this shit is for real? Imagine if somebody dropped a statue of Zeus in the middle of a Christian Student Chapel.. Fuksnooze would be all over that.

  • David Hughett

    Why can’t they just pray privately in their own dorm rooms? No need to make a big fuss over it….

  • raymond metcalfe

    Ok just stick your hands in your religions deep pockets and build your own little private space where you can talk to your invisible friends in private without the real world impinging on your deluded little brains. Perhaps the the alchol would be to much of a temptation for the muslims as it is so evil so evil that your invisible all powerful friend cant help you resist the temptation. Such is the world of the deluded

  • Kerry Wells

    I experienced Jesus as the consciousness of the Sun, our star.

    I wrote an
    ebook about my experiences which is free to download in pdf form, and
    the ebook is also available on blogger, links are below,

    link to
    my free ebook, “Messages from the Sun God, Jesus Christ”

    link to the ebook on blogger:


  • TheBookOfDavid

    In the interests of religious neutrality and to promote unity between the various faiths represented on campus, I propose creating a shared space for all of their ritual props, including the Baphomet sculpture, in the Christian chapel. Or the equally neutral option of closing every prayer room, including the chapel, and recovering that square footage for practical use.

  • Sophotroph

    This is not the place to pimp your book or prosyletize. Please stick to comments about the topic.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    They are there to learn. The uni should provide whatever is needed to help them learn. The uni should not be required to provide spaces for them to carry out their hobbies, whatever those hobbies may be.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    nothing like making a big stink to prove how humble and pious you are

  • gedediah

    I wonder what facilities are provided for the majority Christians? They should treat them all equally or not provide anything at all. Storing alcohol in a prayer room is pretty crass.

  • Barry Duke

    @sophotroph:disqus Kerry Wells has been trolling numerous sites with the same Jesus crap, and I have just blocked her.

  • Sophotroph


  • Vanity Unfair

    Because they then would not be able to study. They have to pray five times a day and if they do not the world will explode and it will be your fault. (I made up some of that.) Do you want the responsibility?

  • David Hughett

    Naw, I guess not!

  • Kerry Wells

    I experienced Christ as the consciousness of the Sun

    I wrote a free ebook about my experiences and the ebook is also available on blogger, links are below,

    link to my free ebook, “Messages from the Sun God, Jesus Christ”

    link to the ebook on blogger:


  • HematitePersuasion

    What good would four muslim prayer rooms do for the Christians? I mean, equal treatment and all, but it just seems like a waste of space.

  • Most universities have shared spaces for extracurricular activities. My alma mater had a chapel built for the divinity school that all the Protestants shared. The Catholics and Episcopalians built and shared costs of their own meeting house. The Jewish contingent built a Hillel center. Everyone else booked rooms in the Student center. What’s the big deal?

  • Brianna LaPoint

    that would be too simple and people dont like things simple.