The Stony Brook Muslim Student Association welcomed the campus into their weekly Jummah Prayer at the Staller Steps on Friday, April 7. Despite the light rainfall and nippy temperature, students and faculty formed a prayer ring around people participating in the Jummah Prayer, a congregational prayer that Muslims hold every Friday after 12 p.m..
“We invited the whole campus so we could show face through these hard times,” Anika Amin, a junior sociology major, said. “Muslims are just regular people. We wanted to spread love and show who we are.”
Fears of compromising public safety hindered USG staff from immediately approving the proposal for the event.
“There were concerns of safety hazards, and you never know with these recent hate crimes,” Amin said.
ThinkProgress, a political blog founded in 2005 by lawyer Judd Legum, has tracked the activity of hate crimes since Donald Trump was elected president on Nov. 9, 2016. New York came out on top with the highest number of hate incidents since November. While 26.8 percent of incidents targeted the Jewish community, 11.8 percent of incidents targeted Muslims.
Despite these worries, MSA eventually gained permission to collaborate with USG for Friday’s event.
“Even if there are precautions and risk factors, there are so many people here to support us like UPD, USG, our Chaplain and the Dean of Students. All of these allies came to stand around,” Amin expressed.
MSA promoted the event through social media such as Facebook and through word of mouth. The group is also now involved with a coalition, tentatively called the Stony Brook University Progressive Student Coalition, with other organizations on campus to promote social advancements.
Stephen Hanna, a junior double majoring in sociology and biochemistry and member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, attended the event after the MSA reached out to the coalition for support.
“Showing support is going to help the Muslim students be more comfortable with being on campus and expressing their religion freely,” Hanna said.
The air felt heavy with the expectation of downpour, but allies stood firmly in place. When former MSA President Zain Ali began speaking, those tiny droplets, once falling briskly on the faces of the attendees, ceased.
“Sometimes hate might seem louder, but just because it’s louder, it doesn’t mean it’s stronger,” Ali said.
People simply nodded their heads or looked down in reflection.
“The beauty about the congregational prayer every Friday is that it is positive advice and positive generation of the good emotion and Muslim traditions,” Sister Sanaa Nadim, the Muslim Chaplain for Stony Brook’s Interfaith Center, said. “The sermon has to be a positive experience to the masses about revival and reminder of the holy Qur’an’s moderate perspective on life, on community, society, respect and healing others.”
After the prayer, everyone lifted their heads and revived that aura of lightheartedness that constantly dignifies the campus.
“I think it was really good idea to put it out in the open because a lot of people have misconceptions about Islam,” Stephanie Catarino, a senior studying sociology, said. “Showing that it’s a religion like any other else, and that people have the right to practice it out in the open is a beautiful experience.”