Muslim students thought to be most frequent users of “Catholic” Loyola Marymount University’s ‘reflection [safe] space’

Muslim students thought to be most frequent users of “Catholic” Loyola Marymount University’s ‘reflection [safe] space’
LOS ANGELES – Loyola Marymount University has opened a place for Muslim students to worship and pray on the Catholic campus.While the room is named the “Community Reflection Space,” it remains unclear whether it’s actually used by any other religious or student groups on campus.

Located in the university’s Malone Student Center, the reflection space is used regularly by Muslim students for Friday prayer and located near Loyola’s new department of Muslim Student Life. The two spaces, located in Malone 202 and 201, opened in late September.

“The community reflection space gives Muslim students a chance to pray their daily prayer,” said world religions professor Amir Hussain, faculty adviser to the university’s Muslim population. “I have an office, so I can simply close my door and say my prayers. That’s not so easy if you are a student with a roommate.”

During a recent trip to campus, The College Fix found the reflection space to be a mostly bare room with what appeared to be Muslim prayer rugs and a prayer clock sitting on a window sill (pictured).

About 140 Loyola students self-identify as Muslim, and the average Friday prayer attendance has been 20 to 30 students when he’s attended, Hussain told The Fix.

The Catholic, Jesuit university has some 9,000 total students.

While open to the entire university, it’s unclear how often the room is used by other campus groups or organizations.

Rev. Jim Erps, director of campus ministry, said his organization hasn’t used the space so far because it has “ongoing access to a number of chapels and several dedicated prayer spaces on campus.” Officials with Jewish Student Life and the Ethnic and Intercultural Services Department didn’t respond to emails from The Fix. Hussain said he’s not sure who else uses the space and how often it’s used, given his office is a 15-minute walk from the location.

Hussain, who has been at Loyola since 2005, said there’s a mosque located about 15 minutes away from campus.

“While that’s convenient for some [Muslim students], for others it isn’t, and they can’t go to the mosque and back for congregational prayers and still make their classes,” he said.

Students used to pray in a space under the campus chapel before it was renovated into offices, Hussain said.

Two Jesuit priests and the campus rabbi spoke at the opening of the new space in the Malone Student Center, according to Hussain. It joins a number of other worship locations on the Los Angeles campus.

Discussing the new space, the professor said the Catholic university wants to support students’ religious observances. He pointed out the school has an active chapter of the Jewish student group Hillel, with a rabbi.

While LMU doesn’t have an imam, Hussain pointed to the new department of Muslim Student Life. According to The Los Angeles Loyolan, it falls within the university’s Ethnic and Intercultural Services Department.

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