By: Zachary Rankin

“I used to think that all Muslims were terrorists before I became a Muslim.” That’s the view of Mohamed Ali Farhat who, along 50 other Muslim students from Algonquin, Carleton University and University of Ottawa, gathered for an afternoon prayer on Sept. 14 at Algonquin’s new Community Spiritual Centre.

Mohamed spoke to a Times reporter before the prayer service began. “I know now those people you see on TV don’t represent true Islam.”

This same sentiment was echoed in the sermon “Response in the Face of Intolerance” delivered by Ahmed Abdi, the Imam, and a Carleton student. “Did the son lash out when he was ridiculed and chastised for his beliefs by his father? No, Muslims respond to confusion with clarity and to intolerance with tolerance.”

Abdi went on to preach that Muslims should reply with peace and understanding to mocking and insults from non-believers. As to the current protests in the Middle East, he argues that what the protesters were doing was wrong and not in line with the teachings of the Qur’an.

The day before, in the same room, a group of volunteers from the Salvation Army led by Algonquin Campus Minister, Yuriy Derkach, read from the book of Psalms. The volunteers were at Algonquin to pray and go fishing. “Fishing” said volunteer Patrick Garcia, “is handing out free bibles, pamphlets, trying to connect students with churches and letting students know about “Rock the River.” That is a two-day outdoor evangelical concert which will take place at Britannia Park Sept. 29 to Sept. 30.

The Community Spiritual Centre is located in the newly-built Student Commons building. The Centre is a welcome change with its large prayer room, offices, and two adulation rooms for Muslims. Previously Christians prayed in a small, cramped room and Muslims used bathrooms to wash their feet.

“The Centre is a place of friendship and faith, all faiths are welcome including non-believers seeking spiritual nourishment” said Derkach. The Centre’s opening will be two weeks after the official opening of the Student Commons building and will be marked by a ceremony.