At Harvard, Muslims’ traditions are topic of debate

Two issues of Muslim practice are stirring debate at Harvard University. The debate over whether the university should grand women separate gym hours, and whether or not the call to prayer should ring out across Harvard Yard, have prompted student discussion. The first controversy began in early February, when the undergraduate college restricted one of their three largest gyms on the main campus, the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center, to women only for several hours week, as requested by a small group of Muslim women undergraduates at the university. The second controversy occurred after the Muslim call to prayer, or the adhan, was broadcast across Harvard Yard at noon from the steps of Widener library during several days in late February. The broadcast was part of Islamic Awareness Week, sponsored by the Muslim student club, the Harvard Islamic Society. The argument over whether or not this constituted proselytizing by stating that the prophet Muhammad is God’s messenger, or symbolized religious pluralism, led several students to write an op-ed article in the Crimson denouncing the practice; the Harvard Crimson has denounced both practices. While these two issues have caused some debate at Harvard, many students, however, seemed oblivious to either one. [See full-text article here.->http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/us/21tolerance.html #B#] (Some news sites may require registration)