Distinctively Stockton

Winter 2024 Issue
Two female Muslim students cut a Stockton ribbon to open the meditation room

Distinctively Stockton


Stockton’s Meditation Room – A Memoir

Persistence and patience pay off, as evidenced by the students in the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

The student organization cut the ribbon on a brand-new Meditation Room on campus during the Fall 2023 semester, just steps away from the new Multicultural Center. The room came after months of planning, research and two written proposals by the students and with the support of staff members in Student Development, the Dean of Students Office and Residential Life.

In celebration of the new space opening, let’s take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the first Meditation Room ribbon cutting that happened almost 10 years ago with Sadaf Chaudhry, who served as MSA president from 2011-12 and president of the Campus Religious Council from 2012-13.

From F Wing to N Wing: The First Meditation Room 

Atlantic City native Chaudhry graduated from Stockton in the fall of 2014 from the Biology program with a concentration in Neuroscience. Aside from her extracurricular activities in the above clubs and being a staff writer for the Argo, she mostly remembers the new construction happening on campus.

“The Campus Center had opened either a year or a couple of years prior to that, so it was pretty new. I used the Campus Center a lot just to study and to hold and attend meetings of various clubs. I remember there being a lot of other buildings still under construction, and in the year prior (to graduating), there were a lot of parking issues,” Chaudhry said with a small laugh.

According to Chaudhry, the MSA was established and then underwent a hiatus before being revived in 2009 or 2010. It was during that revival that Chaudhry became president; she facilitated meetings and gatherings in the group, mainly in the Campus Center, but remembers having prayer mats at the ready in the F Wing Atrium (read: the lounge full of trees in front of the Richard E. Bjork Library) just in case meeting times coincided with daily prayer times.

“I remember that we kept a box of prayer mats, and you'll have to excuse me because I may be forgetting some things because it's been some time, but from what I remember, we had a cardboard box with prayer mats and whenever we had like communal prayer either during or after MSA meetings or for special events so that we would just pray there. I think we also would pray in whichever room we booked for (general) meetings.”

“People had been asking about it for years before even I was a student there, which kind of makes sense because I imagine there's a need for it on any campus, for people to pray, but also to meditate and just to be able to rest and relax. There needs to be dedicated space for that, so it kind of made sense to me that people have been asking about it before,” Chaudhry noted.

From N Wing to New & Improved F Wing

Lower F Wing has become a new hub for students with the arrival of the Multicultural Center and the Office of Global Engagement, both of which serve students through support and guidance, as well as programming and events.

N Wing, however, remains the spot for food in the now-named Food Hall at The Nest and not much else student-wise, leaving students who may not be familiar with that part of campus confused about where to find the room that Chaudhry and others worked so hard to get. That was until the current executive board of MSA decided to take matters into their own hands.

A large group of faculty, staff and students in the new Meditation Room
The opening of the new Meditation Room was attended by faculty, staff and students excited to see the improved, larger space. | Photo by Loukaia Taylor '22

According to Fatima Khawaja, 2021 president of MSA, and Huda Waheed, current vice president of MSA, the organization itself and the Meditation Room that they frequently utilize aren’t just for the growing number of on-campus members but rather for the community at large.

“Our community and its continuous growth inspired us to begin the process of getting a new meditation room. We wanted something more permanent, a space that could not be dismissed,” Khawaja said.


Our community and its continuous growth inspired us to begin the process of getting a new meditation room. We wanted something more permanent, a space that could not be dismissed.”
Fatima Khawaja

“The mosques around here are still developing, so we have so many high schoolers that come to our events and so many alumni that come to our bigger events,” Waheed said. “A really big part of our faith is community and being with each other for congregation or practicing with other people.”

The emphasis on community within Islam is demonstrated by how often the group meets for prayers, smaller group faith discussions and religious events – every day except Thursday. Having a space that could properly accommodate them was a need the previous space just couldn’t live up to.

students in the Muslim Student Association tabling in the Academic Spine
Members of the MSA tabling during Islamic Awareness Week in 2014. | Submitted photo

“I remember we had this event with about 40 people, and it was really hot and cramped. Members had to bring fans from their homes just for the event, and I was like, ‘This is ridiculous,’” Waheed said. “The room was barren, too, and members brought in – out of their own money – shelves, sandals for when you make ablution, artwork and even a reminder alarm for daily prayers. Our members worked so hard to make the space usable and enjoyable, but it just wasn’t sufficient.”

The new Meditation Room – which the group emphasizes is for the whole campus community to utilize – now boasts of a more central location, sturdy shelves for the Qurans** (or any other holy books), multiple shoe racks right next to the door that are steps away from the ablution room and beautiful artwork adorning the walls, including a gold plated Qibla***.

“This space has been utilized ever since it opened,” Zikra Naz, current president of MSA, said. “I have seen students come in to meditate; it’s a quiet space, and I love that anyone can come to this space and feel a sense of relief. Many alumni have reached out wanting to see this new room - they have been extremely supportive and proud of us as youngsters trying to do something for our community. Our prayers have been answered, and this room is now a reality. I appreciate everyone involved in this process."

Khawaja, Waheed and the current executive board members look forward to continuing their work with the community and seeing more alumni come out to their events.  

“Now that our project is complete, we feel accomplished,” Khawaja said. “More importantly, we feel as if we have finally proclaimed our power: the power to advocate for ourselves. We hope this room is utilized by members to charge their souls and to practice their faith with pride. I urge alumni to serve the diverse demographics of Stockton University.”

“We worked for the room because… I'm not thinking about myself. I'm thinking about my friends, sisters, the future generations. I'm thinking about the future of this club and the Muslim community in this area because there's not much for our Muslim students in this area,” Waheed said. “As a current student, I would just say that the only thing I look forward to is our community thriving. Our events are faith-based and not academic, so to speak, and I feel like everyone can benefit from some religious knowledge, so I would like for us to keep providing that.”  

Chaudhry, who felt she never really got to see how much the previous space was used, is excited to come back to campus to see this new space.

“I'm glad Stockton is definitely a place where your ideas can come to life. Staff and faculty are really open to student suggestions because it is a relatively younger school and because I think it’s the spirit in which the school was created.”

*Followers of Islam pray five times a day, which is called Salah. Times to pray Salah changes every day due to Islam following the Lunar calendar.  

**The Quran is the central religious text of Islam. As a holy book, it must never touch the floor. 

***The Qibla indicates the direction of the Kaaba, the sacred mosque in Mecca, to which Muslims turn towards during prayer. 

– Story by Loukaia Taylor