August 21, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the size of the Muslim population at Boston College?

A: It is difficult for any school to know the exact number of Muslim students. We estimate that 1% out of approximately 9,000 undergraduates are Muslim, which is about 90 students. We don’t have statistics of the Muslim population at the graduate level.

Q: Will I be comfortable being Muslim at a Jesuit school?

A:  Muslim students are absolutely comfortable here! Boston College is extremely supportive of spirituality and religion, more so than most secular schools. This can actually make it easier to be Muslim at college!

Clearly, being a minority at BC brings special challenges to Muslim students, including heightening their identity. There are many resources in the neighboring towns for students who wish to be guided to these networks. The major Islamic Civilization and Societies also offers additional courses for interested students, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

The religious affiliation of Boston College impacts student life by emphasizing the school’s “Jesuit Catholic tradition”, based on the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola: scholarship (free & open; not subject to mandates from authority, whether Church or State) and community service. This is very similar to the Muslim value of Zakat.

Q: What resources and programs does Boston College MSA offer?

A: The Boston College MSA offers social, cultural and religious programming as well as a family-feel within a larger school. Our events include:

  • Jum’uah
  • Weekly Iftars/ Halaqas
  • Weekend spiritual retreats
  • Holiday services and celebrations
  • Regional and national events and conferences

Q: Is there a halal dining option at BC?

A: Boston College serves halal food at Lower Dining Hall (Corcoran Commons) for dinner only. Keep an eye out for quarter-chicken dish, usually offered in the back right hand side of lower. In addition, the second floor of Lower Dining Hall is host to The Loft at Addie’s, which serves halal chicken on their flatbread pizzas. If you have any questions please leave a note at the bottom of our home page.

Q: I come from a very heavily Muslim populated hometown. Will I feel like a minority at BC?

A: Approximately 1% of the undergraduate student body is Muslim, so being a student at BC is a unique experience. Many Muslims students appreciate the emphasis of the Jesuit ideals of scholarship and service similar to Zakat in our own tradition. The Boston College MSA also offers many programs to connect Muslim students on campus and offer a piece of home on the Heights.

Q: I am Muslim but not religious. Will I fit in anywhere at BC?

A: Yes, most definitely! Boston College was founded on religious values, but it is also a university focused on scholarship where the majority of campus activities are secular, such as sports, community service and arts.

Q: Where can I find a quiet place to pray and will there be Friday prayers on campus?

A: The Multi-Faith Center, located in between 90 St. Thomas More Rd. and 66 Commonwealth Ave. and across from Lower Dining Hall, is open between 7AM and 10PM every day and has space for praying. The closets in the Center have several prayer rugs for salat. If the space is reserved by another group, they are normally very accommodating for other students who are there to pray. Additionally, the Multi-Faith Center is reserved for Friday prayers which are hosted on campus for the benefit of students. The khutbahs will begin around 1PM.

Q: Is there pressure to convert to Catholicism while at BC?

A: While the campus is majority Catholic and features Jesuit teachings in courses, there is no pressure from faculty or students to convert from Islam. In fact, the religious atmosphere of the school is encouraging of embracing spirituality in whatever form one feels most comfortable.

Q: Does BC allow students to miss class for the Muslim holidays?

A: Massachusetts state law requires that the university excuse any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement because of religious observance, and allow students the right to make up the work without any adverse or prejudicial effects.

The law also provides that such makeup work may not create an unreasonable burden upon the university. This means that students must inform professors in advance of the days on which they will be absent for religious reasons. It is not a bad idea to let professors know in writing and as early in the semester as possible.

New students often find this task intimidating. If you would like advice in how to approach your professors, MSA board members and faculty advisors are always happy to help.