Hey U of T. Enjoying reading week? Hope you manage to actually fit some reading in there (“oh Abdullah, good joke.” you say).  Last week, as it probably was for most of you, was hectic for me. Needless to say writing three midterms before the glorious reading week is not fun.  After finally finishing my last midterm on Thursday, I needed a de-stressor badly. I mulled over my options at Sid Smith.  Should I go and look at some avant garde art at the AGO? Pretend that I’m totally an expert on the work of Freida Karlo’s 18th century Parisian café escapades. That sentence testifies to how much of an art expert I am; art history majors – I apologize.  Then, I remembered a weekly program I’d been looking forward to going to for weeks but never had the time to attend: Soulfood. Now hold up. I know what you’re thinking; but sadly this has nothing to do with the Commodores, or the O’Jays or Soul Train.  This shouldn’t stop us from having a Soul Train appreciation event though. Hart House! I’m looking at you. Anyhow, Soulfood is a weekly discussion held by the Muslim Chaplaincy every Thursday night at 6 in Room 006 of Emmanuel College.  With help from the community, the University of Toronto and the Muslim Students’ Association, this year the Muslim Chaplaincy was launched at U of T.  Amjad Tarsin, serves as Chaplain. In addition to general counselling and khutbahs (Friday prayer sermons), the Chaplaincy runs a variety of programs and courses for U of T students to take advantage of.  I hadn't interacted with the Chaplain before and was really interested in checking out the program, so I relished the opportunity to attend.
A canvas painting by Sehar Shehzad hangs in the Muslim Prayer Space at Emmanuel College.
So, that Thursday night after my exam I made my away across campus to Emmanuel College and to Room 006, which happens to be the newly renovated Muslim Prayer space. Let me just say that it is beautiful, the beige and brown colours of the wall contrast perfectly and the room gives off a warm aura.  Plus, you can hear the rumbling of the subways going to Museum station every 10-15 minutes or so; that sound for me, gives the room a strange ambience. Anyways, I arrived at the room to find everybody seated in a circle and I joined them. Soon, the discussion began about back biting and how we can do our best to avoid it. It was a thoughtful, honest and at times emotional conversation that I’m glad I was a part of.  I learned a lot and the atmosphere of the group and the discussion was warm, welcoming and calm.
The Muslim Prayer Space at Emmanuel College (Room 006)
In a hectic university setting, with papers, midterms and exams; sometimes all we need are these moments of calm and introspection.  For me, my moment of calm was sitting with a group of my peers discussing Islamic interpretations and viewpoints on life.  For you, it may be joining a Bible study group, or having Shabbat dinner at the Wolfond Centre, meditating in the Multi Faith Centre or joining your friends for Muffin Madness. After the discussion, some of us joined the chaplain, Amjad, in his office for some coffee and refreshments. I stayed about a half hour, in that time we discussed all sorts of things like dream interpretation.  Amjad, the Chaplain, is pretty awesome and so was everybody else there.  All in all, it was a great way to end the week and I’m definitely going back when I have the chance. Enjoy reading week U of T!  

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