Professor Mawdudur Rahman is well known in the Accounting Department for his efforts to share effective economic and social strategies on a global scale. The founder of the Knowledge Globalization Institute, he has already had a significant impact on using technology in education around the world.
But Suffolk University students know his mind is open to more than just numbers. Recently, Professor Rahman was featured May 27 on WGBH radio’s Callie Crossley Show to talk about his efforts to find places for Muslim students to pray on campus. It started out nearly 25 years ago, he told Crossley, from a practical need.
“Once I had a class that ran late on Fridays,” he said. “I often went to Friday prayers at Northeastern or Boston University, but I didn't have enough time to get back to my class.”
Rahman got permission to use a basement room on the Suffolk campus, which was open to students of any religion, but was often used by Muslim students who prayed five times each day as well as the larger group that came on Fridays.
“The university has been very welcoming,” Rahman said, “and athletic director Jim Nelson even opened a gym when we needed more room.”
Suffolk’s willingness to make accommodations for its Muslim students reflects its commitment to international students, Rahman said. “It is important to open the academic doors,” he said, “but it’s also important to respect and embrace their cultural and religious needs.”
Word soon got out to Muslims working in downtown Boston that there was a convenient place to pray, and the wider interest led Rahman to look for a larger space. He started the organization, Daral Islam of Boston, and since 2001, the group has been based in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Tremont Street.
“The church has been very generous to us,” Rahman said, “even taking our needs into consideration when then did some renovations. Their generosity has helped open the Muslim community up to them, too.”
When two communities who think they are so different from each other spend time together, he said, “they realize they have the same hopes and aspirations.”
Rahman says his Muslim son now organizes prayers at St. Paul’s and brings his friends, too. He says he has great hope that the new generation can make positive changes.
“Everything I do has some mission of sharing,” he said. “Unless you share, you cannot solve problems.”