Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students Celebrate Ramadan

Each evening during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Georgetown’s tightly-knit Muslim community gathers in a small room to worship together in a time of spiritual reflection called the taraweeh prayer service.

The service is the capstone to a Muslim day of fasting during Ramadan and the daily breaking of the fast, called the iftar.

According to Muslim Student Association vice president Saad Omar (COL ’07), the taraweeh service not only helps him to explore his spirituality but also allows him to relax and find himself as a person.

“People are encouraged to learn that life as students can be very hectic but this is relaxed and a time for spiritual reflection,” he said. “It’s sort of a mental break.”

MSA treasurer Tyseer Khaled (COL ’07) has experienced Ramadan and taraweeh not only at Georgetown but in the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

“This is the GU community but, because of a commonality we share with other Muslims, I have the same feeling here as in ecca,” he said. “For us, Mecca is the center of Islam and praying the taraweeh prayers is a big deal. We know millions of people are praying the same prayers at the same time.”

Khaled said the main difference between Ramadan at Georgetown and at an Islamic center like Mecca is the number of worshippers. When he was in Mecca, the mosques sometimes became so filled that people spilled onto the streets praying, he said.

He called the Koran the “unifying thread” for uslims all over the world.

Many of Georgetown’s Islamic students pray within Georgetown’s special Muslim Prayer Room in Copley Hall.

According to Omar and Khaled, the room is often filled with students studying, worshipping or just hanging out. It is a beautiful room painted in bright hues of pink with Arabic calligraphy covering the walls.

There are no depictions of humans on the walls and Omar said that this helps worshippers focus and also allows Muslims to properly channel their spiritualism.

“We believe that you can’t imagine what God looks like,” he said. “When you are praying to God there is no image that could represent him.”

According to Khaled, the room is something that separates Georgetown from its peer institutions. It shows that the university is committed to helping Muslims feel included in the larger community, he said.

“There are a lot of larger universities that don’t even have this sort of accommodation for their students,” Khaled said. “Another thing is the programs the university has here. Here you can take courses on Islam or Arabic and have the spiritual aspect at the same time.”

Both students said that the unique spiritual growth they have experienced during Ramadan and as part of the larger Georgetown uslim community has helped them to feel comfortable at the university and helped them deal with the challenges they have faced over the last year.

Khaled said his core religious beliefs have helped him overcome temptations and be a better roommate while Omar said being a Muslim is an intrinsic part of who he his.

“Spirituality is the core aspect of my life and being able to be at Georgetown where I am developing myself and building a strong spiritual identity is extremely important for me,” Omar said.

“Religion is a motivating force and inspires me to work harder and get involved on campus. Being spiritual gives you an inner tranquility.”

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