The Muslim prayer space, the Georgetown University Masjid, opened to the university community in its new location in the Village C complex for its first Jum’ah prayer service Aug. 30.
The Muslim Prayer Room had previously been located in the Copley Hall basement since 1987. The masjid, located in what was previously known as Alumni Lounge, will now be able to accomodate the around 100 people who typically attend Jum’ah services, as well as even more people for programming events, said Director for Muslim Life Imam Yahya Hendi.
The masjid will be a multipurpose area where Muslim students can not only receive Islamic information and education, but also interact and talk with other community members, according to Hendi.
“I believe and hope that this masjid would become a place where students can receive Islamic information, Islamic education, where the Muslim community will be able to find a place where they can engage with their fellow Muslims, but also their fellow sisters and brothers of humanity,” Hendi said in an interview with The Hoya.
New additions to the masjid that were not present in the Muslim Prayer Room in Copley include a halal kitchen, where students can cook and eat halal food, separate office space for spiritual and religious counseling, and an area for general community gatherings. These additions will allow for Muslim Life to diversify their programming and reimagine the role it plays on campus, according to Hendi.
The new space will also open doors to opportunities for reflecting on the role of Islam in the lives of students, according to Hendi.
“I’m trying to find a way to reimagine the Muslim community at Georgetown in light of this. Reimagine the Muslim community, reimagine the role of Islam on campus and in the lives of our students,” Hendi said. “Hence, I want to create programs that will make that happen and create a space that will foster those ideas.”
The idea for the masjid was first suggested around seven years ago, but it wasn’t until 2017 that finding a location and gathering funds for the space became a priority, according to Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Gregory Schenden. Fundraising and coordinating was led by the Office of Mission and Ministry, the Development Office, the Office of the President, students and alumni.
Adding the masjid to campus emphasizes the importance of having a space designated for Muslims at Georgetown in light of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment across the nation, according to Muslim Student Association Vice President Kumail Aslam (COL ’20).
“In recent years it’s been tough with anti-Muslim bias and all that in the news and in the country, so I think this shows that Georgetown is dedicated to having a space for Muslims which I think is important,” Aslam said.
The prayer space will be used for students in the broader Georgetown community to engage in conversations about various societal issues, according to Hendi.
“I hope this will become a place that will engage members of the larger community on issues of humanity as in social justice, environmental justice, healthcare justice, black lives matter, issues of race, war and peace,” Hendi said. “I really hope this becomes a place where people go and intentionally discuss these issues.”
The masjid will be an open space where all types of Muslims and students can come and feel welcomed, according to Hendi.
“I also hope that this will become a place for unity where Muslims from all walks of life will feel welcome,” Hendi said. “I want this to be a woman-friendly masjid, a youth-friendly masjid, a questioning-friendly masjid, where our students will be able to find the time to discover their purpose in life.”
The masjid will continue to host five daily prayers, weekly halaqah, or religious gatherings, and Friday Jum’ah services. With the larger space, Muslim Life hopes to be able to bring more guest speakers to come and talk about various topics. The masjid adds to the university’s mission of creating a campus environment where all students feel welcomed, according to Schenden.
“The inauguration of the Georgetown Masjid, in keeping with the Ignatian value of the magis, furthers the deepening of the sense of belonging and welcome in its capacity to allow our Muslim community to live more fully lives of greater meaning,” Schenden wrote in an email to The Hoya.
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