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Campus & Community

A ‘Refuge’ Refreshed

Renovated Prayer Space Is a New Home for Muslim Terps

By Sala Levin ’10

Muslin prayer space

Students gather to pray in the newly renovated musallah, or Muslim prayer space. Originally a women’s locker room, the space in Cole Field House has served Muslim Terps for 20 years, and is now more open and spacious.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

First, it was a small locker room for the women’s swim team in Cole Field House. Then, for nearly 20 years, it was a bare-bones musallah, or Muslim prayer space—just spacious enough to serve the needs of UMD’s sizeable Muslim community, but rough around the edges. Even the old shower heads were still visible, a remnant from the room’s earlier life.

Now, after more than a year of renovation, the space has been reopened with a fresh look and more room, ready to welcome those looking for a place to pray, bond with fellow students and continue their religious journeys.

“It’s a place we need as Muslim students,” said Moussa Haddad ’22, president of the Muslim Students Association. “This is where we connect and grow together as students.”

The pre-renovation space was tight for the 150 or so students, faculty and staff who typically come through for their five-times-daily prayers. The removal of some walls opened up the room and allowed more students to share the space. An added exit has increased the venue’s maximum occupancy, and new air conditioning, carpeting and paint have enhanced the musallah’s appeal.

The musallah “looks brand new and amazing,” said Haddad. “It makes life a lot easier.”

Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, director of the Stamp Student Union, which funded part of the renovation, noted that a nearby restroom in the Stamp, directly across Union Lane, is being outfitted with ablution stations; students will be able to perform their ritual ablution, as required perform their Islamic prayers in the musallah.

Funded primarily by the student facilities fee, the renovation will also better enable the community-building aspect of the musallah. Traditions like game nights, interfaith activities and simply socializing with other students—especially after a long period of COVID isolation—will be easier to accommodate now, Haddad said.

The musallah has long been “a refuge, a home” for Muslim Terps, said Tarif Shraim, UMD’s Muslim chaplain. Many former students “have told me that they have nostalgia for this space, because it enabled them to develop lifelong relationships, find their faith and find faith in healing,” said Shraim.

The renovation is a sign to Muslim students that they belong here on campus, said Shraim. “The university has really been a very strong advocate of multiculturalism. It’s an indication of the level of support from the university to help foster that sense of community.”

Schools & Departments:

Division of Student Affairs

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