Muslim Students’ Association Inspires Renovation of Prayer Space in Hendricks Chapel

Students often seek a safe space on campus where they can feel at home. At Hendricks Chapel, the chaplains, staff and students work together to create an environment that is welcoming of the broader campus community and will continue to benefit those who use it in the future.

Syracuse University recently invested in that mission with a renovation of the Muslim Prayer Room, located on the lower level of Hendricks Chapel. Approved in August 2020 after engaged discussions with the Muslim student community, the project has since been completed.

Pillows in the MSA room

The newly renovated MSA Room

The Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) at Hendricks Chapel is driven by support for Muslim students and faculty in all sectors of spiritual wellness and religious observance. Principled on accommodation, openness and understanding, the group strives to provide a peaceful and welcoming environment on campus to both Muslim and non-Muslim students and faculty.

“I am very grateful to the Hendricks Chapel leadership and Syracuse University for their continuous support and efforts to make this possible,” says Amir Duirc, Islamic Chaplain and Imam at Hendricks Chapel and MSA advisor. “I am also thankful to Muslim students who contributed their ideas to give the MSA Room a new and fresh look. Knowing what the MSA Room means to the Muslim community and being a central space for the community on campus, this renovation is one of the most appreciated gifts they could receive.”

Duric plays a major role in the decisions and programming implemented by MSA, including daily Jumua’h prayers, Islamic education programs, interfaith discussions and Tafsir classes. He hopes to utilize the room as a way to lead these various programs, which MSA has been implementing semester after semester.

As student involvement and collaboration is essential at Hendricks Chapel, the students of MSA played an integral role in carrying out this project. Offering their insights at all meetings regarding the room renovation, they outlined recommendations for the room’s use, including what was working well prior to the renovation and what would be best for the future.

“Being the face of the Muslim population on campus is a task that I handle with humility,” says MSA President Haneen Awawda. “I knew that it was essential that Muslim students on campus have a space to pray their daily prayers, reflection and interaction with other Muslims on campus. Having a place that has a Quran and a prayer mat is a necessary resource for a Muslim student seeking an escape.”

The room has new shelving to hold the many prayer mats purchased by the association in recent years that are  used by MSA students for personal daily prayer in the MSA Room and on Fridays for Jumu’ah prayer in the Main Chapel.

The rejuvenated room serves several purposes and optimizes space for students to worship, store their belongings, make food and beverages, and host community conversations. The list of renovations included repainting the walls, removing old light bulbs, installing bookshelves, steam-cleaning carpets, and building cabinets.

Hendricks Chapel recognizes the hard work and efforts of the many contributions to this project across campus. For instance, the cabinets were custom built by the University’s Carpentry Shop in Facilities Services, spearheaded by Brian Wheeler and Brian O’Connor.

“This renovation project has been one of our greater accomplishments as we were able to create a space that offers solace and peace of mind for our students,” says Awawda.

This story was written by Christina Kohl ’21

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