The Muslim Students Association (MSA) opened a masjid on campus to its first prayer on March 10 in Clements Hall. The MSA has been an official organization on campus since the fall of 2013.
Founder of MSA, senior biology and pre-med major Aesha Al Izzi, said that this is her “baby” because she is the one who started this work back in 2012.
“When I came to campus there were two Muslims, me and one other person,” Izzi said.
The MSA students brought in Abukar Arman, former special envoy of Somalia to the U.S. and a writer specializing in foreign policy, to speak on the purpose of the masjid and about Islam.
A masjid, also known as a mosque, is a place to worship. MSA has been trying to find the perfect location that fits all of the accommodations needed to practice their religion.
Arman said it is no different than a church, temple or synagogue, but within a masjid, there are different traditions and accommodations needed to pray. For example, a bathroom within the same prayer room for a washing before an individual starts praying.
Arman spoke of how the five different pillars of Islam represent different importances to the Islamic faith. The pillars are Shahadah (testimony), Salat (prayer), Sawm (fasting of ramadan), Zakat (charity) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
After explaining what purpose the masjid serves, the ribbon was cut, and the masjid had its first prayer.
Ladan Barnes and Aesha Al Izzis spoke on why it is important to have this space on campus to not only them personally but also the university.
Founder Izziis said she believes that having the masjid on campus allows for inclusiveness and diversity, but by not having a masjid on campus would go against everything that Otterbein stands for. Izzi said she believes that this will also bring more students to Otterbein.
Last month, with the rally against what the Trump administration in the first couple of weeks of class and now the opening of the masjid, sophomore pre-med and public health major Barnes has been a very active voice on campus through the MSA.
Barnes has a strong connection to the masjid opening because she is Muslim. “This space is important to me to have a community and to have a space to go to.”
When asked if either of these MSA leaders foresee tension within the community, both of them had similar answers. Barnes said, “I won't be surprised if anything happens, but it is a space for everyone.” While Izzis said that not everyone is going to like them or the fact that they now have a space on campus.
MSA has meetings every Monday from 3 to 4 p.m. in library room 124. Arman will be speaking at an MSA event on April 5.