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Muslim Students Lobby For Religious Center

By Maggie S. Tucker

Muslim student leaders are asking University officials for more space, saying the "cubbyhole" they now occupy in the basement of Memorial Hall is too small for their religious and administrative needs.

While Muslim students at Harvard have secured room for services at Phillips Brooks House for two hours every Friday, they say that they need a room of their own because their religion calls for prayer five times daily.

Most students end up going back to their rooms to pray, said Sohail H. Hashmi, a fourth-year graduate student and the Islamic Society's representative to the United Ministry.

"For some people that means walking from the science labs all the way to Peabody Terrace," Hashmi said. "We're just trying to find something that's more conveniently located."

Other colleges in the Boston area such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University have the equivalent of small mosques for their Muslim students, according to Hashmi.

More space is also needed for administrative reasons, according to the Islamic Society's secretary, Ali Agha '91. Agha said that the cramped quarters are a hindrance to organizing Society activities.

"I think it would give [Muslim students] a sense of community, someplace to call their own," said Shamez M. Mohamed '91. Mohamed, who described the Muslim community at Harvard as "scattered," said, "It would create a united group from which we can work."

Agha, who said that the Islamic Society at Harvard is one of the oldest in the country, estimated that there are approximately 100 Muslim students at the University. Hashmi said that the University's Muslim community is growing rapidly, particularly in the College.

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