Georgetown opens first-of-its-kind mosque on a U.S. campus

On March 18, Georgetown University officially opened the Yarrow Mamout Masjid, the first masjid, or mosque, with ablution stations, a spirituality and formation hall, and a halal kitchen on a U.S. college campus. Georgetown was also the first U.S. university to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain, Imam Yahya Hendi, 24 years ago.

Imam Hendi first envisioned the masjid 12 years ago, and has worked with students, faculty, staff, donors, and a design firm to create a space for reflection, prayer, community, and interfaith dialogue for Muslim and non-Muslim students at Georgetown. 

“At Georgetown University, they come to a unique place,” says Imam Hendi, Director for Muslim Life. “They come to a place that cares for the whole person. They walk into the space that tells them they are not far from home. They are home.”

A space of belonging

For many students, the masjid offers a place of solace and refuge to disconnect from their routines and connect with fellow Muslims. Roudah Chaker (C’24), a junior who commutes to campus, finds the masjid to be the place where she spends the majority of her time on campus. “I wear a hijab, and that’s always the first identity I’m seen as,” Chaker says. “But in this one space, I’m seen as me. I’m seen as my personality. I’m seen as my intelligence. I’m seen as my heart and my soul. And this makes me feel safe, knowing that I can just be who I am.”

Dedicated to Yarrow Mamout, an enslaved man who bought his freedom, contributed to the neighborhood of Georgetown, and continued to deepen and practice his Islamic faith in the 18th century, the masjid is one of many sacred spaces on Georgetown’s main campus.

As the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown continues to find new ways to foster its values of interreligious understanding and cura personalis. The masjid is the latest example, says Father Mark Bosco, S.J., vice president for Mission & Ministry.

“We’re trying to form students to be people for others,” says Father Bosco. “And in doing that, it means we need to embrace interreligious dialogue. Coming to these different places, being invited by another student to come to the masjid, for example, whether you’re Muslim or not, invites us to explore the richness of Georgetown’s heritage and its deep commitment to our faith traditions.”

Read more about the Yarrow Mamout Masjid here.

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