The Dar us Salaam community in College Park, Md has lost the use of its musalla for large events like Friday prayer, Eid, and tarawih. For the last couple of years, the community has held its Ramadan tarawih prayers at a local Mariott hotel.
This year, in a welcome change, the community prayed at the Reckord Armory gym on the campus of the University of Maryland. I was pleased to see that we would praying without the need to erect a partition. For me, praying behind a partition or barrier or disconnected in a separate room, balcony, or basement degrades the experience of the congregational prayer.
Unfortunately, there was no organized program for children so there was a lot of the usual little kid “marathon” running during the prayer. And being in a gym, on a basketball court no less, is an invitation to play that is hard for many kids to resist.
One day, the imam leading the prayer ended the tarawih early after only four rakah because the noise from the children made it difficult for him to concentrate. Welcome to the club, that’s the regular experience of prayer for so many women in our communities.
The Islamic Society of Washington (ISWA) was founded primarily by Muslim immigrants from Guyana and Trinidad. I’ve tried to visit ISWA several times since major renovations were recently completed but each time I went the doors were locked.
As a customer service issue, I’d love to see more mosques post their operating hours at their entrances. It’s disheartening to come a mosque only to find it locked and with no way of knowing when it will reopen.
The parking lot was full for evening tarawih prayers so I parked on the grass. It’s dark back there and somewhat muddy. Earlier in the month, I visited the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center and was impressed with the addition of flood lights to illuminate the darker corners of the parking lot.
I appreciate that the central entrance is shared by both women and men and that it also wheelchair/stroller accessible.