Brief history of Harvard Longwood-Campus Muslims
we came to exist around the middle of May 2000. A final year Medical Student, Ibrahim Abdullah, met the recently arriving School of Public Health research fellow, Wael Al-Delaimy, at a local Mosque. And since it is a requirement for Muslims to pray five times daily, the topic of how to manage the daily prayers in the Longwood campus was an issue of discussion. This lead to a search to know how many other Muslims are there in campus. It was thought there would be no more than a few. Ibrahim had once met another research fellow at the Medical School, Amr Fahmi, and he was contacted. The three began the search, and found there were actually much more Muslims then they originally thought, but they were scattered all over campus and no one knew there were others. Each one thought he was the only one. An effort began to sign a petition and ask the Medical School to provide for the Muslims a prayer room. This lead those three people to a wonderful person who is in charge of counselling at the Vanderbilt Hall, and she herself is a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School. This person was Reen Carter.
After communicating with Reen, she mentioned to the three that a newly established common prayer room is available at the Vanderbilt Hall. The room was meant to serve as a meditation room for all religions. So the room was checked by several Muslims who signed the petition and were eager to find a peaceful place to perform their prayer on daily basis. However, all agreed that the room would not satisfy the needs of Muslims for the following reasons: the Muslim prayers invloved calling for prayer in a loud voice "athan", and some of the prayers (after sunset, night and dawn prayers) were done in a vociferous manner. This would be disturbing to any other person from another relgion who most probably came for a quite time to meditate and reflect. Furthermore, Muslim prayers are several times a days, and people may come at any time to perform and cannot schedule it and book the room a week earlier like other groups. Therefore these concerns were communicated to Reen and a seperate room was requested to fulfil the needs of worship for Muslims. She asked to be given a few days to see an alternative. And surely, within a couple of days she met the three and she and her partner, Steve, showed them a room that was formerly a computer laboratory in the basement of Vanderbilt Hall as a possible new room specifically for Muslims. The room was small, but had a main advantage of having its own toilet and basin inside, which would be essential for performing abolution (wudu) before prayer. So it was agreed that this room would fulfill the need and everyone was happy about it.
For a full year Reen was very supportive and always asked the Muslims about there needs, she worked with Thomas Gillogley, the Vanderblt Hall Bussiness office manager, to facilitate Muslim's access to the room. Tom was very helpful and responsive to the needs of the room, and put a new combination door lock and helped set up the room to be ready for use. This cooperation and mutual understanding, culminated after one year in the anouncment of the official establishment of the Harvard Longwood Campus Muslim group through the support and blessings of Dr. Nancy Oriol, the Dean for Student Affairs at the Harvard Medical School. This blessed day happened on August 2, 2001. By that time there were approximately 60 Muslims in the group. Again it was the instrumental dedicaiton and personal follow up of Reen Carter that made this happen. Click on the following links to view the letters of appreciation from the Muslim community to the adminstration of Harvard Medical School.