In 2023, Georgetown officially opened the Yarrow Mamout Masjid, the first-of-its-kind mosque on a U.S. college campus.

Throughout the semester, Tabshir Forkan (C’24) walks to Georgetown University’s masjid, or mosque, on campus for its daily prayer services.

He steps into the sunlit, open worship space to pray. Afterward, he often finds himself in the masjid’s community space, attending spiritual discussions and dinners, studying, and meeting with friends.

“It’s a space I feel myself drawn to,” he says. “I can’t seem to stay away.”

In spending time at the masjid, Forkan has felt his Islamic faith deepen — something he had worried about in leaving his Muslim community and masjid back home for a Catholic, Jesuit university — and is forging his own identity as a Muslim.

“To come here and not lose that space and not lose that community — only to find a new community and new friends to be around — has been incredibly powerful,” he says. “It has only helped me progress along and connect more with my faith.”

In 2023, Georgetown officially opened the Yarrow Mamout Masjid, the first mosque with ablution stations (places where community members can engage in the ritual of washing themselves before prayer), a spirituality and formation hall, and a halal kitchen on a U.S. college campus.

The mosque is one of eight sacred spaces on Georgetown’s main campus that serve students of all faith backgrounds. In 2021, Georgetown opened its Dharmic Meditation Center, which was also the first of its kind on a U.S. campus. In 2022, the University created an ecumenical chapel for Christian communities, which hosts Taizé prayer: a blend of candlelight, music, and meditation. And this spring, Georgetown is renovating Makóm, the campus’ worship and gathering space for the Jewish community.

“Georgetown’s commitment to interfaith dialogue and accompaniment is thus not in spite of its Catholic and Jesuit heritage, but precisely because of it,” says Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., vice president for Mission & Ministry. “Creating beautiful sacred spaces for our Dharmic, Muslim, and Jewish community, as well as ecumenical spaces for our Protestant and Christian Orthodox communities, truly makes Georgetown a richer place for faith to be nourished and celebrated as integral to human flourishing.”

Georgetown’s Yarrow Mamout Masjid offers five daily prayer services, educational programming, and a community space for students.

The Masjid
Georgetown’s Yarrow Mamout Masjid provides a space for reflection, prayer, community and interfaith dialogue for Muslim and non-Muslim students at Georgetown. It offers five daily prayer services, educational programming and a built-in community.

“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.”

In creating the masjid and all other new sacred spaces on campus, Georgetown’s Campus Ministry team has envisioned spaces that honor the diverse spiritual traditions of students and staff who call these spaces home.

“These are not token spaces. They’re not just an accommodation. These spaces symbolize Georgetown’s commitment to being a home to these communities,” says Aaron Johnson, assistant vice president for Interreligious Understanding and Strategy. “It’s our hope that when a student exits the masjid, or they’re walking out of the Dharmalaya, they’re walking into a campus community that feels more like home.”

Georgetown’s Dharmālaya offers space for community members of Dharmic spiritual traditions to gather and worship.

The Dharmālaya
Georgetown opened the Dharmālaya, a new meditation center for members of Dharmic spiritual traditions, in 2021. The center offers space for members of Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Hindu and other Dharmic traditions to gather in small groups, practice religious and spiritual traditions, and meditate.

The room was internationally designed with teak shrines from Myanmar and marble icons from India to create a space for worship. It was also built from the interfaith effort of students from the Hindu Association, Sikh Student Association and Buddhist Student Association, who advocated for a sacred space in partnership with Campus Ministry and alumni, particularly as Georgetown’s Dharmic communities grew.

For many students, the opening of the Dharmālaya at a Catholic, Jesuit institution helps increase the visibility of the Dharmic spiritual community — and advances Georgetown’s core values of interreligious understanding and dialogue.

“For Dharmālaya to open on a Catholic, Jesuit campus is monumental and demonstrates Georgetown’s level of commitment to its students and interreligious understanding,” says Piyusha Mittal (SFS’18), an alumna who advocated for the center while at Georgetown.

(L) Deb Silver, associate director of Jewish Life and (R) Rabbi Daniel Schaefer, interim director for Jewish Life, in Makom, a Jewish gathering space under renovation on campus.

Makóm
This spring, the university will complete renovations on the Makóm, a Jewish gathering space that has existed on campus since 2011. The space, which includes a kosher kitchen, will now hold a new ark that will be reoriented for members of the Jewish community to face Jerusalem when they pray.

The space will also include a larger sanctuary space and separate social space, so that students can connect and worship in separate areas at the same time.

“It has meant so much to our community to have a Jewish sacred space on campus and to know that we belong here,” says Rabbi Daniel Schaefer, interim director for Jewish Life. “Now, more than ever, it is meaningful to be in a space that reminds us of the beauty of our tradition.”

Zach Samuel (SFS’26), a sophomore in the Jewish Student Association, found a community in Makóm during his first year at the University. He’s excited that the renovations will allow more community members to attend worship services and events.

“It’s really great having a space like that at a Jesuit university. It’s not something I expected, but it’s a really wonderful part of being a student here,” he said. “It’s also clear that these renovations reflect a conscious effort by the school to support us and our religious community and the sacred spaces we have on campus.”

Zach Samuel is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and a member of the Jewish Student Association at Georgetown.

Students at Georgetown also have access to the John Main Center for Meditation and Interreligious Dialogue. The center offers a contemplative space for daily meditations from the Christian tradition for students, faculty and staff. The center also offers spiritual programs and opportunities for interreligious dialogue. It’s located near Dahlgren Chapel, the primary worship space for Georgetown’s Catholic community and the spiritual center of Georgetown.

For Johnson, Georgetown’s sacred spaces have been a labor of love made possible by many. “They are as sacred spaces should be,” he says, “a product of love and a place where love is cultivated.”

By Rosemary Lane, Director of Editorial Services, Georgetown University. All photos courtesy of Georgetown University.