High School Student Starts Muslim Prayer Group


The Frederick News-Post

URBANA, Md. (AP) — When Hamzah Raza came up with the idea to form a Friday prayer group at Urbana High School, some of his fellow Muslim students were skeptical.

Friday is the Muslim equivalent of the Sabbath, a day for prayer and rest, said Raza, a 15-year-old student at the school. On this day, Muslims hold Jummah, a congregational prayer that is preceded by a sermon that can be led by any male believer who has reached puberty.

Students who wanted to attend the Jummah at the mosque at the Islamic Society of Frederick had to rush there after school to make it, Raza said. There was talk about organizing a car pool, but things didn’t work out. So in October, Raza proposed to hold Jummah at his home immediately after classes.

Some people asked him what would happen if the idea were shot down, he said.

Others said Muslim students already had the Muslim Student Association, a nonsponsored club at Urbana of about 20 to 30 students from different faiths who meet and discuss Islam and the culture associated with it. The group includes a tradition of charitable work; the MSA has raised thousands of dollars for the Frederick Food Bank over the past several years and hundreds for disaster relief in Somalia, said Raza and Deborah Winkles, the art department chairwoman at Urbana and an adviser to the MSA.

Asking for more, Raza said, might provoke a negative reaction, some members argued.

Haseeb Kahn, a MSA member, said he thought it might bring unwanted attention to Muslim students.

“I was afraid of what people might think,” he said. “They might get the wrong idea.”

Raza wasn’t worried, though. He knew there were other Christian prayer groups that met before or after class on school grounds and that the Constitution permits such meetings, he said.

He approached Winkles and she advised him to write the school’s principal, Kathy Campagnoli, who quickly replied with her approval.

The first sermon, known as the khutbah, which Raza led, did not go well, he said. He was nervous and didn’t really want to do it.

“I saw it as, `who else is going to give it,”‘ he said.

Prayers are led in Arabic, while the khutbah is held in English, Raza said. The sermons typically surround passages in the Quran concerning a prophet, such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Joseph.

Raza believes, though, that the process of developing the sermons has given him a deeper appreciation for what the imams do, as well as a better understanding of his faith.

Kahn has given a couple of sermons as well. The two said the gatherings are open to anyone curious about Islam.

They are also trying to center the prayer group around the idea of helping themselves and fellow students develop organizational and leadership skills.

“Kids need to have role models,” he said.

Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • CeCE

    As parent I am very upset about this! I want to know did Kathy Campagnoli, inform the parents of the school by sending a letter home or did she decide to just make the final decision her self. Because, we all know that children under the age of 18 can not without the parent knowing it do it! So. Is it! Was it! an after school Prayer Meeting! Was the SCHOOL backing this Prayer Meeting and if so then we have problem. Because, I want Prayers in schools! I want my child to have time for her Christian Prayer which is what she follows. I am sure Jewish parents want the same. My child is not Muslim, I am not Muslim and I do not want another Parent, teacher Kathy Campagnoli or school system trying to pull a dirty low down trick like this thinking they can get away with it. I don’t want to hear that kids want to expirement, don’t play that game with me or my kid. Worry about teaching, and your family not mine. If you think your kids need to pray with the Muslims please take them but leave mine alone!!!!

  • Debbie

    They don’t want us to say “under God” in the Pledge, express any Christian
    values in school and yet they condone Muslim activity. Where is the ACLU and their rally for no religion at schools?

  • happyjack

    Muslim, Another word for terrorists.

  • William

    I promise that if a student wanted to start a Christian prayer group, EVERY effort would be made to block it. I don’t care if Muslims have their prayer time, but WHERE is the Christian Prayer groip meeting??

  • SMH

    He knew there were other Christian prayer groups that met before or after class on school grounds and that the Constitution permits such meetings, he said.

    I am a Christian. However, I took time to read the article which included the above quote. Freedom of religion is a right, whether it be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. Perhaps this group with help the other religious groups get prayer back in school. I would be happy with silent prayer to start with!

  • happyjack

    We don’t need any prayer in school unless you are attending an Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish school. Public schools are just that public & the sepration of church & stae needs to be strictly enforced as there are all types of religions in that classroom & someone is going to be offended. NO religion in public schools & I am a Catholic.

    • SMH

      That is why I stated silent. The term “separation between church and state” has always been taken out of context. Actually, during the time of the writing of the Constiution, the Bible was the main piece of literature used to teach reading and writing in the public schools.

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