Updated: Feb 23
By Adam Khan (‘23)
A long-time tradition in the SBHS’s Muslim Student Association is the weekly Friday Jummah prayers held in the library. For this school year, like the ones before it, the Friday prayers have begun, with gatherings of students coming from their lunches and classes together to fulfill their Jummah.
For those unfamiliar with Jummah, every Friday, Muslims gather at the local mosque or a designated prayer area where a religious sermon, also known in Arabic as a “Khutba”, is given followed by a congregational prayer.
Unlike previous years, the MSA has started two Jummahs in the library instead of one, for convenience and time. The first Jummah prayer starts at 11:45 during B lunch and concludes at 12:05. The second Jummah prayer starts at 12:30 during C lunch and ends at 12:50. On half days, Jummah prayers are not held.
In terms of setting up the Jummah Prayers, principal Mr. Peter Varela said, “Our librarians have met with me to discuss logistics, especially when we receive requests to utilize space. The librarians also met with the representatives from the MSA to discuss a game plan. After the first or second Friday, seeing the number of students that came down to the library to pray, I believe they met again to figure out a system that included scanning in, bringing passes, and more.”
All students are required to bring a lunch pass with them and maintain the library rules.
As a side note for Muslims attending, they must be in a state of Wudhu, or ablution, in order to pray. The ablution is performed by washing the hands to the wrist, rinsing the mouth out while allowing water to wash in the inside of the nose, washing the face and arms thrice, wiping the head front to back in a single motion, cleaning the inside and out the ears, and concluding by washing the feet to the ankles three times. This allows Muslims to enter a state of physical and ritual purity which allows them to pray as well as to touch and handle a written Arabic copy of the Qur’an.
Jummah coordinator senior Esmael Elgendy said, “Students should be respectful and follow the guidelines, which includes being respectful to the staff like teachers and hall monitors. Always have permission first before attending.”
Senior Shimaz Munshi said, “I attend Jummah because it is one of my obligations as a Muslim. It’s the one special day of the week for me when I get to listen to the lectures given and learn more about Islam. It’s also a time to reflect on God’s greatness.”
On Fridays, Muslims are encouraged by Prophetic tradition to fully bathe, apply perfume, and clean their teeth. For Muslim men who have reached the age of puberty, Jummah is obligatory, hence the need to maintain the school’s Friday prayer.
Elgendy said, “From a religious perspective, it’s basically a celebration for Muslims every Friday, where we all gather together to hear a speech related to the community, society, and how to improve and progress in these areas and more. It’s part of what builds unity for Muslims.”
Jummah is not only an experience for Muslims but an opportunity for others to hear and learn the message of the religion.
In ensuring the Friday prayers continue to happen, Mr. Varela said, “The school wants to support students in many ways, and when it comes to requests from the MSA or students who want to pray, as long as we have staff who can supervise a space we can make it happen. As far as helping to create a space that has supervision, we always appreciate the partnership that we have had with the MSA and other students of different faiths to arrange something like this.”
One of SBHS’s highlights is its efforts in creating a diverse and tolerant environment.
Elgendy said, “Not everyone has access to leave for the mosque during school. For other people who are non-Muslim, it’s good that they get some exposure from their peers. It builds a connection between people, as Muslims make up a fifth of the population.”
Many times, the topics of Jummah sermons are based on what is relevant to the community while incorporating religion, such as informing and educating the listeners about monotheism, stories of the Prophets, Islamic jurisprudence or Creedence, goodness towards parents, family, and friends, attaining attributes of righteousness, forbearance, generosity, and more.
Jummah sermons always have a wide variety of topics to discuss and are open for anyone to come and listen.