Masroor Mosque, 5640 Hoadly Road, is welcoming area residents for Friday Jumah prayers and a special Iftar dinner on Saturday, May 18.
Prince William County’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is opening its newest mosque to the public for Friday prayers throughout the holy month of Ramadan and for a special iftar dinner on Saturday, May 18.
The Masroor Mosque, 5640 Hoadly Road in Manassas, is home to about 1,000 local members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. As part of their “open mosque” project, members are also inviting area residents to take part in the weekly Jumah prayers, which begin about noon on Fridays, known as the “day of gathering” in the Islamic faith.
During Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Ramadan began on the night of Sunday, May 5, and will end on the night of Tuesday, June 4. During Ramadan, Friday afternoon prayers are especially important, said Naeem Arshad, public affairs coordinator for the Masroor Mosque.
Naeem Arshad, public affairs coordinator for the Masroor Mosque
Although Friday is a workday in the U.S., Muslims take a break from whatever they are doing at midday to pray at the mosque and hear a sermon, Arshad said.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes their mosques belong not just to the congregation but to the community, said Qasim Rashid, also a member of the Masroor Mosque.
“We believe [the mosque] has to be open because transparency leads to trust,” Rashid said. “That’s what we have to do, and what our neighbors expect from us.”
Rashid, a Stafford attorney, is also a Democrat running for the Virginia state Senate in the 28th District.
This year marks the second the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has celebrated Ramadan in their new mosque, which they purchased from the National Capital Presbytery in late 2017. The building is the former home of Covenant Presbyterian Church. The church has since moved to another building in Woodbridge.
Prior to their move, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community rented community rooms and school spaces in the county.
The mosque offers “more of a community feel,” said Ayesha Noor, who travels to the mosque with her family from Stafford. “It has been a big blessing for us.”
Masroor members changed the signs on the building and switched the cross on the steeple to a crescent moon, the symbol of the Islamic faith. The new mosque is located next to the Dar Alnoor mosque, affiliated with the Muslim Association of Virginia, also on Hoadly Road.
The former church’s window-walled sanctuary has been cleared of all chairs and pews. Community members face the room’s long, eastern-facing wall during services, which the mosque’s founders were pleased to discover aligns perfectly with Qiblah, the direction of the Kaaba, the sacred building at Mecca, to which Muslims turn at prayer.
“We believe [the building] was meant to be for us,” Arshad said.
The two neighboring mosques serve different denominations of the Islamic faith. Founded in 1889, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spans more than 200 countries with membership “exceeding tens of millions,” according to a Masroor Mosque press release.
The Ahmadiyya faith differs in that it’s the only Islamic organization to believe that the long- awaited messiah has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India.
“Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad,” the release said. “The community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace.”
Visitors to the Masroor Mosque are asked to check in with a greeter and remove their shoes before entering the prayer room.
According to Islamic tradition, men and women pray in separate rooms, men in the main prayer room, and women in a large room on the other side of the building.
Head-coverings are optional for visitors. Caps are available for men upon entering the prayer room. Female visitors may cover their heads if they feel comfortable doing so, Arshad said.
In the Islamic faith, covering one’s head is a show of respect, he explained.
During prayers, Muslims recite traditional prayers and insert their own silent prayers as they move though three positions: standing or sitting; bowing forward; kneeling, known as “ruku;” and touching one’s forehead to the carpet, known as “sajdah.”
The motions “all have similar meaning,” Arshad said. “You are always thanking God and you’re remembering God. … There’s a sequence to praying, but it’s meant to encourage people to think deeper about what they are saying.”
The community iftar meal will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. The tradition of breaking bread with others – and giving to the needy – is also stressed during Ramadan, Arshad said.
The goal of the community iftar is to encourage residents to become better acquainted with the mosque and its members, Arshad said.
“The intent is to invite people to come out and hang out with us and learn what Ramadan is all about,” he added.
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