Wrestling gym converted to prayer space for students during Ramadan


Grace Herdman

Algonquin provides a space in the wrestling gym to pray for students participating in the festival of Ramadan.

Riya Mahanta, Assistant News Editor

For the duration of Ramadan, the wrestling gym was used as a prayer space for Muslim students.

Ramadan is a holiday celebrated by Muslims which, this year, lasted from April 12 to May 12. As seniors Sarah Saeed and Maryam Ahmed wrote in The Week Ahead Student Edition 4-26-21, “the purpose of Ramadan is to better [oneself] as a person by abstaining from gossip, swearing, complaining, and other things that can cloud your spirituality.”

The idea for this space came from a conversation between Assistant Principal Cathleen Carmignani and members of the Muslim Students Association (MSA). Saeed is the president of this group, and Ahmed is the vice president. 

“Mrs. Carmignani emailed me and my vice president [of MSA] Maryam Ahmed about how she could support the Muslim community during Ramadan, and we talked to her about implementing a space to prayer, as that was something we have been thinking about for a while now,” Saeed said.

“They talked about how they needed to pray, and we figured out that they didn’t really have a space for everyone to pray,” Carmignani said. “So I worked with Mr. Mawson, who is the Health and Fitness Department Chair, and we were able to secure the space of the Wrestling Gym.”

The Wrestling Gym was chosen for many reasons.

“[The Wrestling Gym] is a fairly large space, and people aren’t using it that much during the day, so it’s quite private as well,” Saeed said. 

Meanwhile, it was also convenient for part of the prayer’s ritual.

“Part of the ritual of the prayer is that they have to wash themselves, Wudu, before praying, and we were able to make sure they [could do that], by allowing them to use the faculty locker rooms,” Carmignani said.

No matter how many people used the space, the fact that it was there made Muslim students feel more comfortable and included.

“Having this space means a lot to us,” Ahmed said. “It shows that the school is trying to be more open and inclusive towards its students, which I really love.”

“The prayer space for us acts as a placeholder for Muslims ourselves in the Algonquin community,” Saeed said. “[The administration] allowing us to do this and having this space shows that we [Muslim students] are here, and that they value us as part of the community.”

Many members of the MSA feel like Algonquin is taking steps in the right direction to promote cultural diversity.

“I definitely do think that Algonquin is becoming more culturally aware and inclusive,” Ahmed said. “With retiring the mascot and now this prayer space, it shows that they are changing to be more respectful of the students and the community as a whole.”

“They are willing to take extra measures to make Muslims feel comfortable at Algonquin which I don’t think is something that has happened before at our school,” Saeed said.

Carmignani thinks that Algonquin is heading in the right direction as well, and the more questions asked, the better.

“If there are any other student groups out there or individuals that feel that they need us to know about something that they need, I would really ask that they come and see me, and we can make sure we listen,” Carmignani said.