Following years of hard work and campaigning from students, Executive and Part-time Officers, the Students’ Union and societies, Friday Prayer (Jumu'ah) was held in the Nest for the first time last week.
Back in 2013, the Queen Mary Islamic Society launched their #RightToPray campaign to provide adequate Friday Prayer facilities for Muslim students and staff on campus, following hundreds of students praying in the rain outside to protest against inadequate resources for Muslims on campus.
Since then, a number of petitions and meetings with the University and Senior Executive Team members were undertaken in an attempt to mitigate the risk of not providing a space for Muslims on Campus.
In October 2016, former Students’ Union Vice President Education, Sumeera Ahmad and former Vice President Welfare, Adam Sparkes successfully introduced policy to Student Council, which mandated the Students’ Union to provide space in the Blomeley Rooms for Friday Prayer as well as lobbying the University to ensure a suitable alternative space is found for prayer.
At the start of the 2017/18 academic year, current Students’ Union President, Yas Yeahia discussed with former Estates and Facilities Director Mike Sheppard the possibility for the Hive to accommodate Friday Prayers and asked whether the Projects Team would be able to assist in the delivery of this plan. A decision was then made at the Estates Strategy Board to refurbish the Hive with new furniture, carpet, a shoe rack and new acoustic features, with the bulk of the refurbishment taking place over the Christmas break.
By January, the Hive was free to use again, but required speakers to be installed, alongside the new furniture. Members of the Islamic Society also needed to be adequately trained as Fire Safety Marshalls and attend Manual Handling training before Friday Prayers could take place. By February, the new furniture arrived and the Hive became the Nest following a vote at the Annual Student Meeting.
There are still some final bits of work to do with the space, including the installation of permanent speakers. In the meantime, the Students’ Union is temporarily providing speakers for the Nest and the Multi-Faith Centres to accommodate both Muslim Brothers and Sisters to pray.
President Yas said of the achievement:
“I am elated that Queen Mary Students’ Union helped facilitate the first Jumu'ah prayer in The Nest with the Islamic Society. This has been a culmination of work from alumni, students, formers sabbatical officers and members of the various University departments to make this all possible. I will give some thanks to a few people who have helped this process out this year but I am also aware of the work done behind the scenes and the years before in order for this to be a reality. So thanks to Zehra Yumsak, Hassan Falafat, Martin Beeson, Richard Halsall, Matthew Hill, Sarah Cowls, Rebecca Lingwood and QMSU ISOC for all the work done contributing to the #RightToPray campaign."