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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Nueces Mosque hosts annual open house event, emphasizing community support

Leila Saidane
A child receives henna from the Mu Delta Alpha table at the Nueces Mosque open house on Nov. 12, 2023.

Nueces Mosque, an institution that has served Muslim UT students for decades, hosted its annual open house event on Sunday, titled “The Path to Peace.”

The event began at 4 p.m., starting off with Asr, or afternoon prayer. Soon after, a community panel consisting of undergraduate and graduate students gave their thoughts on what makes Nueces special to them. The open house began just as a historic pro-Palestine protest at the state capitol came to a close.

Rayn Majeed, one of the panel’s speakers, said he first visited the mosque on a campus trip during Ramadan, intending to break his fast after Maghrib prayer.

“I was met by one of the other freshmen at the time, (who) asked me my name,” said Majeed, a biology and business freshman, during the panel. “(He) basically took me under his wing for the night, and I ended up spending literally all night (there) until Fajr (morning prayer). It was one of the most deeply spiritual experiences I’ve ever had in my life. … Every weekend after that, from Houston, I was making a six-hour round trip so I could come back because I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Aadil Shihab, outreach director for the Nueces Mosque, shared Majeed’s love for the mosque and wanted this year’s open house event to show what he thinks makes it so special.

“We’re trying our best to convey to people that our religion is peace,” Shihab said. “Everything we do is (for) peace. If I can show other people who don’t know about Nueces, people who don’t know about Islam or have negative feelings about Islam, I can show them that. Then we would be able to do something just incredible.”

Anwer Imam, the imam and director of religious affairs at Nueces Mosque, said he felt a deep satisfaction in serving college-age adults and emphasized how hard the student volunteers work to run Nueces. However, after a recent rise in Islamaphobic incidents on campus, Imam said he felt disappointed in the University administration’s lack of outreach to his community.

“There’s been a disturbing silence from (President Jay Hartzell),” Imam said. “While I appreciate that he called (Jewish organizations) to find out how they’re doing, he hasn’t reached out to us at all. I would have, especially during this time of heightened worry and security concerns, definitely appreciated him doing so. …  It just seems like they’re concerned about the safety of one side, and it makes the students here feel even more unsafe when they see things like that.”

The University said in a statement that its Student Life teams “provided support” for events hosted by numerous organizations throughout the conflict, but the University did not confirm or deny whether it reached out to Imam or the Nueces Mosque.

“This is a difficult time, and we are working diligently to support all of our students to make sure that they’re safe and that they have resources for their mental health and other needs,” a University spokesperson said. “We look forward to continuing to support our community’s needs.”

Despite this, Imam said the open house gives the mosque an opportunity to display the student community it has developed since its opening in 1977.

“Most people are not aware this yellow house is a mosque, and the fact that it’s run so diligently and professionally by a group of undergraduate students blows people’s minds,” Imam said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

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About the Contributor
Leila Saidane, Photo Editor
Leila Saidane is a junior from Dallas, Texas, studying Radio-TV-Film and Journalism. Her words and photos have been published in The Texas Tribune, The Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News.