by Nura Ahmed
On March 25, 2022, only a few days before Ramadan, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) opened a location in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, only minutes away from the Westlake station. MAPS Seattle was built with the intention to have a space where Muslims from all over the greater Seattle area could find their community. Though there are mosques all over the Puget Sound, from the South End to the east side, MAPS Seattle is the only fully functional mosque in downtown Seattle, serving as a great central location. MAPS Seattle holds weekly Friday prayers and Islamic lectures every Thursday and employs an Imam to lead the mosque’s religious efforts.
MAPS Seattle resides at 2100 5th Ave., in what was once the Palace Ballroom: a 6,000-square-foot space with exposed brick and vintage windows, right in the middle of downtown. The mosque was created to be a space where people feel the essence of home, community, and belonging, where everyone is welcome, regardless of background. MAPS Seattle, through the community they built with Wasat — a local South Seattle-based Muslim-owned nonprofit that also works in bringing converts and born Muslims together — have created programming and initiatives so that Muslims from the South End and the North End are able to build community together through lectures/speakers invited and held in the space, as well as holding services for Muslims from every background
“It’s important because we have a massive Muslim population in downtown Seattle. Before MAPS Seattle opened, there was no permanent place our community could call home. Now, after being open for a few months, word has spread, and we have hundreds of visitors daily. The space has helped me connect with so many people that I would have never been able to meet otherwise. The community is growing stronger together, and it’s a beautiful blessing to be a part of it,” the resident Imam Akram Baioumy commented over what the space means to him. Baioumy is one of Washington State’s youngest Islamic religious leaders.
Seattle’s Muslim community is often divided across the I-5 corridor with Muslims from all backgrounds being separated north of I-5 or south of I-5 as well as the separation between east and west of Seattle. MAPS Seattle hopes to bridge that divide, as well as bring together the many Muslims who recently moved here for tech jobs, as well as those who have lived in Seattle their whole lives.
“We saw this as an opportunity to bring the community together,” said Osman Salahuddin, a founding member and board member of MAPS Seattle. This space works to cater to younger Muslims, Black Muslims, converts, and anyone who isn’t able to see themselves reflected in religious spaces. The emphasis on bringing together people from all backgrounds who often feel this way and welcoming them into the mosque and get them involved is an important part of why MAPS Seattle exists. “I think that the biggest thing is providing opportunity and a space to have the community together, and especially the younger Muslims, young professionals, students, and everyone from across the region,” Salahuddin said.
Salahuddin, a 26-year-old entrepreneur and community organizer, played an important part in bringing MAPS Seattle to life. He was born and raised in Redmond, and grew up in the bright shadow of the MAPS Redmond community. The oldest of 3, Salahuddin grew his love for community through the many amazing connections he made with his friends and family as he grew up. “I think a big part of me is the community, my family, and friends who I have grown up with that has really shaped me into what I want to be and who I am today,” Salahuddin commented.
Salahuddin attended the University of Washington and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology and a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at UW, he served as president of the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) where he discovered a passion for service, especially when he had the opportunity to make an impact on campus and give a voice to the people who oftentimes don’t have a seat at the table.
Salahuddin now serves on the board of MAPS Redmond and MAPS Seattle, and also works as the facilities manager of MAPS Seattle. He founded and runs Ummah Coffee, one of the few Muslim-owned cafés in the Seattle community, out of MAPS in Redmond. Ummah in Arabic means community and belonging, which exemplifies everything that Salahuddin has worked for. Salahuddin is passionate about building community among Muslims from all over the greater Seattle area.
He understands how important it is for religious spaces to be accessible to everyone regardless of their background and how important it is for religious spaces to be inclusive of everyone. “There are so many decisions that are made without input from others,” Salahuddin said. “I try to be someone who wants to bring the voices of everyone who needs to and deserves to be at the table.”
MAPS Seattle holds weekly Quran study, Islamic lectures, and community events in the space. You can follow them on what they are up to on their programming and initiatives on their official Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Nura Ahmed is an organizer, writer, and artist based in Seattle and South King County.
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