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This Muslim Engineer Rebuilt Pentagon 9/11 Crash Site as Chapel

This Muslim Engineer Rebuilt Pentagon 9/11 Crash Site as Chapel
Today, Ezzat oversees construction of military schools around the world. (Today, Ezzat oversees construction of military schools around the world. Courtesy of Manal Ezzat)

Muslim engineer Manal Ezzat still remembers the day she fled from the burning Pentagon building  during the incidents of 9/11.

Eighteen years after, the location of the crash is home to a chapel where all faiths pray peacefully, Washington Post reported.

“There was a lot of emotion built into that effort,” Ezzat said, as she contemplated the anniversary of a day she still can’t fully comprehend.

“We just wanted to make it a peaceful place that could help wipe away the tragedy.”

Ezzat is an Army Corps of Engineers employee who was project manager for the Army’s space in the Pentagon at the time of the attack.

This Muslim Engineer Rebuilt Pentagon 9/11 Crash Site as Chapel - About Islam

Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, visits the Pentagon Memorial Chapel in 2017. (Staff Sgt. Jette Carr/Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs) (U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr/Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs)

When she and her colleagues were charged with redesigning the building, they made a special place for a quiet sanctuary with cushioned blue seats and prayer books from several denominations.

A schedule posted on the wall shows Episcopal and Lutheran services every Wednesday, Hindu services and Jewish study sessions every Thursday, Greek Orthodox services every Friday, Buddhist prayers twice a month, and more.

The chapel’s most frequent users are the Catholics who attend daily Mass there and the Muslims among the Pentagon’s massive workforce of 26,000 people.

Muslims, who pray five times a day, visit the chapel when they need a private space to pray. As a group, Muslims pray daily in midafternoon in the chapel and host a service with a sermon every Friday.

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Qawiy Abdullah Sabree, a cybersecurity expert who has been a civilian employee at the Pentagon for 27 years, goes to the chapel every day, sometimes twice on Fridays.

“It gives me that escape from the daily routine of work, to have a place to come and just reflect on your beliefs, reflect on the creator that gave us life. It’s a very good thing to have,” he said. “The Pentagon is a place for employment. . . . It’s a privilege to have a place for prayer.”

Ezzat said she appreciates that her team created a prayer space where Muslims who devote their careers to America’s security can worship, in the very space where extremists attacked.

“The faithful prayers which take place in this space, whether it’s Jewish prayer, Islamic prayer, Christian prayer, I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “In Islam, we believe prayers – supplications – to the dead reach them, wherever they are.”

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