Let’s face it – for those of us with busy lives outside of the home, finding a place to squeeze in a quality prayer – one of full presence and a contentment with Allah – is extremely difficult. A lot of us are able to discreetly run out to an empty stairwell or the break room when the time to pray comes, but even then, we’re acutely aware that anyone could walk in on us at any time, at which point we would have to proffer explanations as to what exactly we were doing prostrating behind the vending machine (“I was looking for my keys. I dropped them back here. Yeah.”). Many others skip their prayers at work, hoping to make them up when they get home. Still others may have dropped salah from their lives altogether.
Does it always have to be this way? Might we be underestimating the extent to which the prayer has become nothing more than an empty discharging of a duty for so many due to the unrelenting pace of modern life?
Many others have noticed the need for people to have a place to reflect. Many out there have been pushing for meditation rooms to be put in food courts, shopping malls, parks, schools, hospitals & airports as a way to combat alarming trends such as obesity. One caretaker in a California hospital, upon seeing Muslim families “praying in a hospital parking lot, or laying out a plastic bag to create a clean spot on the lobby floor” realized that there needed to be designated places where people can go and take care of their spiritual needs.
Finding a place to pray/meditate is probably more a problem for Muslims than it is for most other groups, given that our din requires of all of us to pray multiples times throughout the day. It’s not a choice for us, it is an obligation that we lovingly carry out for Allah [s]. In many locales and countries (such as Britain and other major urban centers around the world), Muslims form a kind of critical mass that, if mobilized, could absolutely ensure that we have prayer spaces, or musallahs, conveniently located nearby for whenever duty called.
We want to make the case that we can and absolutely should push for dedicated musallahs in as many places as possible – in restaurants, offices, hotels, airports, hospitals, schools, the list goes on. Muslims ought to realize that no space is “inappropriate” for a musallah. Historically, Muslims have always understood this. The idea that all musallahs should be in masjids is a very recent one. Here’s a salient example – a musallah we found in a field in a small farming village outside of Sheikhupura, Pakistan.