Salon.com published an article the other day titled My Awkward Moments in Muslim Prayer.
The writer pretty much sums up the life in Muslims in the West in our quest to always complete our prayers, of which there are 5 at various times throughout the day, on time. There have definitely been times when I’ve been out and about and LO AND BEHOLD, it’s time to pray.
Most of the time, I’m able to find a quiet spot and do my thing. I’ve definitely done with the writer has done, which is to grab a few random clothes and utilize a fitting room at the mall… which could get weird when the sales person is knocking on my door mid-prayer to ask about how everything fits. D’oh!
Highlights of praying in public include…
– Trying to do the Maghrib prayer (the one right after sunset) at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View during a Coldplay concert. I wandered around for about a half hour until I just went to the Information desk and asked the guy about a possible place in which I could pray. He told me about a quiet spot that worked out perfectly. I went back later to the table to thank him.
– Doing the Maghrib prayer in an abandoned alley in San Francisco as my friend kept watch.
– At San Jose Airport – couldn’t find a spot and finally went to one area where only one guy was around. Gave him a heads up as to what I was going to do just so he wouldn’t freak out and call security on me. He was really cool about it, I have to say.
Once in a while, I’ll pick a spot that seems okay but then, not really, and I end up with people walking past, craning their neck back at me, trying to figure out what it is I’m doing. (I notice this not because I interrupted my prayer but it’s just something that I see when I’m wrapping up and heading back on my way.)
It took me a while to become comfortable with ‘praying in public’ but I have to say, it’s infinitely easier to do so when one has friends that are completely cool with me excusing myself for a few minutes to perform the prayer (or to stand watch, hehe). However, generally speaking, most people are a lot more understanding than any of us give them credit for, like the people I mentioned above.
So for all you open-minded people out there, thanks for making me feel comfortable for praying in public (or, if we’re friends, in your homes).
Technology makes things easier and awesome too. I justified the purchase of the iPhone 3GS when it first came out ’cause it has a compass on it. Combine that with the iPray app (yeah, that’s the name of the app, laugh if you want) and I totally know where Mecca is wherever I’m out, whichever city I’m in. You know it! *High Five*