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Sunday Open Thread – 2/7/2010 – The Most Unusual Places You’ve Prayed

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We’ve all had this happen to us before: A meeting runs late, or you were caught in traffic, or perhaps you were taking a finals exam when all of a sudden you realize that you haven’t prayed yet and time is running out.  But where to go – there’s no masjid near you…or is there?

The Prophet (SAW) said, “I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me”

Among these things…

“The Earth has been made a place of prayer (Masjid) for me, and pure. Therefore, anyone from my community who is overtaken by the time of prayer, let them pray [wherever they may be].”

Volume 1, Book 7, Bukhari

SubhanAllah, what a rahma!  While it is certainly best to pray in jama’ah at a physical masjid or musallah, our modern hectic schedules often don’t allow us to do so.  The ability to pray at work and at school is the most obvious benefit of this hadith.  Sometimes, though, we find ourselves having to pray in, well, more unorthodox places.

I myself have prayed in a parking lot of a T.G.I.Friday’s, in the hallway of a movie theatre, and in random nooks in the streets of New York City.  I figured I couldn’t be the only one to have prayed in such unusual places, so I posed the question to Facebook and Twitter – and man, you all STAY unusual with your prayer locales.

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Sometimes our circumstances unexpectedly dictate the spot; like the brother who prayed while waiting on (a slow moving) amusement park line, or the brother who prayed in the locker room of a Macy’s department store, or the brother who prayed on the pedestrian walkway of the Triboro Bridge.

Sometimes, however, our plans indicate ahead of time that we’ll need to find a place to pray; like the sister that prayed in the middle of a protest opposite Downing St., or the sister who prayed in the basement of a Swiss café.

What amazed me most, though, were the locations of jama’ah prayers that some determined Muslims managed; like the sister who prayed in groups at both churches AND synagogues, or the brother who was one of a dozen or so Muslims praying on the side of a highway (as anxious onlookers whizzed by, heh), or the two sisters who prayed in a (rather spacious) changing room at Harrod’s.

By far though, the most unique and awe aspired account came from a brother recalling his trip to Hawaii:

I was kayaking when it came time to pray, so I found a small patch of land in the middle of the sea and prayed there.  The waves gently hit my forehead as I made sujood.  Best moment of my life.

So…can anyone beat that experience?  What are some of the most unorthodox places you’ve made salat??

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Youssef Chouhoud is an assistant professor of political science at Christopher Newport University, where he is affiliated with the Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. Youssef completed his PhD at the Political Science and International Relations program at the University of Southern California as a Provost’s Fellow. His research interests include political attitudes and behavior, survey methodology, and comparative democratization.

55 Comments

55 Comments

  1. Yakoub

    February 7, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    I briefly converted my shed into a mosque, turned it to face Mecca, and called it Masjid al-Ghazali. Unfortunately, I had nowhere else to store the shed’s contents, and for reasons of safety, the masjid had to be returned to its original use. One day, insha Allah, the masjid will be reborn…

  2. Guy

    February 7, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    I guess Fajr on Black Friday a couple years back, on line, waiting for Circuit City to open up. A few Haitian women asked my brother if I was using the bathroom -___-

  3. Taimoor Bhatti

    February 7, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Nathiagali, Pakistan while lost in a Jungle. I couldn’t see 2 feet ahead. In the morning (at Fajr time) I found out that I was praying on a cliff-edge.

  4. Amatullah

    February 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    My two favorite spots – had to add the pics as visual aids :D:

    On a rock overlooking the Potomac River with my brother and sister.

    On a secluded beach on Eid. Muslim Apple and I prayed maghrib there, talk about the best salah to catch on the beach! It was beautiful.

    I asked my brother and he said he prayed in the middle of a lake. There was some rock formation there so they got out of their boat and prayed.

    other random spots include:
    -changing rooms – every Muslim should know that where there is a mall, there is a musallah.
    -under stairwells at university
    -between the really boring sections of the school library (molecular biology was my spot)
    -inside one of my classes, the teacher was late and it was freezing outside.
    -parking lot of tim hortons
    -outside of a Shi’a masjid off of the NJ turnpike (masjid was closed :/)
    -Comfort Inn – we walked in and out and the clerk lady didn’t say a thing alhamdulillah

    may Allah accept our prayers.

    • Muslim Apple

      February 7, 2010 at 9:02 PM

      lol, some shia masajid are always closed. I have many stories about repeatedly visiting the one in Burtonsville. I love the Comfort Inn while on the road, it’s among my favorite places to pray on long road trips.

      I once prayed outside in the parking lot of a KFC while my non-Muslim colleague waited inside the car for me. It was a pleasantly warm and sunny day and I was quite serenely lost in my prayer. After I finished praying and got back inside the car, my colleague pointed to a guy in his car and said that he had been wildly circling around us in his car in the parking lot while I was praying but I didn’t see or hear anything, ma sha Allah.

      Some other unusual places:
      The roof of the Kennedy Center
      On top of a high rock formation overlooking the water
      Outside the Penalty Box at the Islamic Center in DC :)

      • Sami

        February 10, 2010 at 9:33 AM

        Funny you mention Shia’a masjids being closed –

        I once was travelling with a friend – and it was fajr time, so we said we would take the first exit and pray fajr somewhere on the road – Lo and behold! we see a masjid off the exit – but it was closed for fajr :-D so we prayed on the stairs

  5. Yus from the Nati

    February 7, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Doing wudu with the Atlantic Ocean at a super clean beach (OBX) for Maghrib. It was the best adwaa (plural of wudu?) I’ve done b/c it felt so natural and untainted? Felt like the added salt also cleansed my nasal passages more. Crabs were running around, sunset. It was nice.

    There should be another post, most uncommon place/method of doing wudu…

  6. Tariq

    February 7, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    We used to have Zuhr jamaah in the School LIbrary and conducted Jumuah in the nursery section of my school when the children used to take the afternoon nap (chennai India). I thank Allah for giving me parents who taught me the importance of being steadfast in Salaah May Allah reward them with Jannah.

    Once when boarding a saudia flight from jeddah, i saw the pilots and the rest of the crew having jamaah beneath the aircraft (near the front wheel) ! SubhanAllah… !

  7. Sulayman F

    February 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Unusual places I’ve prayed:
    Airport
    bathtub ( I don’t recommend)
    on top of my mattress (long story)
    on the beach (my favorite)
    on a train platform in grand central station
    behind jungle brush in rural Honduras, Central America
    elevator (sometimes you can pull emergency stop switch and you have a few min of privacy)
    dressing rooms
    apartment building roof
    seated in the audience at Broadway show
    on an off-Broadway stage
    on a highway offramp (closed with detour sign)
    under an escalator
    in a pharmacy’s drug aisles
    office in the Department of Homeland Security
    airline seat while trying to face backwards
    on top of the road lines at West 4th Street Manhattan (closed to traffic for a protest)
    in a barn’s hay loft

    • TheAlexandrian

      February 7, 2010 at 8:46 PM

      office in the Department of Homeland Security

      !!!

    • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

      February 10, 2010 at 2:35 AM

      Bathtub, haha. Under an escalator? Department of Homeland Security! You are a strange one Sulayman, but your life sounds interesting.

      For me:

      * In the snow beside Shaver Lake with my friends, after making wudu with the snow.
      * Death Valley, on the salt flats.
      * On the beach.
      * Store parking lots, highway rest areas, in the car, in the bus, in the plane.
      * In the Saudi desert, rationing water for wudu.

  8. Douglas Kelly

    February 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    My very first salat was in a jail cell in the Psychiatric Ward of a federal prison. I tried to follow the diagrams from a book on prayer, and I said the words in English because I could not yet recite Al-Fatiha. It was cramped and dimly lit. The narrow window to the outside was so thick you couldn’t see through it. None of the guards would tell me which direction was Mecca, so I had to try to guess from what little sunlight there was.

    I asked Allah (swt) to get me out of there…and, in due time, He did.

    • TheAlexandrian

      February 7, 2010 at 8:43 PM

      Wow! SubhanAllah!! May Allah reward you for your patience and perseverance!!

      Really great story, mashAllah :D

    • Amatullah

      February 8, 2010 at 1:13 AM

      Allahu Akbar. may Allah bless you!

    • Taimoor Bhatti

      February 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

      Masha Allah,

  9. concerned

    February 7, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    odd places off the top of my head:

    Airport corridoor
    University corridoor(!)
    aeroplane
    Hospital bed
    store cupboard
    garden

    Alhamdulillah Allah made me Muslim

    Best experience was Saudi Arabia as the coach driver would stop at salah time and there would be a masjid right there on the roadside, at the petrol station – beautiful mashaAllah and you’d hear the adhaan…

    • Muslim Apple

      February 8, 2010 at 6:23 AM

      Oh yes, that made me remember, after I awoke from a concussion, I was so disoriented but felt it was the time for salah so I made tayammun and prayed in the hospital bed.

  10. AsimG

    February 7, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    I thought I prayed in a lot of weird places, but apparently not!

    I used to pray in a closet-sized room for nursing mothers. Lol, the college suggested it as the MSA prayer room :P

  11. BintKhalil

    February 7, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    From Al Jazeera English, Biblical references used on US weapons.

    P.S. – This is the best open thread ever.

  12. Amad

    February 7, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    praying in a changing room in children’s place… really tight space… the clerks must be wondering what i am trying out!!

  13. Hasan

    February 8, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    When my friends and I were at Big Bend National Park, I wanted to pray on the top of Emory Peak, but if we made wudu up there our hands would have frozen, and we would have had a very hard time climbing down. I wish I didn’t miss that opportunity.

    Though one Ramadan, some of my friends and I climbed on to the roof of the Masjid to pray 2 rakaat there :D

  14. Faiza

    February 8, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    I once prayed in Mani Bhavan which was where Gandhi always stayed when in Bombay. They’ve made it into a museum now. And while I was praying there, a couple of firangs gathered ’round me. Thankfully, they were so amazed at my movements, they forgot to shoot me with their cameras!
    And once a friend and I prayed on a Masjid roof because they didn’t have a separate area for sisters and it was time for the Maghric Jama’h!

  15. Minaretmuse

    February 8, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Great thread :) Love everyone’s stories. My memorable prayers are relatively cosy in comparison!

    -in jamat with friends in the middle of a shop here in England. When we asked the Muslim shopkeeper if she knew of a place we could pray, she spread a cloth in the middle of her shop. A perplexed customer did enter mid-prayer, but respectfully waited for us to finish :)

    -on a beach in Turkey (your head sinks into the sand in a strangely satisfying way)

    – in a tiny tourist kiosk-type shop in Zanzibar. The shopkeeper gave me her own sajada, shut the shop and hung a scarf over the glass door. May Allah bless all such temporary masjids and increase the rizq of their lovely owners.

    -In the men’s section of an empty Shia mosque in a South Lebanese village. I didn’t intend to trespass but it was an emergency! Was v.nervous that I was about to spark a diplomatic incident, but alhmd no harm done.

  16. wahafiz

    February 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    In masjidil haram, with sisters at the front, side and back of me. Very weird!!

  17. akhan

    February 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    When I started praying regularly in jr. High, I would sometimes have to pray in the cafeteria or the bus. I wasn’t comfortable yet praying normally in front of everyone, so I would sit down and pretend I was sleeping. This one time I was praying at the cafeteria table, when a classmate (thinking i was sleeping) started pulling me down! I tried to resist but eventually he got the better of me lol.
    This other time, in the bus, this kid started shouting (look! He’s talking to himself!) lol.

    But besides that, I’ve prayed in Madison Sq Garden Staircase, trains, beach, banks, parking lots, locker room (after everyone left for gym), parks, malls, movie theater, and many more to come inshAllah =)

  18. fahad

    February 9, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    A few years back on a warm summer day, a few younger brothers and I were playing a competitive game of basketball outside. It started raining, but we had decided that the first team to reach 80 points would win and we were determined to have a winner. By the time that score was reached it was pouring and an all out thunderstorm had brewed up. Also, it was time for Maghrib. So we lined up and prayed on the court while soaked with lightning and thunder in the background and the smell of fresh rain in our noses. After we had finished, my mom yelled from the garage (we were playing in my driveway!) that we were all crazy (in urdu), but I could tell that she was a little jealous. We love praying outside.

  19. Anas Hlayhel

    February 9, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    – praying in congregation in a big cube at AMD. people used to pass by and some comments could be overheard :)

    – praying in the back of the plane (Jordanian airlines, though I took permission from one male flight attendent, i could hear a female flight attendent saying that I was in trouble. The male flight attendent was defending me, and I was enjoying the prayer, I purposely made it longer ;) off course she couldn’t do anything. what troubled me was that she was a Muslim).

    – prayed with another brother on snow in Alaska (we made wudu from a small puddle, water came from melted ice). Both wudu and salat were rejuvenating! This was on a mountain after taking a cable car (the only way to reach the top). Sheikh Walid was with us on this trip!

  20. Umm

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    Food court at the mall
    Dressing rooms of department stores
    Behind scriptpro machine for counting medications at the drug store
    Airport.
    Junkyard

  21. popover

    February 9, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    lol modern hectic schedules, as if the people in the past weren’t busy.

    but good reminder nontheless.

  22. Pingback: Traveler in this World » Blog Archive » The world is a masjid (a place of prayer)

  23. Sami

    February 10, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    In the jury deliberation room while deciding the final verdict in a criminal case – i was about to miss dhuhr :)

    • monkeynursemd

      February 10, 2010 at 3:34 PM

      me too! they wouldn’t let me leave the room, so the jury was silent and waited for me to finish.

      • TheAlexandrian

        February 10, 2010 at 3:37 PM

        Wow, that’s a pretty awesome example of Muslim integration mashAllah :)

  24. Funk

    February 10, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    If you pray in a fitting room in the mall make sure the bottom of the door isnt open and that it actually closes otherwise the lady might be wondering what your doing but its all good anyways.

  25. monkeynursemd

    February 10, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    THE BUS DRIVER PRAYED ON HIS BUS

    From Al Arabiya:

    The London Transport Department and the Muslim community apologized on behalf of a Somali driver who scared passengers when he pulled over and prayed on board of the bus, according to press reports.

  26. Umm Bilqis

    February 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    The Shaykh Zayed masjid beautiful, and distracting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lBOljLTBN0

    The local masjid near the apartment of my relatives was humble nice and peaceful however for at least 2 of the congregational salats it was virtually empty at sister’s side. The brothers had a fridge with drinks installed and gave presents to the kids on Friday after jumuah! When I asked the sisters to come down to pray many would say they only prayed there in Ramadhan.
    Emirates palace hotel was surreal and unusual place to pray as well it has gold plated tapes in the bathroom, too bad the didn’t use the money for more worthwhile endeavors.

  27. cinna

    February 11, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    i have prayed under staircase in a court complex while my case is being heard, in empty classroom, on an empty strectch of construction site, next to my car on a parking lot, on the train while sitting down, a secluded corner of tokyo and hongkong airports, and several times in the changing room of walmart/jcpenney/meijers.

  28. aycheetoo

    February 12, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    at the airport gate

  29. elham

    February 12, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    In a minibus driving over some dangerous highlands in ethiopia, there were no barriers on the road sides whatsoever.

    In an airport in a corner!

    In a public park

    In a car in motion…..cant remember the rest!

  30. Mombeam

    February 15, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    A (clean) stall in a horse barn. Also prayed in the tack room and was jumped on by a barn cat while in sujuud. Good times. ;)

    I often prayed in my high school music room or the practice rooms and the costume storage closet next to the stage.

    In a hotel (rooms area) hallway with about 30 other girls for an all-female jam`aah at night. This was during a MYNA conference.

    In crappy, stinking rooms/basements/closets rudely designated as the “women’s area”.

  31. Sis Choudhury

    February 17, 2010 at 7:31 AM

    Rummaging through my memories… let me think….

    I’ve prayed in the middle of Mile End park in London, on top of a hill, numerous amount of times in the changing rooms of high st shops in Oxford St. Underneath a staircase, ON the stairs, beach in Southend, in the car, in the hospital, various side streets I’m sure, in the hall way of conferences, aiports, in my classroom with kids running around shouting “Miss miss, what are you doing?!”, in the library, in the desert of Dubai was cool! On the plane (Royal Brunei airline is fantastic) Lots more places I’m sure, though most obviously the best of all places was at the house of Allah.

  32. Naveed

    February 18, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Fourth of July, about 2003, a time when our country celebrates it’s freedoms. Meanwhile much of the country is left in fear of these so-called Moslems. But what am I to do? Fireworks always start after sunset, right? So we laid down a blanket underneath a tree, and had a jamaath after the sunset, before the fireworks began.

    Alhamdulillah it’s good to know that Allah really has given people immense opportunities here.

  33. mar

    February 18, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    – Company lactation room
    – Credit Suisse New York office – Copy room

  34. Rizwan

    February 18, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    This is an awesome post.

    Here goes mine. In the mountains of Peru; on the top of a mountain that I climbed in the Adirondacks while it was pouring rain (I’m just glad I didn’t fall off); in MANY rest areas/service stops (beware of the dog poop); Macy’s Fitting Rooms (beware of the pins :)); on a hotel bed in Delhi, India because there were roaches on the ground; airport gates; ski slope; beaches…

    Alhamdulillah ‘ala ni’matil Islaam.

  35. Love Taliban

    February 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    This brother not only prayed in unusual places, but made a video of his experience too. :)

    Its called “The Whole Earth is a Mosque”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxQexvCJFTI

    -User nicks are not there to carry an agenda with them. Pls use a proper nick or like other nicks trying to make statements, it will be edited. -Editor

  36. UmmeAmmaarah

    February 26, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Assalamu-alaikum
    This IS an open thread right..which means i can post anything here?

    I wanted to know if there’s someplace you can report cyber-xenophobia (islamophobia) obviously!!
    If anyone wants to chk it out, there’s a troll on http://www.usmleforum.com (in the Matching and Residency forum) – an online discussion forum for students taking the medical licensure exams and he is making life miserable for a lot of us..keeps posting horrid messages about Islam, the Prophet SAWS…some people tried countering his accusations with reason, but he just goes on n on.. it’s really frustrating.

    If someone can track his IP or report him to the official authority that oversees medical Residencies, he could be disbarred….was wondering if there’s anyway to report him. It is very disturbing to see a doctor – someone who’s supposed to be SAVING lives write as if he would inject posion into the veins of every Muslim patient he will come across… :(

  37. Ummezaynub

    March 9, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    May Allah except our imperfect ibadaah! This thread made me reminisce… so here goes-
    Best one- Underground-inside the Colossal Caves in Tucson AZ while the guide was giving his tour
    Hardest- In labor at the hospital when my 4th baby was due!! Salah is required until your water breaks
    Spookiest- Mission San Gabriel’s cemetery while there for my 4th grader report
    Craziest- Chuckie Cheese on a school play date- Mrs S. did you loose ur ‘tokens’? a kid asked
    Dinosaur exhibition at the Museum of Science- made me really concentrate thinking how every thing perishs
    On my dorm bed- I guess that a popular one :) I had a very dirty roommate who was in a cult ( Pray for her please)
    Once inside a Forever 21 store, the lady who was using the stall before me left her purse on the hook, I lock the door and start praying, how was I supposed to know?- the Sales associate starts banging on the door- I didn’t know what to do- should I break my Salah and answer her-she thought I was stealing in there LOL so I left it to Allah they opened the door while I was praying & apologized :)
    Airports, Malls, truck stops, movie theaters, on the plane, ski slope …. ALHAMDULILLAH
    there is a Dawud Wharnsbury nasheed
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnkYN5qvPIA

  38. Youssef Chouhoud

    March 16, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    This is completely unscientific, but it seems that the sisters out-unusual the brothers by a healthy margin when it comes to this issue :)

  39. Youssef Chouhoud

    April 21, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    New one: On Liberty Island in the Statue’s shadow :)

  40. sarah

    May 20, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    At the beach. I live in the Caribbean so it has become common for me to go in the water, come out and perform salat on the shore. But the feel of the sand on your skin and the surprise swash that hits your face during sajdah…awesome!!! SubhanAllah

  41. Rahat

    October 6, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    I was visiting Toronto for couple of week and was in the park and every where I could see is droppings of dogs and birds, so I saw a big stone next to late Ontario, after making Wudu from the lake, I made my prayer and it was the Friday, never have I prayer in more serene location.

  42. Mohd Elfie nieshaem Juferi

    July 5, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    The most unusual place I prayed in was in a strip club. I went to the club on Thursday night for some enjoyment. Unfortunately I slept there.. next day it was Juma and I prayed there only..THere was no strip show or dancing at that time. They resume only after 5pm so it was still halal.

    -MENJ

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