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Places where I have prayed

"All the earth is a place of prostration,
Every field and meadow, mountain, park, city, farm plantation.
Every roadside, seaside, hillside, walkway,
Any place clean and green can be a place to pray
When I think of every path, where I've ever trot,
I laugh at all the crazy spots I stopped to worship God"

(Dawud Warnsby Ali: The Crazy Spots I've Prayed, The Prophet's Hands
Released: 2003 / Sound Vision)

It would be so nice if we could remember all the places where we performed our prayers.
It is said that all these individual patches will testify for us on the day of judgement, so you better make the most of it, literally and figuratively.

When I first became a Muslim (in Europe) I was still employed, I had an understanding boss and after asking I got time off during my workday to pray and I got a room assigned for my prayers, they even put a lock on the inside of the door so nobody would bother me. It was a medium sized meeting room with a big table in the middle, but I could manage to pray next to it.
Because everybody would wear their shoes inside the building I would use some huge papers sheets under my prayer rug as a way to guarantee that I would pray on a clean surface. Unfortunately the room was also used by some colleagues to play cards during their breaks. And sometimes, when prayer time would coincide with their lunch break, they would try to enter. While I was in the middle of my prayer I would hear them rattling the door handle, asking who was in there, talking to each other, wondering why the door was locked.
Afterwards I always made sure they didn't see me exiting the room, for I did not like to be questioned about why I had locked myself in the room all by myself and had not answered them.

Prayer while visiting family or friends is mostly easy just let them know it is time for prayer and they will always have a quiet place and a big towel (or real prayer rug when you are with Muslims).
One time we visited friends who had a B&B and we could just choose any empty room.
At my parents place I have an extra prayer rug, and in some cases I just take my own rug with me.

Praying while traveling is a completely different story.
Because we travel so much I have prayed in many different foreign mosques, shopping malls, hotels, airports, cars, buses, trains, ships and of course airplanes.
Every place has its own challenges and some are even tricky.
For example, it is not without hesitation that I pray in airports, I prefer to wait till on board, because when somebody sees you praying before boarding they might fear the worst, if you understand what I mean.
But if you are in an airport of an Arabic country, that can make all the difference.
At one time we were waiting for our flight, and the time for prayer had arrived.
I found a nice nook that would do well as prayer space and I wanted to start, when all of a sudden a fellow traveler came up to me and offered me his prayer rug.

Praying while flying has its own challenges, first of all, you have to do Wudu in a super small washroom with almost no space to move. Then you have to pray while sitting down, with no Qibla direction and with all the different time zones flying by you have no clue when prayer times are due.
Sometimes we ascend just after Duhr and land before Margreb the very same day but after a 14 hours flight, now that is a nice mathematical puzzle *
And last but not least it would be nice if somebody is with you, preventing a cabin crew member from asking you in the middle of your prayer if you would like to drink or eat something. My husband and I usually take turns praying just because of this.
And again with the same reasoning as while praying before boarding, I prefer people on board not seeing me pray during flight, if again you understand what I mean.

There could be turbulence during flight, but at least you are sitting, but have you ever tried to pray on board a ship during bad weather? That is not only dizzying, but also nauseating and right out dangerous, so you better sit down there as well.

Hotel rooms are good, in some countries they even have the direction of Qibla somewhere indicated on the ceiling, which can be a bit of a challenge to find and even a surprise in countries where you never expect to find it, like in China.

Foreign mosques give a special feeling to praying, but I always try to do Wudu in my hotel room, because some washrooms in those mosques might not be what we are used to. Although you might be surprised where I found super clean Wudu places and where I found disgustingly dirty ones, maybe I will tell you about that in an other story.

I kept the most special place where I ever prayed (until now) for last.
It was in Hong Kong, in Ocean Park (which is high on a mountain overlooking the city), in the bleachers at the dolphinarium.
We had seen the dolphin show and after everybody had left we stayed behind and performed salaat while sitting.
In the basin below, the dolphins were playing; maybe they saw us and understood what we were doing?

I think that this story consists of many small stories, and I just might elaborate on one or two in the future. Let me know if anyone sparked your curiosity.

August 2012

More nfo:
How to perform Prayer
Oceanpark Hong Kong

This occurs during the flight from Dubai to Toronto, there is a 9 hours time difference (it is earlier in Toronto) and it is a 14 hours flight: you go back in time: 9 -14 = 5 hours, that is the time between Duhr and the beginning of Maghreb, so the last possibility to do your Asr prayer.