Prayer hassle

Designated prayer area in The Forum
Karachi is full of interesting contrasts. Take the case of prayer facility in two very famous shopping spots: The Forum and Ashiyana.

About a week ago, I went shopping to The Forum, to pop in later in the adjacent Ashiyana. You know, the shopping mall full of wedding-bes. I decided to say a late Zuhr prayer in The Forum. I was guided to a dead-end of a gallery which had a few prayer rugs and no direction for Qibla. I went back to the other corner of the mall to the security guard who had guided me to the ‘prayer area’ earlier. He explained the direction of the Qibla, and I went back to pray while music played over.

Later in the evening, I discovered that Ahisyana actually has…

…a regular prayer area – albeit a strange, poorly-lit one – on the mezzanine floor. The men’s prayer area had a rather rigorous attendance, judging from the number of chappals and shoes outside. My father explored and revealed that there is even a Madrissah in the males’ praying section. Interesting. With a market primarily owned by pathans, this wasn’t much of a surprise, though. But it was a stark contrast from the more up-scale The Forum, with its charitable and negligent prayer facility, right next on the street.

At Maghrib time in Ashiyana, I found many a veiled women hurrying towards the ablution room which turned out to be dingy, and slightly frightening to a stranger. There was no light on the entire floor, and there was this little bulb spreading its weary yellow glow over the bathroom that doubled as a wuzu khana (ablution room). For want of a cleaner space, and a less intimidating atmosphere, I rushed back to The Forum, performed the ablution, and found my space behind a lone man saying his prayer in the gallery. I then decided to complain about the lack of prayer facilities, hence the picture. What I am glad about, however, is that someone cared!

In the picture above, you can peek through the glasses to see the lights and shops of Ashiyana. I wish I could catch the Ashiyana prayer facilities on camera, but for people’s sensibilities and the rush to prayer time.

By the way, lest the point isn’t driven home: will shopping malls create room for the increasing number of people who want to ping God every few hours?

8 Comments so far

  1. KHATTAB (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 7:46 am

    Wow what a nice post RAMLA. I am so happy to hear that people run to find prayer places in Pakistan.

    You are right more prayer facilities should be given in shopping malls. This is not only good for the customers but also for the business because then shoppers dont have to miss prayers and then shop with a peace of mind.

  2. Syed Muhammad Nabeel (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 9:42 am

    Nice Work Ramla!
    It is really a valid point; I always feel the deficiency of “Prayer Area” in markets (and business centers as well) especially for women. Even whenever my sisters go to shopping they leave the prayers just due to the problem.
    Masha’Allah more and more people want to “ping God” and the number is increasing steadily. Furthermore, offices and business centers have a mosque or a particular prayer area but most of them don’t have a proper area for women….
    I think govt. has to make rules to ensure a mosque in markets and business centers not just for men but also for women.

  3. Zag (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 12:50 pm

    Um, I don’t know about women, but Forum does have a proper praying area for men along with decent ablution place. It’s located in either the first of second parking floor. I have prayed there once. But the access is through the entrance to the corporate offices not from the mall area.

  4. Ramla A. (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 4:31 pm

    :) Thank you all who have given kind comments and shared the concern.

    While I would not want to give the impression that I am an ardent namazi, I would hope that one day I will be. Until then, whenever I feel the need to ‘ping God,’ a limitation of opportunity in an Islamic country should not stand in my way.

    I am really beginning to wonder how different would my life be if the things that I wanted to or ought to do were made simple: such as a ready facility to pray when I just, simply want to pray!

    I hope I have represented others like myself.

  5. S.E. (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

    Nice post!

    I have been to the prayer area of Dolmen Mall. It had a fairly good arrangment with prayer mats, qibla direction and proper lighting. For once, we felt we could do our shopping without worrying about the namaaz time running out:)

  6. zahra (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 7:40 pm

    great work ramla, im really impressed. i myself have faced the same problem many a time, and the womens sections are always the worst– despite that fact that more than 70% of the shoppers in places like ashiana ARE WOMEN, and this is almost equally true of the forum or the point.

    totally agree with you– provide proper prayer places!!!

  7. Imtiaz (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 10:49 pm

    dunno about the rest, but yes, the parking at The Forum is used for congregational prayers.

    I didnt know there was no parking space for women though..

  8. Zag (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 11:57 pm

    From what i’ve been told, park towers has the best praying arrangment for females.

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