It’s happened to all of us: You’re on a lunch date with friends, at a sporting event, sitting in class, or putting in hours at work and it’s time for prayer. You’re not in the comfort of your own home or at the mosque — you’re in a public place with no designated area to offer your prayer. Time will be up by the time you can get yourself home. What do you do? Where do you pray?
Allow me to quote a childhood (and twenties-hood) favorite song by Dawud Wharnsby Ali as an answer to the above questions:
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.
The song is based on a hadith, which is said at the beginning of the track:
It is narrated by Abu Dar that Muhammad, upon whom be peace, said, ‘Wherever the time for prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for all the Earth is a place of worshipping for you.’
Even knowing the facts stated in the narration and song lyrics above, I remained a person who would stress about finding a secluded place to pray when out with even my Muslim friends. However, a piece of advice shared with me three years ago stuck with me and calmed any anxieties:
There’s always a way to pray.
Find a dressing room, a clean lawn of grass, a stairwell — wherever. When you gotta pray, you pray! If at work or in class, kindly explain to your coworkers or professor that you need to be excused for some minutes. I like informing my professor/coworker why I’m excusing myself, and I happily found most people understand and appreciate the explanation.
No matter where you are, remember the obligation you have to God. It rarely takes more than a few minutes to complete. Whether in a hallway, under the sun, or at the mosque — the more land on which you prostrate, the more witnesses you’ll have vouching for your prayer on the Day of Judgment, Insha’Allah.