Women Praying in Mall

Women Praying in Mall

Women Praying in Mall

Five times a day, Muslims stop whatever they are doing – like sleeping, shopping, working, or watching TV – to pray.  Shops and restaurants close.  Here several women pray in a designated area in a mall where all stores have closed for prayers.  Prayer mats or rugs are provided for them to use.  Any men shoppers or workers have left the mall to walk across the street to pray in a nearby mosque.  Women do not usually go very often to mosques for prayers.   Many malls are equipped with private prayer rooms, separate ones for both men and women.

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About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Culture, Life, Middle East, Photo, Saudi Arabia, Shopping and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Women Praying in Mall

  1. Dear David –
    I just wanted to let you know that here in Saudi Arabia, there are places for people to pray almost everywhere.
    Most malls have special areas where both men and women can pray separately, since it is required of them as Muslims to pray five times daily.
    However the smaller shopping center featured in this photo does not have a reserved area for women to pray, but they do provide prayer rugs for the women to pray in that spot, while the men leave the building to go pray across the street in the mosque.
    I have even seen men praying on the sidewalks here, and indeed there are many areas out in the open where the men gather to pray together.
    I know this is difficult for a Westerner to comprehend because if you saw this happening, well, I don’t know what you would think.
    The thing to remember is to have respect and tolerance for other cultures and religions – the world will be a better place for it.

  2. David says:

    Go Pray in your car in the parking lot!

  3. Hi Susan – Thanks again for your insightful comments and helping me out with your explanations! Much appreciated!

  4. Hi Ilse – Thanks for your thought provoking comments. As far as feeling “connected” to others here, I personally don’t feel it. Women are taught from early on to not have any interaction with men and to turn their gaze away from men. This is difficult for me since I have always spoken to everyone as an open and friendly American. Even when I have said hello to a woman here in passing, most of the time there is no response at all.
    My hubby has told me that the five time daily prayers make Muslims feel connected to each other because they are all praying at the same time. I do feel very safe here, however my hubby is paranoid about my safety. He freaks out if he loses sight of me at the souk, for example. There are many foreign workers who are generally respectful of the customs and rules, however not always, and they account for many of the crimes committed here.

  5. Hi Tina – Thanks for helping out with Elaine’s questions – I appreciate it.

    Hi Elaine – Here at home, when it’s just my hubby and son and me, we pray side by side, but the prayer leader is always a bit out in front of everyone else. When there are more family members present, the women pray behind the men – the reason being so that men aren’t distracted during prayer by the woman’s behind.
    Generally in mosques there are separate areas for women, and to my knowledge, men and women do not pray together side by side. But then again, I am no expert. However in Mecca, at the Kaaba, I have seen on TV men and women praying side by side. So this makes it all seem quite contradictory and it’s difficult to understand, like many things here in Saudi Arabia.

  6. Susan says:

    It’s possible to pray side-by-side and beside – not integrated – but side-by-side and beside.

    It was done in the mosque I attended this past Ramadan, and has been done there before, when I attended.

    Granted, there was a partition, but it was still side-by-side and beside. The sense of continuity and collective community of standing in prayer equal before Allah, was beautiful.

    In private, perhaps side-by-side and beside even moreso.

    And symbolically, definintely always.

  7. Ilse says:

    A very beautiful & powerful photograph. Those black robes facing the wall. Amazing. Such a segregated and isolated society on the surface. Are the people actually really “connected” because they all have shared values and assigned roles? Everyone having a place and a function can in reality provide much security & safety. No risks, total acceptance if one plays by the rules.

  8. tina says:

    AA Susie,

    If you don’t mind me answering Elaines ?, here in America the men and women pray in the same area/room for Eid prayers and other gatherings but not side by side. The women pray behind the men. In the mosque we pray side by side but there is a divider between us. We also have seprerate entrances or ares to go to once in the door.

  9. Elaine says:

    Thanks for the explanations. I’ve learned that orthodox Jewish synagogues have separate, screened areas for the women, and there are (or were) some protestant Christian churches that had a divider down the center of the sanctuary for worship, to separate men and women on the two sides of the room. I just didn’t know if Muslim women were forbidden to pray side by side with men in the mosques or not. I’m still not entirely clear on that.

  10. Hi Susan! I like your attitude! My husband has refused many times in the past to go somewhere socially, or attend a school function for my son, etc., because it would interfere with prayer times when we were living in the states. It made me feel like a single parent, and it was very frustrating for me.

  11. Susan says:

    I take my mosque with me where-ever I go … where ever I am, so is my mosque. Same thing would be for a person’s church, synagogue, temple, sacred space. A few simple conditions, easily accomplished.

    Pray standing, sitting, on your side, however you can. The thing is to keep the connection …

  12. Hi Elaine! Marahm graciously addressed your questions – so, Thanks, Marahm!
    From my observations in the year that I have here is that women now rarely go to the mosques to pray on a daily basis. I have only gone twice and both times were at 6am the morning after Ramadan (the monthlong fasting each year) ended, which begins the Eid (celebration ending Ramadan). Both times, the men were set up to pray outside on hundreds of prayer rugs that were provided, and the women utilized the large interior of the mosque which is usually used by men.
    Most often we are at home for prayer times, or else at a relatives home, so I am not usually out and about during prayer times. But I know that the women in my husband’s family do not regularly go to the mosque. Some men go every day for prayers, but I think many of the men only actually go on Fridays, the holy day.

  13. Marahm says:

    This is one of the aspects of Islam I found most attractive- the fact that public prayer is accepted and encouraged, no matter where one happens to be when the call sounds.

    Unfortunately, women are often excluded from mosques in the Kingdom. I used to enjoy praying in mosques, and I’d go with my husband for Isha most days of the week. We found many small, neighborhood mosques, as well as a few large ones, that did have sections for women, and that was twenty years ago.

    So, I wonder if the situation is more of a public perception than a reality.

    That said, I must add that we found plenty of mosques without sections for women, too.

  14. Elaine says:

    I wondered about the attendance at mosques. Are there separate areas in them for the women? Or do they just never go there?

  15. Pat says:

    This is very interesting and what a clean looking mall!

    Pat

    Guelph Daily Photo
    Photography Cafe

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