Creating Your Personal Prayer Space
Praying in a space that is free of distractions is one way you can strengthen your mental concentration during Salat. Without a mess or work surrounding you, you can be more at ease. The above are just a number of suggestions to choose from to make it an attractive area. Why set aside a prayer space in your home? So that you’ll be able to concentrate on your acts of worship and not on what’s around you. Make the area peaceful and attractive, and you will definitely feel the difference. No, you don’t need a mansion or a decorating budget to do this! All you need are a couple of hours and some imagination.
Choose the Space
Designate a space that will have nothing in it except what is related to prayer. You can pick a corner of your bedroom or your apartment’s living room, or a section of your home’s basement. Even if the rest of the house isn’t in a good state, make it your priority to always keep this little spot clean and clutter-free.
Collect the Essentials
- Prayer rug. Make sure it’s not so pattern-filled that it will distract you during prayer. You could even use a simple bamboo mat if you want. But make sure you choose something that will be comfortable for you to sit on for a long period of time.
- Turba (the clay tablet that the forehead is placed on)
- Sandpaper. Your Turba will turn darker after some months as it accumulates oil from your skin, so give it a light sanding every once in a while. If it has writing or decoration on one side, you may prefer to place your forehead on the solid side so sanding won’t ruin the design of your Turba.
- Tasbeeh. Have you ever considered making your own prayer beads? Or having your children make some? This could be a way to get them involved in personalizing the home’s prayer space.
- Long outer veil if you’re a sister (or expect a sister to be praying there sometimes too): if you’re a sister at home in a t-shirt, you won’t need to go and change when you’re busy and it’s time for prayer. You can just slip on a chador that’s clean and waiting in your prayer space.
- Supplication books (with English translation), or a tabbed binder of printouts from www.duas.org. Consider Mafatih al-Jinan, supplications to be said after each daily prayers and for each day of the week, Hadith al-Kisa, Ziyarat Waritha, Dua Kumayl, Dua Tawassul. If your du’a books are looking beat up, put some gorgeous wrapping paper on their covers.
- Qur’an. Keep a copy with the type of Arabic script that is easiest for you to recite from (some people are more comfortable with the Urdu-style writing, for example). Also, have an English translation.
- Water bottles and airtight container of nuts or raisins, or a granola bar. Your space is supposed to keep you focused on doing your Ibadah, so don’t let any excuses distract you from that. If you’re on a spiritual high and want to keep reciting Qur’an or du’as, especially if it’s after Fajr and you haven’t eaten yet, don’t let a grumbling stomach or a dry throat lure you to the kitchen, where you might get distracted by the pile of dishes in the sink or the laptop on the counter. Keep some food handy so you can stay where you are and keep going on with your acts of worship for as long you desire. You can listen to recitations or lectures on your MP3 or CD player while you eat.
Make the Space Inviting
The bedroom is supposed to be designed as a relaxing place, as if it’s your refuge from the world. (Although in reality, for many of us it looks like a whirlwind of tossed clothes, books, and homework.) If bedrooms can be decorated so carefully, why not apply such care to the best space in your home, where you pray? (Having a place where you pray regularly in your home is significant even at the time of death, when it is recommended that the dying person be taken to that area of the house.)
The next thing you are going to do is grab a laundry basket and go “shopping” around your house (or your parents’ place!). See what your family already has at home that can be repurposed. You do not have to try and do every single thing in the list below. It would create too much clutter, and the space would become a distraction in itself.
See what would work in your home. For example, if you have small children around or if your space is by a window with big, flowing drapes, you don’t want to have lit candles that are going to be a fire hazard. Choose wisely, keep the décor to a minimum, but arrange it well. It’s the little touches that will make your personal prayer space that much more appealing:
- Incense sticks, oudh, or a can of lavender or vanilla air freshener
- Saucer, bowl, vase, or empty jar: fill with pebbles, potpourri, rose petals, sand, shells, scented candles, or tealights
- Decorative box – store your Turba and Tasbeeh; tasbeehs could also hang on a long nail in the wall
- Tall bottle or glass to hold a single artificial flower or a bamboo stalk
- Little baskets, boxes – store different du’a books (like Ramadan ones) that you don’t use every day. Keep the other ones on your prayer mat, so you are more inclined to read them when they’re right in front of you.
- A throw-pillow to rest your Quran on
- One or two pieces of Islamic art or calligraphy, even if it’s a postcard or photo of a shrine. Hang these to the side, not in front of you.
- Perfume samples or Arab attars you may not be using that often, to remind you to perfume yourself before praying if you haven’t already done so beforehand with the perfume you put on that morning.
Praying in a space that is free of distractions is one way you can strengthen your mental concentration during Salat. Without a mess or work surrounding you, you can be more at ease. The above are just a number of suggestions to choose from to make it an attractive area. While you should be able to pray almost anywhere, choosing a special spot in your home devoted to prayer will make you feel peaceful and eager to talk to Allah about your thoughts, feelings, and issues. Create your personal prayer space and let it be your refuge, where you can reflect and repent.