Trying to pray in Pakistan: Not as easy as you think

In a country where much is done in the name of Islam, why is it difficult for women to perform a basic act of worship?

Mariam Mahommad Ali January 08, 2011
I am not a religious activist, nor do I don a burqa. I stay away from religious discussions and debates because I believe I’m not qualified enough to comment on religious rights and wrongs.

However, if there is one thing that I do, and that I’m proud of, is pray. I might not pray well, but I do pray. I’ve prayed in malls, in restaurants, in shops, in mosques and at home.

I don’t care if others pray. All I care about is that I get a chance to offer my prayers on time.

When I am out at restaurants or shopping, it is at times near impossible to find an area to pray. If I am lucky, I will be handed a mat and told to pray in a public corner; something I’m not comfortable with. So I arrange my schedule around prayer times; which is something that many people do not understand.

What I can’t grasp is that in a country where so much is done in the name of religion, why is it so difficult to perform a simple fundamental act of worship - of the predominant religion?

Although there are great praying areas at Park Towers, Gulf, Ashiyana and Dolmen Mall in Karachi, at my parlor they don’t even know the direction of the qibla.

At restaurants I’ve prayed on tattered, old and stinky mats or just been refused - “sorry, there’s no place to pray here.”

If I do pray in a corner then people stare at me as if I’m from outer space and to go to mosques is not always possible as many don’t have ladies prayer rooms.

In my college, where there were prayer rooms, I once found a rat sleeping soundly cushioned by a prayer mat. I’m also confused about how in Ramadan the faithful are enticed by restaurants to binge out but there are haphazard areas to pray, if any.

This is not to say that everywhere there should be a huge praying area clearly marked out. All I’m asking for is some sort of a reasonable arrangement for women who can’t get to their homes before time runs out or at least have ladies’ prayer areas in most mosques.
Mariam Mahommad Ali A graduate of College of Business Management working as an academic writer. She also volunteers in the The Citizens Foundation Rahbar program.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


rehan | 13 years ago | Reply Mariam.M.Ali..FUNDAMENTALIST,TALIBANISH,ORTHODOX,RIGID. That is how I fear you will be described maybe 10years down the lane(if not now)...the speed at which our society(especially the "LIBERALS")is becoming averse to religious rituals.Keep it up girl,it is your duty to pray,and you are doing it just fine.God bless you.
Hala | 13 years ago | Reply What a thoughtful and thought provoking piece. I love how its so personal and yet universal at the same time. I hope to hear more from you.
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