In today’s day and age, we are always on the go but when your phone alerts you that it’s prayer time; you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. It may seem pretty uniform: getting up, going about your business and cracking out your prayer rug but Sana Ullah, a photographer and editor has seen the deeper beauty of prayer in public. Ullah has launched a project titled, “The Places You’ll Pray” in which Ullah artistically captures young Muslims praying in the oddest, yet most beautiful of locations. Along with the project, an Instagram page has also been created, dedicated to photos of Muslims praying in public internationally. Photo submissions have come from Bangladesh, China, West Africa, Bahrain and many other corners of the globe.
Ullah came up with the idea for the project from her own experience with praying in places other than a Mosque or at home. She has explained that her experiences with praying in nature has impacted her the most. Like many Muslims, her prayer mat is where Ullah lets go of her burdens. This outpouring of love for the prayer is what drove her inspiration for the project. The photos vividly display beautiful scenery, both natural and artificial. Muslims standing, bowing and prostrating to something greater than themselves.
The series can also be interpreted as anti-Islamaphobic , the photos show Muslims across the world living everyday lives along with the praying practice of Islam. “(The) majority of Muslims are not the evil that hurts this world and its people on it, but rather Muslims (are) constantly taught to love it sincerely and find peace within themselves five times a day,” Ullah told Buzzfeed.
This project means a lot to the contemporary world of Islamic art. In the past the Muslim world has been a source for art and culture, from the Abbasids, to the Mughals and to the Ottomans. This is a new kind of art, a new culture. It displays the fact that although we are in a modern world, we have maintained and held on to our practices. It highlights how much prayer means to us as we go through our day doing the most tedious of task yet we take a moment to pause and reflect. That is the true beauty of this project.