Next time you organize your home, consider adding a special touch to your prayer space. If you don’t have a special spot where you usually pray at home, do make a point to choose one this Ramadhan.
Why set aside a personal individual or family prayer space? So that you’ll be able to concentrate on your acts of worship and not on what’s around you. It may sound counter-intuitive but actually, once you make your worship area clean and attractive, you may feel more serene in the space.
With just an hour of your time and some imagination, you can create your own personal prayer space. No mansion or decorating budget required! Here’s what you need to do:
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 living room, or a section of your basement. Even if it’s difficult to keep the rest of the home in a good state, make it your priority to always keep this one little area clean and clutter-free.
Collect the essentials
Prayer rug: Choose a prayer rug in a pattern you love, or go minimalist and get a very simple mat. It’s your own space so personalize it your way. Whatever you choose though, make sure it will be comfortable for you to sit on for a long period of time. Consider putting a small rug or folded blanket underneath the actual prayer rug if you need padding on a hard floor.
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 Urdu-style script, for example). Make sure to have an English translation as well.
Long outer veil: If you’re a sister (or expect a sister to be praying there sometimes too), it’s convenient to keep an extra-long prayer hijab in the space. If you’re at home in a short-sleeved shirt for example, you won’t need to go and change when you’re busy and it’s time for prayer. You can just slip on a long veil that’s clean and waiting in your prayer space. You can fold it away with a scented dryer sheet or a potpourri sachet.
Supplication texts: Books with both Arabic text and English translations, or a tabbed binder of printouts from supplication sites on the internet. If your prayer books are looking beat up, put some gorgeous wrapping paper on their covers. Children can make decorative covers for their own du’a books too. You can also use a tablet for supplications but try to download them for offline use and turn off your wifi or go into airplane mode to minimize distractions from incoming messages and notifications.
Tasbeeh beads: You can use prayer beads that coordinate with the colors of your prayer rug. In fact, have you ever considered making your own prayer beads? Or having your children make some? This could be a fun way to get them involved in personalizing the home’s prayer space. For smaller children get jumbo-sized craft beads so they’re easier to work with and don’t pose a choking hazard.
Snacks: After Ramadhan, keep a water bottle and an airtight container of dates, nuts, raisins, or granola bars stocked in your prayer space at all times. Your space is supposed to keep you focused on your worship, so don’t let any excuses distract you from that. One day after morning prayer you may find yourself on a spiritual high and feel like reciting Qur’an or supplications for longer than usual. However you may not have eaten yet, so don’t let a grumbling stomach or a dry throat lure you to the kitchen. There you might get distracted by wanting to wash dishes in the sink or check something on your laptop which is on the counter. You can do all that later. Make focusing easier for yourself and keep some food handy in the prayer space so you can stay where you are, curb your hunger or thirst, and then keep going on with your acts of worship for as long you desire.
Make the space inviting
In interior design, the bedroom is supposed to be decorated as a relaxing place, as if it’s a retreat from the world. If bedrooms can be decorated so carefully, why not apply such care to the best space in your home, where you pray? (In fact, 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 spot in the house.)
The next thing you are going to do for your prayer space 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 re-purposed before going out and buying anything. Below are some ideas but you don’t have to try and do every single thing in the list. You don’t want to create too much clutter and make the space a distraction in itself.
See what would work in your home. For example, if you have small children or if your space is by a window with flowing drapes, you don’t want to have lit candles that are going to be a fire hazard. Use battery-operated LED ones instead for a similar effect. Choose your items 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. So consider the following:
• 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 tea-lights
• Decorative box – store your small items for prayer such as your prayer beads; prayer beads could also hang on a long nail on the wall, on a pretty hook if you have one, or nestle in a small glass vase
• Tall bottle or glass to hold a single artificial flower (or a real one if you have your own garden—even a single branch can look artistic in a vase if it’s done right!) or a bamboo stalk; choose something low-maintenance
• Little baskets, boxes – store different prayer books in them that you don’t necessarily use every day. Keep the other ones you want to use daily on your actual prayer mat, so you are more inclined to read them when they’re right in front of you. If you don’t have any baskets or boxes you can use, make one. For example neatly cover a small cardboard box with wrapping paper. If you have children this is also a another project they can do to contribute to decorating the space.They can cut a cereal box into the shape of a magazine holder, cover it with wrapping paper, and use that to store books upright. A whole row of them could be made as needed.
• A throw-pillow to rest your Quran on. If you don’t have one, you can make your own by tightly stuffing a pillowcase halfway through with some old (clean!) clothes, folding it over and neatly safety-pinning the ends down. You can keep it that way or can add an attractive piece of cloth like a colorful hijab or some other material over that too if you have one.
• One or two pieces of Islamic art or calligraphy. You can print some out from the internet if you do not own any. However remember to place any artwork you have off to the side of your space, not in front of where you will be praying.
• Perfume samples or Arab attars you may not be using that often, to remind yourself to put on perfume before praying if you haven’t already done so beforehand with the fragrance you put on that morning.
Praying in a space that is free of distractions is one way you can strengthen your mental concentration during Salah. 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.
Editor’s note: a version of this article originally appeared in Islamic Insights. The author’s views are her own.