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Lines and Other Markings: Organization of Space
Since Muslims must face toward Mecca during prayer, this orientation is made clear through markings on the prayer room floors. Green and white lines drawn diagonally across the carpets show worshippers where to line up to face Mecca.
In the women’s room, there’s an added dimension to the meaning of these lines. Not only must worshippers face Mecca, they must all stand behind the imam, or prayer leader, but the women can’t see the imam, who is in the room above them. So the lines in the women’s section are correlated with the lines above; those in front of where the imam stands on the floor above are colored white, and those behind him are colored green, so that the women know where to stand so as not to inadvertently go in front of the imam.
When Muslims pray in less-familiar spaces, they try to figure out where Mecca is, but know that God understands that they won’t always be able to, and that the intention is what counts. One teenage girl at Abubakar As-Saddique summed it up: "If you don’t know, it’s YOLO."
Besides the lines demarcating the direction of prayer, nothing visually marks the women’s space as a prayer room. A loudspeaker system, carrying the voice of the imam from the room above, marks it through sound as a prayer space. The men’s space is a bit more visually elaborate. In the front of the room, a prayer rug marks the imam’s place, and behind this prayer rug is a line of colorful, ornate prayer rugs, demarcating the place for the first row of men to pray. Other men line up behind them, without rugs.
In the front of the room, before the prayer rugs, is a wooden seat covered by another ornate rug, where the imam sits to deliver his Friday sermon at midday jumu’ah prayers. Next to this, on the wall, hangs a digital prayer clock, which shows the current time and the current daily times for each of the five prayers. A bookshelf of holy books—Qur’ans and books of hadith, or sayings of the Prophet—also stands at the front of this room.
Ritual prayer, or salat, is not limited to designated prayer spaces. Bashir, a Somali liaison to the Faribault schools who also helps with education at the masjid, commented:
I can pray [in the women’s prayer space], if women aren’t here, I can pray upstairs, I can pray anywhere that I want. There’s no sacred space that I would say I should pray. Except I cannot pray with the women when they are here; I just give them their privacy.
The masjid includes more than just space for prayer. Rooms on both floors function as classrooms for a variety of ages, from very young children to adults. There are also two kitchens, one on each floor, where women make food for Friday midday prayers and special events; bathrooms, where people make wudu before prayers; and office space for the imams.
For more on religious education, see Religious Education and Authority.