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Prayer Mat 


Cultural notes

prayer rug or prayer mat is a piece of fabric, sometimes a pile carpet, used by Muslims, placed between the ground and the worshipper for cleanliness during the various positions of Islamic prayer.

A Muslim must perform wudu (ablution) before prayer, and must pray in a clean place. Many new prayer mats are manufactured by weavers in a factory. The design of a prayer mat is based on the village it came from and its weaver.

When praying, a niche, representing the mihrab of a mosque, at the top of the mat must be pointed to the Islamiccenter for prayer, Mecca. All Muslims are required to know the qibla or direction towards Mecca from their home or where they are while traveling.

The prayer rug has a very strong symbolic meaning and traditionally taken care of in a holy manner. It is disrespectful for one to place a prayer mat in a dirty location (as Muslims have to be clean to show their respect to God) or throw it around in a disrespectful manner. The prayer mat is traditionally woven with a rectangular design, typically made asymmetrical by the niche at the head end. Within the rectangle one usually finds images of Islamic symbols and architecture. In some cultures decorations not only are important but also have a deep sense of value in the design of the prayer rug.

Suggested activities

A prayer mat is a great tool to share culture and beliefs with the children in our care, however educators need to ensure it is used in a way that is culturally relevant and appropriate. Prayer mats should be used as a point of discussion, for children to look at and touch, but not used as a floor covering in the service due to its cultural relevance. Ensure you are aware of the cultural beliefs of your families and wherever possible engage them to share information about this item with the children and educators. 

Books/ Story time:

  • Introduce children to Muslim culture by reading Samira’s Eid. Samira’s Eid is an interesting book containing two languages – English and Urdu. It tells the story of two Muslim children (Samira and Hassan) and their experience of Ramadan and Eid. However, it is Hassan’s first time fasting and he is a little anxious, but is reassured by his mother about what he might expect and why Muslims fast. The story continues with all of the stages of a fasting day, right through to Eid prayer and the celebration of Eid. Throughout the book, the children refer to their sick grandmother (Nani) hoping that she recovers and returns home to spend Eid with them. Toward the end of the book, Nani surprises the children and returns home bearing a surprise gift – a book, which is entitled ‘Samira’s Eid’, the book being read! The illustrations are simple, but colourful and show the characters wearing tradition attire. The images also include a mosque and some traditional foods.
  • Extending on Samira’s Eid: An educator could read to the group, pointing out traditional attire, such as the headscarf, places of worship, such as the mosque and traditional foods such as samosa. In addition to this, it could be used cross-curricula, for example in art, children could make their own Eid cards (like the characters in the book) and send them to one another. The educators/parents could also bring in traditional foods for the children to taste and a simple cooking activity could also be incorporated. Children could also dress up and use role-play in drama to re enact the story.
  • Ramadan Moon Muslims all over the world observe Ramadan and the joyful days of Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of the month of fasting as the most special time of year. This lyrical and inspiring picture book captures the wonder and delight of this great annual event. Accompanied by illustrations inspired by Iranian art, the story follows the waxing of the moon from the first new crescent to full moon and waning until Eid is heralded by the first sighting of the second new moon. This book is for all children who celebrate Ramadan and those in the wider communities who want to understand why it is such a special experience for Muslims

Community Engagement:

  • Invite a parent, grandparent or community member to visit the centre and share their culture and beliefs with the children. Discuss their celebrations, rituals including fasting, clothing and culture.

External Links

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.