When it’s time for one of those five ritual prayers in a day that we Muslims have to offer, and we are at a place far from the safe comfort zones of homes and/or mosques -out shopping, or at work or school, it becomes a challenge to have to pray at a place where others might see you praying and prostrating and may not understand what you are up to.
The hesitation may just have more to do with our own thought process , of fear and of shame, embarrassment etc., and of being judged. Some do not want to express their Muslim identity in public and keep it under wraps, while others find it awkward to do anything that would appear weird in public and attract attention. Most others are just too scared to pray in public – wondering how the authorities and/or owners of the place they want to pray in might react.
It is also true in a few cases, the establishment frowns upon public prayers on their premises- my own niece gathered enough courage to start praying the afternoon prayer at her school and after a few days, she was asked to stop.
Most ritual prayers, called Salaah, prayed at five different times of the day last from five to fifteen minutes at most depending on the devotion to God felt at each time and the time we have on our hands. But some of those five minutes of prayer have been real anxious ones for me many a times, with a heart beating fast and hope that no one enters my lab when I’m praying, no one comes to where I’m praying at the library or that corner of the shopping store.
An article on salon.com linked below has a hilarious account of the author trying to pray in a Gap store’s trials room in a hurry when there are just fifteen more minutes remaining before the time ends. When people see your head on the floor from outside the fitting room, it could spell problems – you know, like, they may think you’re having a heart attack or something ?