Prayer Rug (Jaay-namaaz)

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
The prayer rug my father gifted to me.
The prayer rug my father gifted to me.

My father immigrated from Bangladesh to the US in 1990 with very few things in his possession. When I asked him what he brought with him, he said, "Some clothes, my jaay-namaaz (prayer rug), and myself." I then asked what was special to him about his prayer rug. “It is not the mat that I care about, but where it takes me. When I am praying, I feel like I am leaving the present place I am in, safe from my troubles in this world. It is when I openly talk to our Creator, reflect on my day, my life- everything.” The prayer rug is significant to my father's story of immigration because it is a symbol of the strength of his faith and the value that Islam has in his life. My father and I always have long conversations about the teachings of Islam, the power of prayer, etc. My take on religion was greatly influenced by all the knowledge he has shared with me, along with his interpretations and practical explanations of things. The photo here is not of my father’s prayer rug, but the one he gifted to me when I was leaving for college. He said to me that in times of hardship and in times of happiness, it is always important to take a moment to reflect, that even a single moment of reflection could make all the difference. I have to say that he is right. Any time that I have found myself feeling stuck, a few quiet moments of prayer and reflection have always helped me get back in control of the situation. This gift is special to me for a multitude of reasons, but essentially it serves as an escape when I truly need one and brings me back when I’m feeling lost or hopeless.

Place(s): Bangladesh, New York
Year: 1990

– Nasreen Hussain

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant