As a young community organizer, I went to Philadelphia to  stop the demolition of a neighborhood.

It was a poor neighborhood and a developer wanted the land for a mall.

I worked with another organizer who was a devout Muslim.

He would take time out five times a day to pray, always facing Mecca.

He would roll out his beautiful and worn prayer rug



It was one of the most moving things I have experienced.

His devotion was complete.

He was saving what little money he made to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Tonight I think of my time with him working to save a neighborhood.

I think of him praying.

I pray that he made it to Mecca.

There are many ways to pray. Cathedrals come in all forms.

We did stop the demolition of that neighborhood.


Devotion to a cause.

Working together to make something right.

I pray he made it to Mecca.

I am grateful for his calm, his devotion, his Faith.

I am grateful we had the chance to work


Peace,  Jen

****I have attached a YouTube video of the call to prayer and the prayers****


Prayer Rug


Those intervals

between the day’s

five calls to prayer

the women of the house

pulling thick threads

through vegetables

rosaries of ginger

of rustling peppers

in autumn drying for winter

in those intervals this rug

part of Grandma’s dowry


so the Devil’s shadow

would not desecrate

Mecca scarlet-woven

with minarets of gold

but then the sunset

call to prayer

the servants

their straw mats unrolled

praying or in the garden

in summer on grass

the children wanting

the prayers to end

the women’s foreheads

touching Abraham’s

silk stone of sacrifice

black stone descended

from Heaven

the pilgrims in white circling it

this year my grandmother

also a pilgrim

in Mecca she weeps

as the stone is unveiled

she weeps holding on

to the pillars

(for Begum Zafar Ali)



Peace,  Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on April 19, 2012.

10 Responses to ““Prayer Rug” BY AGHA SHAHID ALI”

  1. I lover Persian carpets and rugs, we (my mum and me) have a whole collection at home, amongst them several prayer rugs.
    Love Steph


    • Dear Steph!

      I LOVE Persian rugs. I especially love the prayer rugs with their very intricate designs. I have seen them with compasses in them so that the one who prays can be certain to face Mecca. Talk about Truth North….

      Love, Jen


  2. “Cathedrals come in all forms.” Love that Jen. Beautiful grace you have friend. Lovely.


    • Dear Debby,

      Thank you for being here as always. I DO believe that there are all kinds of Cathedrals and we are all blessed by their existence. I like to imagine that I am passing by someones own personal Cathedral without even knowing it. A tree maybe, or an intersection of road….

      Everywhere is Holy to someone. That makes me Happy.
      So do you.
      Peace, Jen


  3. What a lovely post, Jen. Much peace and love to you. 🙂


  4. Love it! Cathedrals DO come in all forms. May i add doghouses? Is that bad? Peace comes in all forms as well. XO MEL


  5. “There are many ways to pray. Cathedrals come in all forms.” May I join the others and say I too love this line.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: