As part of our objective to spotlight and promote regional and local talents, we present to you Jassim Al-Nashmi, a Kuwaiti Architecture Student studying in Iowa State University, who has just completed and showcased a project that focused on the ritual of prayer (Salat), and created a new twist to the "Massallah." It started as a university project, in which his university professor suggested that Jassim design and implement a project to correlate with a course the professor had devised which was relevantly called "Ritual Stations." Simply put, he was to pick a domestic ritual that a person practices privately or with a group and explore it, the end result is the product of this exploration, which can be anything. Jassim claims, "I chose to focus on Muslim Prayer (Salat-which is performed five times a daily and constitutes of a strict pattern of movements and chantings)."The end product of the project was a portable ritual station or "Massallah."
Jassim states that the objective of the project was to showcase "an interpretation of what a private space for prayer in the domestic realm can be like. I asked friends and family what prayer (Salat) means to them, what kind of environment they imagined would be most comfortable to pray in and what they think about when they pray to formulate and design the Massallah accordingly."
The end result was a brilliantly constructed "Massallah." According to Jassim: "I decided to design a space that would be the manifestation of what I had researched. This space was to be portable, because one can pray virtually anywhere, it was to be easy to construct, because it is for anyone to use, and it was to create a space in any room of any building feel transcendental and peaceful. With the materials and techniques that were available, it seemed like a praying mat was necessary, but also something that enclosed the space but felt like there were no real boundaries, which is what prayer feels like."
Using traditional Islamic Ornamentation, a permeable partition wall was fabricated that serves as a divider of space between the person praying and the rest of the world around him/her; playing with light and shadow, this partition emanates a divine aura. Part of the concept as well was that this station could be purchased at stores like IKEA and be easily constructed and could be as high and wide as you wanted.
The freestanding wall was inspired by "Mashrabiyyas" (latticework used for windows in Islamic architecture) and the theory of atomism. Elaborating more on the theory of atomisim and his "Massallah" design, Jassim explains that, "the concept of atomism is whereby an atom represents an individual, an individual cannot exist without the people around him/her, and that usually creates a collectivist situation where everyone depends on everyone else."
The final piece was a hit and was showcased at the ISU College of Design as part of an exhibition called Oblique Curiosities.
Jassim also provided a poem to go with the project/structure and which better defined prayer and what it means to Muslims, depicted from a survey about "Salat" that he conducted with his Muslim counterparts.
Prayer is spiritual food; it recharges oneself
Prayer is calming
Prayer is our connection to God, rather, prayer allows direct communication with God
"When I don't pray, I feel empty"
Prayer is humbling
Prayer is mentally strengthening
Prayer prepares one for light, brings persistence at midday, and prepares one for darkness
Prayer is consciousness
Prayer is healing