Find out more about prayer rugs: their history, types, and cleaning methods

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Find out more about prayer rugs: their history, types, and cleaning methods

When Ibn Battuta left Tangier in 1325 AD to start a long journey immortalized in history to explore the world, prayer rugs were one of the basic luggage that he carried with him wherever he went. This is how a Muslim does not dispense with establishing prayer, this important religious ritual at every time and place, so he carries with him what is necessary. To perform it to the fullest, above every earth and under any sky!

Prayer rugs have been in existence since the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, was enjoined to pray, as the five daily prayers should be performed on a clean surface.

In this article, we invite you to learn more about prayer rugs, their characteristics, types, and how to take care of them.

 

What are prayer rugs?

Prayer rugs are more than just an ordinary carpet, they carry a high symbolism for us Muslims, because they provide a protective layer between the worshiper and the ground that provides his clothes with the necessary purity to perform the prayer. The most common design that appeared since the beginning of Islamic history seems to include a mihrab in the form of a pointed arc at the upper end of the carpet, representing a point of direction, indicating the direction of the qiblah towards the Kaaba in Makkah Al-Mukarramah.

Prayer rugs take the form of a vertical rectangle that is generally suitable for one person, unlike the prayer rugs that are used in mosques, which contain a drawing that embodies a row of arches so that each arch indicates the place where each worshiper must stand during prayer.

The ancient history of prayer rugs

Since ancient times, Muslim weavers have taken care of prayer rugs because, despite being a simple but important piece of cloth, they presented many creative improvisations in design, and each village and tribe created a specific spiritual meaning that it tried to embody in the design. With the flourishing of the oriental carpet industry during the Ottoman Empire, a lot of art and creativity entered the carpet industry, and prayer rugs became a national heritage.

We notice this in the keenness of the rulers and leaders to assign the most skilled artists to make distinctive prayer rugs to present them as gifts to the rulers and other leaders, and some pieces of them reached Europe and the Far East, so they were considered valuable artifacts worth owning and might end up hanging like a painting in the wall of a house or palace.

The most important characteristics of prayer rugs

After we have taken a quick look at the history of prayer rugs, let us closely explore its most important characteristics in terms of design, size and material:

First: the design

All pieces of prayer rugs share the presence of the mihrab, which occupies a special place. The mihrab is the place on which the Muslim places his head during prayer. Sometimes the mihrab may be embodied with great accuracy similar to the shape of the mosque, and sometimes it comes in an abstract and symbolic form only. The mihrab in Persian carpets takes an elegant curved shape. And distinctive, while the Turkmen and Caucasian carpets embody the mihrab in a stable, more upright form.

The design of prayer rugs is characterized by a clear Islamic sign that often embodies one of the Islamic sanctities, whether the Kaaba in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, or Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Many pieces of prayer rugs include some form of adornment, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but carries a deep meaning, for example lit lamps symbolizing the light of the Qur’an, two hands symbolizing supplication, and a door symbolizing entry into heaven . There are restrictions on the shapes that are used in the design of prayer rugs, as it is not permissible to depict animate beings such as birds and animals, and the design in its entirety should be simple that does not distract the worshiper from reverence and contemplation of what he says.

As for colors, prayer rugs come in different colors such as green, red, blue, purple and yellow.

Second: the size

The standard single prayer rug measures between 0.76m x 1.22m and 1.2m x 1.8m, and is long enough to cover the floor on which the worshiper prostrates, extending from one end on which the worshiper stands to the other end where he rests his head. This size fits the vast majority of worshipers, with the exception of people who are obese or very tall, as they prefer larger sizes that allow them to prostrate and sit completely freely away from touching the ground.

Third: the material

Prayer rugs are often made of cotton or silk, and the availability of cotton and silk contributes to the sale of prayer rugs at a low price. If you want a prayer rug that lasts longer and resists stains, choose carpets made of cotton. If you care about comfort and softness more, silk is the best choice because it is light and smooth underfoot.

Besides, there are few prayer rugs that are made of wool. This type is the most expensive type, but it is also more rare. The underlayment plays an important role in the manufacture of carpets as well, as most weavers use a support layer of soft foam. This cushioning contributes to providing comfort to the worshiper and protecting the carpet from damage over time.

As for the oldest materials from which carpets for prayer are made, they are palm trees, and it is the same material that the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him, used to pray on. Prayer rugs made of palm trees are very popular in almost every mosque, and the reason behind this is that they are the most simple and abstract type and suit the asceticism of Islamic culture.

Prayer rugs may also be made of hemp and jute. We note from the various materials that we have mentioned that the basic quality criterion is that the rug settles on its own when laid out flat and does not tend to curl at the edges.

Types of prayer rugs

Prayer remains an essential pillar in the life of a Muslim, whether he is a child, a traveler, a patient, or others. Therefore, more than one type of prayer rug has been created to suit different needs and circumstances. Here are 6 of the most popular types of prayer rugs:

  1. Ordinary prayer rugs

It is the most common type, it comes in the form of a thin fabric of cotton and polyester fibers without any lining, and because of the simplicity of manufacturing it is characterized by its reasonable prices and is available in most stores.

  1. Turkish prayer rugs

It is an expensive type compared to regular carpets. It is characterized by elegant and luxurious Turkish design patterns and comes in many colors. It is one of the types of carpets that is durable and easy to clean. It is often made of wool.

  1. Physiological prayer rugs

It is one of the latest innovations in prayer rugs, as it is designed with five layers to absorb weight and reduce pressure on different points in the body. The first layer consists of microfibers coated with a heat-resistant material, and an antibacterial surface that fights bacteria and fungi. While the central three layers handle and absorb the weight, the bottom layer has a slip and movement resistant surface.

The developer of this innovative carpet called "Timez5" says that it used effective materials with high protective properties that were originally used in NASA astronauts' suits, which is of course reflected in the exorbitant cost of this type of prayer rug.

  1. Quilted carpet

It is a carpet with medicinal properties designed to relieve any feeling of pain during prayer due to standing, sitting, prostrating, and pressure on the feet, knees, forehead, neck and back. It contains a spongy layer in the middle so that it supports the muscles and bones, which made it an ideal type for the elderly who suffer from arthritis, osteoporosis and spine diseases.

Some cushioned prayer rugs have a layer of resilient foam that provides relief to areas of the body that come under pressure during prayer, making them ideal for praying on wooden surfaces and for people looking for a comfortable cushion-like surface to perform the prayer.

The only note worthy of attention in this type of prayer rug is to ensure that the rug is not too high off the ground so as to prevent one from feeling it, as it is Islamically necessary for members such as the hands, feet, knees, and forehead to feel the ground under it during prostration, so attention must be paid before purchasing.

  1. Travel prayer rugs

Regular prayer rugs come in a luxurious shape and take up a lot of space, so the prayer rugs that are suitable for travel are a tool for convenience in carrying and storing that makes praying while traveling easier. It is made of durable and lightweight materials and often comes with simple designs in terms of shapes and colors. The travel prayer rugs are distinguished Light in weight, easy to carry in luggage and can be used on any surface.

  1. Prayer rugs for children

Similar to religious books and television programs directed to children in a simple and interesting way that sparks the curiosity of children’s developing minds towards exploring Islam in a natural way. This type of prayer rug is intended for young children, as it comes in small sizes that suit their short heights and thin bodies, with which the child feels that he owns a carpet of his own as he sees his father And his mother does, and then his association with this important ritual of the Islamic religion is strengthened.

How to clean prayer rugs regularly

Prayer rugs are one of the types of carpets that can last for many years if they are kept clean, especially in the presence of a bottom support that protects its surface from wear . It requires simple periodic maintenance that will make it last for years and keep its texture fresh and healthy all the time.

The routine of taking care of prayer rugs includes cleaning it weekly with a vacuum cleaner, wrapping it after performing each prayer, and then placing it in a safe and clean place. In addition to the above, prayer rugs should be washed regularly, at least once a year.

How to wash prayer rugs?

Some types of prayer rugs, such as those made of silk, need dry cleaning, but most other types of prayer rugs can be washed by hand using the following steps:

  1. Use a carpet stain remover first to get rid of any stubborn stains. Follow the directions for use on the packaging to protect the fabric and get the best result.
  2. After getting rid of the stains, soak the prayer rugs in soapy water for at least half an hour, if the fabric is hard, soak it overnight until morning. You can also put it in the automatic washing machine and set it to the soaking programme.
  3. After you have finished soaking the carpet, place it in cold water and gently wash it in the water, then rinse it well.
  4. Roll the carpet several times and squeeze it by pressing it gently, avoiding squeezing it hard to keep it from being damaged.
  5. Hang to air dry, preferably out of direct sunlight to avoid any fading.

Conclusion

Regardless of the type, color, design and size, prayer rugs remain one of the most cherished items in the home, reflecting our close relationship with prayer and embracing our bodies like a pillow five times a day in the most precious of times that pass us by.

Sources:

 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/prayer-rug

https://www.thenationalnews.com/arts/the-significance-of-prayer-mats-1.95066

https://theconversation.com/what-are-muslim-prayer-rugs-110406

https://medium.com/@giftislamic3/washing-your-prayer-mat-regularly-f2965090383f

https://www.giftislamic.co.uk/7-fundamental-facts-you-need-to-know-how-to-wash-namaz-mat-at-home/

https://www.rugknots.com/blogs/rug-anatomy-101/about-prayer-rugs

https://insideprayer.com/blog/padded-prayer-mats/

https://insideprayer.com/blog/travel-prayer-mats/

https://insideprayer.com/blog/kids-prayer-mats/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_rug

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