Q&A: Muslim Character Missing Prayers

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Dear Readers: The following question was submitted by Jami Sinclair, who is writing a book with a Muslim character and would like input from the Muslim community on whether her portrayals of Islam are accurate. Besides her questions, which I will be posting as they come up, Jami is also seeking sensitivity readers for her manuscript. Please help out if you can.


Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions!

In my middle grade spy adventure (for 9-12 year olds), the villain is determined to get rid of groups he thinks are a security threat to America (basically anyone of Middle Eastern descent).

This squarely affects the main character Dale’s best friend, Jasmine Siddiqi. She is twelve years old (but could be eleven, if it helps alleviate any issues). She and her mother work for a secret government agency, working to take the villain down.

At age 11 or 12, would Jasmine be praying five times a day? If so, I worry there are instances when she will be in the middle of a mission (and being chased by the bad guys) during salat.

I assume that if someone is in danger, or if she is, it would be acceptable to postpone prayers? Or maybe at that age, she is just starting to incorporate regular prayer schedule into her daily life?

I’d love to hear any thoughts of how to deal with prayer during missions. (Also, often there would not be water available for ritual washing prior to prayer. Although she could carry a water bottle and small prayer rug in her backpack.)

Thank you for your thoughts!

More Questions from Jami

Want to be a sensitivity reader for Jami? Read this post.

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  1. Hi Jami,

    Obligatory prayers are compulsory after 10 years. Jasmine is 12 so she has to pray if your portraying her as a sincerely practicing Muslim.
    Any obligatory prayers take hardly 2-5 min….so she can pray easily. (In fact prayers will make her fearless and give her clear answers.)
    If she can carry a water bottle there’s no problem. In case she has no water she can use sand for ritual washing. Prayer rug is not a necessity for prayer.
    To make praying on time easier she can rely on apps that give notification of prayer timings and direction.
    If she’s in danger she can always postpone. Its allowed. She can even join two prayers…but then a 12 yr  old living in interfaith family in a non Muslim country wont be so familiar about this provision.

    I hope this helps you.

  2. Hi Jami,

    Thank you for your question.

    Fatima, great answer. Thanks. Love the idea about prayer apps.

    Adding to the above, it is common for children to pray at this age, and practicing Muslims generally teach their children that prayer comes above all else. This means that Muslims who pray are accustomed to planning their activities around prayer, not the other way around. It is a big deal for a practicing Muslim to miss a prayer.

    The prayer timings are such that one usually has a couple of hours to make a prayer on time. In Los Angeles, California, for example, the prayer timings are currently as follows:

    Fajr Prayer:

    Starts at 4:25 AM (dawn), Ends at 5:46 AM (sunrise)

    Dhuhr Prayer:

    Starts at 12:50 PM, Continues until Asr

    Asr Prayer:

    Starts at 5:47 PM, Continues until Maghreb

    Maghreb Prayer:

    Starts at 7:54 PM, Continues until Isha

    Isha Prayer:

    Starts at 9:15 PM, Continues until Fajr (some opinions say until midnight)

    Note that prayer timings change throughout the year and vary according to location. Also, it is not desirable to delay prayers until the “end” time of each prayer, but there is some leeway for people who can’t make it at the “start” time. As Fatima pointed out, it only takes a couple of minutes to pray.

    There are, indeed, special accommodations for people who are traveling or otherwise in danger, but I’d want to know more about the specific situation before offering a solution.

    I like the idea that Jasmine would carry a little “prayer kit” with her. This is something many Muslims do. Ritual ablution is required before praying, but it can last for more than one prayer if one does not lose it by expelling gas, using the bathroom, or sleeping.

    Amel – MWC Admin
    Amel recently posted…Q&A: Appropriate Age for Hijab & Other IssuesMy Profile

  3. Wonderful information. With those kind of time windows, I’m sure she can pray.

    I left a followup question in my question about wearing a hijab. But I’ll post it here, in case someone does not view that question.

    Follow-up: If she were to pray on the run (meaning in the middle of a forest after being chased there by the villain’s goons,) how would she go about it? She’s with her friend (non-muslim boy). He knows she prays, but I assume she might excuse herself around a rock for privacy? Are prayers said out loud? If so, might she murmur them? (The villains are still in the forest looking for them, so they need to be quiet.) If she doesn’t need a rug, would she just kneel on the forest floor? Or any floor for that matter? It might make sense for her to have a small cloth, if not a prayer rug, because she might been to pray in odd places if on a mission. Thoughts?

  4. Hi Jami, She can pray on the floor or jungle….if she can Cary a small cloth good….she just has to keep a stick or her bag or anything for that matter in front of her to act as a minbar( pillar). No hiding behind floor required. Salah is always done in soft low voice by women almost like a murmur…so no issue. She can postpone prayer till she’s at a safe place.
    If you really want to put a plot where jasmine prays on mission let it be evening time or in a dark place where she can use darkness as seclusion….so she cangrab a few minutes to pray. So jasmine is a 11 yr old american Muslim girl her hijab would be anything like a loose tee and baggy pants Nike headscarf….cool….so she’s always in hijab…she does wudhu( ritual cleansing ) every time she goes on a mission….she has small cloth in her bagpack…..are heroine is in crisis….shes hiding from villains…but her mobile buzz prayer time…..so she stands for prayer and dedicates her 2 min to Allah….I hope I’ve answered to your satisfaction .
    Love Fatima

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