“I had just come out of praying Maghrib in a stairwell at Columbia… and I was just thinking that this is very inconvenient,” said Dar. As a result, Dar and his wife, Nushmia Khan, founded Musallah.
Musallah is an app that locates nearby praying spaces. The app makes it easier for Muslims to complete their daily prayers by matching them with suitable places nearby. These prayer places can be anywhere from mosques to restaurants, schools, offices, gyms and even other religious buildings.
Musallah was launched in March 2015, and already has more than 260 supporters. It raised more than $15,000 in just one month. When Dar first introduced this app, the support was extraordinary. “During the campaign, I had too many developers come up to me and say, ‘Let me help you develop this.’ Normally, people have a hard time finding developers and now I have the choice. When I first was asking if people were interested in this, the answer was a resounding yes,” said Dar.
The app has supporters all over world, including Australia, Africa, Egypt, Pakistan, London and Canada. It also has established more than 6,000 addresses for a place to pray. Right now, Musallah is concentrated in New York City, but hopes to expand in the near future.
Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is intended to focus the mind on God – a personal communication of worship. Dar hopes to bring about safe places to pray so that Muslims can pray with peace of mind, an important aspect of the prayer. Dar believes that especially now, when many Muslims are not comfortable praying in public or not able to pray without being looked at strangely, these places are necessary. “We are in a precarious time right now and Muslims need these places to stay connected with their faith,” said Dar.
Musallah hopes to introduce these places not only for individual prayer, but also prayer in congregation. Another mission for Musallah is for geotext, which will allow the users to know when prayers are gathering. For instance, the app will recite the call to prayer, and then let the user know a specific time and location that a prayer is gathering. “It’s the act of prayer that cuts across all lines and connects all Muslims, whether you are Sunni, Shi’ia or any other type of Muslim. All Muslims can agree that prayer is something we do,” said Dar.
Another goal for Musallah is to help establish a global norm for prayers and not to have an excuse for missing prayers. “We are going to try and look for trends – which Masjids are getting the most traffic and why. A long-term goal is for data collection – I can get information that will help establish new Masjids in areas in need of them, not only where the Masjid needs to be built, but what it should have to accommodate to everyone,” said Dar.
An app such as Musallah will raise awareness and connect many Muslims. A local restaurant near Columbia University, Shahid Biryani, already has implemented this into their restaurant. “On top of the cooler where the Cokes are, they have lots of prayer rugs and an arrow pointing towards the Kibla, and loads of people come in and pray around Asr and Maghrib,” said Dar.