Friday, 12 February 2016

Places where you can pray in London

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!!

As a lot of you might come and visit London in the future, here's some tips on where to pray around places of interest in London. Although we want to have a fun time sightseeing, don't forget our obligation as a muslim to perform the 5 times daily prayers. Sometimes, we can find it difficult to pray since we are not familiar with the place. So, here's some of the places that I know, where you can easily find a prayer room right here in London.

1. Heathrow Airport

I will start with the airport, so if you just arrive in London, and you think you won't make it to your accommodation before the  prayer time ends, you can just perform your prayer at the airport. 

Each of the terminal has a prayer room for your convenience. Terminal 1 and 2 are nearby, so there's only one. 

  • Terminal 2: departures (after security), near Gate A21 [map]
  • Terminal 2: T2B (after security), between Gates B34 and B35 [map]
  • Terminal 3: departures, Level 1 (before security) [map]
  • Terminal 3: departures (after security), near Lounge A [map]
  • Terminal 4: mezzanine floor (before security), near Yotel
  • Terminal 5: check-in Zone A (before security) [map]
  • Terminal 5: departures (after security), near Gate A8 [map]
  • Terminal 5: T5B (after security), near Gate B34 [map]
  • Terminal 5: T5C (after security), near Gate C52 [map]
This info you can actually find in their website.

2. Gatwick Airport

Another airport that you might arrive at is Gatwick. There's also prayer rooms at each terminal.

The South Terminal chapel is on the third floor level near Caffè Nero (before security).
The North Terminal chapel is on the ground floor, next to international arrivals (before security).

The room is a multi-faith room for all Jewish, Christianity, Muslim and any other beliefs to worship. So when you enter, don't be alarmed to see seatings as in a church or synagogue with all these symbols. 

The muslim prayer area is further inside at the end. There's also an ablution area. But be aware, it's for both male and female. So if you're a female, ask someone to guide at the door for you so no man will come in accidentally. 

3. Westminster Area (St. Thomas Hospital)

The top places to see in London are of course Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Westminster Abbey and others nearby. If you go there, just at the end of the Westminster Bridge (opposite of Big Ben), there's a hospital called St. Thomas. 

If you enter from that side, turn right until the end, then left, you will see a sign for the muslim prayer room. Walk further up, the room is on the right hand side, behind these doors.

For me, this would be the most comfortable prayer room of all. The ablution area is very big (but only one at a time for each gender). There's no toilet here, so you need to go at the other parts of the hospital. The prayer area is mixed male and female with no blinds or any segregation (only chairs that they arrange to separate), unlike the one in Gatwick airport. So be careful of your aurah sisters. 

4. Oxford Street

If you are ever in London, for sure you will come to Oxford Street for some shopping or maybe just window shopping for those who are like me. 

Oxford street would be most difficult to find a prayer room. But if you are flexible, you can find a comfy place to pray, anywhere. 

There's actually an Islamic centre where you can use as prayer room at Soho which is located behind Oxford Circus. They usually held the Friday Prayer here. Hence, some people think that only men are allowed to pray here, which is ridiculous. So if there aren't any bigoted muslim men here that day or if it's not locked, you may be able to perform your prayer here, peacefully. 

The're is another mosque about 11 minutes from here at 46 Goodge Street. If you don't want the hassle, just go to the mosque. 

Another choice is at the breastfeeding room at John Lewis. The room is obviously for breastfeeding, but if there aren't anybody there, or if you have a baby to breastfeed, why not do two things at a time. 

For singletons like me, I usually just find a store (such as Next) and pray inside their changing room. Pick some clothing that you might be interested in 'trying', and pray while you're in the changing room. If you want to find a toilet, there's McD that you can go to. 

5. Any hospital nearby

If you are walking, and suddenly realised that you haven't prayed, and don't really know where to find a prayer room, just try and find the nearest hospital. There's almost always a prayer room there. Here are some prayer room that I have been to and their locations.

   a. Hammersmith Hospital

From the main entrance, turn right and walk straight until you see the chapel on the left. The muslim prayer room is on the right, through the worker door, upstairs (eventhough it looks a little bit scary and weird for a prayer room location). There's ablution area there too.

    b. University College Hospital, UCH (Euston, near Euston bus station and Euston square station)

As you enter the main entrance, turn right, further up (or follow the chaplaincy sign), you can see the prayer room on the left hand side. One room is the chapel, and another is the prayer room. There's ablution area here too.

    c. Great Ormond Street Hospital (near Russel Square station, British Museum)

I'm not sure if you enter from the main entrance, because I used to go through the back door. But the location of the prayer room (or multi-faith room as they call it) is at Level 2 (ground floor) of the Southwood Building. There's no ablution here.

   d. St. Mary's Hospital (Paddington, Edgware Road)

If you walk through these gates, go to the Clarence Wing (if you're from Paddington station, it's on the right. If you're from Edgware Road, it's on the left). You can also try searching these signs. There's ablution here too.

6. Imperial College London (South Kensington, near Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall)

If you are a culture buff, you might go and visit the museums. At South Kensington, there are 3 museums to visit. So, if you want to find a prayer room nearby, there's a prayer room for Imperial College students at the Princes Gardens road. It's location is slightly hidden and inaccessible for non-students. But you can always ask any muslim students to let you in. They'll be happy to help. 

If you have been to Malaysia Hall before, the location is kind of like that, at the basement. So look out after you've passed the Ethos sports centre. It's on your left. There's a small 'ablution' area (a sink with a dipper). 

7. Trafalgar Square

Of course you would want to visit Trafalgar Square. It's where the National Gallery is. It's near Chinatown where M&M's world is, and loads of theatres nearby too. So if you're thinking of where to pray while walking around these areas, you can drop by the Malaysia Tourism office. There's a prayer room downstairs at the basement. 

I found out about it during the Malaysia Night festival two years ago when my bestie and I were trying to find a suitable place to pray. The year before, I just prayed in public, but on that year, there were too many people around and no secluded place to pray. My bestie suggested it, eventhough I said it won't work because it's outside office hours so there won't be anyone there. To our surprise, when we rang the door, someone opened it. We asked whether we can pray and he let us in. There's an ablution area inside the toilet. 

After we finished, we even told other muslims that asked us where to pray to go there too.

8. Westfield White City

If you love shopping, you need to drop by Westfiled. It's the biggest mall in London. Whatever stores in Oxford Street (except Primark), you can find here in Westfield. That's why when my relatives came, I'll take them here. Less hassle, less people and it's ondoors!! The foodcourt also has a lot of halal food. So if you want to find a place to pray, go down to the subbasement floor (-2). You can take the lift or escalators opposite of Mothercare. There's no ablution area here, so try to take from the toilet (without soiling the floors!). 

There's also a mosque at shepherds bush, beside nando's (halal). It's located just a few minutes away from Westfield. 

That's about it that I know, places where you can pray around London. You can also find information at tripadvisor.

Another place worth mentioning is at Birmingham New Street train station. They just built a prayer room inside the station! It's huge and comfy too. 

The prayer room is mixed for both male and female. There's ablution area just outside this room. Be careful to lock the door because non-muslim might think it's a toilet. 

That's all the sharing form me. I hope all of you can find it ease to walk around London, while being able to perform you prayers easily. 

Until next time...

No comments: