My childhood memories of the mosque hardly evoke the idea of sacred space. I recall damp basements with mouldy walls (and the occasional mushroom growth), stifling in summer and so cold in winter we could see our breath when we recited the Quran, rocking back and forth vigorously to warm ourselves. At home, the only sacred aspect was the prayer mat, which would be brought out and placed wherever there was space for the quick ritual prayer. As a teenager I stopped attending mosque and as a young woman my prayers were usually uttered in bed, when I couldn’t sleep. The concept of sacred space didn’t enter my consciousness until much later in my life when I started attending a Sufi circle.
Here I learned that being part of a spiritual community affects every part of your life. It’s not just about sitting together, praying together and sharing together, but also the detail around you that goes into creating a conducive atmosphere for spiritual reflection, whether at home or in public shared spaces.