Jakarta’s Best Mall Mushollahs
Prayer facilities are vital for shopping centres in cities with large Muslim populations. Afia R Fitriati rounds up the best mushollahs in Jakarta malls.
It was an experience that I will never forget. One Ramadhan a few years ago, my husband and I were stuck in one of Jakarta’s maxed-out traffic jams during Maghrib. Afraid that we would miss prayer time, my husband made a quick turn to the nearest shopping centre to find a prayer room. After a frantic search, we finally found a ‘mushollah’, down in the basement and next to a dimly lit parking lot. It was a dingy, two-by-two-metre room cramped with a throng of mall visitors, each struggling to find elbow room to worship God. Pressed for time, my husband and I finally relented: We found a space just next to the parking ramp and made it our prayer spot. The roars and exhaust fumes of passing vehicles coloured our senses while we pressed our foreheads against the hard, dusty pavement.
This surreal experience angered me. I was in Jakarta, wasn’t I? That a mall in the capital city of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country had failed to provide a decent prayer room was, to me, a sign of inconsideration and disrespect. The experience made me vow to write this piece: An article that highlights the best mall mushollahs in Jakarta and gives them due praise, in the hope that other shopping centres will follow suit.
Jl Asia Afrika 8. www.plaza-senayan.com
At a time when other shopping centres still placed mushollahs at the low end of their priority lists, Plaza Senayan was one of the first high-end malls that recognised the importance of prayer rooms as a service to its visitors. So it built two separate granite-tiled mushollahs for men and women on its third floor, adjacent to the parking lot. The mushollahs are equipped with basic facilities such as shoe storage areas with caretakers, an ablution room with restrooms, and prayer garb. The ablution room has a good drainage system and thus is relatively clean. In the women’s area, the corridor that connects the shoe storage area and the prayer room is lined with well-lit mirrors so women can fix their hijabs after prayers. The prayer rooms are quite spacious on weekdays, but at weekends and during Ramadhan, visitors crowd the mushollahs – an indication that an expansion is overdue.
Pondok Indah Mall 2 (PIM 2)
Jl Metro Pondok Indah. www.pondokindahmall.co.id
As one of the busiest shopping malls in Jakarta, the owners of PIM 2 made a wise decision to include sufficient mushollah space – it has not one, not two, but three mushollahs on its premises. The mushollahs are on the first, second and third levels of the shopping centre with easy-to-find signs leading to them. Though a bit lacking in aesthetics, the mushollahs are clean with easy access to ablution rooms and restrooms. Caretakers are always available to guard the shoe storage areas and there are benches for waiting visitors. But bring your own telekung or mukena (prayer garb for women), because these mushollahs don’t seem to provide them.
Jl Jend Sudirman Kav 52-53. www.pacificplace.co.id
I would have been furious if one of the poshest shopping complexes in Jakarta didn’t have a proper mushollah. Luckily, the Pacific Place mall owners did well to avoid my wrath. In fact, I was quite impressed by the services and amenities offered at this third-floor mushollah that went beyond the basic necessities. Upon my entrance, a concierge warmly greeted me with a friendly smile and ‘salaam’. While I was visiting the mushollah at around 3pm, a prayer clock in the reception area happily reminded me that it was time for Asr. I was also pleasantly surprised that my prayer dress smelled freshly laundered (the caretaker said that the garments were washed every week). There is also bottled mineral water and a shoe-shine rack that visitors may help themselves to. And, my favourite, a flat-screen TV above the reception area that shows Islamic documentaries. It is apparent that the management of Pacific Place have gone the extra mile to ensure top-notch service for the mall’s Muslim visitors.
Jl Iskandarsyah II No 2, Blok M. www.pasaraya.co.id
This shopping mall went above and beyond its competitors to provide excellent Islamic prayer facilities. The shopping centre built more than a mushollah; it dedicated around a third of its fifth floor to a well-decorated mosque (masjid). Named after the founder of the shopping complex, Masjid ALatief has a spacious circular praying area that can easily accommodate more than 1,000 people. The entire floor of this area is covered with thick, soft, high-quality red carpet. An enormous crystal chandelier decorates the masjid’s domed ceiling, right at the centre. From the expansive windows, visitors have a bird’s eye view of Central Jakarta’s hustle and bustle. During Ramadhan, iftar is given out before Maghrib to visitors at the entrance of the masjid. Given its strategic location and comfortable amenities, it is not surprising that Masjid ALatief is a favourite destination for tarawih prayers during the holy month.
It is important for owners and operators of shopping centres to realise that, to practising Muslims, a mushollah is just as important a facility as a washroom. In countries with sizeable Muslim populations, ignoring shoppers’ needs means alienating a large segment of customers. After all, who wants to be forced into measures both extreme and awkward, such as worshipping God from a fitting room, or – yes – even a parking garage? You won’t find me at such shopping centres. I’ll be patronising malls that use their car parks for parking, their fitting rooms for fitting, and their mushollahs for praying.
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