Mosques on Wheels
By Tom Balmforth
Moscow: Are you a Muslim in Moscow? Do you find when it’s time to pray, there’s never a minaret in sight? Do you remember that time you had to pray in the filthy fire escape of some business center? Wouldn’t you just prefer it if you could summon a mosque to come to you? Well, your prayers may soon be answered. A new crowd funding initiative posted on the popular Boomstarter website is raising funds to buy a fleet of trailer cars and have them transformed into mobile places of Muslim worship. The renovated trailers will accommodate a mini-prayer space, and also be fitted with a special ablution compartment for Muslims to wash. The mobile mosques will then travel around the capital, serving Muslims who summon them, free of charge.
“Today 2 million Muslims in Moscow are forced to content themselves with only four functioning mosques in the city,” writes Alsu Khafis, the author of the Mobile Mosques project posted online. “The rhythm of the modern city and the small capacity of mosques do not allow practising Muslims always to perform their regular prayer.”
The project aims to raise 850,000 rubles and hopes to resolve Moscow’s mosque conundrum by stationing six trailer-mosques at business centers around the city and making a further two available for summoning by clients via a special website.
The raised funds will go towards buying the trailers and the cars to tow them, hiring drivers, and carrying out a full renovation of the automobiles. Organizers promise the trailer service will be self-sufficient, as it will sell takeaway food in order to cover costs. The exterior of the trailer-cum-mosques will be white and embossed with a green Muslim floral pattern. The Russian capital has long suffered from a shortage of mosques for its estimated 2 million Muslims, many of them migrant laborers.