According to the forecast published by a nonpartisan fact tank Pew Research Center, „over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion”.
„If current trends continue, by 2050 the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world. (…) There will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%). (…) People who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population”. You can find more details in the study „The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050”. However, authors of the forecasts point out that „there is a chance that unforeseen events – war, famine, disease, technological innovation, political upheaval, etc. – will alter the size of one religious group or another”.
Will faith and tradition entail a massive rejection of the new technology? Designer Othman Khunji does not agree with this stereotype and writes another scenario. He argues that design and for example 3D printed objects can be used to strengthen the connection with the professed God – in his case with Allah. In this purpose, he designed and built The Prayary mat.
The Prayary is a mechanism covered with a prayer rug, where Muslims faced the direction of Mecca can pray Salat. Bowing down „Alsujood” position is the total surrender to God Allah. When prayers forehead touches the praying mat, it triggers the 3D printed mechanism to pull on the cartridges with the right tension. This action allows the canvas material or thick tracing paper to be pulled and directed into the glue box. Finally, it rolls around the iron rod forming rock-solid beads that are turned into a custom made rosary. The rosary is made by the prayers efforts while praying, and also the prayers choice of words.
To create this project Othman Khunji was provoked by the fact that the circle of Gulf region Muslims he is surrounded by, and have been exposed to since childhood, belong to one of two stereotypes: those against or afraid of change who force adherence to religious chapter and verse, or those straying further and further away from religion’s rituals and traditions. The designer wondered if the practice of religion can be made more accessible and engaging by incorporating the technology that is often accused of distracting people from its practice.
The Prayary is enhancing yet not altering the Islamic prayer to award a tangible custom-made outcome to allow the continuity of prayer through a misbaha rosary. The audiences targeted are children learning how to pray and adults who have strayed away from praying.
The frame of the Prayary is made from wood while a the mechanism has been 3D printed. The Quranic verses that you can see on the rosary beads have been made with UV printing technology, and the bead’s material have been made with a laser cutter.
Othman Khunji is an interdisciplinary designer from Bahrain, living currently in Qatar. His work ranges between the fields of interior, fashion, product and interactive space design. Earlier this year he graduated with an MFA degree in design studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Living between Bahrain, Colombia, Dubai and Qatar, Othman has gained knowledge of various international destinations and their unique languages of design.
I found The Prayary mat at Design Days Dubai fairs, where it was a part of „Souvenir” exhibition prepared by Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. The event was held in Dubai from 16th to 20th of March 2015. If you have any questions regarding this project, please contact Dr Thomas Modeen who I met in Dubai (firstname.lastname@example.org; he is the Acting Director of MFA DESIGN Department at VCUQatar), or directly email the designer Othman Khunji: email@example.com.
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