UPDATE: NYC MUSALLAHS SUBWAY MAP!
Imagine if there was a musallah at every subway stop in New York City. That's our goal, in sha Allah, and here's what we've discovered so far. Huge shoutout to Aamir Khan for calling up so many of these places and checking to see if they had a musallah available. Please note: Restaurant musallahs are intended for customers, so remember that you're walking into a musallah, not a masjid, and that you should purchase something as a sign of your gratitude for them making your life just a little bit easier.
Here it is!
Hey there / salaam Kickstarter!
We're launching a new app that we're calling Musallah, which means "a space for prayer" in Arabic. And we need your help to do it!
What is Musallah?
Musallah makes it easier for practicing Muslims to complete their five obligatory daily prayers on time by matching them with suitable places nearby where they can do that.
Some say we need to build more masjids. Some skip their prayers during the work day. Some pray wherever they can, but not everyone is comfortable with that. It's a problem for millions of Muslims who live outside of the "Muslim world", where mosques are common and the prayer is not looked upon with confusion.
Here are some pictures of the problem, and the solutions Muslims in the West have come up with:
Some links to show how much of a problem this is:
- There Are 1.5 Million Muslims in Italy and Only 8 Mosques. Here's Where They Go to Pray. (The New Republic, Nov. 24, 2014)
- Keeping the Faith as the Meter Runs; Even Muslims on the Move Stop at Prayer Time (NYTimes, May 28th, 2004)
- My awkward moments in Muslim prayer (Wajahat Ali for Salon.com, February 23rd, 2011)
- For U.S. Muslims, Work-Time Prayer a Struggle (Huffington Post, October 30th, 2011)
- Fighting for the right to pray (The Daily Telegraph, February 12th, 2012)
- For devout Muslim cabbies in New York City, parking tickets are the price of prayers (Public Radio International, December 13th, 2013)
- For the academics in the house, see: Bender, Courtney, and Elta Smith. "Religious Innovations among New York’s Muslim Taxi Drivers." Asian American Religious: Borders and Boundaries, edited by T. Carnes, and F. Yang (2004): 76-97.
Musallah is a mobile app that lets users share quiet and calm places to pray with other Muslims in already existing infrastructure. It's different from existing "mosque finder" apps, because on top of showing you the closest mosques, it also shows you the closest restaurants with musallahs, or the closest friendly church that welcomes Muslims inside to complete their prayers, for example. Any space that people want to offer to other Muslims as a musallah can be listed on the app, and the possibilities are endless: existing masjids, interfaith partners, restaurants, hospitals, office buildings, hotels, museums, and more.
It's kind of like airbnb for Islamic prayer.
What we're asking for:
We want to launch both the iPhone and Android apps for free. Based off discussions with industry experts and developers, to launch successfully, design, development and marketing costs will total around $100k.
But if we can successfully get at least $14k this time around, the hope is that doing so would provide us with enough validation for the concept to get other donors and investors on board in the near future.
Rashid Dar (@rashiddar): I'm a grad student at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where I hope to graduate this coming May. At SIPA, I’ve focused on the nexus of religion, conflict, and mediation. I’ve also taken courses on entrepreneurship, and was a strategy intern last summer working for a social good mobile app being developed at Purpose. This past semester, Musallah "won" first place in a gamified startup course taught by renowned entrepreneur Martín Varsavsky, and it's there where I got more confidence that this idea could actually go somewhere. I’m active in American Muslim community events in NYC, and prior to coming to New York, I was at Darul Qasim, where I studied Islam from a traditional standpoint.
Nushmia Khan (@nushmia): I'm a video producer at the startup magazine Inc. in New York City. I’ve also worked at Columbia University, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and started, along with Rashid, Zujaja Creative, a creative label focusing on telling Muslim stories. Our first documentary is coming out within the next two months, inshAllah. I have years of experience in video, photography, web design, and graphic design. Working for a business magazine and having a very entrepreneurial father, I recently got the startup "itch" as well, and am working on Musallah's design and operational strategy.
Being a husband and wife team, we have different skillsets and backgrounds and balance each other out very well. We have a software architect working on designing our database, and have a working relationship with several friends and other professionals in the app design and development field. If you feel you can be an asset to our team in any way, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Progress so far:
We are still early in the design and development process. We have a large database of names and address of 6000+ mosques, halal restaurants, hospital chapels, and more all over America, and are slowly placing them onto a super early prototype web app. We're focusing on NYC first.
Our rough development timeline:
March - May: Raise pre-seed round on Kickstarter, as well as from friends and family. Recruitment of NYC beta team, which will work with the web app. Sustainable musallah database architecture currently under construction. Beginning of native app development.
June: Beta native app prototype built and accepted by App Store, given to beta team. Kinks worked out. Our goal is to have the native beta in the hands of the beta team by the beginning of Ramadan (around mid-June).
Eid al-Fitr: Public launch of Musallah (around mid-July). Further city expansion plans to follow.
Reward choices for donations of $100 or more!
Risks and challenges
There are bound to be several risks and challenges in a project like this. As we expand, for instance, we will need to likely hire employees to manage the outgrowth of a highly dynamic and ever expanding musallah database, ensuring that musallah information is as crisp and up-to-date as possible in terms of having great pictures, current address and hours of operation, etc. We'll also have to begin translating the app into other languages, such as Spanish, French, German, and Italian - due to legislation curbing the number of mosques in places like France and Italy, Muslims there have a greater need for this app than we do here in America.
Our other major challenge we anticipate will be convincing property owners / landlords to be okay with opening their spaces up to passerby Muslims. But we're hopeful that bigotry won't prevail here.
Furthermore, we hope to supply each musallah host with various supplies, such as window stickers indicating that there's a musallah inside, donation boxes to place in each musallah, prayer mats, and more.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)