Photojournalism Student’s Work on American Muslim Identity Featured in BuzzFeed

Places You'll Pray by Sana Ullah
An image from 'Places You'll Pray' by Sana Ullah
September 23, 2016

New Media Photojournalism student Sana Ullah is looking at the way American Muslims pray in public in her photos series "Places You’ll Pray," which was recently featured in BuzzFeed.

An American Muslim herself, Ullah got the idea for the project when she and her family were at the mall and prayed in a dressing room during prayer time, she told Buzzfeed.

“(The) majority of Muslims are not the evil that hurts this world and its people on it, but rather Muslims (are) constantly taught to love it sincerely and find peace with themselves five times a day,” she said.

Ullah is hoping to influence the narrative around Muslim identity, and her work is an attempt to portray a side of Muslim life that is not often illustrated.

“From celebrity public figures instigating and fueling Islamaphobia, to individuals of all faiths trying to fight the negative stereotypes through social experiments, Twitter hashtags, political campaigns and even free donuts--the narratives are constantly changing,” Ullah wrote on her website.

For her series, Ullah asks her subjects to take her to a place they remembering praying in the past and they recreate the moment for Ullah to photograph. She also photographs some of the more impromptu places people find to pray, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art or a minivan.

One of Ullah's subjects praying at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Sana Ullah

Ullah also created a hashtag#placesyoullprayso that people throughout the world can contribute to the project via social media and add to the discussion.

“By posting these images on social media platforms, I hope to open a floor of open-minded and educated conversations on identity, religion, stereotypes and spirituality,” Ullah wrote.

Read more about Ullah and her series "Places You'll Pray" in BuzzFeed.