Religious Passenger’s Prayer Delays Flight Boarding in Sydney
① Reason for Delay in Boarding at Sydney Airport
In Muslim-majority countries, prayer times hold profound significance in daily life. People pause their activities to engage in prayer, even on the go. Prayers can occur virtually anywhere, whether on the streets, airports, terminals, or rest areas.
Muslims practice five daily prayers, a fundamental pillar of their faith. They bow down and engage in these five daily prayers regardless of location or circumstances. For Muslims, prayer is a vital connection between individuals and the Creator. It is seen as a means of seeking God’s guidance and reaffirming one’s faith. Essentially, Muslims engage in this act of worship five times each day to communicate with God.
For them, prayer holds a position of paramount importance among religious obligations. It is a mandatory practice for all Muslims, irrespective of their location. The daily prayer times are observed at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and night.
A video titled “The Reason for the Delay in Boarding at Sydney Airport” recently went viral. The flight delay was attributed to prayer times, which inconvenienced other passengers.
The video shows an incident where a man commenced praying in the center of the airplane aisle, preventing other passengers from entering the aircraft or accessing their seats. The crew and fellow passengers displayed expressions of astonishment and voiced their displeasure.
Despite the disapproving glances and comments from others, the man remained steadfast in his prayer. People who watched this video expressed various reactions, including criticism of the boarding delay, concerns about religious freedom being used to impede others, suggestions that the individual should have scheduled a flight at a different time, and characterizing the act as a selfish obstruction of the aisle.
② Baseball Game Interrupted Due to Prayer Times
An incident occurred during a baseball game when it was interrupted to accommodate Muslim prayer times. This incident took place during the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games held in Indonesia, which is the largest Islamic country globally. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, approximately 87% of the Indonesian population are Muslims, making it the predominant religion.
During the baseball game, a pause was necessary due to the overlap with prayer times. At that time, Son Dong-yeol, the baseball team’s coach, explained, “We had a morning meeting, and we were informed of a unique rule that the game would be interrupted during prayer times.” He clarified, “Given that Indonesia is an Islamic country, we cannot continue playing during these designated prayer times, which require breaks at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.”
Prayer times occur five times daily, typically at 5 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m., each lasting around 5-10 minutes. Although the prayer breaks were relatively brief, they did lead to a debate over their impact on the game’s continuity. Local baseball fans expressed their surprise at the unexpected nature of these prayer interruptions.
In Saudi Arabia, it’s a common practice for shops to close during prayer times, obliging business owners to pause their operations five times a day. This practice, guided by religious laws, has existed for over 30 years. However, its legality and foundation have been subject to scrutiny and debate.
Recently, as the government implemented 24-hour business operations to stimulate the economy, a discussion emerged regarding whether shops should continue to close temporarily during the five daily prayer times, as they traditionally have. Some argued that this practice was primarily a rule enforced by the religious police and had a relatively weak religious basis.
Among Islamic countries, Saudi Arabia stands out for mandating the closure of shops during all five daily prayer times. Most other Islamic nations typically observe this practice only during the Friday congregational prayer. Saudi Arabia takes a strict stance on prayer times, and shop owners who fail to close their establishments have faced arbitrary arrests, temporary detention, or even flogging as penalties.
③ Students Praying at School Also Expelled
A controversy related to prayer times unfolded at a school in the UK, where Muslim students were expelled for praying on the street.
In Greater Manchester, England, eight students from a middle school opted to pray outdoors during the Friday Prayer. A teacher who observed this instructed the students to leave the building, leaving them with no alternative but to pray on the cold winter ground. A video capturing this incident circulated widely online, generating significant public outrage.
Amid the ongoing controversy, the school clarified its stance: “We had previously provided a prayer room for our Muslim students.” They explained that a shortage of classrooms prompted the expulsion of the students due to severe flooding at that time. The school also pledged not to disrupt the students’ prayers in the future.
By. Min Jae Kim