WASWASA – Whispers in Prayer is an immersive theatrical experience by artist Mohammed Ali that explores the act of Islamic prayer and what that means in a modern, secular society.

The physical act of prayer now extends beyond religious spaces to places such as parks and city-squares; it spills over into our everyday worlds. It is even visible in sports arenas with athletes prostrating to the ground or raising hands to the sky in moments of triumph. Can we draw parallels between an act of personal faith and our quest to achieve a higher state of focus?

The audience is invited to walk through a combination of art installation, live performance and projected film zones that disrupt the conventions of theatre, placing them at the very heart of the story.

Two types of experiences are available. See details in FAQs section below.

Mohammed Ali together with his Soul City Arts team aim to demystify this familiar yet misunderstood tradition of Islamic prayer through an extraordinary multi-disciplinary show that will challenge our perceptions.


What is the show about?

It’s a multi-disciplinary art show, that uses real-life community narratives, theatre and a visual-art display in an immersive setting at Birmingham Hippodrome. It captures the experience of Muslim Prayer and what this means in a modern society. It also explores Islamic prayer in a form that’s never been seen before, including the sharing of the struggles and challenges of prayer in a secular society.

What is the meaning of Waswasa?

Waswasa is an Arabic word for devilish whispers that taunt you. Whilst the show is generally uplifting, we wanted to explore some of the darker aspects of prayer and focus too; how many may struggle with faith and focus? In fact, Waswasa also relates deeply to people of no faith too, as we all struggle with achieving that higher state of focus with things like social media, technology and other distractions dominating our lives.

How can I experience the show?

There are two experiences in one space.

A Walk Through Experience is for those who don’t get a chance to see the full performance, but offers the audience an opportunity to walk through the captivating Waswasa set; the “graffitied” prayer mat tunnel created together with the community as well as an opportunity to view a reproduction of Birmingham’s world-famous Qur’an. Unlike the full Performance, there will be video snapshots of the storyline played on screens to give a sense of the narrative.

The Full Performance is a greater immersive encounter, where all of the above is experienced, but includes a full live performance. The ‘Performance’ experience offers an intimate audience a deeper enthralling insight via a live actor, who explores the physical act of Islamic prayer, the triumphs and the struggles. We recommend the full Performances if you are lucky enough to get tickets!

Why should I come to the show?

Islamic prayer has never actually been captured in this form ever before. It’s for people from the Muslim community as well as those of different faiths or no faith, because we all struggle with focus and finding that elusive ‘flow state’ in modern society. The show straddles all communities, because prayer and focus are perhaps something we are all striving for. There is definitely a thing or two for us all to learn from and experience in Waswasa; multi-award-winning artist Mohammed Ali’s homecoming show and his most ambitious to date.

Credit for video and images: Mohammed Ali