Sunday, August 23, 2009
Ramadhan Mubarak and the Call to Prayer
With the start of the holy month of Ramadhan, my thoughts turned to the prayer rug and I realised suddenly how it always has been a fundamental part of my psyche.
When I was a child, I read of magic carpets that enabled one to fly, not only through space but often through time as well. One of my favourite books was 'The Phoenix and the Carpet' by E. Nesbit. Although I have a number of beautiful prayer rugs now, I did not make a clear connection between the prayer rug and the magic carpet of my childhood fantasies.
Yet I should have recognised the link instantly. A prayer rug creates a sacred space in the same way that a pagan delineates a sacred circle with ceremonial athame or salt. A prayer rug takes the worshipper to a state of consciousness that is outside time and space. It is a 'ladder to heaven', a means by which the deity is approached.
Non-Muslims often perceive the five mandated daily prayers of Salat as being onerous or tedious but they should be seen as blessed opportunities to break free of the restrictions of ordinary mundane life and its anxieties. Christianity and Islam share a common source and I find it rather odd that Christianity never adopted the prayer rug as an accessory or aid to worship. Rosaries are common both to Christians and Muslims but the prayer rug usually is restricted to Muslim use. What a pity this is! Even those who reject organised religion could find in the prayer rug a blessed oasis from stress and anxiety.