THE RELIGION OF THE CRESCENT.
The "Prophet," following the practice of the Jews,1 commanded that children
should be directed to offer the appointed prayers at the age of seven2 years, and that
they should be beaten for not performing this duty when they reached the age of ten. The guardian
angels carry to GOD the report of the prayers of His worshippers, for Muhammad said,3
"By night and by day angels succeed one another (in keeping guard) among you, and they assemble
at the early morning and the afternoon prayers. Then those who spent the night among you ascend, and
their Lord (who knoweth every thing about them) asketh them, 'How did ye leave My servants?' Then
they say, 'We left them praying, and we came to them when they were praying."'
§ II. Public prayers when offered in a mosque are conducted by an Imam (antistes) or
"Leader," who turns his face towards the Mihrab or niche in the wall which shows
the exact direction in which Mecca with its Holy Ka'abah stands. Behind him,
THE STRENGTH OF ISLAM.||
rank after rank, are drawn up the "Faithful," each standing on his own slab of stone or
spot marked out for the worshipper, separated from every one else by a space sufficient to enable
him to prostrate himself at the proper times. Before each man is spread his prayer-carpet, his shoes
he has carefully removed in the porch before entering the hallowed precincts. He has also performed
the ceremonial ablution of hands and face at the small pond placed for that purpose just at the
entrance to the Court of Prayer. The whole body of the worshippers now stand, awaiting the signal.
When it is given, following every motion of their Imam they bow, prostrate themselves, touch the
earth with their foreheads, stand upright, and again prostrate themselves, repeating the Arabic
prayers at each Rak'ah ( ) or prostration just as their Imam does—all keeping most
perfect order, and the whole congregation go through the prescribed ceremonial with the most
impressive solemnity, though with all the exactitude of a well-disciplined regiment. .
The scene presented by row after row of these white-robed and finely-turbaned figures, grave,
earnest, and apparently devout, repeating in the grand Arabic tongue prayers which may well recall,
in spirit as well as in sound, those which we can imagine Ishmael, if not Abraham, uttering in
by-gone days to the Lord GOD of Shem,1 is most