422 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
Mohammedan worship is very simple, and resembles that of the Jewish synagogue. It
consists of prayer, reading of the Koran, and preaching. The second commandment is strictly
understood as an absolute prohibition of all image-worship and of all representations of living
creatures, whether in churches or elsewhere. The Arabesque is the only ornament allowed,
and always taken from inanimate nature.
The mosques, like Catholic churches, are always open and frequented by worshippers,
who perform their devotions either alone or in groups with covered heads and bare feet. In
entering, one must take off his shoes, remembering the command, " Put off thy shoes from off
thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
There are five stated seasons for prayer—at daybreak, near noon, in the afternoon, a
little after sunset (to avoid the appearance of sun-worship), and at nightfall, besides two night
prayers for extra devotion. The mueddin, or muezzin (crier), announces the time of devotion
from the minaret of the mosque by chanting the " Adan," or call to prayer, in these words :
" God is most great. I testify that there is no deity but God. I testify that Mohammed is
God's apostle. Come to prayer ! Come to security ! Prayer is better than sleep ! God is
most great! There is no deity but God!" (See page 385.) A devout Mussulman is never
ashamed to perform his devotion in public -whether at home, or in the mosque, or in the
street, or on board the ship. Regardless of the surroundings, feeling alone with God in the
midst of the crowd, he spreads his rug, goes through his genuflexions and prostrations, his
face turned to Mecca, his hands now raised to heaven, then laid on the lap, his forehead
touching the ground, and repeats the first surah of the Koran, and the ninety-nine beautiful
names of Allah, which form his rosary. The mosques are as well filled wTith men as many
Christian churches are with women. Islam is a religion for men ; women are of no account;
the education and elevation of the female sex would destroy the system.
With all its simplicity and gravity, the Mohammedan worship has also its frantic
excitements of the dancing and howling dervishes, who equal the ascetic excesses of the
ancient Christian hermits and the modern Indian fakirs. On the celebration of the birthday
of their prophet and other festivals they work themselves, by the constant repetition of " Allah !
Allah ! " into a state of unconscious ecstasy, " in which they plant swords in their breasts, tear
live serpents with their teeth, eat bottles of glass, and finally lie prostrate on the ground for
the chief of their order to ride on horseback over their bodies."
The Koran is the Bible of the Mohammedans. It is unquestionably one of the great
books of the world. It is not a book only, but an institution, a code of civil and religious
laws, claiming divine origin and authority. It has left its impress upon ages. It feeds to this
day the devotions, and regulates the private and public life, of more than a hundred millions