This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Pillar Two—Salat, or canonical prayer

Around the year 621, during the month of Ramadan, Muhammad experience one of the most important moments of his career, known traditionally as the Night Journey.

On this night he was swept up to Heaven via Jerusalem, riding a white horse. He was carried through the seven heavens and into the presence of God. There God instructed him and said that Muslims were to pray fifty times per day. With this he descended back toward earth but at the sixth heaven he ran into Moses, who exclaimed that fifty was far too much and could never work, and he told Muhammad to return and ask that the number be made reasonable. Muhammad did so. When he returned to Moses, the number was now forty, but this too was too high in Moses’ view, and so he kept sending Muhammad back before God, four more times to be precise, and each time the figure was reduced, fifty to forty, forty to thirty, thirty to twenty, twenty to ten, and ten to five. At five Moses again told him to go back, but this time Muhammad rejected him:

“I have asked my Lord till I am ashamed, but now I am satisfied and I submit.”

And so five became the prescribed number.

Without getting too much into the details of the prayers and how they are performed, we can say that they vary in small ways between the Sunni and Shia groups, that the prayer is preceded by ablutions such as washing one’s hands, face, and feet. It is all very specific in terms of the formula, progression, and physical postures.

Always the prayers are done while facing Mecca. This is an important point because in Islam there is not the same emphasis on congregational worship that we find in Christianity. There is no equivalent to the Hebrew Sabbath (Saturday) or the Christian Lord’s Day (Sunday). To closest thing we find is the Friday noon prayer which, in Islamic cultures, does take on a collective aspect.

It is perhaps worth elaborating on this point: that prayer in the mosque is not equivalent to the Catholic Mass, nor the Christian worship service. In Christianity, Christ is at the center, and the believers form so many parts of his ‘mystical body’ which gives to them a sense of fellowship, and for Catholicism in particular the collective worship is necessary for the sharing of the Eucharist. It is simply not possible to ‘do Catholicism’ in isolation, since to follow the command ‘eat my flesh and drink my blood’ depends for its realization on the priestly hierarchy and the collective participation of the faithful.

Islam is far less hierarchical and although the Muslim might benefit from local leadership and knowledgeable teachers, and is of course encouraged to pray in the mosque with his brothers when able, there is nothing that prevents him from living out his faith in isolation from other Muslims. In this sense Islam is far more of a ‘leveling’ faith than the hierarchical Church of the West.

The schedule for the prayer is as follows: on waking, when the sun reaches its highest point, when the sun is midway in decline, at sunset, and before going to bed.

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