10.24.10

My Impression of an Islamic Country

Posted in Excerpts at 01:18 pm by admin

          

View of Prayer Towers From Our Fez Hotel

Now that I have had a chance to think about my Moroccan experience, here are some thoughts. First, I don’t think anyone should be afraid to visit a country just because it is Muslim. The people of Morocco were very friendly, and I felt we were always welcome. 

            I believe that the Islamic religion is powerful and compelling.  In all of our traveling I did not see one house of worship other than Mosques. The prayer towers are visible wherever you look, even in the country side, where houses are sparse.  Five times a day there is a call to prayer.  Just think of the pressure to adhere to this call!  It is your religious duty and belief that Ala requires you to pray not to mention the social pressure.  If you do not appear to be a devout Muslim, your friends, and your family will know and you will feel their disapproval.  Many men actually have calluses on their foreheads from hitting the ground with their heads.  In Fez we were on a hill, surrounded by towers.  The first night I was awakened at 4:15 A.M. and finally figured out what was happening.   The prayer towers were loudly calling everyone to prayer, and for a good 15 minutes the praying went on.  This is powerful, it has a strong subliminal message which the person is not aware.

            Our local guide in Fez was a devout Muslim.  He answered our questions and said he does not like to pray in public, but only in the privacy of his home because he loves the reading of the Quran so much that it makes him weep.  By the way, I also learned that there are no spontaneous prayer, but the prayer is simply reading the Quran. The Quran, in Arabic, is like poetry i.e. rhythmic, beautiful and emotional.  Many adherence memorize the whole Quran, and because of its poetic form it is easier to memorize.  The Quran looses much of its power and beauty in translation. 

            One more important observation:  Devout Muslims are preoccupied with religion.  Five times per day they pray and pray in unison.  Some are careful to observe the Shariah Law, although I thought it was significant to note that the King of Morocco declared that female circumcision is not mandatory for the people of Morocco.

            When I add the time a Muslim needs to make a living plus the time needed to adhere to religious customs, how do they find time for anything else?  Serious prayer takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. It also channels their energies in the direction of 7th century thought.  I think this has affected the progress of Morocco and all devout Muslim countries.  I cannot think of a Muslim who has won a Nobel Prize for Science.  I believe any devoutly religious person, be they Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, can become obsessed with religious thought and cannot find the time or energy to think of much else.  I believe one’s love of God has to be fostered with the love of the Earth, and betterment of his fellow man.  Another observation is that many Muslim countries, do not give much value one half of the population i.e. its women.  And with the loss of this powerful contributing force to both the culture and the economy it cannot compete in the modern world.  This is what I saw in Morocco. 

            I am very interested in your thoughts and I especially welcome comments from Muslims, whether you and I agree or disagree.

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