The Call of the Minaret

The Call of the Minaret

The Call of the Minaret

The Call of the Minaret

Excerpt

OURS, surely, is an age that more than any other multiplies words. In print and speech, press and radio, we use them in great quantity. But perhaps the quality of intention in the words we use was never less. Many of them, at any rate -- unlike coins-lose value in the frequency of their currency. By using as we do we impoverish the used. The quantitative more becomes the qualitative less. Perhaps too many of us are too far away from our language origins, from the meanings of our fathers and the classical worlds beyond them. We have become too often insensitive to the feel of the history in words, the history that makes a dictionary so great a fascination when we go to it for more than spelling and pronunciation.

This book, however, has to do with a very few words, whose long reiteration has not dulled their import, the ceremony and sanctity of whose context has saved them from the debasement of a common frequency. They have been hallowed by their proper mission and are as distinctive in their own realm as the minaret from which they sound.

The two-score words of the muezzin are an imperative invitation in which Islam summons itself to its faith and practice. In them the Muslim is confronted with his own vocation, while the listening outsider learns what shapes and makes Islam. For those within and those without, here is the articulation of the meaning of the mosque. The call of the minaret is perhaps the best single . . .

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