Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use

Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use

Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use

Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use

Excerpt

To anyone who haunts the bookshops of the Muslim world, the sight becomes familiar of a pile of humble little prayer-books. They may lie half buried by school-books and novels in a busy town, or stocked behind all manner of goods in a country grocer's shop, or prominently displayed in a little bookshop by the entrance to some great mosque, or spread on the ground when a pedlar opens his pack. Through all the stresses to-day of nationalist emotion or communist solicitation, these little books still live their quiet life.

It seemed to the present writer that in Islam, as in any other faith, a stranger desiring not to remain a stranger could best feel the pulsing life of religion through a study of the devotions actually in use. A generous gift made it possible to purchase the popular devotional manuals in Arabic, or partly in Arabic, on sale in the cities of Aden, Aleppo, Algiers, Amman, Baghdad, Beyrout, Bombay, Cairo, Damascus, Delhi, Hama, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Lahore, Omdurman, Sidon, Tanta, Tunis, and to undertake the study of them. A few more were kindly sent by friends from Iran, Nigeria, and Bengal.

Many of the little books are common to practically all the abovementioned cities and travel far beyond them. Dr Hendrik Kraemer writes that in Indonesia the more devout circles have in use such works as Dalɑ+̄+̕il al-khairāt of al-Jazūlī, introduced by pilgrims from Mecca. The writer has seen in the courtyard of a printing press in Bombay huge bales of Arabic books, Qur'āns, and these small works of devotion, destined for Java. A few of the prayer-manuals are translated into the languages of Asian Muslims for whom Arabic is a sealed tongue, and the Malay students at the Azhar are used by the neighbouring publishing firm of Shaikh MuṣṾafā al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī as translators and proof-readers of these works for Malay readers.

In purchasing the books it was my desire to avoid the more esoteric works for the inner life of the dervish orders, and inquiry was made as to what had a popular sale. Even so, the majority of the books proved to be linked with one or other of the orders that have played, and still in these days of their official submergence play, so great a . . .

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