Far Off eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 246 pages of information about Far Off.

Is there a Turkey in Asia as well as a Turkey in Europe?

Yes, there is; and it is governed by the same sultan, and filled by the same sort of persons.  All the Turks are Mahomedans.

You may know a Mahomedan city at a distance.  When we look at a Christian city we see the steeples and spires of churches; but when we look at a Mahomedan city we see rising above the houses and trees the domes and minarets of mosques.  What are domes and minarets?  A dome is the round top of a mosque:  and the minarets are the tall slender towers.  A minaret is of great use to the Mahomedans.

Do you see the little narrow gallery outside the minaret.  There is a man standing there.  He is calling people to say their prayers.  He calls so loud that all the people below can hear, and the sounds he utters are like sweet music.  But would it not make you sad to hear them when you remembered what he was telling people to do?  To pray to the god of Mahomet, not to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; but to a false god:  to no God.  This man goes up the dark narrow stairs winding inside the minaret five times a day:  first he goes as soon as the sun rises, then at noon, next in the afternoon, then at sunset, and last of all in the night.  Ascending and descending those steep stairs is all his business, and it is hard work, and fatigues him very much.

In the court of the mosque there is a fountain.  There every one washes before he goes into the mosque to repeat his prayers, thinking to please God by clean hands instead of a clean heart.  Inside the mosque there are no pews or benches, but only mats and carpets spread on the floor.  There the worshippers kneel and touch the ground with their foreheads.  The minister of the mosque is called the Imam.  He stands in a niche in the wall, with his back to the people, and repeats prayers.

But he is not the preacher.  The sheikh, or chief man of the town, preaches; not on Sunday, but on Friday.  He sits on a high place and talks to the people—­not about pardon and peace, and heaven and holiness—­but about the duty of washing their hands before prayers, and of bowing down to the ground, and such vain services.

In the mosque there are two rows of very large wax candles, much higher than a man, and as thick as his arm, and they are lighted at night.

It is considered right to go to the mosque for prayers five times a day; but very few Mahomedans go so often.  Wherever people may be, they are expected to kneel down and repeat their prayers, whether in the house or in the street.  But very few do so.  While they pray, Mahomedans look about all the time, and in the midst speak to any one, and then go on again; for their hearts are not in their prayers; they do not worship in spirit and in truth.

There are no images or pictures in the mosques, because Mahomet forbid his followers to worship idols.  There are Korans on reading stands in various parts of the mosque for any one to read who pleases.

Project Gutenberg
Far Off from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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