Muslim Collection


This collection of artefacts offers an insight into many of the beliefs and practices of Islam, complete with teachers' notes.

Set includes: prayer mat, Qur'an in English and Arabic and stand, prayer hat (Topi), Hajj robe, Eid card, prayer beads (Tasbih or Subah), a Qiblah (compass) to show the direction of Mecca, teachers' notes.

Muslims use a prayer mat when they perform their daily prayers or salat. It provides a clean space on which to kneel. Before praying, they perform a ritual washing called wudhu, to symbolise purity and cleaning before worship. They then remove their shoes and cover their heads as a mark of respect and because they are on holy ground. It also helps to keep the area clean. Salat prayers follow a set pattern which is known as a ra'kah. Muslims pray five times a day:

Salat ul Fajr - between first light and sunrise
Salat ul Suhr - after noon
Salat ul Asr - between mid-afternoon and sunset
Salat ul Maghrub - between sunset and last light of day
Salat ul Isha - between darkness and dawn

Friday is a special day when the community gathers at the mosque for mid-day prayers and to hear the weekly sermon. Mosques are usually carpeted, in which case a prayer mat is not needed.

Muslims always face towards the Ka'ba in Makkah when they pray. To find its direction a special compass is used. Each country has a number and the compass needle is turned to that number (England is 250 degrees). A fixed pointer on the compass then indicates the direction of Makkah. The compass is called a Qiblah which means 'direction'. In a mosque the Qiblah is indicated by a niche or alcove known as the Mihrab, in the Qiblah wall. Some prayer mats have a Qiblah attached, or they can be bought separately. Many Muslims now use an app on their phone instead of a physical compass.

Prayer beads (Tasbih, Subah or Misbaha) are used in Islam as a means of focussing the attention and to remind the worshipper how many times he or she has repeated a particular prayer. There are usually 33 or 99 beads on a string. The 99 beads are often divided into three sets of 33 beads, each set separated by a larger bead known as an Imam (the same term used for the religious leader). A person may say three prayers 33 times each or recite the 99 beautiful names of Allah using these beads. This type of 'free' or individual prayer is called Du'a and is often said following the formal daily prayers (Salat).

The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. It was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (p.b.u.h) by the Angel Jibrael (Gabriel). The very first revelation is celebrated each year during the month of Ramadan, on Lailat ul-Qadr, the night of power, when many Muslims will recite the whole Qur'an or spend the night in prayer. Muslims believe the Qur'an is God's final revelation, His very Word, given in Arabic. Therefore, it cannot be altered, so young Muslims learn to recite all 114 Surahs (chapters) by heart from an early age. They attend Qur'anic or Madrassa school at the Mosque each day in order to achieve this. 

Because it is so sacred, the Qur'an should be treated with great respect. Hands should be washed before handling it, it should be closed and covered when not being read and it should never be put on the floor. Usually it is placed on a stand (Ra'el) when being read. Nothing should be placed on top of the Qur'an and only pictures of mosques, Makkah or calligraphy should be hung above it. We observe these rules in the storage of Qur'ans, and they are always stored on the top shelf in our warehouse.

The prayer hat (Topi) is simply a head covering which is used by male Muslims when they pray or read the Qur'an. The style of the prayer hat varies depending on the culture or country of the wearer. They may be white, crocheted caps, an Arab headdress, a small fur hat or turban. The design and decoration is irrelevant, as long as it does not include people or animals. Its significance is to show respect before God the Creator. Women must always completely cover their head and hair.

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