Object 1: Prayer mat

May 27, 2021


Prayer mat, used by Muslims to pray, is decorated with beautiful geometric patterns and Islamic symbols. Manufactured by weavers, its usual size is 2.5ft x 4ft. Muslims all over the world commit to this ritual, reciting prayers as instructed by the ‘Quran’. Muslims have rituals such as ‘wudu’, washing face, arms and feet before praying, and they place the mat facing Mecca. The prayer mat is a relevant object to this prompt because the Muslims understand its origin and significance in a way that someone from a different religion would not be able to.

Muslims have a quality of knowledge about the mat that only belongs to them. What makes their knowledge unique is that, as believers of the religion, they understand the object at an emotional level. Originally, Prophet Mohammed prayed on a mat made of palm fronds. Muslims feel adoration for their Prophet, therefore, can relate more deeply to the origin of the mat. An outsider will not feel the same way as they don’t have any faith towards this religion. Furthermore, Muslims are educated in the Muslim religion and culture. They start praying at the age of seven and gain knowledge as they grow up, developing their attachment and love to the prayer mat. Someone who converts at a later age will not feel the same attachment, making the feelings less strong. Hence, culture and faith are elements that make an insider’s knowledge deeper and emotional.

However, an outsider who studies the subject could gain a different type of knowledge; they could understand the prayer mat at an intellectual level. Anyone could learn about the meaning of the arabesque patterns and the other rituals related to praying on the mat, understanding this, but not experiencing feelings like Muslims do. This shows that religion is an area of knowledge, and faith is a way of knowing.

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