Page:Satires and profanities -microform- (1884).djvu/125

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The following notes are drawn from E. W. Lane's charming and instructive "Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians" (fifth and standard ed., 1860), a worthy companion to Sir Gardner Wilkinson's book on the Ancient Egyptians, and written about forty years since, before steam-communication had materially changed that people. The muëdoins, whose summons to prayer is one of the few audible charms of the East to a western, are generally chosen from the blind, in order that the harems and terraces of houses may not be overlooked from the minarets. Our callers to prayer are generally blind also; but this is because few clear-sighted men will in these days accept the office. The imams or priests and other religious officials are all paid from the funds of their respective mosques, and not by any contributions exacted from the people: a lesson to us with our State Church. The imams have no authority above other persons, and enjoy no respect save for reputed learning and piety; they are not a distinct order of men set apart for the ministry, but may resign or be displaced, losing with the office the title of imam; they chiefly obtain their living by other means than service in the mosque (for which their salaries are as a rule only about a shilling a month), many of them being tradesmen: here surely are several good lessons for us. The mosques are open all day, and the great mosque El-Azhar all night; the Muslims have great reverence for them, yet in many of the larger ones