Most Muslims pray five times a day – a ritual called salat. It’s common for men to gather in mosques around Luxor to pray together. In Luxor, women do not accompany the men. Elsewhere in the world, Muslim women and men attend mosque together and pray in separate rows or rooms. Prayer occurs at roughly:
- 5:15 a.m. fajr (dawn) prayer (time based on the “first light” of the new day); a sunrise prayer may rather be performed at 6:30 a.m.
- 1 p.m. dhuhr (midday) prayer
- 4 p.m. asr (late afternoon) prayer
- 7 p.m. maghrib (evening) prayer (time based on the “last light” of the day)
- 8:30 p.m. isha (nighttime) prayer
Times are not exact as they are based on the amount of sunlight in a day.
All around this city, large speaker boxes (one can be seen in the photo above, on the left at the end of the red garage doors) are fastened to buildings and mosques that amplify an imam, sheik or other honorable Muslim man (never a woman) reciting and/or singing the relative time’s prayer. Men drop whatever they’re doing or conversation they’re having to perform a prayer when these megaphones sound off.
Meanwhile, women go about their lives, not expected by Luxor society to worship in the same way as men. Most women I’ve spoken with tell me they pray when they wake up and when they go to sleep. I read that the Prophet Muhammad wrote in 610 AD that salat should be performed three (not five) times daily facing Jerusalem, the holy city of Islam’s Western predecessors, which he deeply respected. In 623 AD, Muhammad began, and others repeated to face a sacred mosque in Mecca, called Kaaba, instead of Jerusalem after receiving another revelation from God at a time when the Muslims were being poorly received by most Jewish people.