Peshawar, Pakistan 1988- A man sleeps peacefully among prayer hats
left for public use.
the heated rhetoric of Islamic revolutionaries, the Mosque was central
to life in Islam. Not only was it a place to pray, it was also
a place to meet and socialize. Daily, people came to sleep on
the cool stone floors and take refuge from the oppressive heat
and pray. The large and impressive mosques tended to obscure
notice of smaller, more humble mosques that were tucked away here
and there in a city or even in a crowded bazaar. Refugees set
up a mosque under a power transmission tower and the call to
prayer at midday would have hordes of people praying under hastily
assembled tarps. It was a cultural touchstone or common denominator
which continually reminded people of public virtue and decency.
The ubiquitous presence of mosques and Islam served as a backbone
of regional culture and civilization in the region. There was
always a sense that when all else failed and if chaos reigned,
there was always faith and the book, the Qur'an, to bring people
together. In a way, it can explain why people patiently put up
with indescribably incompetent and corrupt and repressive government
in the region. The warm, intimate comfort of a religious parochialism
offered an attractive contrast to the large impersonal architecture
of the bureaucratic central government in Islamabad.