Muslim books and prayer rugs are two main items sold at Islamic supply stores. These stores sell additional items such as prayer clocks, traditional Muslim clothing, artwork, Qibla-finding compasses for directions to Mecca and beads for meditative prayer. While a Quran, the central religious text of Islam, is a necessity for a Muslim, many other items are sold for the purpose of making Islamic life easier and to re-enforce the Muslim identity.
A Quran can always be found at an Islamic supply store due to its status in Islam as the infallible, direct Word of God. Also, because the Quran is to be recited in Arabic, these stores are stocked with Arabic-English dictionaries and books to help beginners pronounce Arabic script. Children's books are also popular items as are introductory books on the faith. The shelves usually hold books from contemporary and classic Islamic thinkers as well.
Praying on a rug is not obligatory, but it's preferable if one has to stop and pray outdoors or in a place where clean ground is not readily available. Prayer rugs are adorned with various designs, but they all have a mihrab, which is a design that points toward Mecca. Popular design themes include lamps, famous mosques and geometric patterns.
Islamic book stores often sell clothing found in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority areas. For men, this usually includes the thawb, traditionally worn in Arabia and the shalwar kameez, from South Asia. The thawb is a long robe that is often white, and the shalwar kameez is a pair of loose pants, tight at the ankle, that is covered by a long shirt or dress. You can also find taqiyahs, the round caps often worn by Muslim men. The Quran, surah 24 verse 31, tells women not to "expose their adornments," so for those who choose to wear the traditional head covering, hijabs are available. A hijab is a scarf that covers everything around a woman's head except for the front of her face.
Adhan Clocks and Compasses
For Muslims in the U.S., daily prayer offers two persistent problems: when to pray and where to face while praying. Muslim stores sell clocks that recite the traditional Muslim call to pray five times a day. These clocks have stored information about the position of the son in cities around the world, and based on this, they display appropriate prayer times. There are also compasses that indicate the position of Mecca to aid in prayer direction, easing the requirement of surah 2, verse 144 of the Quran that commands the faithful to face the Grand Mosque during prayer.
Islamic supply stores also feature Islamic art such as calligraphy, supplies for a pilgrimage to Mecca, Islamic perfumes and Islamic crafts, recordings of Quran recitations and other accessories such as posters of famous mosques. These stores also offer halal leather. Halal is the Muslim term for something that is permissible, and in this case it is a guarantee that the animal the leather comes from was killed in a proper, Islamic way.
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