Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Praying for Rain

Muslims have an image problem in the West: too many pictures of bombs and burqas, not enough openly-Muslim gay chatshow hosts or bunny girls. What's needed, clearly, is a Good News Story. Something eye-catching and non-controversial, that will show the Kaffir that Mo's boys (and girls) have all our best interests at heart.

And, courtesy of Mother Nature's pyromaniac tendencies, they may just have found it.

With bush-fires devouring much of southern California, the USA's leading Muslim grouping CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) yesterday announced that mosques throughout the country would lead prayers for rain. They invoked an old Islamic practice, going back to the days of the Prophet, known as Salatul Istisqa, according to which Muslims offer up prayers like this:

"O God, give us rain that will replenish us, abundant, fertilizing and profitable, not injurious. Grant it now without delay...Send down rain upon us and make it a source of strength and satisfaction...O God, give us a saving rain, good and productive, general and heavy, now and not later, beneficial and not harmful."

The Koran even promises that Allah will hear the prayers:

"O my people! Seek forgiveness of your Lord and turn to Him in repentance. He will send you from the sky abundant rain."

It perhaps isn't surprising that a religion formed in the dusty deserts of Arabia should have a long tradition of invoking the Almighty's rain-making prowess. Indeed, CAIR has made a similar call before, when fires swept California in 2003. It certainly needs some good PR: like the Muslim Council of Britain, it has been accused of harbouring extremist sympathisers. But will Islam be able to take the credit when the rains come? After all, leading Scientologists Tom Cruise and John Travolta have expressed similar hopes. And America's army of born-again Christians is hardly likely to take kindly to being told that God sends his rain at the instigation of Muslims.