Saturday, December 09, 2006

Staying on Course

This is the front-page headline in today's Star newspaper. The headlines do seem to be getting more nautical these days.

Staying on course for a ship involve keeping to the planned tracks as laid out by the navigating officer on the ship's navigational charts. With the advent of satellite global positioning systems (GPS), this is now quite academic. Gone are the days when the navigating officer will lead his congregation of cadets for the daily 'noon prayer' ritual of determining ship's position by shooting the midday sun with sextants and the use of nautical almanacs. Nowadays he will just press a few buttons and voila, he gets the ship's latitude and longitude accurate to the nearest few metres.

'Noon prayer'? Well, this is what we used to call it back then. This will also answer the oft asked question: Why do Muslims need to pray 5 times a day?

Perhaps it is no strange coincidence that our prayer times coincide roughly with the times i.e., noon, morning and evening twilights, when the ship's navigator will shoot the sun and the stars to periodically determine position so as to ensure that the ship remains on the charted courses and have not deviated.

Muslims pray 5 times a day precisely for the same reason, among others: To remain on life's charted courses i.e., jalan jalan yang di redhai Allah s.w.t. or God's given paths ... and not deviate.


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