The right and left differentiation is significant in Muslims’ view of space.
In the account of Muhammad’s night journey and ascension to heaven, the differentiation between right and left is first heaven.
Other hadith define the order of washing before formal prayer, so that Muslims conform to Muhammad’s practice. At the end of prayers, greeting given to the angel of the right shoulder, then to that of the left shoulder.
In some processes of divination, such as that using symbols drawn in the sand by a Sudanese kattat, the right hands of both client and practitioner employed.
Diagnosis of the kind of jinn attack made upon a person is often guided in Morocco by right and left differentiation. In many cases, such as that for sighting deceased relatives in a dream, the special dua’, or prayer, is followed by sleeping on one’s right side.
Left-handed persons are generally seen as special, either in an aberrant, wicked sense, or else in a positive, supernatural sense.
Another spatial concept that has ramifications throughout the lives of ordinary Muslims is that of qibla orientation — facing towards Mecca. The earthly Mecca knows a celestial counterpart, where angels congregate in their millions to worship. Orientation towards Mecca speaks of unity in the community, access to other inhabitants of the created worlds, and potential for touching God’s throne.
Specific spaces on earth are sometimes seen as under authority of a hierarchy of ancestor spirits. It is important for people to recognise and thus avoid places where it is known that devils or jinn tend to abide. Those who often have to step into territory normally inhabited by evil spirits, will use amulets for protection.
Just as there are areas of evil influences, so there are spheres of holiness and blessing. It is the aim of ordinary Muslims to step into ‘saint space’ whenever baraka required in their lives, either for protection in the vulnerable periods of change status, or in answer to crises.
Associated with the idea of grids of space is magic numbers and configurations. The powers of the letters of the Arabic alphabet associated with numbers, because each letter in the alphabet has a numerical value.
Spatial images in popular Islam are significant and relate in a compatible way to concepts of relationship and causality.
Concepts of space are pervasive in their different forms and help to direct the activities of ordinary Muslims, especially at times of crises or vulnerability.