While the call to prayer sounds spooky to many Americans, I find that with some understanding it becomes beautiful. Traditionally, just before the sun rises, an imam stares at his arm. When he can tell a gray hair from a black one, it's time to call his community to prayer. While quality and warble varies, across Islam the Arabic words of the call to prayer are exactly the same. The first call to prayer of the day starts with an extra line:
Praying is better than sleeping God is great (Allahhhhhh hu akbar...) I witness there is no other God but Allah I witness Muhammad is Allah's prophet Come join the prayer Come to be saved God is great...God is great There is no other God but Allah.
Big mosques have a trained professional singer for a muezzin. Many tiny mosques can't afford a real muezzin, so the imam himself does the call to prayer. The qualitative difference can be obvious. Invariably, my hotel seems to be within earshot of five or six mosques, which creates quite a cacophony.
My challenge is to hear the Muslim call to prayer as a beautiful form of praise that sweeps across the globe — from Malaysia across Pakistan, Arabia, and Turkey to Morocco and then to America — like a stadium wave, undulating exactly as fast as the earth turns...five times a day.
About This Entry
You are reading "Islam in a Pistachio Shell, Part 2: The Muslim Call to Prayer", an entry posted on 14 January 2010 by Rick Steves.