This post is opinion from my perspective so please take it as such. I am not certain my interpretations are correct. They are solely based on my perception.
One of the most fascinating learning experiences of my trip to Morocco is the Islamic Call to Prayer ( Adhan ) which occurs 5 times per day beginning with the predawn or Fajr. A person is to choose a Mosque that is not the closest to their home. This shows commitment to the importance of prayer. It would be considered laziness to choose a Mosque for convenience. I have to think that those living in the countryside have less Mosques to choose from. From what I saw driving back to Casablanca yesterday, it would be difficult enough for a farmer to walk to the one nearest them anyway.
Check here to for descriptions of the 5 daily prayers: http://islam.about.com/cs/prayer/a/prayer_times.htm
No matter where you are in the Medina, you will hear the melodic chanting because they use loudspeakers attached to the Mosques to amplify the calling. I will note that in Fes, there is a Mosque on practically every corner; like Starbucks in the United States. I can only assume this is true in all the Medina’s in Moroccan cities. I believe it is only the larger Mosques that have the speakers but I am not certain.
The call begins at predetermined time based on sunrise calculations throughout the world and the Mosques in the Eastern part of the larger cities, begin the call. A mosque usually has a minaret tower, from which a muezzin (caller) chants a call to prayer five times a day. All Muslims pray facing east toward Mecca, and a small niche (mihrab) is always set into the mosque wall nearest Mecca. There are actually websites used to find the times of prayer by place since the times change with the position of the sun throughout the year. In some parts of the world, it can be as early as 3 am — Yikes! I had no idea how complex this could be until I began reading about it.
There are separate entrances and places for men and women to pray. Women definitely hold a secondary place in Islam and this is a bit of a rub for me. I suppose the only people who have any right to complain about this are the women of Islam so I will shut my trap on this one. I am curious to know if the female population is beginning to take issue with this. I meet several divorced women from arranged marriage situations and all seem eager to experience some things not allowed when married but there is no question they are devout Muslim’s. Non-Muslim people are not allowed inside the Mosques. I talked to a few Moroccan’s that said they thought this prevented helping people to understand their faith. I tend to agree.
From my brief research, the Adhan is controversial in multicultural communities throughout the World and is often cited as a noise nuisance; especially the Fajr, the predawn calling. I am very disturbed by some of the hate-filled postings I read about this subject in the United States; especially a posting from a source in NYC. It strikes me as odd given the constant noise of life in any city anyway, but since I do not live near a Mosque, I will reserve judgement of the nuisance aspect. I will however state firmly that it shames me as an American to read hateful posts. It is fine to have an issue with the noise. There is no excuse for attacking people or their religion.
The world populated by people with many different beliefs. I have no idea where I fit into this picture but I do know that it is my goal to judge less. It is just not my place. Admittedly, I am lacking in faith but I do respect greatly those that do. We are all human beings and no group deserves the right to judge another. Someone or something caused the creation of man. Be it Atheism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or Islam; all have had and will continue to have followers “capable” of hate and violence. I refer to extremists. But the greater population of each religion is made up of good people. It would be a better world if people choose tolerance and accept those who have different beliefs. Reserve ill feelings for bad people. There is no shortage of them.
Thank you for reading this post. There is a clip below of the first part of the Fajr ( Pre-Dawn) Call to Prayer. I was up on the roof at Riad Laaroussa at 5:00 waiting for this experience to start at 5:30 am and it was well worth it to me. I hope you will listen and can appreciate this part of the Muslim culture, despite religious difference. I wish I could post the longer clip but WordPress limits size.
I learned something new and this is my journey…