This is a difficult post to write, because it deals with the shattering of a very fondly held illusion of mine.
My neighborhood mosque, the one I love for the sonorous clarity of its muezzin’s voice, uses a … recording.
I had started to suspect this some time ago, but had been unwilling to face my suspicions head on and actually ask one of the groundskeepers.
Two Fridays evenings ago, on my way home from a coffee at Bardo, I heard the call to prayer – my favorite one – broadcasting from my mosque. Oh, how beautiful, I thought.
The call ended, and … suddenly began again – this time coming not from my mosque but from one further south.
I tried telling myself that the muezzin had somehow run from one mosque to the next, or that the second mosque was using a relay system to rebroadcast the call, but … in my heart I knew the truth.
To borrow a metaphor that switches from Islam to Christianity, and from the spiritual to the material register, it was like a child discovering that there is no Santa Claus.
At least the spirit of the call lives on, I told myself sadly, remembering a similar meant-to-be-comforting argument my mother had used about St. Nick as the spirit of Christmas.
Any remaining possibility of retaining my illusions about my mosque and “its” muezzin was destroyed during my shop through the Mall of the Emirates on Tuesday. As I hopped my way into a particularly tight pair of Levi’s,
the Levistore, like the others, turned off its music so shoppers could hear the call to prayer being broadcast over the mall loudspeakers.
It was the same call to prayer: same voice, same intonation, same piercingly beautiful pitch.
I was heartbroken (though still composed enough to notice how well the new jeans fit). Apparently the spirit of Christmas … errr … the adhaan is not only not live, it is also not uniquely Lebanese.
The international character of Islam can be so disilllusioning sometimes.