Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Call to Prayer - Impressions #2

Greetings to my family and friends,

Here's a little something that's been on my mind the last few days...

The call to prayer ...

I'd understood that the theory was that you pray 5 times a day, in order to keep your mind on God rather than the sin provoking distractions of daily living. I can see some sense in that. Five times a day, stopping whatever you're doing and meditating on God's grace bestowing power should have some kind of an effect at putting other things in perspective.

What I find a bit surprising is that there does not seem to be any generally accepted time where each of these 5 pauses occurs. In theory it is sunrise, midday, late afternoon, sunset, late evening. Everywhere you go, there are loudspeakers where muezzin make their calls. Of course, there are the obvious mosques all over the city. But also the shopping malls have mini-mosques in them. The office buildings as well. Wherever you go you are bound to be within earshot of a muezzin, usually several. Since there doesn't seem to be a standardized time for the calls to prayer, you don't get 5 calls a day. You get about 25. It seems like every hour there are several muezzin picking it up, like long echoes.

The result is that it all sort of blends in with the background noise of the city. Nobody seems to pay the least bit of attention. It's a bit like the muzak you hear around the USA. I have yet to see anybody stop what they are doing and make any sort of sign that they're praying. Even the most traditionally dressed Saudis go right on with whatever is occupying them. The women in black that congregate in the shopping malls with their surprising number of children go right on with their shopping, buying their gold sequined blouses and 4 inch heels. The men continue to stand immobile, their weight on their heels, arms limp and relaxed, stomachs protruding, puffing cigarettes and chatting with each other.

Theory confronts reality.

Reality wins.

Well, there you go, Impression #2.

love to you all,


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