Here in Morocco part of the Islamic religious culture is the Call to Prayer that occurs five times throughout each day. As our Sanctuary is next to the local mosque, we are often aware of this practice.
Because I didn’t know much about this practice, I asked Yuessef, our Moroccan liaison to explain exactly when did these calls to prayer happen. I hadn’t been able to relate them to sunrise, sunset or high noon. He told me that the first call happens before dawn, while the sky is still dark. The next call is midday (1:30 PM here) after the morning work is finished and the midday break is happening. Next call comes in late afternoon when children return from school and adults are finishing their work day. The fourth call happens just after sunset and the last call after the sky is dark before bedtime. Yeussef also explained that the times shift according to the length of daylight.
A couple of days ago, Tomas, Blue Star, Johnny and I were speaking about this custom and sharing that we were enjoying hearing the “call” in the midst of our activities. We spoke about how we would try to pause in whatever we were doing and join in a few moments of mindfulness.
This lead us to consider suggesting this to our larger community and last night Blue Star took the opportunity to do so. The suggestion was well received, although I was not present at that time.
So this evening, as I was chatting with Rickart and Gunther, the fourth call to prayer began to broadcast from the mosque. Most of the mosques play a recording now but I learned that originally, the idea was that a fellow worshiper would be the one to call the congregants to prayer, rather than using a bell or a ram’s horn as in other religious traditions.
As I heard the opening tones of the prayer, I spoke to my friends and told them that I would now take a few moments to be in contemplation. They happily joined me and we enjoyed a few minutes of silence together.
I am paraphrasing the Arabic here to reflect my inner posture.
“God is Good. God is Great. Let us bear witness to the One Source of All. Let us rise up in prayer.” In the early morning is added: “Prayer is better than sleep” — to encourage the weary to get up before dawn.
Many faiths have practices of daily remembrance. While here in Morocco, I’m going to adopt this one.