Monday, March 26, 2007

Plan Would Replace Cairo's Calls to Prayer


Ok, there is a lot that could be changed in Cairo. Pollution control would be at the top of my list. Spend any time there, and you're sneezing black snot for weeks afterwards. Doing something about the piles of garbage all over the place is pretty high up there too.

Athan reform doesn't even crack the top 10. For a westerner, where religious sounds in the public sphere are limited to church bells ringing on Sunday, to live in Cairo and be surrounded by religious sounds 24 hours a day is something almost magical. When it is time to pray, and athans echo from all corners of the city, I can't help but fall silent and appreciate the sounds. Ok, maybe it's not quite magical when the athans are all amplified to the point of distortion, but those echoing calls to prayer are part of what makes Cairo Cairo.

If I had a magic wand, I would wave it and replace the distorted microphoned calls with natural voices calling. After all, you don't need to inform people half a mile away that it's prayer time in your masjid, because there are probably 5 mosques that are closer where it's also prayer time.

Plus, now with the athan possibly coming from the radio, everyone will crank up their radios to the point of distortion, and it won't be pretty anyways.

Damascus Maghrib Athan

Cairo Asr Athan

And, the athan from the Hussein Mosque in Cairo. Oh, I had issues with this mosque here. The women's section isn't anything to write home about, but the men's section is beauuuutiful. I wanted to go inside for some pictures, but the shoe guys wouldn't let me in. dur. I had a brief argument with them with my husband translated, but alas, I didn't persuade them. What really got me though, was that there were plenty of male (presumably non muslim) tourists inside. Dur!


rebecca said...

Abderrafie and I happened to catch this on NPR. Seems the opinions on the change are at both ends of the spectrum.

Have you been to Cairo since Al-Azhar park opened? My mother said it reminded her of Central Park, an oasis in the middle of a busy city.

rahma said...

Haven't made it there yet, although I hope to next time we go. I've seen pictures, and it looks beautiful.