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Standardized calls to prayer
1.       DaveT
70 posts
 27 Aug 2008 Wed 07:39 pm

There is a sad (to me, at least) item in today´s news:


Central broadcasting system for Islamic call to prayer

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuba Karahan
Anatolia News Agency-ANKARA

  Recently adopted by the Religious Affairs Directorate, a central broadcasting system for "azhan," the Islamic call to prayer, has satisfied many citizens who used to be disturbed by its non-simultaneous broadcast from minarets.

  The central broadcasting system for azhan had been adopted in 64 provinces and 320 districts all around Turkey, said İzzet Er, deputy director of the directorate. The system had not been adopted in some other provinces or districts simply due to technical reasons or because they do not need it, he said.

  Normally, the azhan is recited by "muezzins" five times a day to summon Muslims to prayer. The central broadcasting system puts an end to non-simultaneous recitations by different muezzins whose voices might also be disturbing for many because they have not been trained about how to recite the azhan or simply because their voices are not good enough.

  �Adhan has its own musical mode. So muezzins should perform it in compliance with it,� said Er. �Because not all muezzins are trained and have nice voices, they simply could not give the call with a harmonic voice five times a day. With the introduction of the central broadcasting system, each minaret has begun broadcasting the same unique version of azhan simultaneously.�

  Citizens have been expressing their satisfaction with the new system, he said. The central broadcasting system for azhan has not only prevented inappropriate performing of azhan by untrained muezzins but also the disharmonious blending of different vocal styles in neighborhoods where the minarets are in close proximity to each other.

  Er also said Islamic sermons conventionally provided by hodjas at mosques have recently begun to be provided through a central broadcasting system in almost all provinces of Turkey. Some citizens want to listen to sermons live from a preacher; they simply do not want to listen recorded sermons, he said.

  �The number of preachers the Religious Affairs Directorate employs is only 1,280. And there are about 80,000 mosques in Turkey. So, we have to provide centrally broadcasted sermons in all mosques,� he said.




I am sorry that this sort of centralization is being carried out. In the town I lived in for over a year there were several cami and, depending on where you were in town, it was common to hear two or even three non-synchronized calls to prayer at once.


I found the effect to be charming. Sure, the voices were different but the message was the same and to me the different voices did not clash or compete but rather mingled and reinforced each other. When I visited in early July and learned that the calls there had been synchronized, I felt a loss.


I very much hope this will not happen in the Sultanahmet neighborhood. There, the calls from the Sultanahmet and Firuz Ağa camilar are (I hope not were) syncronized in a different way. First, the müezzin from Sultanahmet sings one verse of the call, then remains silent while his colleague from Firuz Ağa repeats it. Then the Sultanahmet müezzin sings the next verse, to be repeated in turn by the Firuz Ağa müezzin, and so on. It´s quite an impressive and moving ceremony, because of, not in spite of, its simplicity.


I admit I don´t understand the Turkish need or even desire for rigid conformity in such things. The minor dissonances produced and extra time required for seperate calls to me imply a certain tolerance, an understanding that it is acceptable for people to vary a bit in outward observances as well as inward spirituality.


And the dissonance was lovely.


















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