Let’s Get Ready to Pray

DSCN3343Adhans: you can’t escape them. They’re the echoing voice of omnipresence that follow you, haunt you, thoroughout your Moroccan travels. It doesn’t matter where you go, how far you wander—what town you’re in or how tightly you shut your windows at night; they find you. They punctuate your days of sweaty rambling, your dawns and dusks and inbetweens.

The adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, occurs five times a day, blared from the loudspeakers of every mosque’s minaret. The voice of the muezzin, the guy calling the prayer, is usually a little distorted; I imagine sweaty lips held too close to a scratchy old microphone, behind it all cool darkness and bare feet. If you’re in a big city with lots of mosques, the muezzins’ voices ricochet off the buildings and crumbly streets, off one another like a cat playing with its shadow, making it seem all the more enveloping. You have no idea what’s being said—at least I don’t—but the meaning needs no translation.

It happens like this: the voice erupts with a little squeak and feedback from the sound system. It begins slowly, softly at first, the first few syllables careful and clean; it swiftly gathers speed. The voice rises, grows stronger, accumulates decibels and conviction and heat, like an engine reving, smoke billowing from its spinning wheels. It reaches its final fevered pitch, a wail of passion and fury and God that makes you stop, pause in the street, roll over and groan in the first grey light of day.

The voice holds there, wavering in pitch and power, until at last, exhausted by the all-consuming energy of Allah, it shuts out and is gone. All this occurs in the span of about a minute. It happens at daybreak, noonish, mid-afternoon, sunset and early evening.

It’s a little creepy, to be honest—the omnipotence and disembodiment of it. But I can’t help but feel, whenever I hear it, that it sounds a little too like “Let’s Get Ready to Ruuuumble!” Only, you know, “Let’s Get Ready to Praaaaay!” It kinda gets me going, gets me all reved up and inspired; I kinda wanna kick my shoes off and grab a little carpet and kneel and mutter and bow like the dudes in the shops and alleyways I espy. Not knowing what I was saying or what it meant, just yeilding to the power of it all—lowering my head and kissing at something holy and unseen and buried deep in the fabric, the hand-woven and gently frayed thread of things.

Only, I’m not Muslim. Or any religion. And, coming from a (relatively) secular country, it still strikes me as strange to have religion pumped through the streets, sneaking through open doors and cracks in windows, filling the air and getting all over. But, hey, at least they do it with style.

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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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