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Somewhere someone is praying. Daily story · 28 May, 2013
  • Istanbul. I watched people join their families for dinner while the younger readies themselves for an evening out. Vendors selling roasted chestnuts and simits. Nothing unusual for an urban city. Then, the muezzins begin their prayer calls (called adhan or azan, in Turkish). This soundtrack gave a strange conflicting and interesting image of Istanbul, like no other city I've experienced before.

    I took a moment to listen. People around me didn't react. Vendors continued their business. Somewhere else, I imagined, people are praying.

    There's something strikingly beautiful and haunting hearing the prayer calls sung out simultaneously. Each muezzin singing in unison, but seldom in sync. This results in a rolling effect of echoes from a distance (this is my favorite part to listen out for).

    Muezzins having been calling out these verses (each uniquely different throughout the day) five times daily, every day, for thousands of years atop of a minaret. Things got easier with modern technology, using microphones and installing megaphones on minarets, but the singing remains live and in real time. I later discovered that Istanbul hosts a competition for muezzins to show off their best prayer calls. Strange as that may be, it's an indication that singing the adaz is more than a religious ritual, but an art form.

    As the muezzins' chants gradually dissipated, I reeled my thoughts back to my surrounding environment. Curious, how many locals around me have become numbed to the calls.
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