Call to Prayer

“I’d sometimes wake up early to the voice of the muezzin when it was only half light. While dull, dissonant calls to prayer emanated from other minarets in the city, our muezzin recited the ezan with a passion as though he were whispering a love poem into the ear of his dearly beloved wife, as though he wanted to soothe the fire in his heart. That’s how our muezzin was: a young man, passionately in love with his wife.”

Bayan Naciye House,
by Esmahan Aykol,
translated by Ruth Whitehouse

I need to start taking notes on the muezzins of Alanya, because every time I hear the call to prayer, I am totally consumed by their song. I think I’ve got the right words to describe the muezzin, and then the afternoon ezan bounces across the city and it sounds so totally different from what I heard in the morning. It’s probably due to the fact that I hear the call to prayer from different mosques throughout the day – I prefer the voice of the man who sings at night (~8pm) and mid-morning at the mosque nearest to the Lojman. The ~8pm call to prayer has this great remix vibe to it, that I’m 80% sure the muezzin is aware of. He’s all over the place, note-wise, but his change in pitch moves too quickly in the physical space of the city, in a way that I’m hearing three different words at the same time because they’re bouncing all over the mountain.

Sure, we’ve all complained about the morning ezan waking us up from a crazy beautiful dream, but hearing it while in that half awake-half asleep state is beautiful itself. I love hearing the call to prayer so much, partially because it serves the same function as pinching myself to prove that I do, in fact, live in this place, but also because it’s just so lovely. After dinner with Mustafa and Zehra the other night, the call to prayer sounded while driving home. Mustafa turned off the radio and explained that we should respect the ezan by offering it our full attention. Even before he told me that, I’ve been in the habit of turning off whatever noisy media I’m consuming to just listen.


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