One of the “new” experiences I’ve had while traveling in Europe I only first experienced in Spain. I’ve mentioned in past journals on here that I am staying in a heavily populated immigrant neighborhood with many Muslims.
Every morning, I awake to a loud chanting sound, which I can write out as “eeeeee-EHHHHHHHHH.”
It’s not very pleasant and I actually find it kind of annoying considering that I like to go to bed very late and don’t want to be woken up at 8-9AM (First world problems? Yeah, probably). This goes on for a bit longer, ending after 10 minutes. It’s kind of like the intro to The Lion King’s “Circle of Life,” only with 100% less Mufasa.
At first, I was mystified by the sound. I thought maybe it was just some guy airing out his singing voice, because the people that live in this part of Barcelona are not exactly timid, actually quite invasive about their personalities (The World Health Organization claims Spain is the second noisiest country in the world).
Out of curiosity, I asked someone here a bit more about it the other day, and got a lot of information. So, there is a guy called a muezzin. He’s appointed by the Islamic church/mosque to start the adhan, or call to prayer. The muezzin is chosen in the same fashion we might choose a radio broadcaster. He has to have a lot of timber in his voice.
He does this five times every day, the one I am hearing being the first one of the morning. So the man I spoke with, although he wouldn’t outright say it, gave me a subtle implication that he thought the muezzin here in El Raval wasn’t as skilled as ones at mosques in his home country.
Because apparently the adhan varies from muezzin to muezzin, they get a little bit of creative licensing in how they perform it. I mean, you can’t start singing about big booty bitches, but given you’re singing about Allah and how amazing he is, your song can be quite different. Watching some videos on Youtube, I see there is actually some very ostentatiously beautiful ones to be heard, but the one I am hearing here is short and kind of sounds like a WAV file from like, Sid Meier’s Civilization 3 or 4 related to religion achievements.
A long time ago, the muezzin would have to climb to the very top of the mosque and use his lungs to cry out to the community. Today, they just use a loudspeaker. I’m kind of unimpressed by this. If you’re going to annoy me with your religious banter, at least show me you put a lot of effort into doing so.
Which brings me to another thing. The adhan is actually banned in most of Europe. It is slowly being challenged in Spain, held for noise pollution violations. Supposedly places that broadcast the adhan will have strict rules about church bells, citing that Catholic churches are in violation of the same thing. Personally, I think both are annoying.
Out of further curiosity, I watched a segment of a documentary in which a white Christian woman was taken to a rooftop to view how the call to prayer worked as a whole on the community in a town in Saudi Arabia. She was moved to tears, seeing people locking up their shops and quickly heading towards the mosque. As an atheist, this kind of disturbed me. Would she be moved to tears if they were locking up shop to go worship a mortal leader with a relentless, violent lay of hand on the land that commanded his people by way of fear?