The Islamic Call to Prayer

For the religious, regardless of faith, a call to prayer is a beautiful thing. It is soothing and comforting. It is done quietly, peacefully, and many a time, in unison. However, in Islam, I have to take an exception to that. Islam’s call to prayer is flat out annoying, bullying, and forces an invasion on everyone’s privacy. I hope the reader will give me the benefit of the doubt and read on so I can explain why I view Islam’s call to prayer as annoying, and an infringement on my individual freedom. It is a violation of my human rights.

The Power of Habit

If you live in the united states, “Thanksgiving” is a happy and festive time of the year. Many family members get together and eat a big feast, part of which is usually cooked Turkey. A story I heard is that once there was a housewife who used to cut the Turkey in half before putting it in the oven to cook. When asked “why she did that?”, she had no answer, but said “My Mom used to do that and I follow on her footsteps. So, she proceeded to call her Mom. Her Mom told her that her old oven was too small to fit a whole turkey in it unless it is cut in half. The irony is that her daughter has a modern stove and oven, with the largest oven size available in the market.

The above story shows the strong influence of habit and ritual traditions in our lives. We all have some in one form or another.

The Story of Islam’s Call to Prayer

Let me quote the story as narrated in Sirat Ibn Hisham (translated by Mohammad Mahdi Al-Sharif, Dar al-kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 2006, pp.110-111):

The messenger of Allah, at his arrival in medina, desired to take a horn, as this of the Jews, to be the sign of prayer; but he disliked it. Then, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ordered of a gong to be sculpted and rung for this purpose.

Such being the case, a man called Abdullah Ibn Zayd Ibn Thaalabah, came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and said: (Oh messenger of Allah! This night I have seen in a dream somebody wearing two green garments and carrying a gong. I asked: (How much is this gong?) He asked: (Why do you want to buy it?) I answered: (To use it as a sign of prayer.) He said: (May I guide you to something better?) I asked: (What is it to be?) He said: (You may say: Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; I declare that there is no God but Allah; I declare that there is no God but Allah; I declare that Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah; I declare that Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah; Come to prayer; Come to Prayer; come to prosperity; Come to prosperity; Allah is the greatest; Allah is the greatest; There is no God but Allah.)

The messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: (It is a true dream by Allah’s willing. Stand up and let Belal keep it to call to prayer. He has a louder voice than you have.)

The above story is the narration of how the call to prayer tradition started in Islam. Back then, there were no watches. So, people needed some mechanism to tell them when its prayer time. With the advent of modern marvels called ‘watches” and “clocks”, the need for a call to prayer in Islam should have vanished. The problem is that it did not. In fact it is exaggerated. Unlike other houses of worship for other religions, where the call to prayer remains within the confines of the house of worship, where it rightfully belongs, Muslims raise high minarets, and equip them with three or four loudspeakers to blast their call to prayer to everyone, whether they like it or not. This, in my view, is a stark violation of the individual’s right not to be bothered by loudspeakers calling to prayer five times a day. Nowadays, people have watches and clocks. They can use them to know when the time for prayer is up, and when it is time to go to the mosque. So, why is it the Muslims love to annoy others when there is no need to? I am certainly not against anyone praying in anyway they like. I just don’t like to be bothered by that. That is my right. Muslims telling me its prayer time five times a day is an infringement on my right not to bothered by them. The most annoying prayer call is the one done at around 5 am in the morning (sometimes even earlier than that). This Muslim behavior is uncalled for. Muslims certainly can learn when its prayer time without annoying others with their rituals.

I do think that this tradition of Islamic “Call” to prayer using loudspeakers from mosques’ minarets has a lot to do with the power of habit and tradition as I explained in the aforementioned “Thanksgiving” story. There is not a mandate in Islam for the call to prayer. It was needed back then. But, nowadays, there is absolutely no need for it. People have watches and clocks. They do not need some annoying individual called Imam to wake people up in the morning just because he thinks he has an Allah-given right to do so.

Finally, I like to end with a light-hearted story told to me by my aunt many many years ago. In the town where she lives, there was a lightly insane person named Hazhouz. He was a harmless person. So, he was not hospitalized or put in an assylum. He was loose in the neighborhoods. One night, very early in the morning, Hazhouz was trying to sleep after a rough night. Then comes the Imam on the loudspeakers calling people to come to the mosque and pray. Hazhouz took it personal that night. He got mad at this unnecessary and uncalled forth annoyance. The Imam was infringing on Hazhouz’s right to some quietness so he can go to sleep. Hazhouz got up, got dressed, and down to the mosque he went. He kept going forward toward the Imam and asked him: “Are you the one who woke up the neighborhood this early calling them to prayer?”. The Imam said: “yes son, How can I help you.” Hazhouz said: “ You really don’t sleep, and don’t want others to sleep. Come here..” and Hazhouz started beating him up. Some men in the mosque ran and saved the Imam before he got a serious beating.”

That early morning, Hazhouz was a very sane man..

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Posted by on Apr 28 2010. Filed under Op-Ed. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

116 Comments for “The Islamic Call to Prayer”

  1. proudest_kafir

    If you have ever spent time in that mad barbaric country called sodi barbaria, you will not miss the scum bags braying worse than donkeys from various mosques 5times a day.These donkeys scream in such atrocious tuneless voice that at times its painful to the ear! The tragedy is worse in the lunatics month of ramadan! the lunatic call starts at 400 am in the morning and goes on through out the day and night! They increase the volume over and above the normal and it feels as though the donkeys are braying as they are being tortured! Its fun to see the stupid idiotic moslems rushing off to mosque as soon as the donkeys bray.I just pity the moslems

  2. how do you come up with all this? really enjoyed reading it. long long time ago i remember i was stuck in a remote railways station in Indian (MP) for a few hours and there were donkeys honking next to me all the time. So you can imagine my laugh after your description of sodi barbaria above.

  3. Chiulo-Ruiz

    What is wrong with Muslims using clocks, watches and telephones to summon for Islamic prayers! Must the uninterested and not involved in the delusion that is Islam be subjected to those unnecessary incessant rambling and screaming!

    Islam seeks to impose its thoughts and its worship rituals on all regardless. Now they are using loudspeakers to make us all aware, whether we acknowledge such or not. Counter measures are called for, since freedom to impose the hollering unwanted on all is allowed.

    Allah is a pagan god, Allah is a pagan god, Allah is a pagan god and Allah is a pagan god.

    I bear witness that there is no god including Allah, I bear witness that there is no god including Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad was a false prophet and a liar, I bear witness that Muhammad was a false prophet and a liar.

    Hurry to the common sense, hurry to the common sense. Hurry to success, hurry to success. Allah is a pagan god, Allah is a pagan god. There is no god including Allah. Sleep is better than deluded religious compulsion, Sleep is better than deluded religious compulsion.

    How would people like to hear that five or more times a day, everyday, three hundred and sixty five days a year! Stop complaining and get your own cd’s, tapes and loudspeakers setup and running. The same sauce used for the goose will also be sauce for the gander.

  4. Marie

    "That early morning, Hazhouz was a very sane man.."


  5. Krishna

    I remember my days in Libya during the early morning prayer.The moment the call for prayer is announced,all the dogs in the vicinity would howl(not bark please note) in unison much to the discomfiture of the Indian muslims

    Anyways check out this funny video.

  6. Nikephoros

    "used to cut the Turkey in half"

    Ibn, I can tell your religion from a mile away.;-)

    A Freudian slip on your part, perhaps? Or your friend from Cyprus came over?

  7. Marie


    “used to cut the Turkey in half”

    Ibn, I can tell your religion from a mile away.;-)

    A Freudian slip on your part, perhaps? Or your friend from Cyprus came over?

    I say:

    My friend Ibn Kammuna was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church and is originally from the Middle East.

  8. Marie

    Continued from above

    Anyway I heard that story before, only Ibn made a slight mistake.

    The story goes:

    There was once a housewife who used to cut the Turkey in half before putting it in the oven to cook. When asked by her daughter why she did that, she had no answer, but said My Mom used to do that and I followed in her footsteps. So they went over to her mother's house and asked her mother why she cut the Turkey in half before putting it in the oven. Her mother had no answer, but said My Mother used to do that. So they all went Grandma's house and asked Grandma why she cut the Turkey in half before putting it in the oven. Grandma told them her old oven was too small to fit a whole Turkey unless it is cut in half.

  9. misguli

    That early morning, Hazhouz was a very sane man..

    MADE MY DAY, Thanks

  10. I say we ban the loudspeakers in the mosques. Just to be fair, we ban church bells too, but they are part of the culture.

    Ban loudspeakers from mosques.

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