02 December 2013

The Sound of Azan: Muslim Reflections on the Call to Prayer

The call to prayer, azan, pervades Islamic culture. Muslims can hear azan up to five times a day--once for each of the five daily prayers. It is often broadcast from the minarets of mosques. Parts of azan can be used to gather Muslims for a public event. There is also an Islamic tradition of reciting azan into the ear of a newborn child, and azan is said to have medicinal qualities in some forms of Islamic folk medicine. Ethnomusicologists have occasionally focused on azan. Faruqi (1981) identified two styles: laythi, an unembellished recitative style popular in villages, and sultani, a less recitative and more florid, urban style. Sultani seems linked to Ottoman sultans; Turkish Muslims are still noted for their florid and highly embellished azan style.