Call to Prayer
May 7, 2020
Some time ago I read about a Christian man who lived in a city in the Middle East below a minaret from which the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer (aka azzan) was broadcast five times daily by loudspeaker. The adhan woke him up at the first light of dawn, making him very angry every day. He prayed to God for relief or revenge, but the loudspeaker was turned directly toward his window, amplifying his torment.
Finally, one day, he had a God-thought. He decided that every morning upon waking, he would pray for the muezzin (the official who proclaims the call to prayer) and his family. This early morning prayer became a time of deeply connecting with God. I’ve forgotten the remaining details of this true story, except that he became friends with the muezzin and established a much-cherished habit of early morning prayer.
Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, feasting and prayer, began April 24 after the COVID-19 lockdown began, and will end May 23. Out of “concern for the mental health and spiritual needs of Muslims”, some cities have made a temporary exception to noise bylaws to permit some mosques to broadcast the adhan (or azzan) by loudspeaker at sunset when Muslims would normally be breaking the daily fast in the company of family and friends. Toronto, Halifax and Mississauga are three Canadian cities that are permitting the adhan to be broadcast. Other jurisdictions in US, UK and Europe have also permitted the adhan. Muslims hope the temporary permission will become a permanent concession.
Secular people often don’t understand the meaning of faith statements like the adhan. To non-Muslims, the adhan may be appealingly exotic, a valid expression of multiculturalism or just an annoyance. Adhan means “listen”. It is theology sung in Arabic as an invitation and reminder to perform ritual prayers. It proclaims,
“Allah is greater. (4X)
I witness that there is no god but Allah. (2X)
I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. (2X)
Come to worship. (2X) Come to success. (2X)
Allah is greater. (4X) There is no god but Allah.”
Islam understands these statements to mean that it is the superior and final religion, replacing Christianity and Judaism; that Muhammad is the final word from Allah, taking preeminence over Jesus; that god is unitary, not triune; and that Muslims are superior.
We are learning to respond in the opposite spirit. Islam comes with a spirit of heaviness, so…
- “Rejoice in the Lord. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Ph 4:4). Psalms 95:1-6, 98 and 100 (ESV) instruct us to make a joyful noise to the Lord. The sound of our praise reaches heaven and brings heaven to earth, so go for it (2 Sa 6:16, 22-23)!
The Lord is very skilled at reversals – look what He did at the cross! So…
- Declare that the sound of Good News of eternal life in Jesus the Son, by the will of our Heavenly Father, will override the sound of oppression and captivity in the cities of this nation.
- Release the sound of heaven in your city. Speak life into those Muslim communities that are confused, lonely and unable to seek God in familiar ways. Declare that GOD HEARS them! Proclaim over them, “Lord [Jesus], to whom shall [they] go? You have the words of eternal life. [They will] believe and know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69)!